This thread could potentially live on the "Building Your System" forum, but I think that it's more likely to be seen (and commented on) by more folks if it lives over here.
Cknicker wrote:I haven't exchanged emails with you in a while and just wanted to say thanks
again for hooking me up with Dan, Doug, and Paul. My listening session at
Doug and Paul's was what I could almost call a life changing experience. In
addition, we are scheduled to get together at Dan's shortly (in a couple
weeks time) for another session (this time to evaluate the Gavia). I expect
this will be another eye (ear) opening revelation.
Now the question(s):
After hearing the Alaap and Lectron at Doug/Paul's, all I could think of was
trying to find a way to get an equivalent set of electronics into my own
system. I have been browsing the web and have bumped into your name
regarding the "Hyper-it" and other tube related DIY info.
I would love to (eventually) own an Alaap but until I can find the $$$ to
fund the other things on my list first (Galibier/Teres/equivalent), it'll
probably be a long wait. As a result, I am hoping that going a cheaper route
(DIY preamp) might give me something closer to the end goal and also be a
fun learning project at the same time.
1) Can you give me some advice on how to get started down the DIY preamp
2) What are the things I'll need to get (do I need an oscilloscope?) once I
need to do any testing?
Thanks for any help you can give,
galibier_numero_un wrote:I just caught this before turning in for the evening. The modified Super-It
(a.k.a. Hyper-It) is pretty cool, but the circuit boards are quite fragile.
If I were doing this today, I would definitely go with one of Jim Hagerman's
Coronet II kits. You'd need a step-up for your Koetsu, 'coz it's MM level
gain. Dave Slagle (Intact Audio - http://www.intactaudio.com/) will wind you one
specifically for your Koetsu. Frank Schröder loves Dave's work.
For a bit more money (assuming you need a line stage), I'm becoming very
smitten by Mike Sanders' (Quicksilver Audio) new full function preamp ($3K
.. working up there in price). I'm exhibiting with Mike next week, and
have gained incredible respect for him.
My view of Quicksilver (before getting to know him) was of a company that
made honest, bullet-proof products at an incredible value. What's not to
Like about that? Well, I thought that maybe his tastes were a bit mainstream.
As I hear the evolution of his work, I am gaining more respect for his work.
More to follow in the morning.
Cknicker wrote:Thanks for the info, Thom.
I've had a look at the sites you've pointed me at am still a little
puzzled as to what I should expect in the end.
Having read the Chris Brady Tube Haven stuff (where there are references to
the Loesch and Super-It designs), I was hoping to get to the end goal of
having a "Holy Crap, what a sound!" system while making it cheaper due to
the fact that I'm doing all the design/implementation myself (though
trading off my time vs. cost).
Am I being completely naive? Am I likely to get to that same expectation
by going with a kit form?
One other question: are the Quicksilver products in kit form?
galibier_numero_un wrote:Hi Chris,
I'm going to transcribe this conversation over to the forum, because I think it is of general interest. Let's continue the discussion over there.
All of us with the possible exception of Chris (haven't been at his place in some 7 years), have given up on the Loesch design. I believe Chris may also have given up on it as he has of late been exhibiting with the Artemis phono stage these days.
When John Atwood (One Electron, Artemis Labs) and Lynn Olson swooped into Colorado three years ago, our local listening group came to realize that there are quite a few highly regarded designs which have terribly slow circuits - slew rates that can't keep up with the musical transients. Raul has correctly commented about this on Audiogon's Analog Forum.
The Loesch phono stage is one of these slow circuits. This manifests itself in ways that mask themselves as groove distortion. I remember the first time we swapped out the Loesch unit at a friend's house for one of the Artemis Labs phono stages. I use the Artemis as an example because I have quite a bit of experience with it. The Artemis is quick but the Alaap is quicker yet.
Well, when the Artemis was slipped into the circuit, what I thought was a mediocre cartridge alignment ended up being mediocre electronics. The supposed tracing distortion ceased to exist. The Loesch is dated, and quite a few individuals have moved beyond that - and not necessarily at extreme prices. I'm still learning to identify (and attribute) sonic artifacts to the correct component. This lesson learned some 3 years ago was most instructive to me.
Quicksilver Audio (http://www.quicksilveraudio.com/) makes finished products - not kits. Mike Sanders (like Jim Hagerman) gets it and has always had solid engineering. I don't think Mike has photos up on the website yet of his new full function preamp. He's just getting the final metal work back from the anodizer … in the nick of time for next week's Audiofest. I think your decision will be somewhat influenced by whether you have a line stage that you like. The Quicksilver is a full function preamp (includes line stage, source selection switching, and dedicated headphone amp section). It's very nice, and it's $3K price point is extremely fair, but it's still a non-trivial expenditure. I realize that this might blow your budget.
The Hagerman Coronet II comes in kit and "half kit" form (http://www.hagtech.com/cornet2.html). Kit is just what it sounds like (last time I checked). Jim's "half kit" concept is unique, in that you purchase the PC board plus plans which include a bill of materials with Mouser and Digikey Electronics parts numbers (order directly from Mouser and Digikey Electronics). This saves him the burden of inventorying parts and the savings (for having to swipe your credit card a couple more times) is passed on to you.
Most importantly, you are not being naïve. The right component, designed by a competent guy who *also* has a musical sensibility about him will most definitely get you most of the way there. The Hagerman and Quicksilver gear fits this bill nicely. Don't mess with the Hyperizing a Super-It.
Cknicker wrote:Thanks again for the very helpful information, Thom. Having listened to Doug and Paul's Alaap, I now consider this to be the finest preamp I have ever heard (though admittedly, I haven't heard all thatmany). Eventually, I'm going to save my money to buy that (if I don't find something better at a cheaper price). Until that time, I'm all for tinkeringaround with DIY designs/implementations so long as it doesn't eat too much intothe bigger budget items. The items on my current list are: Gavia/Teres, Triplanar/Schröder, Alaap, Lectron, ...). One final question (I won't hold you to it): if you had to pick onedesign to play around with (i.e. DIY) what would it be: Lynn Olson, Hagerman,Super-It, ...
galibier_numero_un wrote:Hi Chris,
Forget the Super-It ... not only because at this point, you're likely to find only ones with trashed circuit boards, but also because Jim Hagerman's Coronet (both I and II) are just plain more musical.
Dave (salectric) will likely comment on his and his son's projects.
The Artemis and the Quicksilver come next, with me having a marginal preference for the Quicksilver - not only because you get a line stage for the same price, but because it makes the Artemis sound a bit mechanical in comparison. I emphasize 'a bit'. They're both fine units.
I'll be in Michigan shortly, and will get to hear an Alaap in a different context from when at Dan's (when the driver tubes on his amps were misbehaving). A one evening listen at Mothra's (where are you?) points me to the Alaap being very fine indeed.