Upcoming Battle of the Cheap Line Stages!

From the USA: the Aikido 12Vac, from John Broskie of Tubecad fame ($164 from the GlassWare Yahoo! Store)

Wall Of Sound writer Steve Graham is a tireless audio enthusiast. And a generous guy, too.

To keep himself busy as the leaves turn red in northern Ontario, Steve has undertaken a new project: to build two budget line stage tube preamps, complete with semi-fancy enclosures (or at least “spouse-acceptable”), compare their quality and performance, write an extensive article on the whole process, and then – since he has no need for these himself – he plans to offer them to any interested WoS reader, at cost. If that isn’t enough, Steve plans to donate the proceeds to his local hospital.

Steve isn’t really what I’d call a cheap-o-phile, like many of us (me). He owns some very high-end Audio Research gear, including the big Reference 3 Preamp. So along the way, he plans to do some silly stuff, like putting these cheapies into his big system just to see what they can do. Who knows, maybe one of them will embarass the ARC, at least in terms of cost to performance ratio! I have to say, I love this idea. If it wasn’t a 4-hour drive to get there, I’d practically insist on being a fly on the wall, for that comparison.

The contenders:

From China: "6N3 4-pcs Audio Tube Pre-Amplifier Preamp Board Assembled Kit DIY" ($40 plus shipping, via eBay)

From China: “6N3 4-pcs Audio Tube Pre-Amplifier Preamp Board Assembled Kit DIY” ($40 plus shipping, via eBay)

 

From the USA: the Aikido 12Vac, from John Broskie of Tubecad fame ($164 from the GlassWare Yahoo! Store)

From the USA: the Aikido 12Vac, from John Broskie of Tubecad fame ($164 from the GlassWare Yahoo! Store)

 

Oh yeah, and from Minnesota:

arc_reference3_600

Audio Research Reference 3: 2005 retail price, $9995 USD.

Tee hee.

 

Steve is already pretty far along (way ahead of me, as usual). Here’s a sneak peek at the casing he’s had machined (donated) by a local tool and die operation.

nfp-v1

 

Really looking forward to this one. As always, readers’ input and feedback are most welcome. Leave a comment below.

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3 Comments on Upcoming Battle of the Cheap Line Stages!

  1. DannyBoyNYC // 2016/10/03 at 12:11 pm // Reply

    I appreciate these kinds of test and will be watching with curiosity to see how they stack up against a 10k equivalent.

  2. Ostap Nakoneczny // 2016/10/03 at 9:15 pm // Reply

    with the initial cost so low, and a less expensive material for the enclosure-veneered plywood comes to mind, you could house the power supply in its’ own enclosure.

  3. Ludwig Amadeus // 2016/10/06 at 7:37 am // Reply

    heh heh. A mismatch.

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