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    High value items in audio today ...

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    Bob Latino
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    Location : Massachusetts

    High value items in audio today ...

    Post by Bob Latino on Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:46 am

    I thought that I would start this thread and have those that are interested post up what they feel are some high value audio related items. These are items that don't cost a lot in relation to their functionality. Maybe list the link to the item also. I will start with a few ..

    1. The Stahl SSVT variable temperature soldering station from Parts Express This costs less than $20 and works well. Use moderate heat for soldering on circuit boards. Crank up the heat level for chassis connections.

    2. Tubes ..
       A. Rectifier tubes. One of the best buys is the Sovtek 5AR4 sold by The Guitar Center. $13.39 each and you get free shipping if your order is over $49.
     
    Link > Sovtek 5AR4/GZ34 at The Guitar Center

    NOTE - The Guitar Center has recently gone way up on their pricing of the Sovtek 5AR4's. They are now $30+ and not a real good buy anymore.

       B. Shuguang made EL34's. These work really well, sound great and their failure rate is low. There is a fellow on Ebay that sells them for $38.50 for a matched quad with free shipping. Link below ..

    Link > Shuguang EL34's on Ebay

       C. Any of the interconnects or speaker cables sold by either > Signal Cable OR Blue Jeans Cable

    Bob


    Last edited by Bob Latino on Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:01 pm; edited 2 times in total

    PeterCapo

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by PeterCapo on Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:02 pm

    The BEST value in amps/preamps are yours and Roy's and Kevin Devaney's electronics, plus some other DIY products, like Classic Valve Design, Shannon Parks products, Transcendent Sound's Grounded Grid preamp and a few others come to mind.  You can't beat DIY for value.

    For a great value in speaker wire, I have tried this https://www.parts-express.com/wired-home-skrl-10-50-10-awg-ofc-speaker-wire-50-ft--100-028 and, IMO, I find it better (not overly bright) than the popular Blue Jeans 10-gauge speaker cable (that I also have and have directly compared with).  This same wire at Parts Express comes in different gauges and lengths, so you can get the cost even lower.  Only thing is, you have to terminate them, but Parts Express also sells crimping tools and terminations.

    j beede

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    Location : California

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by j beede on Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:41 pm

    Apple AirPort Express $99 or Apple TV $99 either device turns your iTunes device into a wireless music streaming system. Perhaps not quite up to vinyl sonic standards--but this device encouraged everyone in my home to use "high end" audio systems that they had avoided in the past. If you are careful with iTunes' volume control (or if you have a a passive attenuator) you can run the line out from these devices straight into your power amp.

    Ditto on the Sovtek 5AR4 rectifiers from Guitar Center. I have had great results with these in my MkIII and ST-70. I have not purchased any other 5AR4 since I started buying these ~2011.

    Pittsburgh 47257 Digital caliper $9.99 (on sale) from Harbor Freight. I use this to measure guitar strings, inside diameter of panel holes, chassis thickness, tube socket outside diameter (not very standardized!), etc. Switch between imperial and metric with the touch of a button. Probably not recommended by the Mitutoyo, Starret, Snap-on crowd :-)

    sKiZo

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:48 pm

    Mogami's entry level 3000 series RCA interconnects. Well built, quiet, and performing well above their price point. What with 46 interconnects in my system, those qualities are important, and I've never had a bad one.

    http://www.performanceaudio.com/item/mogami-3503/10726/

    Bob Latino wrote:
    1. The Stahl SSVT variable temperature soldering station from Parts Express This costs less than $20 and works well. Use moderate heat for soldering on circuit boards. Crank up the heat level for chassis connections.

    I've always gone with high heat on circuit boards. Low heat keeps the iron on the board longer increasing the chances of lifting a pad or trace. I run my Weller station at 715F, keep the tip tinned and fluxed, and use short touches. Touch the iron, then the solder, to the component first to preheat that, and run the tip down to the pad as that heats a lot quicker. Instant puddle that way. I'll come back later and dress all the connections after trimming the leads.

    Works for me, anyway.

    deepee99

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by deepee99 on Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:15 pm

    I took Bob's advice and use Blue Jeans Cable for most interconnects in my two systems; no disappointments. The outfit that sold me my bi-wired speaks tried to talk me into "upgrading" to some $8k audioquest speaker cables; I could hear no difference.
    If you're into silver (I am) best chap and prices I've dealt with is Paul at Clear Day Cables in Tucson
    http://www.cleardaycables.com/index.php
    Very personable and he'll ship you a trial set of coax or speaker cabling gratis.

    Great thread, Dr. Latino.


    Maintarget

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by Maintarget on Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:33 pm

    Very interesting thread on speaker cables I built mine following the direction on the attached web site at a reasonable cost

    http://diyaudioprojects.com/Power/Low-Inductance-DIY-Speaker-Cables/

    harpy

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by harpy on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:18 pm

    I took a chance on a Chinese DAC and it has performed well.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gustard-ES9018-DAC-x10-DAC-Decoder-Xmos-USB-Support-DSD-XLR-Balanced-Output-AQ-/191296392659?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item2c8a274dd3

    corndog71

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by corndog71 on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:40 pm

    My favorite speaker cables are Kimber 4VS and 4TC.

    Pre-terminated costs more. I recommend if possible to get bare ends to save a few bucks. Check for local dealers or try Www.audioadvisor.com

    I've hand-braided all of my interconnects using Homegrownaudio wire. Makes good internal wire too. Www.homegrownaudio.com

    I highly recommend Isoacoustics speaker stands. www.isoacoustics.com

    ATS Acoustics makes inexpensive room treatment panels that look great and work well. www.atsacoustics.com


    Gregg R.

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    High value products

    Post by Gregg R. on Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:37 am

    Hi Bob, et al,

    1. I used the exact same Stahl soldering station to build my VTA-70 last Feb. Works great! Buy 4 extra tips for only 4.95. I use a Hakko tip cleaner, but P-E has a similar one. Tip Cleaner

    2. Instead of the Sovtek 5AR4, I prefer the Weber WZ-68. Better, tighter, sound and more reliable.

    3. I currently use the Shuguang EL-34s in my VTA-70. Warm, open sound, reliable, with little bias drift! Got them from the site mentioned by Bob. Replaced $159 cryoed EH6550s.

    4. I use Kimber Kable for interconnects. Buy the individual TCSS strands from Michael Percy Audio, and use your power drill to twist them together. Terminate them with Amphenol plugs from Parts-Express. KImber TCSS is also sold by Parts Connexion. PcX

    5. No recommendations for speaker cable. You can re-purpose old speaker cable to use as Power Cords. Much better than the stock IEC wire in the box. Oyaide connectors from eBay. Oyaide


    Thanks for looking!


    Last edited by Gregg R. on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:05 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added link.)

    poconoman

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by poconoman on Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:58 pm

    Bob, this should be a sticky! cheers

    mazeeff

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by mazeeff on Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:32 am

    Ipod Touch 5 or Iphone 5. Under $200 and dropping!

    Based on Ken Rockwell's fine article, I decided to build a complete front end for my ST-70 for less than $200.

    1. Ipod 5 touch or Iphone 5 (under $200)
    2. XBMC on jailbroken Ipod or Iphone. Allows for bit perfect Flac playback from file server. (Free)
    3. Yatse app on Android phone. Allows complete control of XBMC and volume. (Free)

    With the Ipod/Iphone running on clean battery power, I get better sound than any other source that I have tried. People are also a little shocked when they see a tiny Ipod driving the amp! I also get the added benefit of using the XBMC's display for music visualizations while playing.

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/apple/ipod-touch-5g/audio-quality.htm

    Mike

    tubes4hifi
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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by tubes4hifi on Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:48 pm

    to each his own of course, when the Stahl iron first came out around 5-6 years ago I bought one to compare with my Weller STC-100 that cost $50.
    It's $39 now on my website here: http://astore.amazon.com/tub02-20/detail/B000AS28UC
    At that time, that was the single best investment in time and money I'd made in electronics. I used the Stahl for a few weeks, then went back to the Weller.
    Never returned since, so if anyone wants a Stahl that was only used a couple weeks, they can have mine for $15 to cover the shipping cost.
    I also agree with sKiZo, I set my iron at a fairly high temp (not all the way up, but 3/4) and find I can do a perfect solder joint on average in 2 seconds.
    Better to use high heat for 2 seconds than low heat for 5-10 seconds. Solder should melt instantly, and then leave the iron there another second
    to let it completely flow into and around the joint.

    sKiZo

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by sKiZo on Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:06 pm

    poconoman wrote:Bob, this should be a sticky! cheers

    Only if you can make sticky folders and stick your stickies in those, otherwise stick it ... too many stickies as is ... can't see the trees for the forest!

    Some good stuff here though ...

    Gregg R.

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    Stahl vs. Weller

    Post by Gregg R. on Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:46 am

    Either soldering iron will do a good job! Stahl offers 4 extra tips for only about 5 bucks!

    I use a 100 watt Weller soldering gun for bigger jobs, such as chassis work. The Weller is probably 50 yrs. old; just needed a new cord and, of course, new tips. Follow SkiZo's recommendations: high heat to melt solder quickly, then remove iron.

    Thanks for looking.

    sailor

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    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by sailor on Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:28 pm

    A few years ago bit the bullet and bought a Weller WES51 now around the $100 range. The best investment I ever made when it comes to electronics. I fully agree with a hot soldering iron, but not to hot. Just like Roy described. I find the hardest thing to get a good soldering joint on is the old fashion soldering strips. I find adding a little rosin flux to the strip and wire before soldering makes it a lot easier. I also have several tips but for overall tube electronics usage the flat head that comes with the unit works the best. I use 60/40 no clean and stay away from silver, no lead and boutique solders. I know of one person who had a solder meltdown in an amp. that was soldered with WBT solder. An easy melt solder designed for interconnects but now sold as a high end solder for everything. But to each his own. Again just my 2 cents.

    poconoman

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    AOYUE 9378

    Post by poconoman on Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:05 am

    Since we're talking about soldering irons, I'll join the band wagon.

    THIS is one great machine. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2059210.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.XAOYUE+9378+&_nkw=AOYUE+9378+&_sacat=0

    audiobill

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by audiobill on Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:25 pm


    I just picked this up for an ST-70 build, and it's very useful:


    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Pro-Line-Helping-Hands-Soldering-Station-with-10-LEDs-Illuminated-Magnifier-/171251727604?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27df65fcf4


    This one is better built than current model from Radio Shack.

    Note that "Best Offer" is accepted, so you may get this for less Smile

    sKiZo

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by sKiZo on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:11 pm

    Speaking of DACs ... I love my Maverick D1+ ... performs WELL above it's price point.







    http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/d1p/dac_comp_d1p

    Has a tube pre built in that adds a lot of flavor to the music coming into the ST120. Stock is great, but it really shines with opamp upgrades (OPA627 x2) and an upgrade to a decent NOS tube. Maverick does have a GE 5 Star as an option instead of the Chinese tube. I got that and also quite a collection of 5670 alternates for rolling. Primary source for digital music is an HTPC server - supposed to have real decent audio built in, but the Maverick is a HUGE step up from that.

    PS ... they also offer a D2 which is a better digital performer, but you do lose the analog inputs. I plug my turntable into that via an external stage for some of that tooby goodness from vinyl ... also, I prefer the sound of the Tenor chipset on the USB side of the D1+. It just works exceptionally well with my system. Nice to have options though.

    Killer headphone amp also ... real popular with the college crowd and late night listeners.

    Ed Rosenberger

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    Location : Gilboa, Ohio

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by Ed Rosenberger on Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:53 pm

    I purchased a Heathkit GH-17A Soldering Station way back in the early '70's....S/N 07539. I believe I paid around $20.
    The unit still works great and has the original spade tip that still looks new. It has melted many feet of solder, helping to build several computers with discrete components, test equipment, radios, HiFi stereos and many other small projects, including those that my children made. I still enjoy its "feel" while using it and I'm looking forward to building this ST70 with the octal driver board.
    I will most likely wear out before it does....

    http://www.w6ze.org/Heathkit/Heathkit_005_GH17.pdf

    deluxmon

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    Love the Valve Arts EL34's

    Post by deluxmon on Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:31 pm

    I agree with one of the High Value item's in Bob's post at the beginning of this thread.
    The Shaguang (Valve Arts) EL-34's are a great bargin and sound great to my ear.


    Ed Rosenberger

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    Location : Gilboa, Ohio

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by Ed Rosenberger on Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:58 pm

    The 5AR4 tubes are still available for a bit under $16 plus shipping here:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sovtek-5AR4-GZ34-rectifier-tubes-NEW-/160919829856?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item257791bd60

    sKiZo

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:39 pm

    I still like this one ...



    http://www.amazon.com/TRC-90033-Shockshield-Portable-Protection/dp/B000XVG72G/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1415500409&sr=8-5&keywords=gfci+adapter
    TRC 90033 Shockshield White Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection

    Placed between the wall power and amp, it requires a manual reset on ANY momentary blip that can otherwise do some serious damage.

    Priceless.

    gener8r

    Posts : 56
    Join date : 2012-04-28

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by gener8r on Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:50 am

    Check out the drivers (and other assorted items) at this site.   I have built some quite decent sounding speakers very inexpensively from here:

    http://www.mavin.com/

    deepee99

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    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:42 pm

    sKiZo wrote:I still like this one ...



    http://www.amazon.com/TRC-90033-Shockshield-Portable-Protection/dp/B000XVG72G/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1415500409&sr=8-5&keywords=gfci+adapter
    TRC 90033 Shockshield White Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection

    Placed between the wall power and amp, it requires a manual reset on ANY momentary blip that can otherwise do some serious damage.

    Priceless.

    Yep. Required equipment.

    eickmewg

    Posts : 41
    Join date : 2014-08-29

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

    Post by eickmewg on Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:56 am

    sKiZo wrote:I still like this one ...



    http://www.amazon.com/TRC-90033-Shockshield-Portable-Protection/dp/B000XVG72G/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1415500409&sr=8-5&keywords=gfci+adapter
    TRC 90033 Shockshield White Portable GFCI Plug with Surge Protection

    Placed between the wall power and amp, it requires a manual reset on ANY momentary blip that can otherwise do some serious damage.

    Priceless.

    I just got one of those based on all the positive recommendations.  Thanks sKiZo!

    Sponsored content

    Re: High value items in audio today ...

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