New Arrivals in the Workshop

Some interesting amps have come in in the last week or two! A Mastersound Dueveinte and two more Audio Innovations 500s. One of the AI500s is in for the full works and it’s always great to compare sounds before and after!

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Audio Innovations 300

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Yet another Audio Innovations amp in the workshop! This one shows the ravages of a long life but still works very well. A quick service and it will serve the owner for any a year more!

Arcam Alpha 9

This amp came in for repair after the client stated his girlfriend had been connecting up the speakers and had managed to short the speaker cables. There’s at least a couple of morals in that tale, the most important being ‘switch off ‘ before you connect or disconnect speakers-and inputs in fact as the resulting transient can easily damage speakers too.

Despite sophisticated protection circuitry the amplifier had blown its output transistors. Once replaced the amplifier is singing away sweetly again.thumb_IMG_1180_1024

 

Yaqin MC13s Upgrades and Switchable Feedback Installed

Another Yaqin 13s on the workbench for the usual upgrades: upgraded coupling capacitors, upgraded grid stopper resistors and fitting of cathode bypass capacitors. These mods worked their usual charms and gave a very decent performance, even with the stock tubes. This time tho, I tried the amp with negative feedback removed. The difference was dramatic, and so a small switch was installed on a plate to replace the mains voltage switch which was re-mounted inside the chassis. In my set up, I never switched the feedback back on and both myself and my regular ‘golden-eared’ mates considered it way better. Here’s what the owner had to say:

‘Just collected my MC13S following David’s mods and I’m stunned! In addition to the mods described above David also fitted a feedback bypass switch and with the negative feedback switched off the resolution of this amp is incredible. I keep wanting to try another track to test the improvements but find myself having to hear the whole track before switching, which is not something that usually happens when I buy new kit. All in all I’m very pleased with these mods….’

Yaqin MC 13S Modifications-another giantkiller!

I’m constantly amazed by the results of upgrading Yaqin amps of which I’ve now completed quite a few. I remember my nervousness upgrading the first one as the received wisdom was ‘Chinese transformers are no good’. Yaqin’s transformers are made in house and they claim, are made of Japanese steel.Whatever the ingredients the result is an amplifier that sounds very decent as standard but which can easily be improved with some simple upgrades.

Circuit wise the amp is a fairly standard ultra linear output stage with input and phase splitter. The upgrades this time were to add improved Mundorf coupling caps, to change the grid stopper resistors on the output valves and to add Elna Silmic bypass capacitors to the output valves.

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Once installed the amplifier performs at a new level. The light graininess of the sound disappears, vocals become more breathy, and bass and dynamics improve. All these improvements were heard with the stock Chinese valves and of course these too can be swapped for improved Western designs or NOS types.

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Onix Melody SP3

The Onix Melody is an Australian design made in China and runs 6L6 valves or equivalents. It had a pretty decent sound for the money when released in early 2000 and one of its main claims to fame was the use of  a stepped attenuator.

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Another feature is its use of Russian military paper in oil capacitors (in the green cans in the picture above). These are not bad in terms of sound quality, but can be bettered with a decent audio grade capacitor. So, after discussion with the owner, we agreed we would upgrade the cathode bypass capacitors with Elna Silmics and the coupling capacitors with Musicaps. I also installed an earth lift system to stop the amplifier interacting with other equipment.

Overall the result was a very decent uplift in performance.