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Building Valve Amplifiers

Book Description

Building Valve Amplifiers is a unique hands-on guide for anyone working with tube audio equipment - as an electronics hobbyist, audiophile or audio engineer. This second edition builds on the success of the first with technology and technique revisions throughout and, significantly, a major new self-build project, worked through step-by-step, which puts into practice the principles and techniques introduced throughout the book.

Particular attention has been paid to answering questions commonly asked by newcomers to the world of the valve, whether audio enthusiasts tackling their first build, or more experienced amplifier designers seeking to learn about the design principles and trade-offs of ‘glass audio’. Safety considerations are always to the fore, and the practical side of this book is reinforced by numerous clear illustrations throughout.

Significantly larger than the first, this new edition adds:

  • More practical metalworking hints and tips
  • Greatly expanded and updated measurements chapter including cheap determination of passive component models for subsequent SPICE analysis.

• New: extended worked project chapter. Bulwer-Lytton 4W amplifier from start to finish, with copious photographs and explanations of why techniques were chosen.



  • The only hands-on approach to building vacuum tube amps - classic and modern - with a minimum of theory
  • Design, construction, fault-finding, and testing are all illustrated by step-by-step examples, enabling readers to clearly understand the content and succeed in their own projects
  • Second edition includes a complete self-build amplifier project, putting into practice the key techniques introduced through the book

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. Preface
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Section 1: Construction
    1. Chapter 1. Planning
      1. Chassis layout
      2. Parts having specific problems and solutions
      3. Examples
      4. References
      5. Recommended further reading
    2. Chapter 2. Metalwork for Poets
      1. Lighting
      2. Artificial lighting
      3. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
      4. Marking out
      5. Drilling round holes
      6. Sawing metal
      7. The traditional folded chassis
      8. Making a chassis from extruded aluminium channel and sheet
      9. Finishing
      10. Recommended further reading
    3. Chapter 3. Wiring
      1. Tools
      2. Hand tools
      3. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
      4. Types of wire
      5. Wiring techniques
      6. Class I and Class II equipment
      7. Earthing
      8. Rectifiers and high-current circuitry
      9. Balanced interfaces
      10. Layout of small components within a chassis
      11. PCBs
      12. Problems and solutions
      13. Reference
      14. Recommended further reading
  8. Section 2: Testing
    1. Chapter 4. Test Equipment Principles
      1. The moving coil meter and DC measurements
      2. Comparative versus absolute measurements
      3. Precision and accuracy
      4. Errors and uncertainties
      5. Combining uncertainties
      6. Why worry about uncertainties?
      7. Calibration
      8. Meters and AC measurements
      9. Digital voltmeters (DVMs)
      10. Oscilloscope principles
      11. Analogue oscilloscopes
      12. Bells and whistles
      13. Digital oscilloscopes
      14. Applying signals to the oscilloscope
      15. Oscillators and dedicated audio test sets
      16. Other test equipment
      17. References
      18. Recommended further reading
    2. Chapter 5. Faultfinding to Fettling
      1. Safety
      2. Electrical safety testing
      3. Functionality testing
      4. Faultfinding
      5. Classic amplifiers: Comments
      6. References
    3. Chapter 6. Performance Testing
      1. Linear distortions
      2. Measuring gain at different frequencies
      3. Impedance against frequency
      4. Non-linear distortions
      5. Measuring power supply ripple and hum
      6. Measuring noise
      7. References
  9. Section 3: Examples
    1. Chapter 7. Practical Projects
      1. Bulwer-Lytton power amplifier
      2. RIAA power supply (a.k.a. the “Thing”)
      3. Hybrid balanced RIAA stage (a.k.a. “Toaster”)
      4. References
  10. Appendix
    1. Two-terminal modelling equations and spreadsheets
    2. Six-component worked example
    3. UK to US glossary
  11. Index