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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Music: Boris Blank, Electrified

Hi!

When I read that Boris Blank, co-founder of the Swiss band Yello, plans to release a solo album, I was excited. And of course I had to get it. It is called 'Electrified'.




This contains a collection of sound tracks from the last 4 decades of Boris' work. Unreleased tracks and experimental pieces which were the foundation of some Yello songs. As such it is not a regular album like the Yello records we now. Unusual was also the realisation of the project. It was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, managed by Ian Tregoning.




Of course I had to get the deluxe set which contains some extra material and offers the music on 4 (!) different formats: Vinyl, cassette tape, CD and digital download.




In addition there is a DVD with 12 videos and a beautiful booklet with photographs from Boris Blank. Everything exquisitely packaged. Cassette tape, CD box and booklet are laid into the right side of the box:




On the left side there is a sleeve which contains 3 vinyl records.






Although I don't even have a casette deck any more, this is a cool touch to include it as second analog format besides the records. The digital download and CDs come in handy for listening in the car. But of course what I'm most interested in are the vinyls.


As mentioned above this is not an album in the conventional sense as you'd expect when you know Yello. It's rather a collage of tracks, sounds and snippets from the last 4 decades. I was a bit disappointed when I first listened to it. But it quickly grew on me and I enjoy it a lot. Boris is the guy behind the sound of Yello and this becomes very apparent when listening through this collection. It is amazing how h kept his indistinguishable style over so many decades. His sound now only defined the sound of Yello but was influential for the electro pop music scene. This album is a must for hardcore Yello fans!




The recording quality is excellent. As far as you can talk about sound quality of purely electronic music. Huge detail, extended frequency response with silky treble without any trace of harshness. Some tracks have a huge artificial soundstage which almost has a psychedelic character.





Many gems to be discovered in this collection! Thanks a lot to Boris Blank and Ian Tregoning for realising this project.




Best regards

Thomas

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tube of the Month : The 7N7

Hi!

In the previous post, I introduced the stereo 300B single ended amp under development. The 6SN7 has been chosen as driver tube. Since the 6SN7 was already covered in a tube of the month post, we will have a look at another type which is electrically equivalent but has a different base, the 7N7.




The 7N7 is a Loktal type. For some back ground information about the Loktal tubes see the 1LE3 Tube of the Month post, the only other Loktal type covered on this blog so far. But more will follow!


The pinout of the 7N7 is shown on the left. As can be seen not only is the base different but also the relative position of the electrode connections. The layout of the pins is symmetrical. This would ease a symmetric stereo layout for example. Connecting both triode systems in parallel is also a bit easier this way. That pretty much sums up the differences to the 6SN7. As mentioned they are electrically equivalent. Amplification factor of 20, plate resistance of about 7kOhms. The heater draws he same 0.6A at 6.3V. However caution needs to be taken regarding the maximum values for plate voltage and plate dissipation since those values changed during the rather long time
the 6SN7 was in production. Since Loktal tubes never really won wide acceptance in the market they got discontinued rather soon after the introduction of this base. So the 7N7 never went through the same kind of uprating as the 6SN7. It only matches the early 6SN7 versions in this regard. Later versions like the 6SN7GTB have been uprated. A 7N7 could drop right into a circuit designed for the 6SN7 by changing the socket or by using a socket adapter. Unless the circuit is designed to make use of the higher limits of later 6SN7 versions. As always let's have a look at the plate curves as shown in the data sheet and compare them to traced curves from real life tube samples. Here is the set of plate curves as shown in the Tung-Sol data sheet:




And here the curve set as measure on a tube:




These are actually more evenly spaced as the curve set from the data sheet and resemble those of the 6SN7 which is not surprising.


Most of the 7N7 available have been manufactured by Sylvania since they introduced the Loktal base tubes:




A later version:




7N7 made by Tung-Sol:




The Loktal base:




General Electric:




A later GE version:






The next one one is made by Lansdale for the military:




This one has a much longer glass body than other brands. Here compared to a Sylvania:




I never came across that brand before. So I went through my stock and found a General Electric tube in the same style. So probably they had only been rebranded or specially selected by that company for the military.




Rebranding was quite common so you can never be sure if the company which has it's name on the glass really made the tube. Philco for example did not make their own tubes but got them manufactured by others.




Raytheon:



Although Raytheon manufactured tubes itself, the plate structure of the one above looks like Sylvania.

The same with this DuMont branded tube:




RCA 7N7:




A close up to the internals of a 7N7:





To get a better view of the internal construction we need to open one. Let's use this Sylvania tube:





The glass removed:





In tis close up the grid wires can be seen:




The heater wires:




A cathode:





The plate:



Grid and cathode:




The internals are the same as those of the 6SN7. They probably came off the same assembly line and just got housed with the different base. Theses quite evident when comparing these two:




Both made by Sylvania, a 6SN7 on the left and 7N7 on the right.




A nice low cost alternative to the increasingly costly 6SN7 if you can work with the different base.




Best regards

Thomas

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Stereo 300B amplifier, Part 1

Hi!

More new stuff in the pipe line! After several sets of 300B mono block amplifiers it is about time to scale down a bit. Coming up is a stereo single ended 300B amp. These are some of the parts of the signal chassis.




The chassis will be in a similar style as the 300B monos. It will also have a separate power supply. Both amplifier channels will share a common chassis and they will get a common supply in a separate chassis. Output transformers are Hashimoto. The reduction from 4 to 2 chassis does not have enough room for a directly heated driver stage. So I am resorting on an indirect heated tube, the 6SN7.

Updates will be posted as the assembly progresses. Stay tuned!

Best regards

Thomas

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tube Box Art, Part 18 : Westinghouse

Hi!

One of the major players in vacuum tube manufacturing history is still missing from the Tube Box Art series: Westinghouse.




Let's start with some of their earlier boxes:




These contain type 26 triodes:




A 45 DHT and a 6CB5 beam power tetrode in different style boxes:






A 2A3 and an octal tube in gold/black/white boxes:





A 6BY5 TV damper box:






6AX4 TV damper boxes:





These are rather modern and bland:





And finally some beautiful boxes of 816 mercury vapour rectifiers:





The 816 is the small sister of the impressive 866A.




This tube will be covered in it's own Tube of the Month article soon!



Best regards

Thomas