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    Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

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    jasn54

    Posts : 30
    Join date : 2015-04-13

    Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by jasn54 on Fri May 29, 2015 12:30 pm

    Greetings all.  It's great to be here.  

    Disregarding the old Heathkit stereo amp I hijacked from my Dad back in the 70's, I am a newbie in the world of tube amps, having recently completed the excellent ST-120 by Bob Latino.  Living outside Worcester, MA, I was also able pick the kit up directly from Bob, saving a few bucks, and get the chance to meet him in person.  It was an honor to meet Bob and fun to have also been educated on some of the great backstories to this fine, modernized amplifier.

    I was able to assemble the kit without a hitch.  As all of you likely know Bob's instructions are foolproof. I was a bit worried about my soldering skills but soon learned this kit is more about (carefully and slowly) routing and shaping wires than anything else.  My biggest challenge was to recognize when I was tired and to take a break to avoid mistakes.  Yet again, Bob's illustrations and illustrations helped immensely.  Start-up was nearly perfect, but it turned out I had trouble getting all of the bias up to recommended levels.  After emailing a request for help at 5 p.m. on a Friday night, I got a phone call from Bob 5 minutes later and we were able to confirm the culprit as a bad GZ34 rectifier.  Bob had me over to his home first thing Saturday morning, with the amp, where we reconfirmed and fixed the problem.  Bob was very gracious with kudos for how well I assembled the amp (aw shucks!) and we both admired it's total silence when connected to his shop speakers.

    So it turns out I hit the trifecta of excellence traits for this product...Quality Components; Concise Instructions and Superb Customer Support.  Well done Bob and thanks!

    I am driving the amp primarily with an (also new) Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC.  The DAC is fed by a NAS-connected, Asus Chromebox that was easily hacked to run Kodi media software (formally XMBC) via a stripped-down Linux OS called OpenElec.  The DC-1 has added pre-amp benefit so I also have a digital coax input from my Oppo BDP-83 BR player AND an analog input for my Technics in-line turntable .  My speakers are a classic pair of re-foamed JBL L166's I bought back in 1977 when I was stationed in Japan.  They've held up very well and I am so glad I ignored my thoughts through the years to sell them.  It is a complete system and I have a lot of new ways to play.  (yay! Smile)

    I've barley had a couple of dozen hours with the amp so far but it has been quite stunning.  I'm using upgraded caps and the KT88 tubes and want to be comfortable with the entire setup before I start down the tube-rolling rabbit hole (we'll see...).

    If I have one small issue with the amp it's the location of the power switch.  I understand and value the amp design staying true to the original Dynaco frame but I know I am likely to get a mark or two on my forearm after a few late night listening sessions drunken .  I am going to try a pretty cool looking surge-protecting Power Strip (I got for free after a home energy audit) that has a control outlet that can sense current flow from the plugged-in device when powered on and, in turn, power-on 4 slave outlets.  I would use the DC-1 as the master device and power the amp through one of the slave outlets.  The control outlet is even programmable to sense Low/Med/High current flow so the master device can even have a trickle flow when in standby and still switch the slave outlets when turned on.  Is anyone else using something similar or have thoughts on this power strip arrangement?

    So...Apologies for all the links if they're too much.  I didn't include photos but would be happy to as follow-up.  I'm looking forward to following this site and to hopefully add value when/if I can.

    Cheers!  jasn54

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1313
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by sKiZo on Fri May 29, 2015 1:11 pm

    Pictures ... if you're happy and you're proud, raise your camera! Show off! You won't be the first ... clown

    The remote cutoff is a good thing. Just make sure you stay within the rated limits of the device.


    peterh

    Posts : 681
    Join date : 2012-12-25
    Location : gothenburg, sweden

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by peterh on Fri May 29, 2015 1:43 pm

    Regarding power switch :
    install an SSR inside and feed it with some DC from your preamp. Then you will never hear a pop
    or bang with you turn it off as the SSR makes & breaks at zero-crossings.

    deepee99

    Posts : 1337
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by deepee99 on Fri May 29, 2015 2:00 pm

    Welcome to Tommy's holiday camp, jasn54!
    I have a pair of M-125s, so can't address your aesthetic issues.
    Bob has set you up with a good set of tubes, but were I to induct you into the tube-rolling fraternity, start messing with your drivers. There is a lot of back-and-forth about the big outputs, but the flavour is in the drivers.

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1313
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by sKiZo on Fri May 29, 2015 3:54 pm

    ... and they're crunchy too!

    A VERY GOOD start would be to get a set of RCA clear tops. Outstanding performance and real decent prices. Just be careful, as you CAN get carried away with the whole rolling thing ...



    PS ... thought I had a handle on my addiction, but wouldn't you know it ... there's a black plate RCA 5814 winging it's way to me as we speak ...

    Kentley

    Posts : 335
    Join date : 2015-03-06
    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Kentley on Fri May 29, 2015 4:07 pm

    You sound like a happy camper, jasn54.
    I am also a recent purchaser and current enjoyer of the VTA ST-120. I've had mine for three months and it just keeps sounding better.
    I live in Worcester, so we ought to get together to share tubes and stuff. I do have a batch of drivers, and every one sounds a bit different in the center position.
    PM me should you care to. Always good to have tubular neighbors! Kentley

    jasn54

    Posts : 30
    Join date : 2015-04-13

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by jasn54 on Fri May 29, 2015 5:23 pm

    Kentley wrote:You sound like a happy camper, jasn54.
    I am also a recent purchaser and current enjoyer of the VTA ST-120. I've had mine for three months and it just keeps sounding better.
    I live in Worcester, so we ought to get together to share tubes and stuff. I do have a batch of drivers, and every one sounds a bit different in the center position.
    PM me should you care to. Always good to have tubular neighbors!                   Kentley

    I was hoping to see you post here Kentley. Smile Getting together sounds great. I am finishing up some things in my basement and will PM after things settle down.

    Jim

    deepee99

    Posts : 1337
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by deepee99 on Fri May 29, 2015 5:37 pm

    Hmm
    Next thing these wazoos will have you doing is listening to Tom Waits, which ain't all bad.
    Beware of sKiZo's schematics, unless you have a good relationship with your local power company. He is known to darken entire cities.

    Kentley

    Posts : 335
    Join date : 2015-03-06
    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Kentley on Fri May 29, 2015 6:39 pm

    Why hasn't Mr. Waits released an album entitled "Tom Waits For No One"? Beats me with a used rectifier...... affraid

    jasn54

    Posts : 30
    Join date : 2015-04-13

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by jasn54 on Sat May 30, 2015 5:20 pm

    Mr. Waits is quite a treat, but I've still not fully acquired a taste in his entire catalog.  Would love to buy him a drink or two though.  The man is cool.

    That said, just ran down to the store and my auto iPod played Zappa's Willie the Pimp the whole time.  Volume was up and windows were down...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKYGaEafv4g

    deepee99

    Posts : 1337
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by deepee99 on Sat May 30, 2015 6:00 pm

    Well then, Leonard Cohen.

    Kentley

    Posts : 335
    Join date : 2015-03-06
    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Kentley on Sat May 30, 2015 6:37 pm

    ...He's a little pimp with his hair gassed black. {There's only so much Joy in the World.}

    10-E-C

    Posts : 87
    Join date : 2014-02-12
    Age : 63
    Location : upper east tn

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by 10-E-C on Sat May 30, 2015 11:19 pm

    jasn54 wrote:Mr. Waits is quite a treat, but I've still not fully acquired a taste in his entire catalog.  Would love to buy him a drink or two though.  The man is cool.

    That said, just ran down to the store and my auto iPod played Zappa's Willie the Pimp the whole time.  Volume was up and windows were down...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKYGaEafv4g




    Hot Rats was the very first Zappa album I ever bought back in the 70's.

    deepee99

    Posts : 1337
    Join date : 2012-05-23
    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by deepee99 on Sat May 30, 2015 11:57 pm

    And I thought weasels ate my flesh.

    wgallupe

    Posts : 85
    Join date : 2014-05-18
    Age : 62
    Location : Central Mass.

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by wgallupe on Sun May 31, 2015 4:19 pm

    jasn54 wrote:
    Kentley wrote:You sound like a happy camper, jasn54.
    I am also a recent purchaser and current enjoyer of the VTA ST-120. I've had mine for three months and it just keeps sounding better.
    I live in Worcester, so we ought to get together to share tubes and stuff. I do have a batch of drivers, and every one sounds a bit different in the center position.
    PM me should you care to. Always good to have tubular neighbors!                   Kentley

    I was hoping to see you post here Kentley.  Smile  Getting together sounds great.  I am finishing up some things in my basement and will PM after things settle down.

    Jim

    Another Worcester area guy here! Back in the day I used to frequent all the local stores like Tech HiFi (A friend of mine worked there so I got to spend a lot of time in the back room there Wink) , MSL, Hi Fidelity House, Natural Sound and Tweeter. In fact, I worked part time at the Shrewsbury Tweeter for a few years.

    Anyway, jumped on the 'Latino' and 'tubes4hifi' bandwagons last Fall and am now happier than ever with my gear. Totally focusing on music nowadays. Maybe some kind of local get together is in order...

    Kentley

    Posts : 335
    Join date : 2015-03-06
    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Kentley on Sun May 31, 2015 4:36 pm

    Well, we have the beginnings of a real tube club here. Hi-Fi House, Tech Hi-Fi, and the only one left standing is Natural Sound, which seems to be on its last legs. Now all we need to do is entice The Big Kahuna Bob L. to grace us with his presence, and we can have a rotating get together to help us ruin each others' set-ups. What glorious fun.

    wgallupe

    Posts : 85
    Join date : 2014-05-18
    Age : 62
    Location : Central Mass.

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by wgallupe on Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:05 pm

    Do you remember MSL? I forgot what that stood for. Something like Music and Sound, Ltd. They were located on Main Street downtown. In the early 70s I bought a large (and expensive for me at the time) pair of Infinty Reference Standard speakers from them. Boy did they need a lot of power and space! Ya it would be great if we could get The Big Kahuna to join in on a local 'Latino amp fest'. Even without Bob I'm sure it would be fun/interesting. I'm in West Boylston. Would be happy to host a GtG.

    jasn54

    Posts : 30
    Join date : 2015-04-13

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by jasn54 on Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:39 pm

    Sounds like fun guys. I live in Northboro but am still recovering from ice dam repairs, otherwise I'd offer up my place too.

    Bob Latino
    Admin

    Posts : 2415
    Join date : 2008-11-26
    Location : Massachusetts

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Bob Latino on Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:48 pm

    Worcester, West Boylston and Northboro Massachusetts .. If you guys ever do have a "Worcester County amp fest" at some location, let me know where and what day? If I can make it, I will be there ..

    Bob

    wgallupe

    Posts : 85
    Join date : 2014-05-18
    Age : 62
    Location : Central Mass.

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by wgallupe on Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:00 pm

    That's great Bob. Would enjoy seeing you again and hearing more stories. For possible attendees so far we have Bob, myself (Wayne), Kentley and jasn54. Of course others in the area are also welcome. Let's start by narrowing it down to which month. Cast your vote: June, July, August or September?

    As far as location, my offer stands. Attendees are welcome to bring/demo/showoff whatever equipment they want to lug over. For sources, I have a Thorens TT and an OPPO CD/SACD player to accommodate everyone's favorite tunes. I have been wanting to bring my Magnepan MMGs up from the basement and try them with the SP13/ST120. This GtG will provide the motivation.

    Anyway, we have a start...

    Wayne

    jasn54

    Posts : 30
    Join date : 2015-04-13

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by jasn54 on Tue Jun 02, 2015 8:16 pm

    This is great!  I'll wait to hear from the rest of you regarding when, but do admit it'll be harder for me during the summer months unless it's a weeknight.  Really looking forward to this.  Thanks WG.

    BTW, I bought my Carver Receiver from Natural Sound back in the 80's and it served me and my friends very well till a Northboro lightning strike outside our house took it's life back in the late 90's. RIP.

    Kentley

    Posts : 335
    Join date : 2015-03-06
    Age : 64
    Location : Worcester, MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Kentley on Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:42 pm

    Well guys (are there no women in this forum?) I'd be glad to host an event here, though my space is limited. At very least, I think it would be great to network -- we don't all have to attend. I'm keen on room treatment, speaker placement, and acoustics in general and, though the forum is helpful in these matters, there's no substitutute for being there in someone's environment to both give and receive helpful suggestions.
    As far as when we could have the Big Pow-Wow, I'm quite flexible except for one factor - I no longer drive.
    I extend an open invitation to anyone to visit my little heaven in Worcester. BYOS (Bring Your Own Stuff). flower

    wgallupe

    Posts : 85
    Join date : 2014-05-18
    Age : 62
    Location : Central Mass.

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by wgallupe on Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:01 pm

    Ok, we have options! Thanks for the invite. As you said above, we have the makings of a little audio club! Weekends are best for me. Unfortunately I'm busy for the next few. How about if we all agree to keep it open and we can jump on an opportunity when it arises.

    Btw, I'm quite interested in learning about room treatment.

    pedrocols

    Posts : 64
    Join date : 2014-11-24
    Location : Western MA

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by pedrocols on Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:01 pm

    I live in western mass and will also be interested in a get together! I am a late audio fanatic boomer but I enjoy this hobby tremendously, nevertheless.

    Guest
    Guest

    Re: Another Very Satisfied ST-120 Builder/Owner

    Post by Guest on Thu Jun 04, 2015 9:34 am

    I'll come...if someone pays my airline ticket!!..just imagine all the wisdom and bull I can bring to such a meet!!!!!!!!!.. bounce ....should be fun!

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