I am doing my Christmas shopping and considering giving an amp kit to my son. A ST-120 came to mind immediately. After cruising the net for alternatives I finally decided that it was still the best bang and quality for the buck and will be ordering one in the next couple of weeks. However I had some thoughts about these amps after looking at the other competitors and the differences.
The ST-120 is still the best option technically but the only place I had some second thoughts was in the cosmetic area.
When you really think about it and read Bobs advertising, these amps bear only a passing resemblance to the originals internally and look quite different externally as well if all the mods are included such as the volume attenuator,triode switches, larger transformers and the coppertop rectifier.
It made me wonder why Bob continues to make the chassis so true to the original format and does not implement a few technically sensible changes like making the hole for the old stereo-mono switch round for tidier attenuator mounting and the power cord hole square so it can take an IEC module and dare I say it make the bias setup like the M-125 mono blocks and eliminate those gaping holes in the front of the chassis. At least offer it as an alternative. Those thick stainless chassis are almost impossible to cut or drill neatly and how do you eliminate those big holes for the bias check??
I know that it would deviate from the original but I have built two of these amps already and both times I would have preferred to have had these simple mods instead of the original existing situations with the obsolete square switch hole, gigantic octal base holes and separate cord and fuse holes. Since the amp is highly modified from the original I think that some minor improvements in these areas could be allowed nostalgia aside.
These amps took the technical steps ahead in almost every way and a few minor adjustments to the looks seems innocuous enough to me and would enhance the amp's looks not to mention being able to use modern parts. I hope I haven't offended the die hard retro gang here.
In any event I am still convinced of their quality and performance otherwise and will always have one in my stable. No offence Bob. Look for my order shortly