Me system


sugar 'n spikes
Mar 5, 2002
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Latest update on my cluster of toys :

This was posted at another forum I frequent so if some parts don’t seem relevant to PCR that’s the reason.

System components:

Tubelab SSE amplifier

Home made 6 way switcher based on an original World Audio Design

Frugel Horn cabinets made from flatpacks with CHP 70 full range 4” drivers. Mark Audio Super tweeters on top.

Lenco PTP5 turntable based on an original L78 with SME Mk III arm and Denon DL103 MC cartridge.

The Denon 103 into a pair of Cinemag 3440AH Step Up Transformers…

…and into an A310 MM phono stage purchased from Ebay with separate independent 12-0-12 regulated PSU

Nigel Speed Controller Mk II

Garrard 401 with SME 3009 Mk II arm and Shure 75ED Cartridge

Analog Metro Valve MM phono stage

Nigel Mk III speed controller

Little Dot Mk II valve headphone amp

Sennheiser HDR160 cordless headphones

Switcher box to switch between main amp & headphone amp

NAD 613 cassette deck

Marantz CD6005 CD player


















Lots of data/DAC/Switch:


Me ‘puter:


The sound system is integrated with media, video files, FLAC & mp3 files are stored a pair of 4Tb hard disks housed in a RAID enclosure in a RAID 0 configuration so if one disk should fail I don’t lose my data.

This is accessed from my main computer. Audio out is to an Ebay 2496 DAc made from an assembled PCB then switched between computer 2.1 speaker system and one channel of my audio switcher. HDMI out from my computer is split between my TV and my computer monitor. It works well. Only disadvantage atm is if a video file is being watched on the TV then the main computer cannot be used.

Considering buying a small used laptop or Netbook to connect the RAID enclosure to to overcome this problem. Actually considering a used Macbook as many of them have both digital sound and HDMI out.

The TV is a five year old 37” LG with 100Hz scanning, quite the thing five years ago but now dated. Still, I not a huge big screen watcher and it works fine so it’s a stayer until it dies.

I also have a PS3 mainly for playing Bluray disks but I do have 14 games which I visit occasionally. For games I must admit to preferring an Xbox 360 I owned prior to the PS3. Not interested in PS4 or Xbox One.

Notes on components:

The switcher is housed in a Modu case from Italy and has a Hi-Fi Collective remote volume control. Six relays are switched via a wafer switch using 0V. Some might call it a passive pre-amp but to me it’s just a switching device.

One note of interest if anybody’s considering using this remote control. I bought all the parts from Hi Fi Collective and when it arrived I noticed the ALPS volume control was an RS component, it was in the original RS packaging. HFC charged me around £30 for this part, RS sell it for half that price (RS part number 234-6617 £15.74) so you could save yourself £15. I know companies need to mark up goods to maintain profit margins but I think 100% markup is taking the mick just a little.

The Tubelab SSE amp I bought from Forum member mudchute and am currently using a pair of Golden Lion KT88’s and a Sovtek ECC81. It has an edge on the Elektor push-pull EL84 amp I was using previously.

I had some problems with this initially and after some thought and consideration I’m fairly convinced one of the original KT88’s didn’t like the journey and to cut a long story short an electrolytic capacitor and 5W ceramic capacitor literally blew up. Twice. I think the faulty KT88 had a short and was passing 450V through components designed to take 50V and low current.

I think them blowing took out a PCB track and, more importantly, a through connection between both sides of the PCB. Track and through connection have been made good, old KT88’s disposed of, new KT88’s fitted and it has now been running sweet for several months.

When them thermionic devices decide to go belly up the results can be quite severe. Still, all good now :) The Tubelab came with a volume control and a (unwired) selecter switch with knobs on the front but I didn’t need those so removed them. I intend to mount a hardwood strip across the front to hide the holes where these components were mounted. The holes are currently plugged with some plastic plugs.

I like my Frugel/CHP70 loudspeakers a lot, plenty enough bass for me. Senser’s Stacked Up and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine have lots of bass and these cabinets handle it well enough. If you’ve been following Ian’s Alpair/Frugel thread then I pretty much agree with all he’s said about them.

The super tweeters have a resistor network fitted to filter bass frequencies and their contribution to the sound stage is very subtle. I’m not sure they’re even needed tbh. The tweeters are housed in cardboard poster mailing tubes sitting on stands made from a broom handle and 4” nails.

The Garrard 401 and SME Mk II is housed in a home made wooden plinth made from 5 IKEA Lamplig chopping boards. It’s run by one of Nigel’s speed controllers. To play 78’s I have to switch the 401 to 78 and use the speed controller’s 33 setting. I have disconnected the Garrard’s strobe light and that is now connected via a switch directly to the mains so I can use it independently on all three speeds. The switch is housed at the back of the wooden stand it’s on.

It has a custom made Perspex top with a cutout at the rear to accommodate the SME arm’s overswing.

The Analog Metro Valve Phono stage has a sweet sound imo, it’s housed in a modu case.

The Lenco PTP 5 turntable I like a great deal, housed in a plinth made from 4 bamboo chopping boards, has a custom made Perspex top. Looks and sounds great, imo.

The Cinemag SUT’s (from a group buy organised by Chris 65) are good, they’re housed in a case with switches to switch ground on and off and also switch between high and low inputs on the multi-tapped transformers.

The Cheapo A310 solid state phono stage is a goodie for the price. It has DIL switches internally that switch between 30db and 50db gain via 220R and 220K resistors. I got fed up having to open up the case to keep changing these switches so fitted a front mounted rotary switch and hardwired it to the board components.

As 30db and 50db didn’t seem to hit the sweet spot for use with the Tubelab SSE amp I also added a third option via a 1K resistor which gives about 40db gain – just right. Now all three gain settings are switchable from the front.

The Little Dot amp and Sennheiser headphones sound good to me but I’m aware they could be improved upon. But as I only tend to use them late at night and at that time usually I’ve partaken of a few sherberts, they will do me for now. I do actually wonder whether anything else would sound that much better.

The NAD cassette deck is quite ok, cost me £20 from Cash Converters about six years ago when the market was such that you almost couldn’t give a cassette deck away. Things seem to have changed now, they're in demand a little more.

The Mararntz CD6005 is a recent addition and replaces a Marantz CD52 MkII that was around 25 years old. It’s better but…. Not that much better. I can plug an iPod or USB stick in the front of it and it looks pretty too.

Finally, the main console is made from three birch ply boards that originally were part of a modular storage system used by London Schools. They were originally in poor condition, two were covered in lots of paint and took some work to restore. Schools often dispose of these boards (most of my work is in schools) and over the years I’ve used a fair few of them with uses ranging from making a guinea pig hutch to flooring the attic (sacrilege).

The side panels are a 22mm pine board from Wickes. The turntable/component stands are made from Wickes pine furniture boards and 40 x 40 paving stones.

I’m now, finally, happy with my turntable setup, I also have another fairly stock Lenco L75 in my bedroom with a slate plinth and Linn LV1 tonearm and several headshells with different cartridges so I think three turntables is quite enough for one household. And I’m very happy with all of them.

I won’t rule out an Audio Mods arm in the future but not for some time yet, if ever at all. Also going to buy a Jico SAS stylus for the Shure 7ED soon.

I also rather fancy a pair of Bottlehead SE monoblocks and to that end may sell the Tubelab SSE, I’m thinking about that.

My curiosity also wonders what a pair of Q-Accoustic 2050i’s paired with a solid state Arcam FMJA 19 amplifier would sound like but…. No, I think next time I can afford some new toys, it will be lenses for my camera, a Fuji X-Pro 1.

To summarise, I am at last pretty much satisfied with my audio setup and playing music on it, mostly vinyl, is lots of fun.
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I'm not weird, I'm a limited edition.
Mar 5, 2002
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Nice, very nice, cracking even ... how do I get a mention in your Will. :)
Jul 11, 2010
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Nice one Mr Flops, absolutely what a great rig or rigs, I did not know you could still get valves, but judging by the amount of vyinal you have in the pictures and the rig you have the sound reproduction must be fantastic:thumb::thumb::bow::bow:. Makes my rig look very mundain, I am very jelous:nod:


sugar 'n spikes
Mar 5, 2002
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The paving stones came from B & Q, they're a perfect size for most turntables with a 9" arm. The cabinets/stands were made to fit the paving stones.

Made from Wickes pine furniture board, wood glue, wood filler, screws and varnish. With white coated hardboard to the rear of each.

IKEA eat your heart out ;)
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