08 February 2004
I have been audiophile and a DIYer since high school years. I assembled my first system 25 years ago which consisted of a modified Elac turntable with entry level Shure cartridge, home made Isophon coaxial speakers with add on cone tweeter and a home made amplifier.
My love of audio equipment influenced my profession and I became an electrical engineer. Currently I work in defense electronics sector and continue my interest for audio electronics as a hobby. Over the years I have gradually upgraded towards high-end equipment mostly in DIY format.
Most typically, my wife is not enthusiastic about my hobby and any equipment related to it. But I could still manage to put a pair of Dunlavy SC IV and not so beautiful looking electronics in the main living room and allocate another room for my DIY projects.
Eight years ago, having completed many solid state electronics projects, I decided to plunge into a tube amplifier project. This was a 120wpc stereo power amplifier, based on 6550 Svetlana tubes with Ultra linear push pull topology. The end result was dynamic full and effortless sound. More musically satisfying than my Adcom GFA555 mkII monoblocks driving Magnepan 1.5QR speakers. After that I started a design project based on circlotron topology with 6C33C triodes again with plenty of power to drive Magnepans. The project lasted a year with repeated alteration and optimization on almost all sections of the amplifier. The sound was an improvement over the previous design. This amplifier had a better bass control. It is difficult to explain sound with words but the sonic crowdedness of complex passages were simplified and dynamics of individual instruments were increased. The amplifiers are tested against best solid states with true reference speakers going down to 20Hz and results were more in favour of this amp even at low frequencies where solid state has an edge.
Then I have started a preamp design. This was based on mu follower topology with 6CL6 pentode load using 3 sets of parallel 6H3NE Russian triodes. The tubes are equivalent to WE 396A. The sound is very dynamic, open and detailed compared to ADCOM GPA-750.
As an electrical engineer I believe that measurements are almost as important as listening tests and I can predict how an equipment will sound just by looking at measured data (I expect to receive "nice" comments about this statement). I read Stereophile magazine mainly because the equipment reviews are supported by detailed and meaningfull set of measurements..
I believe the sound quality should not be compromised in some areas in favor of some others. Even though I love the sound of single ended systems I don't like to limit my musical selections by excluding large orchestral works etc. I don't like the concept of matching equipment to get an optimal performance.
I prefer digital sources to analog because of the similar reasons. I believe digital sources have better overall sound integrity over analog sources.
To me the term audiophile defines a person who likes audio equipment as much as music, and listens to equipment as much as musical notes. A DIYer audiophile is a person who listens to the equipment even more. I sometimes find this (plus working with lethal voltages) too stressful to pursue as a hobby, but after finishing a product the satisfaction you get is worth it.
I prefer to listen to jazz (75%) and
baroque Classical music (75%). I prefer Bach, Handel, Orf,
Saint Saens as composers. I admit, I am not a music expert
and especially the performances I choose for classical music
are mostly based on recording quality. I believe that the
recording quality is as important as the system components
on the final outcome.