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Tube Amp From Sac Thailand Reviewed


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http://www.headfonia.com/the-minute-45-amplifier-by-sac-thailand/

 

I have posted about these guys before, and received the less-than-salutory response that tube amps out of Asia are inevitably designed to remove money from audiophool's wallets and generally sound like crap. Whatever - I cant say that 'Made in Thailand' usually gets my juices following, but its good to see them slugging it out with the likes of Woo Audio.

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Yup, and like vinyl records (remember those ?), they have made a comeback in certain circles. Some wont use anything else, despite the fact that the tubes run hot and wear out after a certain number of hours. E-Bay has dozens of dealers selling old Russian and Chinese valves/tubes, but its never really appealed to me.

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There are two schools of thought.

 

One is that the amp should be absolutely transparent: it should provide gain, but no distortion, where distortion is ANYTHING that causes the output signal to be anything other than a perfect reproduction, except for power level, of the input signal. Reviews from this school tend to talk about noise levels, THD (true harmonic distortion), nonlinearity, bandwidth, need for equalization, output impedance matching, and other things that can be measured objectively

 

The other is that the amp should "sound good". This school holds that distortion is perfectly OK, provided the distortion sounds "good", whatever that is. Reviews from this crew tend to be full of subjective language that is never defined, intended to be meaningful only to marketing droids, people with golden calibrated ears, just like the author, and people with WAY more dollars than sense.

 

Tubes have one alleged advantage over bipolar transistors: tubes distort gently, while transistors clip hard. Push a tube a little too hard, and it distorts a little, push it harder and it distorts a little more. Push a transistor too hard, and it clips hard, immediately. This advantage went away with the advent of field-effect transistors: they distort just like tubes do (and you can buy "Tube Grinder" guitar stomp boxes that are nothing but deliberately overdriven FET-input amplifiers).

 

If it seems fairly obvious which school I come from, well, there's a reason for that...

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I can't help it. I'm a toob junkie! There are few things that get me harder, well metaphorically at least, and for the physical, well I live in Thailand, nuff said.

 

I'm not exactly in the audiophool category, my bias is toward hollow state (as opposed to solid state) thermionic emission devices of considerably more power than your average light bulb and generally work at frequencies far above human hearing. Where power is still measured in watts but generally has a k in front of it, not to mention that the voltages supplied to these valves (yeah English I know) is also in the kilovolts region.

 

But these are still neat, if not exactly cool, toys. Yes there really is a lot of crap talked about this stuff and for the average folk I guess that if a $10 boom box sounds the same as a $00000000000000 straight class A monoblock then the $10 boom box is the best choice.

 

Thailand is interesting in that it's one of a few countries where it's still relatively easy to go shopping for new vacuum tubes for audio or radio use, and get a transformer wound. The Chinese shop house dealers of Ban Moh keep stuff on their shelves for ever, turn over seems to be an irrelevance to them, and I've bought stuff that is hard to find pretty much anywhere. there are a couple of tube audio shops in that area and it makes for a great afternoon picking over the stalls of junk if that's something you enjoy. I've got a good stock of different tubes and a 'one of these days' project is to build a useful audio amp. Think I might have to fore-go the silver wire transformers though.

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There are two schools of thought.

 

One is that the amp should be absolutely transparent: it should provide gain, but no distortion, where distortion is ANYTHING that causes the output signal to be anything other than a perfect reproduction, except for power level, of the input signal. Reviews from this school tend to talk about noise levels, THD (true harmonic distortion), nonlinearity, bandwidth, need for equalization, output impedance matching, and other things that can be measured objectively

 

The other is that the amp should "sound good". This school holds that distortion is perfectly OK, provided the distortion sounds "good", whatever that is. Reviews from this crew tend to be full of subjective language that is never defined, intended to be meaningful only to marketing droids, people with golden calibrated ears, just like the author, and people with WAY more dollars than sense.

 

Tubes have one alleged advantage over bipolar transistors: tubes distort gently, while transistors clip hard. Push a tube a little too hard, and it distorts a little, push it harder and it distorts a little more. Push a transistor too hard, and it clips hard, immediately. This advantage went away with the advent of field-effect transistors: they distort just like tubes do (and you can buy "Tube Grinder" guitar stomp boxes that are nothing but deliberately overdriven FET-input amplifiers).

 

If it seems fairly obvious which school I come from, well, there's a reason for that...

 

Specialist,

 

It seems as if you are endorsing the Marshall "Valvestate II" series of amps, which use a valve pre amp and FET Solid State main amp, it is what I use nowadays, closest thing I have used to an all valve amplifier.

 

Personally I would like to get my hands on an old VOX AC30, my first ever amp, but thats showing my age.

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Personally I would like to get my hands on an old VOX AC30, my first ever amp, but thats showing my age.

 

 

Keep looking, especially here. Amazing what you can find in some of Bangkok's back streets. Swear I've seen an AC30 in a junk shop here before now.

 

Cheers

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