A Very Nice Tube Phono Preamp

I have been looking at different options concerning components and their availability in different sources. Salectric, can you give advice on W and V ratings of 100K and 10K resistors and 0.1 uF capacitor added between B+ and heater supply -, or do you recommend certain brands/types for these? I suppose these are added for hum prevention. One of my old amps I built had a same kind of arrangement.
 
I have been looking at different options concerning components and their availability in different sources. Salectric, can you give advice on W and V ratings of 100K and 10K resistors and 0.1 uF capacitor added between B+ and heater supply -, or do you recommend certain brands/types for these? I suppose these are added for hum prevention. One of my old amps I built had a same kind of arrangement.

The parts you are referring to establish a DC reference point for the heater supply, which I use for sound quality reasons, not hum. I have tried the preamp without the DC reference (just connect the (-) side of the heater line to ground instead of the network shown on my schematic). There is no hum either way. The DC reference sounds slightly different and I prefer the sound with it rather than with the direct connection.

The exact values of the resistors and capacitor are not critical at all. The two resistors are just a voltage divider to reduce the B+ voltage to a lower voltage. A reference in the 10 to 30 volt range is fine.

Many preamps and amps with a network like this use a large value cap like 100uf. I tried a number of values and didn’t find any advantage to the higher values. What I did find is that the type of cap used affects sound quality. A good film cap typically sounds better than a large electrolytic so I recommend a low value (0.1uf to 0.47uf) film cap. I happen to like an old film cap made by Fiable that I bought over 40 years ago. I had a few left so that’s what I used.

The voltage rating of the cap should be comfortably above the DC voltage used as the heater reference. Anything rated at 50vdc or greater is fine.

You can use Ohms Law to find the current flowing through the voltage divider network, and from that determine the wattage dissipated by each resistor. The total current through the resistors is roughly 2 ma, so the 100K resistor has 0.4w dissipation. I would use a 2w or greater for the 100K. The 10K can be 1/2w. I used a Mills 12w for the 100K because I had one in my parts box, and I used a Dale CMF 1/2w metal film for the 10K.
 
I have started the build of the phono pre. I will stick precisely to Salectric's schematic but the components will be mostly different. Similarities concerning components are the transformers and chokes by Hammond and resistors in RIAA section by Vishay. I will include a SUT in the amplifier chassis, and that will be Lundahl LL1931 with amorphous cobalt core and Cardas copper wire. The output transformer will be Lundahl LL2756 interstage transformer customized to 12 mA.

All filter capacitors are Kemet C4QA-series polypropylene film capacitors that I have used successfully in my previous 300B project. Only electrolytic capacitors are those for heater supply (Nichicon). 0.1 and 0.033 uF capacitors in the amplifier part are Miflex KPCU-01 series copper foil capacitors. Resistors other than RIAA section are from Kiwame, Mills, TDK and Takman.

Tubes I sourced from eBay. D3a's are used Telefunken labeled by Siemens, 5687s are Philips new NOS and the 5R4GY is a used one by GE.

Amp and PS will be built in separate chassis. The frames are made of wood and the top covers are 3mm aluminum plate. I have designed the layout and drilled the top plates that are now at a paint shop. Wooden chassis frames are also under construction by a friend who is a skilled carpenter.

I hope to get the top plates next week and start the assembly work that is the best part of the project. I'll post some pictures when there is more to show.
 
Excellent project! You should end up with a very nice phono preamp with those components. My only suggestions are:

1. Use 3 LEDs instead of 4 on each 5687. This increases the current and improves the sound.

2. After it’s up and running, I suggest you try Raytheon 5687 instead of JAN Phillips. I have tried a good number of 5687 types and I like the Raytheons best by far. The JAN Phillips are actually my top choice in some other gear but not the phono preamp, for whatever reason.
 
Both PS and amplifier units are now assembled. Until now no problems encountered. However, I by accident clicked a wrong button and ordered a wrong 10H choke for the PS. It is low in resistance, high in max current (300mA) and huge in size😆. You'll see it afterwards when I show the pictures of the final result.

I still have to wait for the wooden frames, so I will do temporary frames from cheap plywood. I already measured voltages from PSU without load and they seem to be OK. I believe that on Friday I will have some time for final testing and hopefully get some beautiful music out from vinyl.
 

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That is a big choke but it will probably work just fine. You could always put a resistor in series with the choke if you want a higher DCR.
 
Phono preamp is now alive and kicking😁. I did one simple mistake with wiring and it gave out a very low sound level. It took many evenings to find it with my old eyes. However, it was worth waiting. Sound is exellent, a nice tubey sound but with detail and punch. Dynamics is suprisingly good and everything just sounds so natural. There seems to be good synergy with my 300B amp. Looks is something different than traditional black or silver, and I love it 🙂. Attached you'll find some pictures of the final result.

Thank you Salectric for a great project and your kind help!
 

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Now it is time to enjoy music and our short summer here in northern Finland. Next steps during autumn could be tube rolling and maybe trials with some optional new parts. In the analogue part of my ANK DAC stands two Raytheon 5687s, so it will be easy to test them after some break-in period. I forgot to mention that I used three leds at 5687 cathodes as proposed by Salectric.
 
Wow!! That's all I can say after playing an LP for the first time in a couple months.

I have been listening to digital, either CDs or streaming, since the spring, mainly because I was experimenting with cables and I wanted an easy reference point. With digital I can play the same track multiple times without worrying about damaging my records.

The record I chose to put on first is an old favorite---Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello (Heifetz and Piatigorsky) (RCA LM-2550). This is a 1961 recording but my copy is mono. The instrumental tone colors are just wonderful with superb inner detail and dynamics. I love the music and I love the natural sound. As much as I like my CDs, a good LP on a quality playback system is something else completely!
 
Wow!! That's all I can say after playing an LP for the first time in a couple months.

I have been listening to digital, either CDs or streaming, since the spring, mainly because I was experimenting with cables and I wanted an easy reference point. With digital I can play the same track multiple times without worrying about damaging my records.

The record I chose to put on first is an old favorite---Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello (Heifetz and Piatigorsky) (RCA LM-2550). This is a 1961 recording but my copy is mono. The instrumental tone colors are just wonderful with superb inner detail and dynamics. I love the music and I love the natural sound. As much as I like my CDs, a good LP on a quality playback system is something else completely!
I could not agree more! I am just listening to Schoenberg's Chamber symphony, a Decca recording from 1969. Absolutely lovely!
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@Jallu Great looking system! Have you described it somewhere? I am especially curious about your speakers. Are they open baffle? Details?
I haven't fully described my system, but you can see the elerctronics in post #49. It consist of:
-Michell Gyro SE turntable with Orbe platter and Pedersen mod, Origin Live Illustriuous MK3 arm, Soundsmith Zephyr cartridge
-DIY Salectric phono pre😁
-DIY C3m/300BXLS SE power amp.
-DIY passive pre with Intact Audio autoformers
-Rega Apollo CD player as transport
-ANK 4.1 Signature DAC
-DIY OB speakers with Voxativ AC-3X full range drivers and 2xPAP OB-A15SEN woofers.

The crossover is as simple as possible to maintain transparency. Voxativs have only Intact Audio adjustable speakerformers to decrease the sound level a few decibels. Woofers have one big Mundorf coil for low pass. Pictures show the construction with Al-frame and a concrete slab as additional weight.
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This week I have tested Raytheon's 5687 tubes I borrowed from my DAC. They sound good indeed, however they are much more microphonic than Philips. Teflon tubing around the glass helps a bit. I noticed that some tube makers do not even recommend to use 5687s in sensitive audio purposes. I also noticed that the other C3a is a bit more microphonic than the other. Luckily the amp is listenable, only if you crank up the volume to full you create a microphone (which I don't have to do). In my dac they work perfect.

It seems that the availability of NOS Raytheons is not so good anymore. Does anybody know what is the difference between yellow, brown and red prints on 5687s? Just year of manufacturing? The tubes in my dac has brown prints. Unused NOS tubes available at eBay are mostly with yellow print.
 
This week I have tested Raytheon's 5687 tubes I borrowed from my DAC. They sound good indeed, however they are much more microphonic than Philips. Teflon tubing around the glass helps a bit. I noticed that some tube makers do not even recommend to use 5687s in sensitive audio purposes. I also noticed that the other C3a is a bit more microphonic than the other. Luckily the amp is listenable, only if you crank up the volume to full you create a microphone (which I don't have to do). In my dac they work perfect.

It seems that the availability of NOS Raytheons is not so good anymore. Does anybody know what is the difference between yellow, brown and red prints on 5687s? Just year of manufacturing? The tubes in my dac has brown prints. Unused NOS tubes available at eBay are mostly with yellow print.

That’s a little odd. I don’t recall having microphonic issues with any of my 5687s in the phono. Maybe you just had some bad luck there. (And for what it’s worth I don’t like tube dampers; they affect the sound too much.)

I haven’t bought any 5687s for a number of years but when I was buying them I had no problem finding them on EBay for a decent price. Perhaps demand has caught up with supply. In any case, I tried lots of different Raytheons and they all sounded great, but my very favorites have yellow printing. I really don’t know if the label color has any significance or not but yellow works for me.
 
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