Grant Audio Pre

You don’t see many of these around but one turned up for a few upgrades recently. A high quality TKD pot was installed to replace the cheap original, the balance control was taken out of circuit and a chassis earth post was fitted.

The result is a very decent sounding ECC88 based pre.


Return of the Rose

This Rose RV23 preamp dates from the 90s. As standard, it already sounds good and it came to me a few years’ ago for some upgrades to the power supply, and improved coupling capacitors. With those mods it sounds really special!

This time it was in for a new volume pot, and selector switch, along with a couple of new phono sockets as the originals were very loose. A TKD pot was chosen along with a quality Elna selector switch and teflon /gold plated phono sockets. I always enjoy listening to this pre which you’d have to spend several thousand pounds to beat! No circuit digram is available and no one is even sure whether the valves should all be ECC82s or a mix of 82s and 83s… works with both!


Ming Da MC 2A3 Preamp

This preamp was in the workshop for some upgrades and repairs. The main upgrades were to upgrade the coupling capacitors to Mundorf ZNs, and repair the volume motor pot. Finding a replacement motor pot that fits in the space available and is a 500k log pot proved impossible, so I spent a long time stripping the original pot down and rebuilding it. It now works perfectly and the pre sounds very dynamic, detailed and spacious and much improved over the original grainy sound. Ming Da use poor quality coupling capacitors then bypass them with equally poor quality caps. In my view that can introduce phase shift effects and sound is much improved using single quality film /foil capacitors. Those bottle-shaped tubes may look cool but they are horribly microphonic. The 6SN7s are worse offenders-because higher gain-than the 2A3s so those were replaced with some very high spec Russian military valves which again contribute to the overall improved sound.


Ming Da MC 3008 Upgrades

These venerable mono blocks came along for some upgrades. I went down and tried and tested approach of upgrading key coupling capacitors, and making switchable feedback. These amps really come alive with these mods, providing some of the best valve sound around. With no feedback gain can become too much, so I also tried bypassing the first valve and making a few mods to the second valve stage. This worked really well but with feedback switched on, the gain was rather low at around 4v for max output. So to maintain flexibility I reduced global feedback slightly in the feedback on position to enable the amp to work with a wide range of speakers and left the feedback off option in play. With feedback off and 88db speakers the noise level is acceptable and the sound stunning. With the feedback switched on there is a small reduction in overall sound quality but the amp still sounds among the best!

As one of the 805 output valves was running slightly pink I checked the bias to find the output valves were running at 135ma dissipation, way higher than the recommended level of around 100ma. So the bias circuit was modified to bring dissipation down to 100ma. Now the amps were really singing and making a great combination along with their accompanying Ming Da MC 2A3 preamp which was also in for some upgrades.



Rose RV23 Preamp

This preamp dates from the early 90s when it had a reputation for great sound quality. It stands the passage of time well and still sounds very decent. It had had various mods and servicing over the years, including main electrolytic capacitors, valve sockets etc.Someone had also replaced the ribbon connector with some Cat cabling.It is a hybrid valve /solid state design, with transistors used for the phono stage and valves for the line stage.

My work was to upgrade the coupling capacitors, and add a choke power supply by adding a choke and additional smoothing capacitor. Once this work was complete it transpired the original main smoothing capacitor was pretty spent, so that was replaced too.That took a while to find as it broke down after around 2 hours use, but was fine up until then.

The result was very worthwhile, performance has been lifted to a very pleasing level. The pre operates with a much quieter background, displays subtleties better and is more dynamic to boot.