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The Dynaco Tube Audio Forum

Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all original Dynaco tube audio equipment - Customer support for Tubes4hifi VTA tube amp and preamp kits and all Dynakitparts.com products


    ST120 appreciation

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    grosen

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2020-05-10

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    Post by grosen on Tue Jun 02, 2020 2:34 pm

    I've spent the last 24 hours listening to my newly completed ST120 and wanted to say a few words of appreciation.

    Some background.  My first serious amp was a tube amp — a Golden Tube SE40, if anyone remembers those.  I had it for a while but never loved it and moved on to a highly regarded 125 wpc solid state amp that retails for $3000 and which has been the anchor of my system ever since.  I've changed everything else many times and its gotten better every time, the latest upgrade being a Don Sachs preamp that I ordered on a self-indulgent whim and which made the biggest difference of any single upgrade until now.  I've been so happy with that version of the system that I thought I was basically done.  

    I ordered the ST120 kit because I was bored and wanted a quarantine project.  I built it stock (with the TDR and stepped attenuator), thinking it would be interesting to hear an all tube system for a change and that I'd keep it as a back-up to play around with.

    I got it up and running with only a minor hiccup and help from Bob.  If anyone is on the fence because of doubts about the difficulty of building the kit, let me say: I'm a total amateur (a philosophy professor with zero training in electronics) and I found the build easy and incredibly rewarding.  

    As for the sound:  The improvement over my previous amp has me wondering how I could possibly have been satisfied with what I had before.  Every aspect of performance is better, the main thing being separation of instruments.  (I guess I hadn't really known what people meant by that before now.)  In triode mode at  moderate volume, the bass and treble quality are both significantly improved. A jazz drummer playing with brushes used to sound like an undifferentiated whoosh; now it sounds like art.  (I had begun to think that my high-frequency hearing was starting to go and that I wasn't hearing details for that reason.  I am incredibly relieved to discover that the problem isn't in my head.) Acoustic bass sounds oaky and musical, no more bland thump.  

    Bottom line:  The ST120 is a superior piece of gear in my system.  Hats off to VTA for making it available.
    DavidR
    DavidR

    Posts : 75
    Join date : 2017-08-10
    Location : MetroWest, MA

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    Post by DavidR on Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:09 pm

    Congratulations on your build. I didn't build my ST-120 but have enjoyed listening to jazz on vinyl with a pair of AR10Pi speakers. Its like everything was made for each other. I liked it so much I ended up getting an SP12 with a PH14 and now have found a new level of toobiness.

    The only downside is I have a weakness about tubes. I seem to have become a collector of all the 12AU7 and variants and different manufacturers. I like the NOS tubes from the 50's the most.
    ArlanB
    ArlanB

    Posts : 72
    Join date : 2011-01-23
    Age : 72
    Location : Santa Cruz, California

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    Post by ArlanB on Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:58 pm

    I second the accolades to you on your new addition.  This month makes 12 years since I constructed my VTA ST120.  There is not a day that goes by when I listen to my system that I do not marvel at how marvelous it sounds.  There have been some changes in the topography of the amp kit over the years, however I would not change a thing on my unit, (as some wise person once said "leave well enough alone").  I use it to drive a pair of ESS Heil AMT10b speakers that are a perfect match.  The only problem that I encountered after construction was finding power tubes that would not go south relatively soon after bing installed, (two weeks to 7 months). I finally settled on Penta Labs KT88SC's about 10 years ago, they worked so well that when Penta terminated marketing them I sourced identical tubes from another importer form the north country.  I waited for "Black Friday" sales and am now set for the distant future.  I think that time has been on our side, manufactures seem to be improving the quality of their valves as compared to 10 years ago.  They wised up and realize that we are a serious consumer group.
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    chahooa

    Posts : 1
    Join date : 2017-09-17
    Age : 40
    Location : Indianapolis

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    Post by chahooa on Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:46 pm

    Grosen, I have the same preamp and amp. What speakers do you use, I’m curious.
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    grosen

    Posts : 4
    Join date : 2020-05-10

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    Post by grosen on Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:13 pm

    Thanks, Chahooa.   My speakers are DIY 3-ways from a design by Troels Gravesen called Fusion.  I've had much more complicated systems — most recently a tri-amped system with Linkwitz-designed LX-minis.   I built the Fusions because I wanted a simpler system with one amp and one pair of speakers, no sub.  It didn't think when I built them that a tube amp was in my future.  But they're 89-90db efficient and a perfect match for the ST-120.  (Will post pics when I've finished tweaking the cosmetics on the ST-120.)

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