Tube Circuits

Tubes, Tone and Topologies

Multi-channels

Usability

Flexability

Tone

Customization

Maintainability

Design

Implementation <-

Documentation

A.L.I.V.E.

 

Implementation

Having built and maintained my own gear for many years, I design my amplifiers specifically to address the challenges and frustrations I have encountered.

After experimenting with various build techniques, including true point-to-point (no board whatsoever), traditional eyeles construction, and even movable ceramic insulated terminals like these:

(Which look way cool, and seemed like a good idea, but are too fragile for long-term maintenance), I finally settled on swaged terminals on high-quality glass-epoxy boards from Doug Hoffman (http://www.hoffmanamps.com/):


Doug's turret lugs are more expensive than an eyelet because they are cut from a solid piece of brass on a lathe type machine, then plated with a very nice, solder-friendly coating. Doug has these cuttom made in batches of 100,000, and they are far higher quality than visually similar off-the-shelf counterparts. In my R&D experiments I'm currently using turrets that I bought more than 4 years ago, and which have undergon dozens of cycles of solder/desolder/reuse, so I can say from experience that they will virtually last forever.

Similarly, I make no compromises when it comes to quality components anywhere in my amps, from the transformers right down to every individual resistor. Of course, this approach results in a more costly product than an outwardly similar mass-produced counterpart, but I think the result is worthwhile.

A parenthetical anecdote:

There was a time when I held the opinion that most trendy imported cars were nothing but fluff and hype; status symbols with no real substance to differentiate them from a plain old Ford, or Chevy, or Dodge. Then one day I got a real good deal on a set of exotic Koni shock absorbers (the same kind used in Porsches and other high-end sports cars) for my humble Plymouth Horizon. I was incredibly impressed by their performance, so I started investigating what it would take to upgrade other critical components to a similar level of quality. What I discovered was that the result would cost just about as much as a comparable BMW or Mercedes Benz, or whatever. (And, of course, the result would still be a...Plymouth Horizon.) This convinced me that there really is a defensible value proposition in at least some high-end vehicles. The same applies to amps, guitars, and many other things as well. If you buy a cheap Korean or Indonesian guitar, and then set about changing pickups, tuning machines, hardware, and so forth, you will likely end up with a quality instrument, but it will cost you as much as buying a better guitar in the first place, and it will always have that less desirable decal on the headstock. This is not to in any way disparage that original guitar (or amp, car, or whatever). CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machining and improved production techniques deliver perfectly servicable products at the lowest price points. The point, however, that in most cases, buying the more expensive products is far more than just a matter of prestige, or even cosmetic glitz. It's all a matter of what's important to you. For me, a Ford Taurus is just fine, but when it comes to my music, I'm willing to pay for a higher level product.