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.

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Radford STA 15-The Tweak

This Radford came into the workshop for a few reasons. Firstly the original cathode resistors had literally dropped out from their solder, through the action of heat over the years and finally overload with some dodgy valves. These were replaced with the superb Mills wirewound resistors.

Secondly the owner wanted attenuators fitted instead of the variable output impedance switch. I fitted the high quality Tocos carbon track potentiometers here.

Thirdly, removing the impedance switches meant hardwiring the output transformers to the speaker binding posts.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the great increase in sound quality that removing this 50 year old switch gave. Bass was much firmer and better defined, and there was greater clarity across the frequency range.

Audio Innovations S500

Another AI500 in for some resistor upgrades, rewiring, and new valve sockets. This one has already had my regulated power supply for the line stage along with cap upgrades and improved power supply.The original wire gets heavily oxidised with the internal heat and literally crumbles.

The resulting sound can hold its own with any modern valve amp.

Transcendent Audio-The Pinnacle

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So, this interesting build nears completion. A few reflections:

  1. One amp worked perfectly from switch on, the other was blowing fuses after 5 mins. Tracing this to a hot-running resistor meant the only cause of excess current could be 2 Zener diodes fitted the wrong way round or failure of those diodes. The diodes were fitted correctly and when I switched on with a multimeter connected across them it was easy to pick up that they were failing once warm, i.e after around 4-5mins.
  2. As supplied and according to the circuit diagram, the metal-chassis amp has no safety earth connection. This is not only highly dangerous but also illegal in the E.U. On testing the amp there is no difference in hum with the chassis connected to safety earth, so it’s even more strange the amp is supplied in this way. Of course, if the amp hummed with other equipment connected to it, then I would implement an earth lift or similar arrangement but so far no hum has been apparent.

3. And there’s another safety / reliability issue. Switch on surge or failure of the HT fuses means 500v is applied to 400v rated caps and 400v to 350v rated caps. These caps should all be rated at 500v for long term reliability /safety.

Transcendent Audio -The Pinnacle

This interesting design is does not use an output transformer but is direct coupled to the speakers, which makes it a member of a very exclusive club of amplifiers operating in this way. I’ve been commissioned to build two of these mono blocks and will report back on sound quality once complete. For the moment I can say the kit which is sourced from the States contains quality components, and is complete with very comprehensive instructions. The chassis layout while appearing somewhat messy is actually a case study in layout where many wires cross but they all cross at right angles and ac lines are twisted, to keep noise and residual hum down. The instructions show great detail for these the wiring routes. However, as standard the kit has no safety earth connection which is in breach of UK /EU safety regulations and a state for a metal chassis amplifier with high voltages in which I would not release the amplifier. Once complete, I will test for hum with the chassis earthed and depending on results consider implementing a star earth system with earth lift.

My only gripe with the kit would be the aesthetics: the chassis top holds naked toroid transformers and chokes, and the front panel is a piece of vinyl type material. Of course, sorting out those issues would cost, but if one is truly building the ‘Pinnacle’ of audio reproduction why should it not look the part too? As well as adding to pride of ownership it would make selling the amps to one’s partner much easier! More later…..

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Another Radford STA25!

As the capacitor shows here, it’s an original electrolytic capacitor from 1964! This Radford didn’t even sound too bad despite the aged electrolytic capacitors, with many originals dating from the 60s still in place. But an enthusiastic owner had upgraded the coupling caps and also added some large film capacitors which meant the bottom plate wouldn’t close and spacers had been added to allow the bottom to be fitted.

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Some of these capacitors were placed in on critical positions so it was an easy task to swap them for the correct ones. All the electrolytics were replaced, with Elna Cerafines on cathode bypass duty. The bias pots were also knackered and therefore replaced.

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Above is a picture of the refreshed amp, and now the bottom cover fits back in place.

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…..it works with both!

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