## Step 3: The Audio Circuit: What's Going On

Push-Pull

The basic principle behind this amp is pretty cool and worth taking a look at. This amp is called a 6V6 Push-Pull amp, the 6V6 being the tube model, but what's this push-pull business? It refers to a special case of differential circuits, where a whole signal is made up of the difference of two voltages, a negative and a positive (technically speaking, only the output stage is push-pull, but both are differential). Simply put, one tube produces to the positive half of the AC audio signal, pushing the speaker out, while the other one produces the negative half, pulling the speaker cone in, and as a result sound waves are created. Take the two triodes in the preamp, for example. Their cathodes are connected together and the signal goes to the grid of only one of the tubes. So, when the signal goes high, the grid on the one tube repels less of the electrons jumping off the cathode, and so more rush across, and since the cathodes are connected together, electrons also rush out of the cathode of the other tube as well. This results in current flowing in one direction through the circuit and eventually through a transformer which produces a current forcing the speaker cone outwards. When the signal goes low, the opposite occurs. The grid repels electrons back to the cathode and these electrons go to the cathode of the other tube, sending current in the opposite direction as before. When this current goes through the primary coil of the output transformer, it induces a current in the secondary coil which causes the speaker cone to move inwards.

Before it does go to the speakers, though, the signal is filtered through the two .33uF capacitors (DC can't pass through these, since a capacitor is technically a break in the circuit, but AC can) and makes its way on to the output stage, or the main amplifier section. Then, everything happens all over again, except this time with the 6V6's and to a greater extent. The -20 DC voltage in the middle there is for the bias on the grids of the 6V6's. The shield of the 6V6's is connected through a resistor to the anode, so that it has a fraction of the anode voltage.
Thank God for William Shockley that we don't have to play with infernal tubes for much today. Certainly not for audio amplification. Tube audio amplifiers belong in museums next to the stone knife and bear skin display!
<p>You have a problem here.. When you mesure a tube amp their characteristics, seems ugly, they are insane bad compared with a transistor, or even a mosfet amplifiers giving a distortion 10 or even 100 times more, reaching 5% of THD, and so on. You are right, you mesure it.. But than, you feed your good music source in the transistor amp, and in the old bad, nostalgic, archaic, inefficient, power consuming, ugly, tube amp, lets say a good japanese stereo 300B SE with a power output of 10W per channel, or a more powerful Macintosh 450, without ANY tone control, and play a Toccata, or some Bach, recorded from an OLD 4 track tape..played from an AKAY 4000DS... in a good OLD fashioned pair of speakers, yes, 2 channels, 2 speakers...<br><br>Play, than pay close attention to the sound, of every instrument that is in the music, you will hear the noise of the arc touching the strings in the violin, the hammer beating in the piano,sometimes nail hitting the keys, the sound of the wood vibrating in the celo... the wispper in the trumpet, and the hand that dumped the thunder from the drums.... than you will UNDERSTAND, that music is for HUMAN EARS and HUMAN BRAIN, is not for a THD meter... Music is SUBJECTIVE, one likes, others not, but for the majority of people that LIKES classical, TUBE rules, seems like it is the DISTORTION of the tube that gives that &quot;high&quot; in the music played... No feedback, no phase compensation, no tone control, just the sound, its like the amplifier is some kind of instrument, that takes part in the show, not simple a block of components that reproduces the sound... the Tube amp is PART of the music...<br><br>In my time they used to say that transistor amp performs heavenly in the THD meter but sounds like HELL when you try to hear music on it.. and that is true, that is why they made POP, and FUNK, RAP... That kind of NOISE is not music, its is compressed, to have be played as loud as possible and so does not have a Dynamic range... this site explains:http://www.cnet.com/news/compression-is-killing-your-music/<br><br>Transistor amp have high noise (that ssssshhhhh in the speakers...) , so the music must be played at some volume higher than the noise they produce... so for things work, music must be compressed... and today it is very difficult you find a music that was not compressed, so the classics from the 1950, and 1960 that was recorded in analogic, does not have compression, because as at that time the amp was all Tubes, there was no need to compress it...<br><br>Today, I think it is impossible, unless YOU RECORD the music...</p>
<p>Sergio,</p><p>I've been in electronics since i was a kid in the 60s. The &quot;tube sound&quot; I grew up with consisted of a 1940-era table radio and various televisions with a single 3-4 inch speaker. Combine that with the fact that I was raised by a Missourian (The &quot;Show Me State&quot;) and you'll understand why my first reaction to tube audiophiles was &quot;surrrreeee they're better. Now go with that nice man in the white coat&quot;. </p><p>A few years back I decided to buy and restore an old Jukebox. While it's amp was soild state, my EBay searching showed me just how much these folks (I thought of as fools) would spend on a tube amp. This was the kind of simple electronics I had build as far back as the 8th grade. I decided to have a second look at what all of the fuss was about. I figured that if I couldn't hear the difference at least i could make a mint repairing old guitar amps like the one the 'American Pickers&quot; bought and re-sold for several thousand dollars.</p><p>I finished my first 6V6-SE amp and boy! I was impressed for exactly the reasons you list. Depth, detail and 'texture&quot; unheard of in even the more expensive &quot;Wave Radios&quot;. Tube amps are a personal choice, not necessarily for everyone. But if you actually love to &quot;LISTEN&quot; to &quot;MUSIC&quot;, not just have noise to fill in the background, then you WILL notice a difference.</p><p>I suppose I will never understand folks like &quot;pfred&quot; who want to tell you how bad something you love is and if they think that they are somehow correct. Music, just like the human brain and the definition of a beautiful woman, is subjective. If freddie likes his Waveradio or i-pod better, more power to him. I'll put one of Bruce Heran's Oddwatts up against anything in a blind listening test and it will win every time.</p>
<p>I could hardly have said it better myself, most young people just find them to much trouble to fiddle with but if they would take the time and really listen (as my youngest daughter now finally has done) they would would easily be convinced of the superiority of the sound quality. (now she want's my Tube system) ;-)</p>
<p>Often times, technology is used by the rich to make more money and customers are convinced the new technology is a further advanced and more convenient. Just look at the frequency reproduction differences between CD's and LP's. Same difference between Tubes and Transistors and with tubes you can fine tune the sound by changing out the tubes. But, it is all about how involved we want to be in what we do and the end result we wish to enjoy. Though, there are people that can not tell the difference in the sound reproduction differences between tubes and transistors!</p>
<p>What is stopping you from adjusting the sound by changing out transistors? Having character curved traced a number of transistors myself I can assure you they are <strong>NOT</strong> all the same! Ignorance like you're displaying now is what perpetuates the popularity of tubes today.</p>
<p>As a former professional musician and lifelong audiofile, I promise you that IN GENERAL tube amps sound better than solid state. There's a reason that many amp manufactures have employed 'tube emulation' in their sound. Some even patented the name of their technology like &quot;Transtube&quot;. Funny that tube amp manufactures have not tried to emulate the solid state sound.</p>
<p>As a myriad of total harmonic distortion specifications plainly show vacuum tube technology cannot match the performance of solid state devices. So even if manufacturers of tube amplifiers tried to emulate solid state sound, they could not. The technical reasons why tube amps remain popular today are too complicated to get into here. It mainly boils down to a mixture of ignorance, and nostalgia though. With a healthy helping of simply being difficult thrown in, for good measure, of course.</p>
<p>I would disagree pfred. Why a lot of people feel that tubes sound better has something to do not by THD in itself, but with the variety of THD. As you may or may not know, solid state amplifiers (SSA) mainly create uneven nth order distortion (e.g. 2263 hz, not full octaves). Tubes mainly create (and a lot more of it in total measured THD) eventh order harmonic distortion (full octaves). As we humans like full octaves better than uneven (hence why we don't like people who sing out of tune), tubes feel smoother. </p><p>So technically yes, SSA is better in terms of power delivered as well as lower THD. However, the THD produced can be more fatiguing. Note that this isn't always so, but there is a difference to be observed between the sound output between most tubes and SSA. Though arguably the tubes make for artefacts more than SSA and are therefore less 'honest', this doesn't mean they are worse. The music you hear has been processed many times over however you wish to put it, and its only goal should be your amusement. </p><p>So if you like a tube sound over SSA, that is perfectly valid, no matter how technically it could be seen inferior. </p>
<p>the thing is, ears and brains are notoriously bad at judging subjective sound quality. It's why I'm a firm believer in &quot;listen to what makes you happy in the manner that makes you happy&quot;! If you think LPs sourced through tube amps and paper speakers sounds better then a digital audio file then listen to it that way and be happy! For example, I personally think the blues sound horrific but plenty of people would call me insane and love the stuff. </p><p>That said, I think tubes as a technology are amazing and awesome. I mean, can you take a silicon based electronic component and repurpose it as an X-ray emitter and make your own simple Xray machine? You can do that with some old vacuum tubes! Of course, it's a fair bit harder to kill yourself with silicon diode then it is with a big old vacuum tube, but hey that's part of the fun!</p>
<p>I am not an expert. But i'm 55 years old and have listened to vacuum tube amplifiers as well as solis state amplifiers....... I will say that vacuum tube amplifiers sounded better then. Presently, solid state amplifiers sound better not because of the amplifiers but because of the technology involved in sound processing, Therefore, if these new technologies are applied to vacuum tube amps, it will definitely be better. You will not appreciate vacuum tube when you grew up at an era where solid state amplifiers are becoming prevalent. Papers specs aren't always a reliable gauge for appreciation. Just my take based on experience.</p>
<p>When someone is this closed minded, beware. The reason that many still enjoy tube amplification certainly isn't they are a bunch of tone deaf fools. </p>
I wouldn't mind a bear skin coat...growing up with -35&deg;C winters really makes you appreciate good ol furs and leathers<br><br>as to stone knives, dunno about those...but properly sharpened, even some hardwoods outdo the crap you see in stores these days<br><br>tube amps rawk
Hello everyone ive been considering building one of these vacume tube amplifiers for some time now i find these are intreging devices (vacume tubes are far beyond my time ive never had the pleasure of working with them before) now heres the canumdrum how would i know the output power of the amp or what impedance for the speakers? Im not very experienced with scematics so any reccamindations?
<p>I believe this amplifier outputs between 6-8 watts. It is fairly low power, so I'd suggest a sensitive speaker. I'm using the amp on a speaker with 4 ohm impedance and 96db sensitivity if that helps.</p>
If one wanted to to use a tube rectifier instead of solid state rectifier, how would he go about that?
<p>The reason electrons flow negative to positive is Ben Franklin got the flow backwards, as his description had gotten into general use when the error was found no one bothered trying to change the labels as it would have lead to a lot more confusion.</p><p>If you still have hum from the 6.3 filament wires you can use a wire shield over them and ground it or use a ferrite bead to cut down on the radiation.</p>
<p>Rotate the output trannys in 90&deg; to cancel hum from the power transformer! Also twist the 6,3 V filament wires together! Since they carry AC they induce hum.</p>
Regarding tubes vs digital/solid state distortion discussion from early on in this forum: <br>Tubes certainly do distort the signals they amplify. But the two mediums distort the signal differetnly, and to many music lovers, the tube type of distortion is less offensive. For example, tube electronics generally produce more harmonic distortion than SS/digital. But, our ears themselves have harmonic distortion. The sound your brain percieves has some harmonic distortion produced by the ear drum and its likages. So, you could say that harmonic distortion is a sort of &quot;natural&quot; distortion and is less offensive than other types. Digital/SS electronics is good at throwing a lot of random hash into the signal. Think scraping fingernails on the blackboard. Not a musical or natural form of distortion. <br>MP3 is a whole other deal. These super-compressed audio flles mash the life out of music. (Never use the &quot;MP&quot; word around a self-respecting audiofile.)
<p>That is all well, and good, but tube amplifier distortion is typically in the 2-3% range, while solid state distortion is more in the 0.005-0.01% range. So solid state distortion is generally orders of magnitude less than tube distortion.</p>
<p>The point is: The nature of the distortion is DIFFERENT. It is more NATURAL with TUBES and more HARSH with SOLID STATE. ...So much so that if you turn the volume UP to the point where it no longer sounds good because of the distortion, your solid state gear will likely DAMAGE your speakers due to the difference in the distortion. Note: That is NOT the case with tube distortion.</p><p>You seem to have lost your soul reading specs, and not actually explored the real world. I consider that similar to claiming you are a great traveler and know the local customs when all you have done is carefully study many maps... That my friend is delusion.</p>
<p>Remember, back when CDs first came out? I am that old, i.e. ancient. The digital hype<br>(DH) at the time was that this tech reproduced sound &quot;perfectly&quot;, and<br>they had the engineerNumbers to prove it.</p><p>Presumably in response to the public's bitching about the<br>sound of CDs, the engineers did some tweak to the tech, and the DH of this new<br>day was that the new tech make it even better than the original. BETTER THAN PERFECTION!! </p><p>LISTEN!! to the hype.</p><p>I have done a measure of my LISTEN!!ing in concert halls. During a musical rest, if one is really<br>LISTEN!!ing, the sound decays gradually until it fades below the biological<br>limen of the auditory apparatus. </p><p>The engineerNumbers for CDs tell us that CDs have a &quot;wider&quot;<br>dynamic range than the vinyls. But the<br>CD tech considers the top of the noise floor to be the bottom of the dynamic<br>range, the end of the world, where below that one sails off the edge of the<br>world, like poor Columbus did while trying to<br>find India. </p><p>The really bad news here is that in actuality, the limen of the auditory<br>system is somewhere down there in the murky depths BELOW the top of the noise<br>floor. </p><p>Listening to a CD recorded in a concert hall, if you LISTEN!! during a musical<br>rest, you will hear the sound decay to a certain point, then abruptly disappear. </p><p>That is the &quot;sound&quot; of the das Commendant Herr Digital<br>Algorithm commanding all the transistors to turn off. Or face certain death. It's ugly. <br></p><p>&quot;Mash the life out of music&quot;</p><p>I realize that in popular music some angelic level of aural purity is sometimes not issue. Crank in your Aphex Aural<br>Exciter! The singer can't sing, crank in<br>your Autotune! And sh*t who listens to<br>classical any more anyway?</p><p>For sure the engineerNumbers have some value, but paying religious<br>homage to them produces the DH that is like putting faith a survey promoted by a<br>party with interest in the results. Or<br>maybe it is exactly that. </p>
<p>There I disagree, Digital auto recordings are VERY clean and the bit rate can be off the wall CDs are held down to 44,100, 16. While digital files can be much much higher. It still does not replace vinyl which has the music imprinted, no 1s and 0s. With a good record player and an undamaged record it blows away the quality of CD even considering the hiss, which you ignore quickly enough. </p>
<p>Very Nice</p>
The website for this commercial amplifier explains &quot;tube sound&quot; simply and exhibits good design principles.
www.alfristonaudio.nz
How would I wire up the amp/output transformer to a speaker.
<p>Could you just connect a wire to a lightbulb filiament and get binary in light?</p>
<p>What are some safety tips for me when working on it?</p>
Hello! I live in Florida, any idea were can I learn electronics in order to build a beauty like this? Thanks!
<p>online!!!! lol look up &quot;Uncle Doug&quot; on youtube he literally takes you though the steps of building one including troubleshooting and how the whole thing works!! and by your definition of &quot;Learn&quot;, tube amps have a HUGE amount of allowed error in them compared to transistors thus trial and error is a VERY good way to learn... just pull up an old fender guitar amp schematic (ex: the simplest 5F1 that &quot;I&quot; learned with) and build one!!! and if you have any problems email ppl on forums if you cant find help I have a guy who used to engineer tube broadcast stations in korea and I can ask him questions so just email me (<a href="mailto:ltdavidm200@yahoo.com" rel="nofollow">ltdavidm200@yahoo.com</a>) or (<a href="mailto:VanessaYamiR6@yahoo.com" rel="nofollow">VanessaYamiR6@yahoo.com</a>) and id be glad to help</p>
<p>the transformer hum is literally from the 60Hz (mains electricity frequency) hum which vibrates the transformer quite a bit to the point where you can fell it by touching it (kinda feels like your phone vibrating) which just means your laminations for your transformer core isn't solid enough or youre using an air coil (saw it in a photo up there ^) second using copper sheets for the grounding plane will result in hum due to ground loops that can lead to hum or even modulation of the sound waves. By experience the unmatched tubes for the PP (Push Pull) system doesn't have that much of a significant effect although the PP will be a source of modulation if not correctly designed. Also the hum might be through the induced frequencies from power lines etc. Thus cross all wires at right angles and have everything neat and tidy (trust me.... i built tube amps for a while and It helps to be OCD when building tube amps...mods repairs and fighting hum just gets so much more easier) and one more point that not many people know.... have the transformers all on different planes meaning to put the power transformer upright then the output transformer laying down etc. so that the core of the magnetic field does not interfere with each other. happy building :)</p>
<p>the hum is <br>A: from the preamp circuit picking up on the AC frequency<br>B: bad capacitor lineup (Especially in the filter capacitors for the DC power)<br>C: unmatched output tubes in a push-pull style amp<br>D: poor placement of ground point or buss thus creating a &quot;loop effect&quot;</p><p>For the transformer hum IDK what the problem is. Most high end audio transformers are encased in tar for this exact reason.... new &quot;Better&quot; transformer maybe? switch from a toroid to a iron core? </p>
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<p>how are you determining the Vdrop resistiors?</p>
Hi great tutorial I was toying with the idea of building one of these. However I am in the UK which has a mains voltage of 240V as opposed the the lower american 115V. Would i just need to change the hammond 167G120 for one of the hammond 229 series transformers? <br> <br>Regards <br> <br>John
Slightly off topic here but can someone put my mind at rest and tell me the name of the piano music that plays during the video of the chap making hand made valves?
thobson - I am in the process of building this exact amp based on your instructable and info from Poinzie's DIY Audio Pages (Poindexter's Website with the 2002 design). I ordered mostly all the parts you used except I had Edcor make me some custom Audio Out Transformers and I used a high dollar caps for the coupling caps. I am planning on building Poindexter's Moebius Linestage that was made as the counterpart for this Amp once I finish the Amp and get it working. I have tried relentlessly to get a hold of Poinz but AudioTropic seems to no longer exist and all of the emails address I find for him come back undeliverable. I was hoping you could answer a question about the Amplifier that I have, as this is my first Tube Amp project (but not my first electronics project). The Hammond Power Transformer supplies 120V to the power circuit...how does the half-wave diode bridge and the couple capacitors increase the voltage to the req'd 320V for 'A' and 305V for 'B'? I have not finished wiring the power supply up yet so I have not had a chance to test the circuits to see what the voltages are but I am just curious because Poindexter mentions using Transformers with 275Vac or 300Vac HV Secondaries for the main power supply in his 2002 schematic. I just want to make sure that this circuit will achieve the correct voltages in order to power the amp to its fullest capacity. I am aware the Vdc is equal to 1.4 times the Vac but with that said - 120Vac x 1.4 = 168Vdc. Do the diodes and caps in this main power supply circuit somehow double this voltage again?? Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide. I figured you would be the guy to ask since you built this same design I am working on and have already tested the voltages and have seen what is going on.
Nevermind....Since I posted this, I have built this particular tube Amp and the Line Stage. I have learned many things about Tube Amp Building and Designing Tube Amp Power Supplies now. I am actually working on a modified version of the 2006 Musical Machine - a 12AX7 driven 6550 Ultralinear design. Obviously, the entire power circuit will have to be redesigned to power the &quot;bigger&quot; 6550's. Using Thobson's Walk-through posted above, I am achieving 9.2Watts on each channel for a total of 18.4Watts MAX with my 6V6 Musical Machine. This is a little more power than is typical with this design but my voltages are a little hotter but not out of spec from what is listed on the 6V6's Data Sheets. I am hoping with the 6550 Machine I can achieve an output power of double what the 6V6 Machine is capable of. For those wondering, this amp (the 2006 6V6 Musical Machine) has plenty of power to fill a large room or small house with sound. Currently I have two Definitive Technology 6.5&quot; Bookshelf Speakers connected to it. These are the rear speakers for my Home Theater Surround Sound System, but are doubling in use as my main speakers for the Tube Amp at this moment. I am using these as they are the highest sensitivity speakers I have at the house (93dB). In a 1450sq ft house, at full volume this amp is too loud to listen to when sitting in front of it, but perfect if I'm doing chores and cleaning the house up. You will want some sensitive speakers for this Amp as they will make it louder. I will be building some Folded Horn Enclosures soon to put a 6.5&quot; 97-101dB speaker in and these will become the dedicated speakers for my Tube Amps. Thanks Thobson for an awesome write-up....good luck to everyone else who is embarking on this journey and building their first Tube Amp....it is an educational experience and very exciting, mine was also quite shocking (literally), so be careful when testing the power supplies. I took 400Vdc to the wrist and elbow several times (grounded my arm accidentally while working on the amp). Fortunately it's not the voltage that kills but the amperage and in the case of this amp we are only dealing with 1Amp or less (not enough to kill but definitely enough to not feel good). Be smart and be careful! Good Luck!
Transformers can conduct large amounts of current. Current produces a magnetic field. A magnetic field affects current. Thus, if transformers are close enough to one another, each transformer's magnetic field will affect the current of the other one. That affectation will be evident in the output audio signal. <br> <br>How to avoid this? Mu metal. It has an extremely low magnetic permeability. This means that if you build a shield of mu metal around the transformer(sort of like a faraday cage), the magnetic field produced by that transformer will be conducted through the Mu metal instead of the air. It will also insulate the transformer from external magnetic fields (ie: the other transformers). <br> <br>In short: build a shield of Mu metal around each of the transformers, and each transformer will not be affected by any magnetic fields around them. No foreign magnetic influence = no audible distortion.
nice job I was looking online for a push pull schematic this one is the one for me, the others online were using parts that all together costed &lt;\$500<br>thanks for posting,<br>John<br>p.s. when all said and done i will upload some pics of the amp
Sweet! Fantastic job! Well done, end to end.
AAA GOBBLE GOBBLE <br> <br> <br>me want that amp <br>to bad i cant order most of the parts (i am dutch) <br>and the shipping would be to expencive <br> <br>somone help?
what was the total cost of this build? <br>
what was the total cost of build?
I'm sure I'm missing something here, but I just wanted to get a clear answer. This instructable appears to be geared towards using the tube amp for playing music from Ipods, CD players, etc.<br /> <br /> but would you say the sound quality would be suitable for guitar? sure, I'm open to the idea of altering the design to make it suitable for guitar (adding an EQ, distortion, etc) but what do you think?<br />
Unfortunately this amp is not suitable for guitar. The signal coming from an electric guitar pickup is very weak, and would not be sufficient. CD players and ipods have a little more oomph to them, so the amp has to do much less work than it would for a guitar. You will hear something, but it won't be very loud. There are some really good instructables on guitar tube amps, as well as a ton of information available from the Google machine. <br />
Actually, all that you would need is a preamplifier of some sort to bring the signal from the guitar up to line level. A small tube preamp can be built with instructions from this site, or you can buy a small solid state one for a rather trivial price.<br />
If you were thinking of putting a guitar through this amp,the stereo feature would get lost in most cases. Now if you had something like a guitar processor (some of the Line6 products for example come to mind) might be the ticket... tone shaping AND preamp - with adjustable output. I just might have to try this.<br><br>Roughly, as a stereo amp, how many watts per channel is this design capable of delivering, with a decent preamp?