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Good workout for the 3A


LouB
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As I have mentioned previously, My 3a's are doing duty in the family room ( or as the 1928 architect's plans said,  "Billard Room" ).

In this setup, they're powered by a Carver C-3 preamp and a Dynaco ST-150.

Last night, We were watching an Irish film titled Pilgrimage.

The soundtrack was exceptionally well recorded and the drums were enough to stir the Celtic heart of anyone who hears it.

So sad that most folks who may watch this would be hearing it through the tiny reproducers mounted in their TV's.

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7 minutes ago, ar_pro said:

The Stereo 150 was a great amplifier, Lou - it also had an excellent appearance with those solid walnut side-pieces.

I used one with my very first set of AR-3a's, and it never faltered. It was a fun kit to build, too.

 

When I got mine it was in pretty deplorable condition.

It was covered in nicotine goo and was pretty scratched up.

I did replace all the electrolytic and the tantalum caps.

I did a cosmetic redo, but where it sits nobody will ever know.

That power supply was absolutely killer for an amplifier of "only" 75 per side.

It handles the 3a load all night long without a complaint.

When I got it, it was paired with a PAT-4.

I recapped that and replaced all the carbon comp resistors too but was never able to rid it of that vanishingly small 60 hz hummmmmm.

It was SO faint no one else noticed it, but I did and it just bugged me to no end.

One of these days, I'll relocate the power supply out of the case to verify whether my suspicion of EMF pickup from the transformer is correct.

 

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Hey Lou

Took a look at the trailer for that movie. Looks like I'd like it but my wife would hate it. Her Celtic heart is stirred more by the likes of Ballykissangel ;)

FWIW, my tech has told me for yers that the 150 was Dynaco's best amp. I've looked for one half-heartedly but so far no luck.

If you don't already know about updatemydynaco I highly recommend it. I completely rebuilt my ST-120 (it's no longer a Dynaco--just the chassis and transformer). Dan Joffe makes great kits with good instructions and the customer support is excellent. Here is his PAT-4 page. You may find a solution for the hum problem:  https://www.updatemydynaco.com/pat4.html

Like most geezer audiophiles, I built a PAT-4 kit back in the day (also an ST-35, ST-120 and Hafler 220). Great bang for the buck!

-Kent

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1 hour ago, JKent said:

Took a look at the trailer for that movie. Looks like I'd like it but my wife would hate it. Her Celtic heart is stirred more by the likes of Ballykissangel ;)

And I looked up Ballykissangel.

That's just the sort of BBC series my sweetie is fond of.

Aargh! DVD.com only has Series three through six.

Looks like someone never returned one and two.

And there isn't a copy of either in any of the nearby libraries.

 

Oh well, Skunked again.

 

I did see the updatemydynaco stuff for sale on the auction site as well as his page after you mentioned it.

After having replaced all the goodies BUT  the transformer I'm sorta reluctant to bug the guy with my pipsqueak of a problem.

If the placement of the trans outside the case doesn't do it, I'll review the circuit and try to figure out what I may have done wrong.

Wouldn't be the first time.

After replacing almost all the passives, the thing really does sound good ( other than the hissy phono preamp, which he has a kit for )

But I digress,

 

Another nice display of the 3a's prowess I was listening to is Big Big Train's 2016 album "Folklore"

When I listen to it on the 2a, the 2ax or the KLH 6 systems it's just missing the overwhelming punch of the 3a's

( the above mentioned are all I have connected now )

 

 

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The ST-150 power supply is really robust - it might have been some trickle-down from Dyna's ST-400 super-amp. Like Kent's technician, I've always felt that the 150 was Dyna's best-sounding solid-state design. My Significant Other's old college system was a pair of Advents driven by the little Advent receiver, and we wound up using the receiver as a preamp for the Stereo 150, with excellent results for years & years.

When I bought the ST-150 kit, the shop offered me a terrific price on an assembled PAT-5 preamplifier. I had one friend who'd built his own PAT-4, and I flipped it to him. He also had a very slight hum problem with his PAT-4 that he could never fully resolve, and wound up really liking the PAT-5.

The Crown IC-150 is another preamplifier from that same era, and was as dead-quiet a front end as I'd ever heard. If you can't resolve the PAT-4 issue, maybe take a peek at the Crown.

Ken Rockwell did an excellent write-up on the IC150, which can be seen here: https://kenrockwell.com/audio/crown/ic-150.htm

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2 hours ago, ar_pro said:

When I bought the ST-150 kit, the shop offered me a terrific price on an assembled PAT-5 preamplifier. I had one friend who'd built his own PAT-4, and I flipped it to him. He also had a very slight hum problem with his PAT-4 that he could never fully resolve, and wound up really liking the PAT-5.

I really like the small footprint of the Dynaco preamps.

The Crown seemed like a really big cabinet for a tiny board, but I guess bigger must be better otherwise who would have bought all the rack systems in the 80's or the console entertainment centers before that?

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4 hours ago, LouB said:

I really like the small footprint of the Dynaco preamps.

I agree with this very much. The Dynaco pre-amps, tuners, and integrated amps from this period that had identical dimensions made for a very nice set of stacking component possibilities. The only Dynaco built by me was an FM-5 tuner, and it was paired with the PAT-4 and Stereo 120. 

7 hours ago, ar_pro said:

Ken Rockwell did an excellent write-up on the IC150

I agree with this, too. I used Ken's write-up on the smaller Crown D-75 to help familiarize myself with this power amp: https://kenrockwell.com/audio/crown/d-75.htm

Edit: Oops...I just realized you were discussing the pre-amp (IC-150) and not the power amp (D-150). For the 150's, I preferred the later "a" versions, but for the 75's, I prefer the original.

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Dyna had a very distinctive appearance, from the original brass/painted front panels of the tube preamps and tuners, through to the champagne and then silver flanged aluminum panels of the later models - it was a great look. Their optional walnut cabinets were also beautiful, and well-made.

The IC-150 is on the large side....Crown produced a lot of equipment for industrial/professional use, and pretty much everything they built had rack-mount dimensions. 

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  • 1 month later...

Many of George Michael's albums have incredibly deep bass. Some bass reproduced by my 3a's on his tracks are not as audible on my 6's which are of the original and premium design. I believe my 6's go as deep in the bass as some AR 10" models. I don't want to start a debate about the capabilities of the original 6's. I still want to buy a pair of 5's to get the dome midrange and tweeters.  

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  • 1 year later...

A followup to this post;

Kent, I finally am having the opportunity to see Ballykissangel. What a fun, wholesome show.

AR Pro: Per your suggestion I picked up a Crown IC-150 to replace the PAT-4 (which I was never able to fully resolve the hum issue with ) and did the full recap. The sound is quite neutral and I did make a reproduction enclosure but out of oak instead of walnut.

image.png.972d9e643ab625e573f07f116d8e8b50.png

Only problem was..... It was too big to fit in the allotted space in the video rack! So it is now upstairs in the living room with a Hafler DH-120. These are connected to my pair of AR-2Ax.

So for the downstairs setup I had to return to a smaller form factor..... And then I came across a Dynaco PAT-5. Not the BiFET version, the original with the LM-301 IC's. The caps were desperately in need of replacement which I did. The semiconductors were all fine and the carbon film resistors were fine, not having drifted significantly. It really sounds superb with the Dynaco ST-150, which would have been it's contemporary. The space it sits in is so snug it precludes wrapping it in an enclosure so it'll just have to stay stock.

 

And the AR-3a's that these components feed into?

Still the best sounding speakers I have ever had, bar none. 

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Wait a minute...... That's not a Crown, it's a Phase Linear. Love the look, especially with the oak (?) cabinet.

For future reference, a great preamp with a small form factor is the DB-1A, made in New Hampshire circa 1980 by David Hadaway who still sells and repairs them. The 1B has a slightly wider faceplate & case. The power supply can be placed away from the preamp. They also made a tone control with matching solid walnut cabinet, the DB-5. All units are daisy chained to one power supply.

The last photo shows a pile of stuff in my shop (it has since been moved and rearranged). The DB preamp and tone control fit in nicely both in terms of size and design with the KLH Model Eighteen tuner and Tivoli Model CD. DB selector switch and headphone amp sit atop the DB-1A, an AR-SRC is on top of the CD player and some random old equipment is on the shelf.

DB1a.jpg

DB 1B.JPG

 

pile of stuff resized.jpg

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Crap! you're right, that's the Phase linear.

The Crown was resold, the Phase linear won out. ( it won the WAF anyway )

There was just something about the Crown that was a little too early solid-statey for me but everyone's tastes are different.

Ahhh, A Simpson 260. I have a few. From a series 3 through an 8. Bulletproof.

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Your Phase Linear preamp is gorgeous in the oak cabinet, Lou - simply beautiful!

Crown had a couple of preamps after the IC-150 that were also very low-noise, but minus the early solid-state sound that you observed. 

The SL-2 was an especially good design, with lots of inputs & outputs, useful tone controls that could be turned off if desired, and dead-quiet switching - very desirable when connected to high-powered amplifiers. The SL-2 was available in black or silver, and Crown offered a very handsome walnut-finished cabinet for all of their 1-4 rack-space components that looked terrific stacked together.

If I was assembling a vintage system today, I wouldn't hesitate to base it around the SL-2 and any of the larger Crown power amps from that era, like the Power Line Three or Four, or the PS-200 or PS-400; all of these are fine performers with acoustic suspension loudspeakers, as well as quiet and reliable. As when this equipment was new, used prices are below those of comparable McIntosh components, which tend to reflect a greater market of collectors as opposed to mere users; in terms of performance, and sound quality my opinion is that these Crown pieces are right there with the Mac competition.

Here's the SL-2 in its cabinet:

 

 

sl-2.jpg

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That's a great post, ar_pro, and I totally agree about this overall line of Crown amplifiers. The SL-2 (or the professional PSL-2) is a pre-amp which has been on my radar for some time, but prices have really escalated in recent years. The power amps you mentioned would all be perfect complements, and if you listen to FM broadcast like I do, throw in a Crown FM-3 for a very fine component system.

Just my $0.02, but as much as I admire the front and rear panel layouts of these excellent components,  I've never cared for the wood casings that Crown offered as a factory option. I know they add "desirability" in the used market, and possibly even some added WAF, but they seem a bit over-scaled and clunky IMO.

But I do agree: Lou's PL amp in oak cabinet looks terrific.

SL-2, FM-3, PL-4.jpg

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20 hours ago, ar_pro said:

Your Phase Linear preamp is gorgeous in the oak cabinet, Lou - simply beautiful!

Crown had a couple of preamps after the IC-150 that were also very low-noise, but minus the early solid-state sound that you observed. 

The SL-2 was an especially good design, with lots of inputs & outputs, useful tone controls that could be turned off if desired, and dead-quiet switching - very desirable when connected to high-powered amplifiers. The SL-2 was available in black or silver, and Crown offered a very handsome walnut-finished cabinet for all of their 1-4 rack-space components that looked terrific stacked together.

If I was assembling a vintage system today, I wouldn't hesitate to base it around the SL-2 and any of the larger Crown power amps from that era, like the Power Line Three or Four, or the PS-200 or PS-400; all of these are fine performers with acoustic suspension loudspeakers, as well as quiet and reliable. As when this equipment was new, used prices are below those of comparable McIntosh components, which tend to reflect a greater market of collectors as opposed to mere users; in terms of performance, and sound quality my opinion is that these Crown pieces are right there with the Mac competition.

Here's the SL-2 in its cabinet:

 

 

sl-2.jpg

That's a really attractive Crown preamp. So different in appearance from the IC-150. I really wasn't diminishing the quality of the IC-150, it's just that after recapping it I wasn't overwhelmed by it. I also had come across a D-75a at a hamfest for spare change that was a decent low power single space rackmount but the torroidal power transformer in it had a fit when an incandescent dimmer was in use on the same branch. Really bizarre mechanical hum that disappeared when the DC spikes from the dimmer weren't  present.

If I run into one of the above mentioned amps at a hamfest or other occasion that doesn't involve shipping one of those lead bricks I'll have to check it out.

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1 hour ago, frankmarsi said:

For a 'real' work-out, two of these in full time use do it for me every time. I have the full wood cabinets for everyone of my components but, they retain heat unnecessarily.

1828487649_20200227_093858copy.thumb.jpg.277f2028654ada188a651485a1dd05e6.jpg

Ohmahgawd!!! When I was a teen those were just the holy grail for me.

I still haven't found one in reasonable condition ( with working transformer, everything else can be fixed ) for a decent price.

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13 hours ago, ra.ra said:

That's a great post, ar_pro, and I totally agree about this overall line of Crown amplifiers. The SL-2 (or the professional PSL-2) is a pre-amp which has been on my radar for some time, but prices have really escalated in recent years. The power amps you mentioned would all be perfect complements, and if you listen to FM broadcast like I do, throw in a Crown FM-3 for a very fine component system.

Just my $0.02, but as much as I admire the front and rear panel layouts of these excellent components,  I've never cared for the wood casings that Crown offered as a factory option. I know they add "desirability" in the used market, and possibly even some added WAF, but they seem a bit over-scaled and clunky IMO.

But I do agree: Lou's PL amp in oak cabinet looks terrific.

SL-2, FM-3, PL-4.jpg

Thanks for the compliment on the case. The reason I went with solid oak was that it was so darn light without the case I couldn't push in the pushbuttons without pushing the whole thing back. The case weighs a lot more than the preamp does!

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No worries, Lou - the IC-150 was from a time when solid state designers were still working things out. I completely understand your observation on the sonic qualities, and agree. I'd place it ahead of a PAT-4, and slightly behind the PAT-5, except for lack of noise, where the Crown would excel.

As ra.ra has mentioned, prices for the Straight Line Two preamp have increased in recent years - current ebay "sold" prices range between $600-$850 - but a unit in good physical condition should continue to be reliable, and have a very up-to-date sound quality.

The Crown D-75 and D-60 amplifiers were around in some form for almost 50 years, starting out as a portable, 1-space amplifier for use with Crown's professional open reel recorders. And for a long while, they were very frequently utilized in courthouses around the country, providing  years & years of always-on, trouble-free performance.  The reputation that Crown amplifiers had for reliability and longevity has probably never been equaled in either the commercial market, or the domestic. It doesn't hurt that the big ones work so well with acoustic suspension speakers, either! ^_^

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