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


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    4Play

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2013-12-12
    Age : 59

    Hello Forum!!

    Post by 4Play on Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:00 pm

    Hello Everyone,

    I am an avid audiophile who has spent over 40 years being a SS guy and never had an interest in tubes until recently. I have searched the net for as much info I could find, and I have trolled several forums including this one to see what I could find. It can be overwhelming to the point of having a headache. So, I am perservering and proceeding very slowly.

    I am hoping to add tube components to my system soon, and I am looking forward to spending some time here with hopes of gaining much needed knowledge and learning as much as I can about tubes and tube components. I need to update my profile to include my current audio system, which I am sure everyone will be interested in knowing.

    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sailor on Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:19 pm

    Advise from another 40 year audiophile. If you get into tubes go with a new or almost new amp. The old stuff is no bargain and a lot of things can go wrong. As far as preamps look for a fast tube preamp or use a ss preamp. If you like the sound of ss a slow tube preamp will not be to your taste. A class A/B push pull is the best place to start. Single ended produces good midrange but a floppy. out of control Bass because they have a poor damping factor.

    corndog71

    Posts : 451
    Join date : 2013-03-19
    Location : It can get windy here

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by corndog71 on Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:41 pm

    You can't go wrong with VTA gear. Just remember tubes require occasional TLC. I kinda disagree with sailor that tube preamps are slow. Maybe the old PAS pres were but with modern circuitry and parts a very fast and musical tube preamp can be had for a reasonable cost. There are a lot of variables which bring about good sound via tubes or SS.

    Things to consider are the sensitivity of your speakers, your typical listening level, and what your overall goal for your system is.

    4Play

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2013-12-12
    Age : 59

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by 4Play on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:12 pm

    My ultimate goal is to have the best sound quality without speanding a fortune to get there. Probable what I'll do is replace the monoblocks first and use the current preamp for now. My preamp has phono inputs for the table. I do understand what you mean by not buying the old stuff. However, I haven't seen too many of the new products for sale. That leaves me with two options. Buy one fully assembled and tested or buying a kit and have someone to the build for me. So far, I do not know of anyone local who could help me.

    A lot to consider, but it's not like I'm buying one soon.


    Last edited by 4Play on Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:35 am; edited 1 time in total

    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sailor on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:37 pm

    Hi corndog71, actually we agree. I use a fast tube amp in my system. Unfortunately I have heard several very pricy tube preamps that were musical but very slow. My wife is always the first to catch it. Probably because she grew up in the walkman headphone  age and is use to the fast ss sound.
    Here is where someone will pounce on me. The slowest and most expensive preamps I have heard all had transformers replacing coupling capacitors. Not sure why.
    4play, just read your last comment. If you don't want to build your own you definitely don't want the old stuff. I have owned a lot of tube stuff and I don't think you can go wrong buying a fully assembled VTA 120 from Bob. I think I would install KT120 in place of the KT88. Below is his website.
    http://www.tubes4hifi.com/bob.htm

    kygeezer

    Posts : 51
    Join date : 2012-11-30

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by kygeezer on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:44 pm

    You can buy any of the VTA amps or preamps already assembled and tested. Just inquire to Bob Latino for his great tube amps and to Roy Mottram for his super preamps.
    They all are equal to any other brand costing five times or more than the cost of these.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1308
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sKiZo on Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:56 pm

    Maybe pick up on a small kit of some sort to practice on first ... maybe a tube phono preamp? Half the fun is getting your hands dirty, and the extra "wow, I built that" factor is priceless.

    One thing the Latino amps have going for them is the detailed assembly instructions. Pictures and everthang. I recently built an ST-120 and although it does take some thought and attention to detail, it's as simple as checking off items in the list, step by step. Even has the first glow procedures to find any faults at the earliest opportunity, and there's always the forum gurus  - especially Bob - Bob can be your bestest friend at that point.  tongue 

    Couple tips ... have a location to work where you can do so without any rush. Good lighting and a magnifier lamp are a must. Resist the urge to try doing a kit or refurb with a cheepo pencil iron - your results will be only as good as your tools, and a decent temperature controlled soldering station really and truly takes the work and suspense right out of the equation.

    You also have to factor in your personal preferences. Makes sense that larger rooms and greater volume requires a bigger amp. Speaker efficiency is also important as you can drive a more efficent speaker with a smaller amp. One very basic rule is you can always turn down an amp that's too big ... what it boiled down to for me is my speakers are less efficient and my preferences are towards realism (as in concert hall volumes), so the bigger amp was justified. I also wanted to go with the new TungSol KT120's and the ST120 amp has plenty of reserve to drive those bad boys.

    PS ... I replaced a McIntosh MC2205 here. Granted, that needs some serious TLC and bench time just due to age, but the Latino kit just sounds so good that there hasn't been much incentive to either get to work on the Big Mac or switch back. I even find myself thinking I could probably flip that out of here as is, for more than what I got into the tube amp ...

    4Play

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2013-12-12
    Age : 59

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by 4Play on Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:01 pm

    I have been on Tube4HiFi website for the last 3 hours or so, and Bob and I are exchanging emails. It's up to me on how I will proceed.

    Tube Nube

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

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:15 pm

    I agree with sKiTzY,

    The Latino power amps are an easy build -- few parts, great step by step unstructions, wonderful feelinf of DIY satisfaction.

    I tried to build a Roy Mottram pre amp, but his kits reqire . . . More capability than I had, but fear not, he'll build it for you and (dont tell anyone this) in my estimation he'll under charge for the service.

    Transcendent has kits that are good value and easy to build, but their pre amp isnt in the same league with the VTA pre amps.

    Bottlehead's another you might look into. They have something of a frenetic following and a good forum, but here again... Well, i recommend you do what I did: buy their very cool ball cap, and skip their audio gear.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1308
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sKiZo on Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:16 pm

    Ask if they're having a two for one sale ... I'll take the extra one if you don't want it.  jocolor 


    corndog71

    Posts : 451
    Join date : 2013-03-19
    Location : It can get windy here

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by corndog71 on Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:15 pm

    Bottlehead has some great gear but I'm a little biased. I own several of their kits.  Wink 

    Sprags

    Posts : 123
    Join date : 2013-02-27

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by Sprags on Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:23 pm

    Just exactly what is a 'fast' preamp as opposed to a 'slow' preamp?

    Tube Nube

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

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:09 pm

    corndog71 wrote:Bottlehead has some great gear but I'm a little biased.  I own several of their kits.  Wink 

    But no hat? You gotta get the hat!


    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sailor on Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:54 pm

    Ok, this is my understanding of what makes a preamp fast or quick. The higher the bandwidth the faster the preamp. A preamp in the 25,000 to 35,000 hz at say -3db point would be slow. At 50,000 medium and 100,000 fast. That is why some preamp designers publish there range say 10hz to 50,000 hz -3db. For years I wandered why having a preamp that went way past my ability to hear was important but here it is, speed. A SS preamp made with high speed op amps can go much higher. Before someone else says it, speed is not the only thing I look at in a preamp, it also needs to be musical. That of course is where tubes shine. There is one tube preamp that is flat out to 300,000hz, most good sounding tube amps are in the 50,000 to 100,000 range.

    4Play

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2013-12-12
    Age : 59

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by 4Play on Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:43 am

    I appreciate all the comments/advice. Please keep them coming as I need all the help I can get. I am leary of trying to build a kit myself. I have no experience, no tools so that will be additional cost, I have never soldered anything before, and I'm afraid I would screw up more which will likely cost me more in the long run. Is there anyone on the forum who was a total newbie like me that built their own first amp. I would love to read some feedback from them and what their experiences were, and if they were able to complete the build themselves. As far as tools, what will I need in order to build the amp, and are there different types of solder available, and which one would be the best to use on this kit.

    Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sailor on Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:13 pm

    A good soldering station is in the $150 range but there is a learning curve. If you don't already own one you will need a volt/ohms meter to bios most tube amps even on a completed amp. It's a simple process but it must be done. I think you are wise to look at already built amps. There are a lot of people who try to build kits that should have bought them finished. I spend a lot of time on another site trying to help new kit builders repair there mistakes to get there amps. working. In some cases they have so many mistakes they give up before they get it working. A tube amp requires between 15 to 25 hours to build correctly. Bob charges $394 to assemble the kit and test it. That's about $20 an hour for expert work. I consider that cheap for quality work.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1308
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sKiZo on Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:39 pm

    I really like my Weller WES51 analog station ... immediate heat recovery, and just set the dial to your working temp and forget it.



    $90 at Amazon ...

    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sailor on Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:38 pm

    Wow Skizo that's a great price. I have the same unit and I think I paid about $130.00 a few years ago. Even at that it was money well spent.
    You know what is the first indication that a novice is going to have problems when he turns his amp on for the first time? Answer: When he is half way through the build process and he realizes the kit supplier only gave him half of the hook up wire he needed to finish the project. Can you say spaghetti factory? I once saw a New Dynaco ST35 kit for sale on Audiogon. It must have had an extra 20 feet of wire in the little chassis.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1308
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:38 am

    sailor wrote:You know what is the first indication that a novice is going to have problems when he turns his amp on for the first time? Answer: When he is half way through the build process and he realizes the kit supplier only gave him half of the hook up wire he needed to finish the project.

    Hey now ... I resemble that remark!!



    Of course, I did take some minor liberties with the layout and design ...

    arledgsc

    Posts : 340
    Join date : 2012-11-30
    Location : SF Bay CA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by arledgsc on Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:34 am

    I really like my Weller WES51 analog station "

    I purchased the same Weller WES51 from Amazon last year and love it!   Fast heat up and recovery plus a large selection of tips to choose.  Weller makes a more expensive version with digital temperature readout.  I don't really need it.

    j beede

    Posts : 328
    Join date : 2011-02-07
    Location : California

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by j beede on Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:09 pm

    Sprags wrote:Just exactly what is a 'fast' preamp as opposed to a 'slow' preamp?

    ...and if a stock PAS2/3/X is "slow", then the slower the better for me!

    Laminarman

    Posts : 110
    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by Laminarman on Mon Dec 16, 2013 11:13 pm

    I received my (incredibly well packaged) VTA 70 kit Friday from Bob. I have the transformers in, sockets and just started wiring and hooking up, have yet to assemble the circuit board. Overall it is pretty easy to follow, but it is, without a doubt, tedious and very easy to make a mistake if you don't get organized right from the start. I took a plastic folding table out (6 feet long) and taped white drawing paper (which I pilfered from my daughters drawing desk) to it so I have a uniform, while, clean surface. I then laid out a towel to avoid scratching the case. I have the Weller analog station, it is a studly piece of equipment, I paid $119 a week ago online. I have soldered all of about three contacts, and I'm not really sure the technique, they're clean and holding tight. And, it is very easy, out of fear of being too short, to make each lead just "a bit" longer to be safe, then find you have a heck of a lot of wire in there to hide! It's not hard, it's laid out well. My take is this: you do it to save money or for the enjoyment of it. Doing it to save money is pointless, for Cripes sake, it's a tube amp which will lead to more CD or record players, and probably a better pre-amp, and certainly new speakers, then there's tubes to buy...so saving money shouldn't be a major goal. Do it because you want to do it and be satisfied with it. Like doing your own car maintenance, sometimes what takes you a weekend to do costs you more in time, energy and parts than just having a mechanic do it. So while I enjoy it, I would echo what someone else said, what Bob charges to do this is reasonable. There are a LOT of parts!

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1308
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by sKiZo on Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:04 am

    Pictures! Pictures!

    Solder joints ... you should be going for shiny blobs that flow into the connection smoothly. If you can see a hard edge, you're not getting enough heat to it. I run my Weller at about 720F and keep the tip real clean and tinned. I find it easier to use one of these for that instead of the sponge ...



    For printed circuit connections, I put the tip to both the lead and trace and touch the solder above the tip and let it flow down till you get a good fill.

    Tube sockets and such are different as you have to preheat the terminal. I put the iron to the component, touch the solder to the component, and when it starts to flow, slide the iron down to the wire.

    Don't forget to do both sides of the VTA board for each connection. The holes are tinned for solder on both sides to strengthen the connections. Especially important on tube sockets as there's a lot of mechanical stress when you roll tubes in and out. Here's an example where everything was soldered on the component side, then the board was flipped and the back side  soldered.






    Last step is to go over the board and "dress" the connections. Trim the wire, tin the tip with a touch of fresh solder, and touch it to the connection till the existing solder pools.

    PS ... I mounted the big capacitors on the VTA board on the wrong side intentionally to fit my custom case. Feel free to do it the right way ... we won't hold it against you.  tongue

    Laminarman

    Posts : 110
    Join date : 2009-12-30

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by Laminarman on Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:17 am

    Thank you Skizo! A question: when soldering wires to the sockets on the inside (bottom) of the chassis, do you put the stripped wire INTO the little hole, bend it down then solder it? You are touching the iron to the socket tab to heat it up? I wasn't doing that, I guess I was worried the heat would ruin something. I also may not be hot enough on the iron. But like I said I only did two or three then searched Youtube, didn't quite find what I was looking for.

    notboating

    Posts : 11
    Join date : 2013-12-17
    Location : Western PA

    Re: Hello Forum!!

    Post by notboating on Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:30 am

    I'm new here also. Entered into the tube world with a pair of Dyanaco Mk iii's. I looked at a few amps/pre-amps, Primaluna, Rogue, Cary, Jadis, McIntosh and in the end I kept coming back to the Dyanaco. They were affordable, there is a lot of information available and they are mod-able if you're into that. So I disagree with looking for something modern. I'm totally happy with my mk iii's, they are a good place to start, I am happy with their sound and I like the fact that they are older than me. Their is something about vintage gear that draws me too it. I replaced my McIntosh MC-2105 with them and could not be any happier. In the end, its your ears that matter. Good luck in your quest!

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