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Last Lemming

So I want to build my Own tube amp, but . . .

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Posted (edited)

I have no electrical expert.  Other than hooking up audio gear and basic home ownership knowledge like installing an outlet or fan, or working on troubleshooting my old Porsche my experience is limited. 
 

Also, I only have a decent soldering iron and multimeter. No other specialized tools. 
 

However I can rebuild car engines, and understand how things generally work. 
 

I’m an architect by education and have 25 years in that. 
 

Do they make a good quality stereo tube amp kit (not integrated), that comes with great directions with good pictures, in case one needs a pictorial reference, out there that someone like me could buy and put together?

 

Also what would be the minimal testing equipment needed to make sure I don’t blow something up or kill myself in the process?  
 

The amp needs to have about 20 watts a channel. 

 

Thanks for any direction you can give. 

Edited by Last Lemming

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Having built an Elekit TU-8200 and a Bottlehead Reduction I'm sure you could easily handle either makers's kits. I enjoyed the Elekit much more due to the easier case build, but both meet your requirements: easy instructions (Bottlehead is so detailed it does everything but tell you when to breathe, Elekit is circuit board stuffing so less detail is required).  Other kits like the Bob Latino ST-70 get similar high marks.  I had only basic electronics knowledge before I started (Structural Engineer, sorry) and had no problem.

 

I built the Elekit with only basic tools (snipper, needle nose pliers) and a free multimeter from Harbor Freight.  I now have nicer tools for the Bottlehead but they really aren't required.

 

Given your background you'll be fine with what you have.

 

Welcome to the dark side.

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I second the Elekit and Bottlehead kits.  Although Bottlehead doesn’t offer anything with 20 watts per side.  What kind of speakers are you using Last Lemming?

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I have some new Forte iii’s

 

i tried my Decware integrated (6w per channel), and they seemed like they wanted more juice. My Parasound A21 amp is far more authoritative.  But at over 200w per channel it better be. 

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9 hours ago, Last Lemming said:

I have some new Forte iii’s

 

i tried my Decware integrated (6w per channel), and they seemed like they wanted more juice. My Parasound A21 amp is far more authoritative.  But at over 200w per channel it better be. 


As I mentioned before, going from 6 watts to 20 may not do that much for you.  I would go with one of Bob Latino’s more powerful amps for a first kit build experience.  
 

Maynard

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11 hours ago, Last Lemming said:

I have no electrical expert.  Other than hooking up audio gear and basic home ownership knowledge like installing an outlet or fan, or working on troubleshooting my old Porsche my experience is limited. 
 

Also, I only have a decent soldering iron and multimeter. No other specialized tools. 
 

However I can rebuild car engines, and understand how things generally work. 
 

I’m an architect by education and have 25 years in that. 
 

Do they make a good quality stereo tube amp kit (not integrated), that comes with great directions with good pictures, in case one needs a pictorial reference, out there that someone like me could buy and put together?

 

Also what would be the minimal testing equipment needed to make sure I don’t blow something up or kill myself in the process?  
 

The amp needs to have about 20 watts a channel. 

 

Thanks for any direction you can give. 

You are a prime candidate for diy audio. With basic electronic knowledge and learning how to read a schematic you should be able to build the multiple tubes circuits available online. Here is a good place to start.  https://diyaudioprojects.com/   https://www.diyaudio.com/   For 20 watts or more you will probably have to go with one of the Dynaco ST-70 clone kits. Google and you will find a few of them to consider. I would suggest something more simple for first project and consider it as a learning curve unless you just want to build one amp and stop there. 

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I built a vta st-120 with pretty much no electrical experience. I am a relatively mechanically inclined person.  The directions are really easy to follow and the build went without issue. Amp also sounds great on my Forte II. 

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Yep, go with a Latino kit. Excellent instructions, and if you get stumped. Bob Latino is always there to help you. I built my first amp, a Latino ST-120, ten years ago and it is still running strong. I must have e-mailed Bob a dozen times during the build. and he was always quick to respond and very patient.

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+1 on Bottlehead - Nice gear. Concise instruction and great support when needed. I built one of their headphone amps with minimal previous experience. Worked first time and still going strong.

 

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8 minutes ago, kevinmi said:

Yep, go with a Latino kit. Excellent instructions, and if you get stumped. Bob Latino is always there to help you. I built my first amp, a Latino ST-120, ten years ago and it is still running strong. I must have e-mailed Bob a dozen times during the build. and he was always quick to respond and very patient.

What brand of tubes are you using with the ST-120  , May , I ask  -

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1 minute ago, RandyH000 said:

What brand of tubes are you using with the ST-120  , May , I ask  -

You may ask. but you may not like the answer---I started out with the Sovtek KT-88's. Then I tried Tung Sol new production 6550's. Then Gold Lion KT-88's. Then KT-120's. Now I'm running vintage Tung-Sol 6550, about $150 each. As far as the small preamp tubes. I've used dozens. but my favorites are RCA clear tops. and I usually run an Amperex in the middle. because that's the tube that makes the most difference. I am running a vintage Mullard GZ-33 for the rectifier tube. I like tube rolling, can you tell?

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8 minutes ago, kevinmi said:

You may ask. but you may not like the answer---I started out with the Sovtek KT-88's. Then I tried Tung Sol new production 6550's. Then Gold Lion KT-88's. Then KT-120's. Now I'm running vintage Tung-Sol 6550, about $150 each. As far as the small preamp tubes. I've used dozens. but my favorites are RCA clear tops. and I usually run an Amperex in the middle. because that's the tube that makes the most difference. I am running a vintage Mullard GZ-33 for the rectifier tube. I like tube rolling, can you tell?

not sure if this helps -

 

https://www.dougstubes.com/brands/tung-sol-tubes/tung-sol-6550.html

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, kevinmi said:

You may ask. but you may not like the answer---I started out with the Sovtek KT-88's. Then I tried Tung Sol new production 6550's. Then Gold Lion KT-88's. Then KT-120's. Now I'm running vintage Tung-Sol 6550, about $150 each. As far as the small preamp tubes. I've used dozens. but my favorites are RCA clear tops. and I usually run an Amperex in the middle. because that's the tube that makes the most difference. I am running a vintage Mullard GZ-33 for the rectifier tube. I like tube rolling, can you tell?

how did you like the kt-120? Im thinking about picking up a set. +1 on the rca cleartops and the amperex. Have you tried any 12bh7 in the middle position? 

Edited by brl0301

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2 minutes ago, brl0301 said:

Have you tried any 12bh7 in the middle position?

I bought a pair of 12bh7 a couple years ago, but they were both noisy on one side, so I gave up. The Amperex Holland tubes are the best I've heard so far. The Kt-120's are good new production tubes. I probably ran them longer than any other tube. They are more SS sounding. whereas the Gold Lions are more mellow sounding. It all depends on your overall system and room acoustics also.

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4 minutes ago, kevinmi said:

I bought a pair of 12bh7 a couple years ago, but they were both noisy on one side, so I gave up. The Amperex Holland tubes are the best I've heard so far. The Kt-120's are good new production tubes. I probably ran them longer than any other tube. They are more SS sounding. whereas the Gold Lions are more mellow sounding. It all depends on your overall system and room acoustics also.

Its about time for me to pick up some new power tubes so I think Im gonna go for the kt-120. I have my 300b SET amp for when i want a warmer laid back sound. I usually use my st-120 when Im looking for a cleaner sound so it seems like theyd be a good fit. 

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I highly recommend a temperature contolled (not variable temperature) soldering station.  About $100.   I have a Weller but Hakko is also recommended by by others.  Over the years I have used a half dozen lower priced irons and I consider them dangerous for projects because of the potential to over heating or under heating.

 

When you buy a kit, ask the manufacturer whether I'm correct.

 

WMcD

 

 

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