I've been wrestling with preamps for years. If cost weren't an issue, there’d be no problem, but we all have limits. I adored a Cary AE-3 DJH in the mid 2000s. It had a beautiful midrange and commanding low end. That’s when I discovered 6SN7 tubes and transformer-coupled output. The DJH had everything I wanted except too much gain--20dB restricted my volume control. I experimented with attenuators, but that didn't solve the problem. I replaced it with a Belles 21A which was lovely. It still had too much gain (17dB), but volume control was better. At some point, my listening shifted to digital and I thought a preamp/DAC might be a good idea, so I picked up a PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell. I was happy with it for several years, but every time I swapped in the Belles I was reminded of its lush full-bodied midrange. The Belles was nice, but I kept thinking there must be something better if I was willing to spend more. The overwhelming number of Supratek Chardonnay owners caught my attention, so I bought one. It's absolutely wonderful! The sound reminds me of the DJH, but significantly quieter and more detailed. It still has too much gain, but it has adjustable input which solves that problem.
I don't identify as a hoarder, but when it comes to audio gear, I have a hard time letting go. I currently have eight preamps, three amps, and seven speakers. I need to do some house cleaning.
Many things have changed in my life since 1982, but she's been with me throughout. She spun a lot of vinyl in the 80s. Her first hookup was a Signet TK5Ea, followed by Signet TK7LCa, Audio Technica AT125LC, and Denon DL-160. In the 90s, with the lure of CDs, she sat patiently in her box waiting for a sunny day. With a renewed interest in the mid 2000s, I pulled her out and damped her plinth with modeling clay, damped the platter with Dynamat, replaced the feet with Vibrapod, and replaced RCA output with Vampire CM2FCB. Electrolytics in the power supply were also replaced. I played with a number carts: DL-103, Shelter 501, Ortofon M20FL, Cartridge Man Music Maker III, Benz Glider L2, Grado Reference Sonata.
I couldn't be happier with this. It has all the warmth, body and detail I desire. I've had a number of other phono stages, but this one has something special. I owe a big thanks to the Bottlehead crew for offering these kits. I'm tempted to build an Eros or Reduction just to relive the building experience, but I'm perfectly happy with the Seduction! I replaced some of the stock parts:
47K Vishay S102K (input load)
Russian FT-3 teflon interstage (0.1 uF) and output (0.47uF)
I won't let these go. The Walsh 200 was the mid-size model of the straight sided tower Walsh speakers that replaced the truncated pyramid cabinets of the earlier Walsh speakers. It replaced the 3XO and 4XO.
Rewired with a three foot strand of shielded Cardas 4x33 -- covered with surgical rubber hose and braided stainless steel. Exterior wrapped in a nylon sheath. Terminated with WBT-0108. Floating ground. A Michell Tecnoweight offered a significant improvement in the low end. The counterweight stub wrapped with mineral-filled asphalt adhesive to damp vibrations. I do Twl's tonearm tweak when using a DL-103.
Impedance: 4 ohms min (6 ohms nom) Sensitivity: 86 dB Crossover: 400 Hz, 3500 Hz
Circa 1973-87. Paul Seydor from The Absolute Sound said this:
One should always be wary of pronouncing “firsts,” but, appearing in the early seventies, Jon Dahlquist’sDQ‑10 was to my knowledge the first dynamic speaker to employ multiple drivers in an open-baffleconfiguration (except the acoustic‑suspension woofer, which was enclosed) staggered for propertime‑alignment and phase coherence, in an attempt to realize the openness and freedom from boxiness thatDahlquist prized in his beloved Quad ESL-57s—with the added advantages of deeper bass and dynamicextension well beyond the Quad. (The physical resemblance to the Quad was both mandated by the designand an intentional homage.) Far from flawless (including conceptually), the DQ-10 was nevertheless aground-breaking design that preceded dozens of subsequent speakers (perhaps most prominent amongthem models from KEF, B&W, Spica, Thiel, Vandersteen, and Wilson) continuing up to the present day. Fewlarge, full-range dynamic speakers before or for some time afterward equaled its openness.
Hi Mingles, This is probably the best and most informative set-out for a 'Systems Page' that I have seen? The Links are explicit and intuitive and one can appreciate the enormous effort you have gone to in compiling your page. Great system(s) and great job.
I also admire your approach to building a system, DIY is much more fun than plug'n'play. I have the Sonic Euphoria Passive as well, along with DIY speakers. I've been wanting to build the Bottlehead Extended Foreplay III, it's good to know how much you enjoy it.
Enjoy that fine system, and Happy Holidays! Regards, Dan
The amount of information about your system is impressive, that you provide links for more information outstanding. Enjoyed reading your take and the reviews of others. I would like to have seem a picture of the entire set up. You have indeed compiled a system with great care and enjoyment.
Mavroudakis, I'm glad you found the schematic. You should be aware of the fact that ASL made changes to the circuit without documenting them. My amps are slightly different than the schematic. You probably saw the write up in my system about loose sockets. These caused a few resistors to burn out which, in turn, burned out some tubes. To prevent future problems, I decided to replace all the sockets. I haven't finished... it's tedious work.
Chazzbo, I like the Cartridge Man quite a bit. In my opinion, the Grado Sonata is an under-appreciated cartridge that has one of the best midranges I've heard. I agree with you about Dynavector. The 20X sounds fabulous.
Mingles I ought you a very big thank you! I was looking everywhere for ASL AQ-1008 schematics since I need it for repair issues and I found it here in your posts. Big relief! As a matter of fact I looked in the mods you went through with these amps and I am considering following them. Again thank you!
Like it.Has an old school approach.Just wondering with the how you like the Cartridge Man why the Grado (unless it's mono) which I sold and have had a find nice but boring.Shelter is fine but emphasizes mids.Think maybe a Dynavector would be better at price point.But think those Alon's are being nicely fed. Cheers Chazz
Thanks for your comment Sam. I'm hobbling things together the only way I know how... through trial and error! I have to admit I'm starting to question why I bother with vinyl. It requires so much effort compared to digital and the results are spotty. It's starting to feel like a chore rather than an enjoyable experience.
Hi T-bone, thanks for visiting. The descriptions and links in my system are basic html. Unfortunately, they aren't a feature at Audiogon, but the tags are easy to learn. Here's a good tutorial that explains how to create bullet lists:
Mingles, I love the way you have added the links and descriptions so cleanly within the description/links to each piece. Is that html or is that a new feature of Audiogon? Well done in any case. Love the DIY nature of a lot of what you have done.
System edited: New addition: Bottlehead Extended Foreplay III with Sylvania 6SN7. First impressions are extremely positive. There's no mistaking this a warm preamp. Vocals have more weight and presence. Highs have a new sense of air and ambiance. Cymbals seem to be in the room. Bass has a new punch. The only thing I'll nit-pick about is a tranny buzz between songs. It's independent of volume and source. I'll try to track it down and deal with it.