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When is Ultimate Ever EZ?




Check this out:
at the front we have the controls and the power supply. All the digital bits flow across those ribbons to selector (left), volume (right) and the audio signal board (chassis back).

The audio signal board uses end-to-end analogue potentiometers to adjust volume and vacuum silver relays to select source. The great thing is the audio signal board can be mounted beside the I/O jacks and the power supply can be put far away. This minimizes noise and maximizes musical fidelity.

Quiet it is. Next week I’ll report some measurements.

Now notice the 2 little round circles with roach-like occupants, flanking the 2 red caps on the audio board. Those are the LSK389 JFET so that the JFetted outputs can drive any load (Zout 50 ohms!). But, these can be bypassed with the direct out connection going to another set of outputs. You’d want to keep the cables very short if used direct out.


We will also offer a CNC’d front plate just like you see to premount the Control matrix board (the one attached to the knobs) to be used with your own chassis.


Now how about those 127 steps? It’s the first time we’ve ever had a device with 127 step attenuation. It’s like having 5.5 x 23 step volume controls. What’s it like to use? Jailbreak! Really. It’s like the difference between looking at the world through prison bars or looking out a panoramic window.

And the sound: surprisingly smooth. Why surprisingly? Because it ain’t got tubes! But it is passing along 100% of the tube-sound upstream.


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Saffier’s Sabre DAC in Granite Case


Just wanted to share my “almost” end result of the DAC project. The Buffalo DAC 24bit/192Khz with UST output stage. A second (UST) unit is being planned so I can use the current output of the DAC instead of the voltage output. Should give even better detail and texture.
Sound is great.
See pictures attached.



You should be able to use the current output even single ended, the principle is the same as discussed below for the Denon DVD Player…

Ciao T



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Mikey’s Denon DVD2900 Player with UTS


I nestled the power transformer behind the existing power switch, after relocating a few circuit boards.

The transformer was fastened to the chassis with one 6MM bolt thru the bottom.

To fit the tube output board, I had to remove the video portion of the player. This was not a problem for me as I use the unit for CD playback only.

An aluminum plate was fabricated to mount to (4) newly vacant mounting tabs….in turn, the board was bolted to that plate.

The output signals were taken to a pair of chassis mounted RCA jacks installed into some unused holes.

The sound is very good! Smooth, extended frequency response, and very musical….MUCH better than stock!


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Georges Gigawork DAC with UTS


The build is finished and the sound is great.

I will let you know how it sounds once it has run in for a while but at this stage the improvement is quite staggering.

The build was fairly easy though my shaky hands didn’t make soldering to the dac chip outputs very easy

I am now using gilded copper rca’s and solid core mono crystal copper cabling on input and outputs which came from DIY Hi-fi SUPPLY along with the UVOS.

The UVOS, doesn’t come with a tube. After a bit of reading I chose a NOS , JAN , Sylvannia 6922 for $40 including testing for low noise and mircophony from Tube Depot.

I mounted the UVOS on nylon standoffs figuring they would provide a bit more isolation from vibration for the tube than the metal equivalents.

With about 30 hrs of the suggested 50-100hrs for the valve output stage here are some impressions.

It is rather difficult to make concrete conclusions about the performance of this new addition as I keep getting drawn into the music.That it out perfroms the opa627 based opamp output stage is an absolute no brainer and I would therefore recommend that anyone who doesn’t want to go down the transformer output route should seriously consider this as an option , particularly if your current set-up leans towards the clinical.

The sound of my system is now just more listenable and for that matter much more ‘musical’.Pace rhythm and timing are greatly improved but not at the expense of tonality , timbre and dynamics : all of which have improved by a very noticeable margin.

I am now able to play a larger range of discs without wincing so much at the less than stellar recordings.In fact previously unlistenable pop recordings are now fun and the good recordings are imho jaw dropping.

Some other bits: The quality of the board is great : soldering is immaculate , with all the components well spaced.I had a few questions on the board and the supplier replied within minutes with extensive and simply worded explanations.

Even those who bought the encased dac should consider this add-on as it could be easily fabricated into a second box or even mounted atop the original case with some form of protective cover.

Highly recommended .




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TJ Full Music Factory Tour


Factory Background

The TJ factory in Tianjan province manufactures WE replicas with a few interesting and creative variations. 300B tubes are available as ST or Globe style with the Globe offering both solid and mesh-style (perforated) anode. The factory is a private enterprise (no state involvement) and the owner, Mr. Liu is a veteran of the tube industry having worked for many years in the Beijing Tube Factory. He graduated from university in 1955 in the field of vacuum tube technology and holds a number of QC patents in that field. He has previously produced CRTs for NEC. The TJ name is quite new to the West but has a well established following and solid reputation amongst audiophiles in Japan.

2003 Tianjin Tube Factory Tour


Apr 2003, in the midst of the SARS epidemic, saw me on a plane to Beijing and from there 1hr by car to Tianjin. Transportation provided by Opera/Consonance. Liu of Opera (not to be confused with Mr Liu of TJ tube factory) came along as tour guide. Mr Liu met us and we got straight down to business the usual way in China: lunch. The visit started with a meal at a famous Tianjin seafood restaurant. Fish steaks braised in Coke (the drink) is Tianjin’s signature dish. The city is on the northern coast of China. People in this place are super-friendly, a trait of the Tianjin populace according to Liu.
Then on to the factory, a new facility since last summer. We were required to wear plastic booties since everything is super clean. We started in Mr Liu’s office where he has a display of his creations. The factory is a private enterprise (no state involvement) and the owner, Mr. Liu is a veteran of the tube industry having worked many years for the Beijing Tube Factory. He graduated from university in 1955 in the field of vacuum tube technology and holds a number of QC patents in that field. He has previously produced CRTs for NEC. Last October he visited my office in Hong Kong and I showed him a 6N11 military tube that is known locally to be an excellent sounding equivalent to a 6922. He was quite excited to tell us that the tube was his creation for the military, the only true frame grid made in China and one of the most difficult tubes he ever put into production at BJ tube factory. The factory is smallish with about a dozen workers, most of whom are old, highly skilled workers from the tube industry. The specialized machines you see in the pictures were made by Mr Liu. A sample of the products coming out of the factory. Up until now there has been a WE flavour to the lineup but if you look closely you can see some future products that aren’t WE.



Liu and Liu. The factory is the child of Mr Liu on the left. The baby-faced Liu on the right was my tour guide and the  engineer/audiophile  (‘feverish  friend’  in  Chinese) behind DIYHFS kits and Opera products. The machine between them strings the filament on it’s frame.



Internal parts worked on inside this ‘clean box’ to reduce possibility of contamination.


Preparation electrolytic bath to provide the correct chemistry for individual parts.


After  parts are fitted, the bottom  is heated  and shaped  for insertion  of inner  glass component that the leads feed from.


After  parts are fitted, the bottom  is heated  and shaped  for insertion  of inner  glass component that the leads feed from.


followed by a trip  this  little Frankenstein device  which completes the evacuation.


This is the plate current during the final evacuation process. No one here worries about plate-glow, only non-glow.



Between each stage of production tubes are processed in these vacuum  and heating ovens  to eliminate
trace  gases and keep the temperature in  working range.


to the ultrasonic baths, but none were here at the time.


Then the ‘aging’ room. More plate glow. Somewhere in between the bases were attached; never saw that part.


This is Mr Liu at the control console (he built from scratch) developing a new tube (PX25). Each electrical parameter in individually controlled. Well we’ve been pressing for a 45. I saw the way he does it: RCA data sheet and official plate curves on the desk before him, Tektronix 570 curve tracer (thanks Ed Sawyer) showing the actual plate curve he’s getting. Not quite the same yet so another prototype is made with mechanical adjustments to the internal parts and try again. Many development cycles/prototypes before the original spec is achieved. Mr Liu said that the 45 has been a tough one. Also in the works is this PX25 mesh plate (almost done), and an 845.



This is Mr Liu and me. I was sure I had more hair than him. Must be the lighting.
And that’s the end. Time to get back to BJ, HK and SARS