We all have some kind of unobtanium – something which represents the pinnacle of whatever particular interest we have... for example car enthusiasts have their dream car, camera enthusiasts always lust after the new lens or camera body, gamers are always after the latest rig with the fastest graphics.... that sort of thing.
In my case I was been bitten by the hi-fi bug at a very young age, which resulted in me diverting money into purchasing equipment to satisfy the quest for pure sound. A variety of black-box (usually) Japanese equipment has served my listening purposes through the years of my adult life, usually mated to well-mannered English speakers – my taste has always been toward the pure and clear sound with pinpoint imaging, instead of blasting out phat beats, yo!
By a varied path I came to be exposed to some rather delicious valve gear a few years ago which led to an instant epiphany... despite my extreme cynicism and scepticism about audiophiles (who I saw as idiots who want to buy expensive gear just to brag about how expensive their gear is, not because of any quality benefits), this valve sound was something that I couldn't just condemn as pretentious.
(Admin note: I am not American, so throughout this blog, I'll be calling them valves. Go ahead and read "tube" if you want... I don't make any judgements... tomato/potato)
Having also tinkered with electronics for all of my life, I decided on the idea of building my own personal unobtanium: a no-compromise design valve integrated amplifier, with sufficient power to drive my big KEF floorstanding speakers.
This means around 40-50 watts, which dictates the amplifier configuration.
Rather than blindly working off a published schematic, I plan to pick a tried-and-tested topology but design the circuit myself. This gives me the chance to learn how these things work, rather than just following a plan. I want to know about the pros and cons of the different designs of phase splitter, about building power supplies, and so on.
Yep, I want to do this the hard way... researching, learning and designing every step of the way – that's why I am doing this blog. I expect it will be several months before I have something that works and is not too dreadful aesthetically to sit on display in the living room.
If this works out well, it will not be the last amp I build.
Stay tuned for updates.