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It was not that long ago that you’d need to part with a lot of your hard-earned to own a tube amp; probably a price tag with five figures on it. Not anymore. At Tube Sound Audio we provide you with three inexpensive ways of owning a fine tube amp set up to play digital music sources as well as vinyl records. Better still, we can perfectly complement the amp with a pair of loudspeakers that bring out the absolute best from the amp. We will even custom build them to suit your decore.AMP CAMP DETAILS
The tube or valve amplifier is as much back in vogue as vinyl records. In fact, the two together are an absolutely marvellous combination as both represent analogue audio, the recording and reproduction thereof.
That said, a tube amp will improve the sound of your digital source music too; here’s how. Tube amps (valve is the favoured American description) are an analogue device as they are always ‘on’ – the tube is continually aglow; solid state or transistor based amps are by contrast digital devices.
The reason the sound of a tube amp is described as ‘warm’ and why listeners find it so appealing (with no hint of listening fatigue) is that the tube amp distorts on the second harmonic. The second harmonic is a frequency double the original sound and is an overtone factor abundantly produced by various musical instruments giving a depth and richness to the sound. The distortions produced by a solid state amplifier are mostly multiples of odd numbers (tertiary and quintic) which the ear hears as harshness. Perhaps this is why there is such a focus on low distortion figures in the promotion material of solid state amplifiers.
If you are new to tube amps, here's a heads up on the most important element, the Output Transformers (which couple the amp to your loudspeakers). The quality of a tube amplifier’s output transformers is extremely important. Since it is expensive to build a high-quality transformer, any attempt to cut costs there could seriously undermine the amplifier’s sound. This is especially true for single-ended amplifiers, since an air gap in the transformer is needed to prevent transformer core saturation, which would cause audible distortion and other problems, which is why we offer a range of Lundahl designed, specialist OPTs for our Elekit amps. However, having an air gap lowers the inductance, which compromises low-frequency response. To increase the inductance requires adding more windings, which adversely affects the high-frequency response. Clearly, the design of OPTs is a highly specialised activity and the basis of the big name tube amp producers' pricing.
Jack and Brian, a couple of mates from way back, building tube amps at Amp Camp
1. At Amp Camp: Come to the Blue Mountains and build your amp in our supervised workshop classes. We will teach you how to solder and then guide you through the build for a guaranteed result. In one day you’ll have built your own tube amp! Make it two days and go home with a tube preamp as well. With Falls Lodge right next door you can make a weekend out of it and enjoy a mountains experience too.
2. At Home: Tube Sound Audio carries the world’s finest tube amp kits manufactured by Elekit of Japan as well as the locally produced Red Roo SET amp kit. Included with each amp kit are printed English manuals that are the epitome of technical writing; making a mistake is almost a deliberate act. To assist, we have assembled a Toolkit of basic, quality tools and provide online instruction in how to solder.
3. Virtual Amp Camp using Zoom technology brings Amp Camp to your home. A pack of tools including PCB holder and an HD Web Cam is sent to you along with the selected kit. See Virtual Amp Camp in the Shop for further details.
4. Easy Build Option: if soldering is not quite your thing, Tube Sound Audio will supply your amp kit with completed PCBs. We have built dozens of high quality Elekit amp kits for customers. Our happiest customers are those who order a pair of TSA full range, high sensitivity loudspeakers to voice the amps.
The returning (and increasing) interest in owning and listening to vinyl records means a home sound system will not only require a turntable, the system will also need what’s called ‘a phono stage’. This is a preamplifier which is connected between the turntable’s phono cartridge and the main (power) amplifier. In more technical language, the phono stage is actually a pre-pre amplifier as there is a preamplifier stage before the power stage of the main amplifier. Any of these stages could be free standing units or included in one or more housings. Tube Sound Audio will happily assist with further understanding of any of these set up considerations.
A tube audio set up to play vinyl records can be easily achieved with two of our amplifiers. The TU 8500 tube preamplifier contains the required phono stage and supports both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. This configuration will also support the easy connection of a further three high level inputs for digital music (CDs and smart devices such as mobile phones and tablets). On this topic it is also worth mentioning that if the power amp is the TU-8200R, a DAC (digital to analogue converter) module can be installed inside the amp which then allows connection of direct digital sources such as music files played from PC.