Coming This Winter: an EL84 DIY Amplifier Build

Bored yet, Miss K?

Or, “Solder Slingin’ Steve Rides Again”

By Steve Graham

Can success breed success?  Like the efficacious DIY Phono Stage from 2018I’m going have another go at a DIY project. This time it will be an EL84 push-pull integrated/power amplifier.  

The build will start with the Simple Push Pull board available from Tubelab.com. Of course, buying a board is the easy part.  A chassis, tubes, transformers, jacks, speaker terminals, resistors, capacitors and all the other bits are needed. But hey, when it comes to details, I’m your guy!  (You knew that already, right?)

What I’m proposing is a build sponsored by a kind patron, the same as was done with the above-mentioned phono stage.  I’m not asking someone to blindly jump in.  Using transformers reclaimed from an old Heathkit, I’m building a prototype with the board you see my niece, the lovely Miss K, holding above.  I’ll build my prototype into a decent chassis using all new parts (except for the aforementioned transformers).

Once the prototype is built and debugged, I’ll generate a parts list and costing. Update: a patron was found and the project is a go! ..then I’ll document the build to my usual level of excruciating detail, so that you solder-inclined WoS’ers can build your own too.

I’m going to simplify the metal working, the most onerous task of DIY builds, as much as possible.  An electric drill will be the most exotic tool required.

 

 

Just to give you a ballpark figure, a finished amp, in a nice chassis, with tubes, using high-quality brand name components that will last for years, will cost about $900 Canadian or about $700 US.  Sure, one can build an EL84 amp for less, but I’m not going to cheap-out on parts that will compromise sound quality and reliability.

So, watch this space or sign up below for updates.  I’ll update you once the prototype has been built (it’s already underway) and tested.

Cheers, Steve    

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8 Comments on Coming This Winter: an EL84 DIY Amplifier Build

  1. Keep me posted on the diy el84

    • Hi Dave,
      Sure thing – I’ve added you to the mailing list, so you’ll get email notifications of new articles as soon as we post them.
      Thanks,
      Noam

  2. Steve Graham // 2019/11/06 at 9:30 am // Reply

    Dave,
    Thank you for your interest in Wall of Sound. As soon as the prototype is built, burned in and tested an update will appear on WOS. I expect this to happen before the end of November. If you wish to jump in and sponsor the build of the all-new amplifier, and own it when it’s completed, unit please feel free. 🙂
    Regards, Steve Graham

  3. Bob Boyko // 2019/11/08 at 11:35 am // Reply

    I have been pondering building a kit as a retirement project. Is this something that someone with basic soldering skills could complete?

  4. Yup, lovely indeed — she could sell rain to an Englishman.

    Unfortunately, I’m transistors all the way…

  5. Steve Graham // 2019/11/11 at 10:21 pm // Reply

    Bob,
    Thank you for your interest in Wall of Sound.
    If you haven’t done any electronic assembly a tube power amp might not be the best place to start. You’ll be dealing with AC and DC voltages in the range of several hundred volts.
    If you know resistors from capacitors (not to be insulting), have a multimeter and temperature controlled soldering iron you should be OK.
    You might want to start with something a bit simpler with less intimidating voltages like my WOS line stage build from a couple of years back. Read through the build instructions on this and the phono build from a year ago. The power amp build, if a patron steps up, will be similar.

    Regards, Steve

  6. I just came across your website and it looks like a great resource. I’m just getting my feet wet in the DIY tube amp world and trying to get all the reading done I can. My goal is to build an inexpensive beginner amp (~2.5 watts) in the next 6 months and learn all the bad lessons — hopefully without burning down the house. After that, I’d like to begin research and start work on something more powerful and expensive.

  7. Steve Graham // 2020/02/08 at 9:47 am // Reply

    Glenn,
    Thank you for the compliment. These DIY marathons are a labour of love and if you believe my wife, all part of my therapy. At any rate, if you are in the USA have a look at the kits on the Tubedepot.com site. Their 8LS, ~5WPC amp for less than $300 might be a good way to dip a toe in the DIY pool. If you don’t want a PC board build there are point to point and turret board-style kits from the Far East on eBay. Their initial price might look appealing but shipping can add a fair bit sometimes. Transformers are heavy.
    Be careful with some of these. If you live in North America make sure the power transformer has a 120 volt primary. Some offerings only have 220 volt primaries.

    Good luck, Steve Graham

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