SuperBAF Cheap Tube Amp Guide ~$1200 or less

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
    Not entirely true. They don't have a kit but they do have the PCB available for $125
     
  2. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,421
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Probably doesn't qualify as a cheap tube amp on account of not having tubes.
     
  3. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,421
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Pretty much true. I suppose you could cobble together a DIY chassis (I don't think they're selling the T3 chassis a la carte), and use the off-the-shelf Edcor OPT. The Cinemags are custom built from what I recall, and not generally available from the supplier. So yeah, it'd be pretty tough to DIY a "maxed out" T3 with the kit now being discontinued. Oh and by the way, the expressed purpose of discontinuing the kit was to discourage or effectively discontinue DIY builds. Tom/Doug had felt the complexity had exceeded their DIY standards.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,407
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Since the Elise review unit wasn't my own, I didn't want to hold on to it for too long. Maybe a bigger output cap could have helped bass extension. I opened it up, took photos, but didn't trace the circuit. The cultists were so mad at me that I even took photos, but I did it to show the well laid out internals. Based on measurements, I assumed it was a SET OTL. Also taking a guess that it's a cathode follower as with most OTLs. The output impedance was rather high at about 45 ohms. I am appreciative that someone wanted a ZD for cheap, but this is not realistic. The sound of these amps is dictated by circuit topology, not by tubes (or you can let the tubes dictate topology.)

    What makes the ZDS interesting for an OTL is that the output is taken from the plate, something can be done with those MIG-25 radar tubes because of their super low plate resistance. Normally cathode followers are used because they have lower resistance, but in this case it wasn't necessary. Finally, feedback is applied to reduce the output Z to about 20 ohms. This is why the ZD has less of that "wet OTL" type sound. A good amount of feedback, plate follower, low plate resistance. Finally, the ZDS uses stiff 6D22S rectifiers into a CLCLC circuit. All caps except the first are poly foil caps, BIG poly caps. The big electrolytic has a small film cap in parallel (one of the Super tweaks).

    Any of you guys who have built maxed out TIIIs or Cracks will know that chokes and good caps are not cheap. Not saying that more money spent necessarily means better sound, but these things do make a difference. I guess what I am trying to say that you are better off building a ZDS than trying to make a completely different amp into a ZDS by X-mas tree tube rolling. And that building your own ZDS is possible. None of this stuff is secret or proprietary intellectual property as the Elise cultists would have you believe*. One day when Craig retires, which could be soon, I'd love to see the ZDS in the public domain as a kit. Maybe SuperBAF can sell it and we can give Craig a small royalty, just to make things right.

    * Everything and anything was already invented by the 1950s. It's just a matter of how you put it together.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
  5. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
  6. schiit

    schiit SchiitHead

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    9,982
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas and California
    Home Page:
    Wow, that's a trippy amp! Holy crap that's inexpensive for what it is. Makes me want one.

    (Also a perfect example of an amp Schiit won't ever try to do.)
     
  7. Gravity

    Gravity Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
    Likes Received:
    168
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I'm so tired LOL, my bad.
     
  8. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
    Oh and about those transformers, you can order them from ECP Audio.

    https://squareup.com/market/ecp-consolidated-productions-llc/

    Granted you have to source your own parts. But they also have a full BOM available so it shouldn't be too bad. The extra work is worth it to me to save a few hundred bucks(enough to buy a Modi MB)
     
  9. The Life

    The Life Facebook Friend

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2016
    Likes Received:
    168
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    The Bronx
    This thread couldn't have come at a more perfect time, as I had been contemplating getting a mid-priced tube amp. This thread has pushed me towards the Elise because it's much easier to get (and looks better) than the NBM, which are two that I find most appealing.
     
  10. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,421
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Yeah, that's not bad then. The DIY-ability of the T3 seems to live on! Good news, because I've been considering building a second.
     
  11. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,616
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Home Page:
    They are actually out of stock for now :( (I just updated the site) Not sure when they'll be back.
     
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
    Boooo. Can they be custom ordered from Cinemag?
     
  13. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,146
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Exit stage left....
    having owned/own 4 of these amps listed, glad to see them compared all in one thread!
    kudos to @Hands and @Marvey for this sticky post to the world of amp researchers.

    that being said, didn't buy my EC Uber Super7 amp for under $1200, nor would I sell it for under $1200! :D
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

    Staff Member Pyrate BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    90,407
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Blame @MisterRogers and @Hands! At one point, no one wanted a Super 7. But really, @Hands did the heavy lifting. I totally trust his opinion on this stuff. I just added a few notes, lightened up some personal biases, and scrubbed phrases like "total rip off" (or something like that) and other comments that weren't necessary to the discussion. I left the EC amp in there as reference since it's OOP, otherwise I would have removed it.
     
  15. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Pyrate MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    12,287
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    As soon as I heard MisterRogers's modded S7, I had to have one. I even let a used listing or two slip by before giving in. And then with bad influences like MisterRogers (and CS S7 mod/cap rolling thread), you mod it for a really fantastic sound like a true audiophool. I can't believe anyone would pass up on a good condition S7 or sell theirs unless they had a Studio or ZDS, maybe a whiz bang edition T3. Been singing its praises since that day and will continue to do so.
     
  16. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,358
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Just out of curiosity, would you be willing to share your tube compliment? That was the most daunting part for me, the neurosis of rolling tubes aint for me, and definitely not when i can mix and match 7 of them :p
     
  17. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

    Staff Member Pyrate MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    12,287
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Colorado
    Home Page:
    Different tubes will work better depending on if it's the Mk1 or Mk2. I have the latter.

    One pair CBS/Hyton, one pair Sylvania bad boy, one pair short bottle/chrome splash Sylvania (very common). Front tube is a RCA 6BX7 but that is NOT to be used unless you have the same regulator upgrade mod that MisterRogers did to his and mine.
     
  18. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

    Staff Member Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    8,146
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Exit stage left....
    what headphones do you have?

    I just went through a lot of 6SN7 rolling upon EC Uber 7 purchase for HE1K.
    would rather not turn this into a tube rolling thread tho, so please send me a PM.
     
  19. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador

    Pyrate Contributor
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,358
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Oh i wasnt looking for recommendations, just curious. I sold my Super 7 off a year and a half ago. that was just one of the reasons i got rid of it.
     
  20. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

    Pyrate
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    12,628
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    I'm tempted to get a maxed out TIII after hearing one at the SoCal meet. That thing is magic.
     

Share This Page