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.

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Graaf GM20

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This Graaf GM20 came along for a health check and adjustment of bias and DC offset. It’s an interesting design that use the massive Russian 6C33 valves and is output-transformerless, thus avoiding any issues of transformer limitations, weight and cost. It sounds great but care needs to be taken with the 6C33 valves. Reputedly used in cruise missiles, Mig fighters and trawlers, these valves run very hot and can cause problems with heir valve sockets. Graaf use excellent quality sockets and overall build quality is excellent, as you would expect from a top Italian brand.

The 6C33 valve needs very careful burn in to perform reliably, and otherwise bias can drift alarmingly leading to short valve life. Therefore, it’s best to buy valves from a source that does this careful burn in process for you or do it yourself.

Once adjusted and checked over this amplifier was sounding excellent again.

 

 

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….’

World Audio Designs (WAD) 300b Stereo

This amplifier is a clone of the original WAD 300b stereo amplifier. It was ninth workshop of repairs, as valve failure had taken out two cathode resistors. This version had been made with two 6D22 damper diodes for slow start and rectification and the owner was nervous about the top caps, which carry 550v, a potentially lethal voltage.

So we took the opportunity to convert the amp to solid state rectification and I installed a slow start module, to mimic the functioning of the valve rectifiers. We also lowered dissipation as the owner was keen to use Mesh Plate 300b valves, which don’t like to dissipate much more than 24 watts.

So how does the solid state rectification change the sound? I would describe the change as a faster sound with more low level detail apparent, so all in all a small increase in perceived sound quality.

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The slow start module can be seen in the middle bottom of the above photo.

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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