If at first you think that this is a DRD amp, look again. It is not. No slow, giant, heat inducing cathode resistor found here! The output impedance of the SMPS supply is less than 10 ohms and is voltage regulated. The same low impedance supply that is feeding the plate choke of the 841, and driving the grid of the 300B is also directly connected to its cathode. In fact, the stacked SMPS supply can easily deliver over 300mA of current to any of its voltage taps, instantaneously and continuously, while maintaining voltage to +/-1V! The ultra low impedance supply means the SMPS filtering capacitors are essentially out of the signal path. This gives incredibly good low frequency coupling… better bass than any electrolytic or oil capacitor could provide. Bias protection for over-current of the 300B is provided by the multiple voltage regulated taps that the stacked SMPS supply offers, not just the current draw of the 841 driver tube. Additionally, the thoriated filament 841 tube will begin drawing current before the oxide filament 300B tube. A large sonic improvement would be found by using a true audio rated low DCR plate choke, wound by Bud at Onetics, to load the 841 plate. A low DCR plate choke would improve dynamics and recovery of both tubes better than the inexpensive 200H chinese choke I had laying around. Even-so, listening tests show that this breadboard amp destroys my Welborne Terraplane DRD monoblocks in every audible way that matters, while putting out more wattage and dissipating less wasted heat.
This was a very special custom amp that I built for Mr. Rash. VT-25 (10) driven by a true grounded cathode 6c45p tube. I still miss listening to it, and the sonic impression it made upon my memory is lasting.
Randy has great ears, and knowing that he hears what I hear made me enthusiastic about this build. This amp was made for him after several conversations dating back to Oct of 2007. We listened to some of his equipment together, and talked about what he values most in audio. Realistic imaging is a weakness in all mass produced equipment, even tube amplification. Randys’ equipment (Zanden, Decware and Vaughn Carina) had a huge wide soundstage, but no depth. To our ears it made piano sound like it was the size of a semi-truck but flat and 2 dimensional. It took me a while to figure out how to control image depth and width, and Randys’ new amp does just that. It is the most accurate imaging amp I have heard. I was very happy to provide this equipment to someone who so appreciates it.
A little exurb from a recent email from Randy…
“…I spent 3 hours last night listening to music ….. wow ….. : ) There is no need to tell you how good the system sounds with the amplifier you designed and built because I am absolutely sure that you already know. I could use all of the worn out superlatives that describe an outstanding piece of equipment, but they honestly would not do this amplifier justice. The best analogy that I can use is to say that I feel sorry for everyone who does not have this amplifier as part of their audio system. It allows music to flow into the room in a way that I have never experienced before….”
Thank you Randy, that is just the way I felt about your amp. It brings me joy that you have it now.
Here is a recent schematic of the similar 417A RC VT-25 (10, 10Y, 801A) amp. The main difference is that Randy’s amp uses fixed bias, mercury vapor rectification, and the hot russian 6c45p as a driver.
The photo of Randy’s amp is a link to his website…
Have you ever been sitting at home, listening to your stereo and thought “I wonder if this is as good as it gets?” Well, I have. I guess it doesn’t matter much since the idea of what is best is different to every ear. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying! I will say that this is one of the best sounding amps in existence.
Shown below is the schematic of my finest design. Although choke loaded VT-25 driving VT-25 finals is fantastic, it sounds best using the stunning RCA 210 driving another RCA 210. For those who know, they know this is special. This is my gift to you, the DIY guy with great ears.
I have changed the amp to use filament current bias on the input tube, while allowing a choice of driver tubes. The VT-51 (841) tube is a detail monster. If you are into vinyl the 841 driving the 10 is something you’ve just gotta hear! An added bonus of using the 841 is slightly higher gain, but because of less current draw the B+ ripple is lower. However, my favorite is the schematic shown… a 10 interstage coupled to another 10.
How can I say that this is the best sounding amp in existence? Well, I can not. I haven’t heard them all yet. But compared to every amp I have heard so far… things look pretty good!
This amp would make a nice front-end for GM70 finals wouldn’t it? 😉
I wish you could hear this amp for yourself. The best I could do is make a few videos of it. They do give a sense of how well the amp images. For your entertainment… Link to Videos of the Luddite 2 10
The photos below show the amp at various stages of its development. It no longer uses the Mundorf SGO caps for coupling, instead using Hammond 126C 10K:10K interstage transformers.