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    ST-70 from unbuilt kit and VTA board V10


    Yvon Massicotte

    Posts : 13
    Join date : 2009-07-28
    Age : 74
    Location : Montréal, QC, Canada

    ST-70 from unbuilt kit and VTA board V10

    Post by Yvon Massicotte on Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:11 am

    Here is my completed ST-70. It took some time to complete it but it was very enjoyable all along.

    I had built many ST-70s in the Sixties and I decided this time that I would experiment a little as I already had a fine working system and a lots of time now that I was a retiree.

    The main decision (apart from buying the VTA board) I took concerning this project was to built the amp following an integral hierarchical star grounding system. To this effect:

    • I changed completely the return paths on the VTA board by cutting and severing all return lines that created a mixed ground system;

    • I grouped every stage return path to a common point;

    • each one of those return paths were connected to the return path of their own B+;

    • I ran 4 separate B+ lines (on each channel one for the driver and one for the phase splitter) and each one twisted with its return path from the fourth section of the quad cap;

    • the common return for the push-pull output tubes cathodes of each channel was connected to an insulated lug between the tubes and a separate ground return connected those lugs to the common star point;

    • finally, the feedback return wire was twisted with the OPT secondary ground return and this ground return was connected to the common signal return of THE FIRST stage.

    Top of the modified VTA board

    Underneath the chassis

    Notice: the VTA board is not mounted under but on top of the chassis. Notice also the feedback returns twisted wires.

    Underside of the VTA board

    Output tubes common insulated signal return ground point

    Another change I made was to fit the modern five-way binding post while keeping a choice of output impedance. See the picture:

    Speaker binding posts with impedance selector

    Overall, this is the final result:

    ST-70 45° view

    ST-70 front view

    St-70 front view slightly above

    ST-70 rear view 45°

    The sound is fine and has all the delicacy of a good tube amplifier. A final point: this amp was tested with the JJ ECC82 tubes sent by tubes4hifi and with NOS Canadian Marconi Radiotron 12AU7s. To my surprise the sound, with the Marconi tubes is much better! Timbres are more accurate and the fine harmonics in violin ensembles come through with a delicacy absent from the JJ tubes. I'm amazed because I didn't believe in the intrinsic superiority of those vintage tubes. I'm tempted to disconnect the feedback returns and measure the frequency response above 20 KHz to see if the Marconi and the JJ behave differently.

    Thanks for looking at the pictures and any comment would be appreciated.

    Yvon Massicotte


    Posts : 58
    Join date : 2012-09-16
    Age : 43
    Location : amsterdam

    Re: ST-70 from unbuilt kit and VTA board V10

    Post by nerpissad on Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:13 pm

    great job on the assembly! the way you handled the wiring simply looks stunning.
    can you explain what the purpose and benefits of your integral hierarchical star ground system are?

    Yvon Massicotte

    Posts : 13
    Join date : 2009-07-28
    Age : 74
    Location : Montréal, QC, Canada

    Re: ST-70 from unbuilt kit and VTA board V10

    Post by Yvon Massicotte on Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:19 pm


    Thank you for your nice comment. As far as a star ground system is concerned, there is no overwhelming advantage in having one if the amplifier is going to be used in a simple domestic environment with short cable runs.

    It is another matter if the amplifier is to be used in complex audio environments like studios or public sound reinforcement systems. In such systems the amp would be more stable and better performing with such internal wiring.

    I worked for a while in a recording studio and it always amazed me to see how some good sounding amps in a home environment would become sensitive to interference and loose their sound qualities and overload easily when inserted in a complex chain of equipment.

    In the case of this project, I did the wiring this way purely for personal satisfaction. I would like to compare this amp with one wired in the traditional way, but, alas, I don’t know anybody nearby that has a ST-70-VTA amp.


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