The Dynaco Tube Audio Forum

Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all original Dynaco tube audio equipment - Customer support for Dynaco VTA tube amp kits, all Tubes4hifi.com products and all Dynakitparts.com products


    VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Share

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:30 am

    there may be two reactions to this post, great interest, or not. If not, you may excuse yourself now and stop reading.
    For the rest of you, please excuse me for just a few moments of self-indulgence as I describe my latest listening experience on my 2nd SP14 build. Then you can go back to the other posts!
    It's been more than a month since the first, and somewhere out there are about half a dozen people doing it on their own (yeah!! DIY !!)
    I wish this one was for me, this was for another one of my great and repeat customers, who has waited patiently
    (the wait on these is now up to 4 to 6 weeks!) and I certain will find it worth the wait, and a HUGE improvement over his 2 year old SP8
    (heck, this is a huge improvement on the SP12!).
    To finish the headline of the topic . . . my jaw doesn't drop like those writers making mega$$ hawking multi-mega$$ equipment writing
    magazine articles for not even the top 1% of real people, kind of like reviewing the latest Lamborgini in Road & Track. It's a fantasy!
    But perhaps, the joy and ecstasy of listening to music thru an incredible tube preamp, could make me wet my pants
    (if not literally, certainly figuratively). So now we get past the headline . . .
    It's my true joy to finish this and listen to this, my 2nd build of my best preamp design. Certainly I MIGHT be biased,
    but I try to tell people I'm not biased, my tubes are, I try to be subjective, I try to think like someone buying another product
    from another vendor.
    As a quick review for the few people (most on this forum are well informed!) who might not be informed, the SP14 preamp is a re-design of my SP12 design, switching from small common 9pin tubes (12AU7)
    to the older (and mostly considered much better) large octal 6SN7 tubes.
    Each channel (left and right) has it's own filament regulated power supply, each channel has it's own high voltage regulated power supply,
    with the B+ using it's own independent filament supply. So five power supplies instead of two. Each channel has two independent outputs
    (not paralleled, actually independent) so it's possible to compare in real time what different output coupling capacitors sound like.
    It's not just bigger tubes . . . the 6SN7s really do seem to have bigger, wider, taller soundstage. More space.
    If you've been around tubes for awhile, you know what I'm talking about.
    I'm here to report back that the wait was worth it. When I powered up with my usual demo tracks, my heart was moved. It was like the first time I ever heard a tube amplifier (25+ years ago).
    Musical ecstasy. More than I expected. The band was in my room with me. I couldn't turn it off, I had to listen to the entire album straight thru, no stopping, no testing, no distractions. Just groovin' with the music.
    THAT is what this is all about. If you've had the experience, you know what I'm talkin' about.
    If you haven't felt that, you need a good fix of tubes!
    My customer Doc did it right. Didn't blow $$ on extras just because. But did do some upgrades that will make a really nice improvement!
    No need for 3 Goldpoint attenuators plus a Goldpoint selector switch, that totals over $400 or more. He got the volume control.
    Stock attenuators and stock selector. They work perfect, do the job, and essentially don't make much difference in the signal going thru.
    The volume control is something you use and touch every time. The selector on this one doesn't handle any signal, it routes a voltage to activate a relay right on the input jacks.
    It's been over a year since the last time I used this setup, it works nice.
    The caveat being you want to make sure EVERYTHING else in the entire preamp is working first, before you install it.
    One thing I did is choose the tubes for this. New tubes are OK, but no comparison to the real tubes made back in the 60s and 70s.
    NOS 6SN7s are extremely plentiful and cheap compared to new knockoffs. You'll see a TungSol rectifier. I could probably resell it for $50.
    I can't tell you how much I paid for it, but let's just say it was less than half what a new chinese rectifier tube costs.
    I've also managed to pick up dozens of NOS 6SN7s over the past couple months, and paid less than half for them than a new knockoff.
    Take your pick of Sylvania's, RCAs, GE, Raytheon, National. Chrome tops, clear tops . . .
    The only other upgrade was premium Mundorf silver-oil PIO caps. It doesn't get any better!!
    OK, so enough talk . . . let's see a few photos . . . . (reminder, you can order a KIT, but the wait for a build is 4-6 weeks)





    OK, now get back to enjoying the music!!
    Roy www.tubes4hifi.com


    TMadden

    Posts : 99
    Join date : 2011-12-22

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by TMadden on Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:51 am

    Nice preamp build Roy! Love those octals, my SP14 sounds utterly transparent. I guess I should say, it doesn't sound like anything at all! Keep up the good work!

    lwrs10

    Posts : 12
    Join date : 2012-02-29

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by lwrs10 on Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:24 am

    let me put this bluntly......

    Shut up and take my money!


    I am joking of course......but I will be contacting you this week about one...

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:55 pm

    Wow! Just look at that thing!

    And look at the workmanship going on in there.

    I have good reason to suspect Roy's customer / client is going to be thrilled when he gets his paws on it.

    Have to add, i really like the forest-green custom anodized front panel. No doubt it was inspired by the natural colors of the pacific northwest!

    ruffian

    Posts : 43
    Join date : 2010-02-26

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by ruffian on Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:22 pm

    Look what came today!!! Kind of similar, eh? Now I need to get busy. Very Happy


    mantha3

    Posts : 298
    Join date : 2010-11-10

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by mantha3 on Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:50 pm

    Roy,

    What attenuator do you use on the master volume? 100K?

    Wondering if you'd try building this (or thoughts on doing so) with a combo I run in a DIY passive preamp I have... The passive has a DACT 24 step or so Attenuator that is nice (overpriced... Probably...) The DACT has a BENT audio Attenuator remote kit. Basically a motor kit that mounts on the back of the attenuator and steps up or down the steps via remote control. the motor kit runs on a wallwart 12V. This is nice as the passive then in controld by in IR remote. Thinking I could pull this out of the passive and run in this new preamp...

    How does this sound with non NOS 6SN7 tubes or rather current production 6SN7 tubes? Are any current 6SN7 tubes good?

    Looks really well built.

    I'm interested in running with the remote kit and then removing the right/left gain control.. Just a manual source select and then the IR remote volume and no phono.

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:45 pm

    yes, 100K volume. Usually the remote controlled motorized ALPs is no problem. The Bent Audio remote system is also nice (Goldpoint digitally controlled stepped attenuator and remote input select) if you've got an extra $400 or so to spare, which is no big deal on what winds up being comparable to a $3000-5000 preamp, for under $1500 kit.
    I supply kits with either new TungSols or NOS, your choice. Tubes preferences are totally subjective so I don't make recommendations.
    I saw a great disclaimer on a web site this morning that I'd like to repeat here:
    There is no way I or anyone else can tell you how any given tube will sound in your equipment. There are too many subjective variables for me or anyone to tell you unless they have your equipment and your ears. You need to try different types to see what you like best. I know that I would sell more tubes and make more money if I did, but I'm not in the business of pedaling B.S.

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:32 pm

    I like that quote Roy, i'm gonna adapt it to my practice. People actually phone me up, want to know after 10 seconds on the phone how long it will take (and how cheap it will cost) for me to cure their:

    Post traumatic stress,
    Life long depression,
    Intractable marital problems,
    Social phobia (oh yeah, these guys are the best, cause you can guess how many of them actually show up for their appointments)
    Etc etc etc

    And when i dont make a compelling sales pitch, off they go to comparison shop . . . Soon enough some one will lie to them!

    mantha3

    Posts : 298
    Join date : 2010-11-10

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by mantha3 on Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:41 pm

    Tube Nube,

    Just tell em some good tubes will cure all those ailments... When they ask what tubes then send them the quote from Roy.

    Good stuff all! I'll have to start saving and plan on drilling a little hole on the face of the 14 for the IR remote receiver eye.

    How do the Mundorf P in oil sound? Like better than the Russian PIOs?

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:21 pm

    TubeNube,
    that's why I don't take phone calls, because that's what 90% of the calls are about!!
    "what do you recommend . . . ?" "how do they sound . . . ?"
    well, what do you expect me to say?? Buy my stuff!!!???
    Hey, I don't try to convince ANYONE to buy my stuff, if you build it it, they will come!
    If they're not sure, it's not MY job to convince them . . . . maybe they should call a used car salesman . . . .
    I'm just trying to offer good value for the money, to my fellow tube-o-holics . . .
    someone please feel free to copy and post this info on EVERY single topic in this entire forum!!

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:48 am

    Mantha-man,

    You know, I think I need a second stereo for the office. I've heard that analog material amplified by tubes is less stressing . . . just what the doctor ordered! I mean, partly for me, partly for my patients. (Tax deduction time)!

    And when they don't show up . . . It'll be de stressing for me, instead of them.

    Roy, Hey, it's infuriating that people some how find you for only one reason -- at some level they know you offer something that is several cuts above the usual. Yet, once they talk to you, it's like that is not acknowledged. They want to know how cheap and how fast.

    Sometimes I want to say "If you found me, you were looking for quality, not price" but then I worry that's aggressive or defensive, or arrogant or something.

    But I think it's the same, guys like you, me, Bob -- the effort and thought we put into trying to do the very best we can, and all we want is a fair buck without further harassment and haggling.

    I never haggled with you guys on the price! I did my research, I was convinced of the great value that was offered, and I was happy to pay for it!

    Geez, I wish my customers felt the same. Well, maybe they do. It's just there's always the few who manage to . . . well, you know.

    So anyway, as I was saying, or about to say, my friends are getting restless cause I keep talking about this pre-amp. They humour me, but I know their jaws will be dropping and their pants will be pissed when they hear what's coming.


    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:50 am

    TubeNube,
    don't forget to line the floor with plastic and/or foam cushioning for your guests when they listen.
    although that would probably really mess up the sound, so maybe some . . . .
    I took my two hours of de-stressing just before I shipped your preamp, man, I needed it!!
    We'll have to compare consultation rates . . . maybe tube hi-fi is less than sitting on a couch??
    At least after the first 15-20 sessions . . . but that's assuming they don't go thru the stress of trying to figure out how to use a solder iron . . . . and then there's that B+ thing, that can be stressful if something goes wrong . . .


    Last edited by tubes4hifi on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:28 pm

    Well the pre amp arrived this afternoon, so unable to wait til tonoght, i hooked her up, and listened to a frw tunes.

    A few things noted right off, so i emailed Roy immediately to tell him that i had a strong negative reaction-- that is to say i just hated the fact that, after only 3 songs, i really had to leave and get back to work!

    I ll make further comments later on, but i can affirm already that this pre amp really is terrific. Compared to the SP8, roys description of the much greater sense of the performance happening in the room--i can really hear it. The effect is not subtle. Its unmistakable.

    Individual instruments played with more impact. I found myself really listening to the bass player on art peppers rendition of too close for comfort. I never did that before.

    I'll report back later about how joni mitchell and ricki lee jones sound.

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:54 pm

    let me chip in a couple more comments, as I'm very familiar with the SP8 I sold to TubeNube and also I did quite a bit of listening today
    to my old favorite the SP12. Last year the SP12 was my reference preamp, and it is far superior to the SP8.
    But listening now to the SP12 VS listening to the SP14, it actually surprises me, there is absolutely NO comparison!
    The SP12 sounds like a really good $2000 preamp, which it is.
    But the SP14 sounds totally holographic, you are there, there is no preamp anywhere, just music. Surprised even me.
    It's the tubes ("it's the water" whatever!)
    so now tell us TubeNube . . . .

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:17 am

    Alright boys and girls, I have been doing some close listening, and I have a few things to say.

    First, I have to note Roy has provided some great description of the SP14 sound which to my ears is accurate and fair, but then goes on to anchor his observations to a reference point that undersells / under represents things when he describes the comparison SP12 amp as merely a competent $2k amp.

    The SP12 was, iirc, a big improvement over earlier pre amps, and as I also recall, our own Bob Latino reviewed an earlier design (SP6? SP8) against commercial built preamps in the $4 to $6k range. That pre-amp came out better than the lesser commerical amp, and more or less equal to the more expensive one. A damn fine showing!

    So to be sure, the SP12 is better than Roy's overly modest $2k price point comparison to commercially made products.

    You'll pardon me if I'm out of line in saying so, but I think those reference points (above) need to be emphasized before I move on to phase two of my post.

    Phase Two: The SP14.

    "Oh, oh, oh, listen to the music!"

    Ok, I didn't listen to the Doobey Brothers tonight, but I might.

    I truly love Joni Mitchell's album Blue. The song California is a great tune and good test piece. Accoustic instruments, beautiful vocals, dynamics, range, oh boy, it's got a lot in there to listen to.

    I went from SP14 back to SP8. That was a revealing way to go.

    I hope my comments above help remind the reader the SP8 is no chump. It's a great pre-amp. I've loved it. I probably won't ever listen to it again, though, until my son plays me something on "his" stereo (when he eventually moves out). It's for him now.

    Relative to the SP14, on the SP8, accompanying instruments moved more to the background, were less distinct, and much less detailed in their sound. Imaging was worse, so their placement on the sound stage was less distinct. The separation between musicians less clear.

    Mitchell's vocals were distinct, but in areas where the pitch was high, and dynamics louder, they seemed a tad ragged compared to the SP14.

    Conversely, on the "14", Joni was smoother, clearer, more dynamic, never ragged -- I didn't have to brace myself for the high notes. (a slight overstatement, but you know what I mean)

    Accompanying instruments weren't "laying back" but were very much "part of the band". They were "there". Not competing. Not over shadowing. This was no quirky artifact. It sounded like a better band playing. Things jumped out at me which I could hear on the SP8, when I went back, but I was definitely searching for them on the SP8.

    Enough of Joni for now, though I'll take requests from that album if anyone's asking.

    Ricky Lee Jones. Here's another gal with a vocal range that'll challenge you. Easy Money is a great jazzy fun test piece with lots of acoustics from an upright bass to tinkly percussion instruments. Xylophones and whatnot.

    Boy does the bass come out on the SP14, and I wasn't expecting that. The SP8 already brought it out beyond the capability of the Transcendent GG. Well, here it's REALLY out, and just bouncing like never before.

    Again, the instruments came out with more distinction, more detail, better spacial separation, better imaging. They sounded more forward, like they were in the same room with the singer, and with me. Dynamics were more dynamic. So the music was more alive, more realistic. More real.

    On to her last track on that side, Last Chance Texaco. Now, I don't want to sound like too much of a cry baby, but if you've heard the song, you might agree it can provoke an emotional response. Her guitar playing sounds great, but the passion in her voice can make you cry, if you let it. And here, the SP14 again exceeded the SP8 in capturing the dynamics and the passion. I could feel that tension in the chest welling up . . . but knowing I was going to be reporting back, sorry guys, no tears. Hey Roy, maybe you're forthcoming SP18 will render me a helpless crying baby.

    So, that's my report to this point. Regarding value for money, there's no question. This is great value. I would have paid Roy quite a bit more for so much improvement over the SP8. Had I known how good it sounds, I'd have happily paid double, not that I'm rich, nor do I squander my money.

    If you're on the fence, I'd say just buy it and sell the pre amp you have. You'll be delightfully surprised. If you don't want to spend that much, no need to fear Roy's other amps won't serve you well, because they, too, are great, and terrific value. At least the SP8 that I can vouch for, the SP6 that Bob reviewed, and the SP12, that forum members have bought, built, and reviewed most positively.

    Well, I'll leave it there for tonight. I want to do more listening.

    ;-)


    Last edited by Tube Nube on Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:10 pm; edited 3 times in total

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:50 am

    Did I mention it? This amp is achingly good!

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:27 am

    I have a brief update on the SP14, as I am getting to know this amp better.

    I had Roy build this amp for me with two different sets of out put caps, which feed their own separate output RCA jacks. One output uses SoniCaps, which I understand to be darned good caps.

    The other output has Mundorf caps, which I understand to be a whole darn lot better than that. I've been switching back and forth, and I'm pleased to report to the group that the Mundorf Output gives more detailed sound, and more dynamics. I'm pretty certain that's what I heard, but I'll continue my experimentation, and say more about is as I am able.

    In the meantime, if you're considering building one, or having Roy do it for you, I recommend spending the extra few dollars to get the best output caps he can get for you. While you're at it, the upgraded stepped attenuator in the main volume position was worth doing if, for nothing else, it's smooth, quality feel. Of course, it wasn't really for the "feel" that I opted for it, but it's still nice that it has that aspect every time I touch the knob.

    I don't know if Roy is going to continue to offer the custom, GreenPeace-inspired forest-green anodized face plate. Judge for yourself from the linked pictures in Roy's earlier posts on this thread, but I really like the colour.

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:01 pm

    good comments, nice to know that paying $80 extra for a pair of capacitors makes some notable difference!
    Maybe now we need to hear from someone who has ever heard V-caps (they run about $150 for EACH capacitor)
    But NO, no special color anodizing!!! We had to wait almost 6 weeks to get that color done wrong.
    I will offer black, gold, or bronze (true bronze) anodizing.
    The chassis itself is ONLY available in natural aluminum or black powder-coat paint.
    I won't be taking any new preamp orders until mid-April.

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:33 pm

    Hey Roy,

    So if I ever wanted to try V-Caps, would I just swap them in for the SoniCaps already in there? Those are pretty pricey, but if they're supposed to be amazing, then maybe for Christmas, I might ask Santa for some V-Caps!

    I seem to recall you said something at the time about that colour not being quite right. I guess I've got a one-and-only custom face plate, then, hey?

    Anywho, it was worth the waitin' for that amp. I totally get how come you're busy with orders! Well done.

    tubes4hifi
    Admin

    Posts : 1286
    Join date : 2008-11-30

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by tubes4hifi on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:13 pm

    yes, an easy swap for the SoniCaps (except for the price) the V-Caps seem to be all the rage on AudioGon
    of course if I was selling caps for $300, (and that probably cost 1/3 that much) then I suppose I'd make a big splash also!

    Tube Nube

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2008-12-06
    Age : 53
    Location : Calgary, AB

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Tube Nube on Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:07 pm

    Thanks Roy.

    Well, since I'm in no rush, I'll just wait awhile, enjoying things as they are. Perhaps in a year's time those will come down in price, or maybe you'll get a truck load of them from a fire sale and offer them up to customers / forum members as an upgrade, or something like that.

    Sponsored content

    Re: VTA SP14 preamp - part 2 ( does your jaw drop to the floor? or do you wet your pants?? )

    Post by Sponsored content Today at 8:08 am


      Current date/time is Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:08 am