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  1. #1
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    Bottlehead Paramours and Foreplay III

    Someone here accused me of having Chinese dime store gear which is probably true as price wise they don't meet snobbery price points. If my Dared 2a3c SET is Chinese dime store gear then perhaps my Paramours and Forplay III might qualify as American dime store gear?

    The 2a3 Paramours use simple point to point hand wiring with no circuit boards, op amps, and without complicated signal paths which is key to it's sound. It uses one 2a3 tube per mono-block and operates in class A. It uses a parallel feed output stage which is uncommon at it's kit price and no doubt contributes to its remarkable sense of realism, clarity, and coherence.

    The Foreplay III line stage sounds better than the tube CJ it replaced. It has 12 step dual attenuators which I like but some may not. Three inputs ( one padded ) and two outputs give it flexibility and allow easy bi-amping. It was designed for Bottlehead amps and is a perfect match for the Paramours.

    If the picture doesn't come through in this post, which is often the case, I'll post it separately.


  2. #2
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    second picture attempt


  3. #3
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Hey Poultry....I would not worry about the "Chinese dime store" remarks....I have a German designed preamp with quality German and quality Chinese parts, all assembled in a Chinese dime store factory as well! Its called a Vincent SA-T1.

    Heres a pic of mine.



    And you know what? I too think its presentation is better than a CJ preamp that cost twice as much. I also had a chance to listen to Peabodys new Van Alstine preamp yesterday....



    And it too sounded much better than the syrupy sweet CJ, and the VIncent sounds very close to the Van Alstine preamp, with only the Vincent having a little more presence in the mid section. The build quality of all three preamps are top notch with the CJ having a little more detail in its design...so that makes my Dime Store Chinese preamp just as good as the Van Alstine and both the Van Alstine and Vincent better at presenting music better than the syrupy sweet sounding Conrad Johnson. So if you ask me....my Vincent which started at retail in 2005 at $1795 and now can be had at $1495 with better performance than a CJ preamp that cost $3000 and some change and on par with a Van Alstine preamp that cost $2499, the better deal in my book. So I will take quality Chines Dime Store any time. And the only reason Vincent says it builds in China is because if built in Germany that preamp would cost twice as much. So after listening to various tubed and hybrid preamps, I would have to agree with them.

    Also...I know you are not a fan of tubes that are not NOS, but I broke down and ordered Golden Lion Tubes, and tey should be here Tuesday....I will let you know what I think.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vincent SA - T1/Vincent SP-331 MK /MF XRAY v8 /MMF-7.1/2M BLACK/ Creek OBH MK 2/Canton Vento 830.2

  4. #4
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    What is the deal with point to point wiring? Is circuit border implementation not considered equal for some reason? Maybe it exhibits bad RFI? Just curious because I am planning on getting a set kit that uses a circuit board, yet the signal path for the most part is uninterrupted.

    Nice Bottleheads. What is considered good pairing with the Foreplay beyond other Bottlehead products?
    Main System: Exposure 2010s - VPI HW-19jr - Denon DL-103LC - ClearAudio Basic - Sony SCD-S7700 - PS Audio DLlll - Revel M20

  5. #5
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    Point to point sounds better. It's much easier to repair and tweak. PCBs can warp and will not last as long and degrade faster. The disadvantage of point to point is the reason it's better - labor intensive and not profitable for mass production.

    I've never tried the Foreplay with other amps but it should work well with many. Impedance matching is an important consideration.

  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    Point to point sounds better. It's much easier to repair and tweak. PCBs can warp and will not last as long and degrade faster. The disadvantage of point to point is the reason it's better - labor intensive and not profitable for mass production.
    ...
    Thousands will disagree with that assessment of PCBs. Of course, like anything else, there more & less well designed and built PCBs.

  7. #7
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Thousands will disagree with that assessment of PCBs. Of course, like anything else, there more & less well designed and built PCBs.
    I can see both benefits of point to point and PCB. Point to point is all about the soldering skills and how you organize the wiring and rails.

    As far as PCB, have you seen the Harbeth and Thiel new crossovers ? Those are PCB masterpieces!
    Main System: Exposure 2010s - VPI HW-19jr - Denon DL-103LC - ClearAudio Basic - Sony SCD-S7700 - PS Audio DLlll - Revel M20

  8. #8
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    Foreplay and Class D power amp?
    Main System: Exposure 2010s - VPI HW-19jr - Denon DL-103LC - ClearAudio Basic - Sony SCD-S7700 - PS Audio DLlll - Revel M20

  9. #9
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    Enochrome, get the SET kit.

  10. #10
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    Enochrome, get the SET kit.

    Ha!! Right on brother!
    Main System: Exposure 2010s - VPI HW-19jr - Denon DL-103LC - ClearAudio Basic - Sony SCD-S7700 - PS Audio DLlll - Revel M20

  11. #11
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    The SET Advantage

    A single ended triode amp produces more second order and even order harmonics while push pull tube amps and solid state amps produce third order and odd order harmonics.

    The second order harmonics are the same note one octave higher but characterized by a richer more complimentary sound. The odd order harmonics tend to be harsh and not complimentary.

  12. #12
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    Poultrygeist
    I have been noticing your posts. I just purchased a Class CDA-254. I am thinking about purchasing a Grant Fidelity DAC-11, and probably will. However, I have been trying to find information on the cheap Ebay tube preamps. For the price I can mess around with them, learn a thing or two, and if I scratch they seem like a perfect place to screw up. But on the other hand I have to wonder if they don't actually put out some great sound. Can you give me some recommendations for cheap Dime Store Chinese tube preamps and amps that actually sound great or at least worth building? I would love to build one. Perhaps it will spark an interest and a new hobby. I am also thinking of building some of the Parts Express Class D amps. The price is certainly right and I have speakers laying around that I should get up and running. Anyway, any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated.

  13. #13
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    BJ,

    The most important thing is to find a preamp that is a good match impedance wise with your CDA-254. I'm not sure what that would be but I would guess that's discussed in the giant Class d forum over at AC.

    As for as inexpensive Chinese tube preamps, the Yaqin MS-12B seems to be a popular choice. I've not heard one but the price is very low for a tube preamp with one input plus a phono stage for your TT.

    Arjen Helder, a German living in China, sells T-amps and power supplies on ebay. He usually sells a very inexpensive modded tube preamp ( you supply the case ) but I don't see any today. Here's a link to him on ebay.



    New MKIII Tripath TA2020 PCB 25watt Class-T amplifier | eBay

  14. #14
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    Chinese Preamps

    Do you have any thoughts or opinions regarding something like this?


    Buffer 6N3+6Z1/6Z4 on ebay.

  15. #15
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    That's a great looking board and I see that the seller offers a nice power supply and everything else you need to put it together. I've been thinking of building something similar and placing it in a wooden cigar box.

    I looked again on the ebay link I provided and noticed that Arjen Helder does offer a tube preamp. He has fluent English and will answer questions better than most of the Chinese ebay merchants. You could discuss impedance issues with him.

  16. #16
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoJonJovi View Post
    Poultrygeist
    I have been noticing your posts. I just purchased a Class CDA-254. I am thinking about purchasing a Grant Fidelity DAC-11, and probably will. However, I have been trying to find information on the cheap Ebay tube preamps. For the price I can mess around with them, learn a thing or two, and if I scratch they seem like a perfect place to screw up. But on the other hand I have to wonder if they don't actually put out some great sound. Can you give me some recommendations for cheap Dime Store Chinese tube preamps and amps that actually sound great or at least worth building? I would love to build one. Perhaps it will spark an interest and a new hobby. I am also thinking of building some of the Parts Express Class D amps. The price is certainly right and I have speakers laying around that I should get up and running. Anyway, any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated.
    Last I heard the CDA series amps from Class D Audio had quite low input impedance -- to be sure of it, contact Tom at their site. A low input impedance on your power amp requires a very low output impedance on you preamp. Try to find out the output impedance of any preamp you're considering: the output impedance should not be more that 1/10 the input impedance of the power amp, i.e. your CDA-254.

    By the way, the SDS series have a more typical, higher input impedance, I believe, 47 kOhms.

  17. #17
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    Thanks. I will ask him through ebay and let you know the output impedance.

  18. #18
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    For the preamp its output impedance is 1k ohm.

    The SDS amps are 47K impedance for balanced inputs and 30K for single ended.

    For the CDA 254
    The impedance of this amp is 7KÖ donít worry, there have not been any issues with impedance with these amps.

    It sounds like I might have been better off with the SDS

  19. #19
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoJonJovi View Post
    For the preamp its output impedance is 1k ohm.

    The SDS amps are 47K impedance for balanced inputs and 30K for single ended.

    For the CDA 254
    The impedance of this amp is 7KÖ donít worry, there have not been any issues with impedance with these amps.

    It sounds like I might have been better off with the SDS
    Thanks for confirming this info.

    Yep, the preamp to CDA power amp ratio doesn't meet the 1 : 10+ rule, so isn't ideal.

    There are various stand-alone "buffers" out there whose objective purpose is to show the preamp a high input impedance, and the power amp a low output impedance. If I've got it right, the tube-based buffers are technically "cathode follower" designs. Many preamps have built-in cathode followers whose purpose is the same.

  20. #20
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    More Bottlehead pictures


  21. #21
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    Very cool. I like the Frankenstein Lab look of tube amps.
    I am assuming all homebrew amps.

  22. #22
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    I emailed Grant Audio to see if they could adjust the impedance on the preamp. We shall see.
    Well today it is suppose to be 75 so I am going to head up the Arkansas River from my home and see if I can turn some Browns on to a fly. I wanted to move to California but with climate change, I think I will just wait for California climate to come to me;>)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoJonJovi View Post
    I emailed Grant Audio to see if they could adjust the impedance on the preamp. We shall see.
    Well today it is suppose to be 75 so I am going to head up the Arkansas River from my home and see if I can turn some Browns on to a fly. I wanted to move to California but with climate change, I think I will just wait for California climate to come to me;>)
    Grant Audio got back with me and said they do not do any custom work at all. I have also asked Tom if the impedance of the Class D can be changed.
    I am really not to worried about it but hey, if it is an easy fix, why not. I suspect this will not be my last class-d so I think I will go ahead and get the Grant but I think I will wait until next month. Although my son just emailed and thinks he sold a rifle for me so I may have some spare cash.

  24. #24
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    Bottlehead Paramour 2a3 SET mono-blocks/ CJ Preamp


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