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    An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

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    jmczaja

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    Join date : 2017-02-09
    Location : New Jersey

    An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:01 pm

    Hi folks.. I just took delivery of x2 VTA m125's kids and thought it would be nice to say hi to everyone here. I have to say, I couldn't believe how heavy the box was! I will be assembling mine over the next few weeks as time permits and am looking forward to hearing them. They will be used with a McIntosh MX110Z preamp, Thorens TD160 Super (Vinyl Nirvana) turntable and Vandersteen 2ce speakers. I'm currently using a McIntosh MA6200 integrated amp.

    I'm looking forward to participating in the forum!

    -jay
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    Tube Nube

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by Tube Nube on Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:30 pm

    Hi Jay,

    Looks like I'm 1st to say welcome to the forum, but others will be alomg soon, I'm sure. I'm certain you'll find it a friendly and informative place to hang out.

    Cograts on your purchase of those fine monoblocks. I haven't heard a bad thing about them. Only praise from many satisfied builders and buyers. They're great performers, and apparently (like other VTA tyoe gear) even greater when value for money enters imto the evaluation. Bob's instructions are crystal clear and a joy to follow. Any problems or questio s that arise during the build, or afterwards, you're sure to get good help straight away on this forum.

    There are a few folks on this board who also own MacIntosh gear, or have experience with it. And tnere are 1 or 2 with Vandersteen speakers. DeePee Dave comes to mind.

    So plan to get stuck in here.
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    pedrocols

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by pedrocols on Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:29 pm

    Welcome!
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    deepee99

    Posts : 1760
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    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Welcome to Tommy's Holiday Camp!

    Post by deepee99 on Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:47 am

    Sell those bad boys, don't even open the boxes! Otherwise you're gonna be stuck with a lifetime of fantastic listening and other peoples' "audiophile" gear will sound like iPods, and you and the listening chair will become as one. Run, I say, run!
    I've had Vandies (inc. the 5Acs) and a plethora of others. I prefer Tylers but that's another thread. Properly tubed, the M-125s will blow the doors off anything 10x the price.
    Take your time building them and no matter how niggling or dumb you think the question might be, there's plenty of wise help here. Bob L. is an email or phone call away and never seems to sleep.
    When you get around to tubing the things, run a flag up for some experienced advice. And if we don't know the answer we'll make one up that's believable.
    Enjoy,
    Dave

    jmczaja

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    Location : New Jersey

    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:08 am

    Thanks guys for the warm welcome. I'm still reading about what options I have for power tubes and still haven't made a choice. I already have some 12BH7a's from an LA2A tube compressor I built a while back (NOS GE's and Sylvania's). I'll see how those sound before buying any more. I'm thinking GE's in the front position and the Sylvania's in the back. I've already put together one of the driver boards and will probably put some of the mechanical parts on one of the chassis this afternoon and hopefully get around to painting the transformers.

    How did the Vandies pair with the M125's?

    Looking forward to interacting with you fine folks! Smile

    -jay
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    Bob Latino
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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by Bob Latino on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:49 am

    I know that forum member deepee use to use a pair of M-125's to drive some Vandersteen 5's. I believe that he now uses Tyler Acoustics speakers with his M-125's .. Older photo below ..

    Bob



    jmczaja

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    Location : New Jersey

    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:51 am

    Thanks for the pic Bob..

    Man... The Vandy 2Ce's are so ugly compared to those! haha

    But then again, at 20x the price.. They better be! Wink
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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:22 pm

    I've had 2CE sig Vandies as well; they're very wimpy on the low end no matter the amp. OTOH the Tyler Highlands are 1/2 the price of Vandy 5Acs, far more efficient and, to my ears, fill the room better and with greater clarity. But the M-125s will sound superb through any Vandies without breaking a sweat.
    Startin' to pick fights already? Jay? Toobz is a good starting point.
    Your choice of drivers is a good one. The front holes have the greater influence on the amps' sound.
    As for outputs, tough to beat Genalex's Gold Lion KT-88s, though some folks prefer the Tung-Sol KT-120s. Both are Russian re-issues and tough around physical and electronic abuse. Just keep an eye on the bias for the break-in period.
    My go-to guy for new issue Russians is Jim McShane at jimmcshane@prodigy.net. (McShane Designs.)

    jmczaja

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    Join date : 2017-02-09
    Location : New Jersey

    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:36 pm

    Ahhh thanks.. I thought it was the back tube that had more of an influence on sound! In that case, Sylvanias in the front!

    You're right about the 2Ce's, while i love their midrange and the way they image, they do lack in the low end. I'm considering adding 2w sub to fill it out a bit.

    Right now the Preferred Series KT88's (Penta's from Doug Tubes), Gold Lion KT88's and Tung Sol KT120's are in the running for power tubes. I'm leaning towards the Penta's.

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    LeGrace

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by LeGrace on Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:18 pm

    I went with Gold Lion KT88's, next time though will be KT120's. What do you plan to use as rectifiers?

    jmczaja

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:06 pm

    I'll probably start off with the Weber WZ68 for rectifiers and keep my eyes peeled for a pair of nice Mullard GZ33's (and then keep the Webers on hand as spares).

    Why the switch to KT120's? Were the GL KT88's lacking in some way? Durability?

    I'm leaning towards the Shuguang Penta KT88SCs (rebranded as Ruby's) for my first set.

    Dogstar

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by Dogstar on Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:42 pm

    I was using TungSol KT-120's and a Weber WZ68 SS rectifier for about two years until one of the power tubes turned into a red dwarf. I then switched over to Genekex KT-88's and a GZ34 a few months ago and so far so good. Either way the sonic quality is good with the KT-120's have a little more drive in the low end. I'm using them in a VTA ST-120 with JBL L100T3's right now.

    Your M125's probably sound great.
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    LeGrace

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by LeGrace on Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:45 pm

    After only about 6 months one of the 88's gassed out on me and failed in spectacular fashion. No complaints about the sound, they dig deep. But for the cost they should last longer. Meanwhile the 120's I've only seen positive comments.

    I tried looking for some 33's myself but they are like proverbial hens teeth. Had to console myself with these puppies:

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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:21 pm

    jmczaja wrote:I'll probably start off with the Weber WZ68 for rectifiers and keep my eyes peeled for a pair of nice Mullard GZ33's (and then keep the Webers on hand as spares).

    Why the switch to KT120's? Were the GL KT88's lacking in some way? Durability?

    I'm leaning towards the Shuguang Penta KT88SCs (rebranded as Ruby's) for my first set.

    Good luck with them GZ-33s. I've got a half-dozen old Mullards locked in the gun safe I only bring out for visiting royalty. There are still a few big honkin' -34s and -37s out there but they're going for north of $100, too. Haven't seen a decent -33 on the market for a coupla years now . . . however, those giant bottles are studly, esp. at night with the lights out, and very tough electrically.
    If you go the Weber WZ-68 route be mindful they are consumables just like tubes, albeit solid state and dirt cheap, and heat is their enemy and they will burn out. You can gently pull the copper cap off -- no vacuum to disturb -- find a piece of dowel for support, and drill a few small vent holes to keep it running cooler. (Be sure you glue the cap back on before re-installing given the exposed voltages etc.)

    If you want to stay w/ tubular rectification, new-issue Gold Lion GZ-34s are a good solid tube, and will run four KT-120s full-tilt without breaking a sweat. My only beef with them is they're about the height of a 6SN7 -- boring -- and don't tower like a gargoyle over the amp the way an old stock -33 or -37 does.

    As to outputs, to each his own. The Chinese are making some superb-sounding KT-88s but are all over the place in terms of QC, longevity and price. My only beef with KT-120s is there's only the one mfgr. However, some people think their bass is more resolved, they give you a slight boost in wattage vs. KT-88s and are a tad cheaper than GL KT-88s. They're certainly sturdy, too.

    My two bits' would be to get an octet each of TS-120s and GL KT-88s, give each several hundred listening hours, see what you like best. Don't be swapping them out every 10 hours! (One beauty of the M-125s is they run fine on just two tubes each so you could just A/B quartets, to save a few bucks.)

    My guess is that in the end you'll find more variability in the driver tubes you select than in the outputs, and signal tubes are a helluva lot cheaper than outputs.






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    pedrocols

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by pedrocols on Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:34 pm

    There is a pair now for sale Mullard GZ-33
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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:18 pm

    Look at the original prices on those puppies.
    At $300/pair, too rich for my blood. Mullard made several variants of the GZ- 33, -34 and -37 series, not curious enough to learn about their relative virtues. These on eBay look like they were made from 2 different runs. I'd rather spend my tube budget elsewhere.
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    pedrocols

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by pedrocols on Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:10 pm

    Crazy prices for sure.
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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:34 pm

    But enough about us . . . how goes the build, JMCZAJA?
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    ArlanB

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by ArlanB on Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:54 pm

    jmczaja, Welcome to the VTA Kit Club.  I am running Penta Labs KT88SC's in my VTA ST120 and have not regretted the move to Shuguang at all.  They make beautiful music and are the hardiest KT88's that I know.  I ran through four different quads of KT88's all from the Russian/Eastern European area and none of them lasted longer than 9 months and the Gold Lion quad had the shortest life, three weeks.  So that is when I went the Chinese route.  These Penta Lab KT88's are now over 4 years old and are still going strong.  I picked up another set of these KT88SC type tubes from The Tube Store (their "Preferred" brand) when they had a very short term sale on them for $39.00 each. So I pounced and picked up a matched quad to give my Penta's a rest and these new tubes sound just as good. So we will see just how robust they are.  Good luck with your builds.  

    arlanb

    jmczaja

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:53 pm

    Thanks guys.. The build is coming along nicely. So far, I sanded and sprayed painted the transformers, built both driver PCBs, and populated both chassis with all of the mechanical parts. While I wait for my output tubes and copper cap to arrive, I'll start wiring one of the M125's up.

    I wound up ordering the Ruby KT88V-STR's from Doug's Tubes. These are supposed to be the same as the Penta KT88SC's with the solid plate and 3 getters. I hope mine last as long as yours, ArlanB! I read quite a few reliability issues with the Russian/Euro KT88 tubes, so i decided to try the Chinese first.

    What's the deal with the 'Black Treasure' KT88's? They seem to be out of my price range.

    eickmewg

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by eickmewg on Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:39 am

    I had Gold Lion reissue KT88's in my VTA ST20 for over a year with no problems. However, I recently sold some Black Treasure 6CA7's I had purchased for a Yaqin integrated tube amp which is now doing reserve duty. With the proceeds from the sale and new cash, I got some Black Treasure KT88-Z tubes. They are very nice and look cool. I can't tell that they sound any different from the GL's. I hope they have a long life.
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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:58 pm

    Here is a PSVane-centric overview of the Chinese audio tube situation. It covers their relations with ShuGuang and the various grading systems used:
    http://psvanetube.com/wordpress/who-is-psvane/
    Having been to Changsha in Hunan Province where most Chinese audio and military tubes are made under various labels, I propose a Forum Guided Field Trip to that city -- about a 3-hour flight south of PEK on a real Boeing. Sponsors would merely need to cover my expenses, plus a night or two at the Shangri-La in Beijing -- for services rendered. Bring a gas mask: the air in Changsha makes a smoggy day in Beijing look like the blue skies over the North Pole.


    Last edited by deepee99 on Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grandma)

    jmczaja

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:37 am

    Thanks, that was a interesting if not a little confusing read!

    So.. I got one wired up and am just waiting for the rectifier to get here. Double checked my work so hopefully no issues! We'll see.. haha

    jmczaja

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    Join date : 2017-02-09
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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by jmczaja on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:38 pm

    We have lift off! Smile The Weber copper cap came earlier than expected so I was able to finish my first m125 earlier this evening. She fired up on the first shot! No problems whatsoever biasing the tubes and no odd sounds or hums or buzzes. Played some music for about a half hour, so far, so good.

    I only had a chance to hook it up to a JBL L100 I have in the basement so obviously I can't make any critical assessments on sound quality. Although I have to say, what I do hear so far is very encouraging!

    Hopefully I'll get the 2nd one done by the end of the weekend.

    -jay


    Last edited by jmczaja on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    deepee99

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    Re: An introduction from an owner of new VTA M125's (kits)

    Post by deepee99 on Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:40 pm

    Hot damn and congratulations, Jay.

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