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Partial tear down of Willsenton R8


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6 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

Here are the unboxing images I said I would post

Congrats :)

Thanks for the unboxing pictures as my earlier request, They have changed the way they packed the unit. Before all the tubed were preinstalled.

 

Happy listening!

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5 hours ago, muon* said:

Is there any good reason to use the incorrect taps?

 

Loads of good reasons, or so I read on what look like knowledgeable forums. This short thread, for example:

 

4 ohm taps on an 8 ohm speaker | Audiogon Discussion Forum

 

I know more or less nothing about tube amps at this stage (I am here to learn), which is why I posed the question here. Seems like some very knowledgeable members in this great thread.

 

That other thread implies there are significant benefits to running off the 4 ohm taps. Seems a little odd to me - why install 8 ohm taps if the 4 ohm taps are often/usually/always better?  Today I will swap over to the 8 ohm taps and see if I hear any difference. Thanks for all replies, as ever.

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Lots of advice on forums, some are likely not as well informed as they may appear to be.

 

Includes yours truly :D

*shrug*

 

I'll continue to run my 8 ohm nominal ML-1's off my 8 ohm taps, they don't drop below 5.8 ohms across the frequency spectrum so using the 4 ohm taps would not be beneficial for myself :)

 

Do you know what the impedance of your speakers is like across the full frequency?

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36 minutes ago, muon* said:

Lots of advice on forums, some are likely not as well informed as they may appear to be.

 

Includes yours truly :D

*shrug*

 

I'll continue to run my 8 ohm nominal ML-1's off my 8 ohm taps, they don't drop below 5.8 ohms across the frequency spectrum so using the 4 ohm taps would not be beneficial for myself :)

 

Do you know what the impedance of your speakers is like across the full frequency?

 

I have asked the manufacturer of my speakers if they will share an impedance curve with me (I can't find anywhere they publish one or any independent test where they do).

 

Agreed about forums, but that link I posted seems to have knowledgeable contributors, as does this forum of course. The one-eyed man and the kingdom of the blind comes to mind with regard to my current level of understanding of these things.

 

This is why I get confused when I read here that distortion may be increased when using the 4 ohm taps with nominal 8 ohm speakers, yet on the other forum I read the opposite. Here is what I read over there:

 

2021-01-30_12-04-20.png.5d24895e1ca6f353fa6ca1ee33fc54a8.png

 

"More linear, reduces noise, raises damping factor, reduces distortion by 78% and 80$ more current", all sound to me like big benefits. No significant downsides are mentioned (other than be sure you don't allow the amp to run into clipping, which isn't likely here with the volume control never going beyond 11 o'clock and usually running nearer to 10 o'clock or lower, depending on content, mood etc.

 

If anyone can elaborate on this, I'd be extremely grateful. If this isn't the right thread for it, I'd be happy to open a new thread. I don't see it as off topic personally, since this will be of interest to all R8 owners, but, as always, I will respect the Mod's decision on this.

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Here is some information taken from the web that may help explain what happens with impedance mismatch.

 

Impedance Mismatch Between the Power Tube and Speaker


As mentioned earlier to get the most power out of the amplifier the power tube and speaker should match their impedance. But what happens when they don't match?

 

Low Mismatch

 

If your output transformer is designed to match your power tubes to an 8 ohm speaker and you connect a 4 ohm speaker (4 ohm load and 50% decrease) then the impedance as seen by the power tube plate decreases by 50% too. Less impedance will cause plate current to increase. The power tubes are stressed by this increased plate current so the power tube lifespan can be shortened. This is especially true of Class A amps because they idle near max current flow. Since the plate current idles near maximum, the entire power supply also runs at maximum output so the rectifier tube and power transformer will run hotter. Power filtering effectiveness is reduced as current demand increases so hum and noise may increase, especially in Class A amps. Increased hum can cause ghost notes which are caused by hum interacting with musical notes to create false harmonic tones.

 

The increase in primary current will cause the output transformer to run hotter.

 

High Mismatch

 

If you connect a 16 ohm speaker to your 8 ohm output transformer the impedance as seen by the power tube plate increases and plate current decreases which can lengthen the lifespan of your power tubes, especially in Class A amps. This decrease in plate current will decrease demands on the power transformer and it will run cooler. Power filtering effectiveness is increased as current demand decreases so hum and noise should decrease, especially in Class A amps. Decreased hum can help prevent ghost notes. Since the power tube and transformer are not coupled at maximum efficiency the amp's power output is reduced.

 

The main problem with a high impedance mismatch is flyback voltage generated in the output transformer which can damage the power tubes and the output transformer itself. The flyback voltage spikes can cause the power tube to arc between pins or burn through the thin lacquer wire insulation used in the transformer windings. This is normally not a concern when going "one step" away from a match such as running a 4 ohm output transformer with an 8 ohm speaker unless the output transformer is cheaply made or really old. But running the 4 ohm transformer with a 16 ohm speaker can generate very high flyback voltages when running the amp hard near max volume.

 

If your power and/or output transformers run hot with a matched output transformer and speaker load then mismatching them is more of a risk. The bottom line is the greater the low impedance mismatch the harder your amp works, and the greater the high impedance mismatch the more likely you are to burn out your output transformer and/or power tubes.

 

For tube amps a low mismatch is typically safer than a high mismatch. The opposite is generally true for solid state amps.

Edited by xlr8or
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I tried the 8 ohm taps, which I am listening to as I type. Differences seem to be subtle. The bass is a little looser, not so well controlled as with the 4 ohm taps, but not by much TBH. Transients seem to have a little less attack on the 8 ohm taps - noticeable on, say, acoustic guitar played with a bit of aggression (say, Friday Night in San Francisco with Al Dimeola, John McLoughlin and Paco de Lucia).

 

In truth, I think I am just as happy with either setting. I will keep it under review for a while. Until the amp has had a decent bun-in time, there may be little point in trying to evaluate subtleties. 

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2 hours ago, xlr8or said:

Here is some information taken from the web that may help explain what happens with impedance mismatch.

 

Impedance Mismatch Between the Power Tube and Speaker


As mentioned earlier to get the most power out of the amplifier the power tube and speaker should match their impedance. But what happens when they don't match?

 

Low Mismatch

 

If your output transformer is designed to match your power tubes to an 8 ohm speaker and you connect a 4 ohm speaker (4 ohm load and 50% decrease) then the impedance as seen by the power tube plate decreases by 50% too. Less impedance will cause plate current to increase. The power tubes are stressed by this increased plate current so the power tube lifespan can be shortened. This is especially true of Class A amps because they idle near max current flow. Since the plate current idles near maximum, the entire power supply also runs at maximum output so the rectifier tube and power transformer will run hotter. Power filtering effectiveness is reduced as current demand increases so hum and noise may increase, especially in Class A amps. Increased hum can cause ghost notes which are caused by hum interacting with musical notes to create false harmonic tones.

 

The increase in primary current will cause the output transformer to run hotter.

 

High Mismatch

 

If you connect a 16 ohm speaker to your 8 ohm output transformer the impedance as seen by the power tube plate increases and plate current decreases which can lengthen the lifespan of your power tubes, especially in Class A amps. This decrease in plate current will decrease demands on the power transformer and it will run cooler. Power filtering effectiveness is increased as current demand decreases so hum and noise should decrease, especially in Class A amps. Decreased hum can help prevent ghost notes. Since the power tube and transformer are not coupled at maximum efficiency the amp's power output is reduced.

 

The main problem with a high impedance mismatch is flyback voltage generated in the output transformer which can damage the power tubes and the output transformer itself. The flyback voltage spikes can cause the power tube to arc between pins or burn through the thin lacquer wire insulation used in the transformer windings. This is normally not a concern when going "one step" away from a match such as running a 4 ohm output transformer with an 8 ohm speaker unless the output transformer is cheaply made or really old. But running the 4 ohm transformer with a 16 ohm speaker can generate very high flyback voltages when running the amp hard near max volume.

 

If your power and/or output transformers run hot with a matched output transformer and speaker load then mismatching them is more of a risk. The bottom line is the greater the low impedance mismatch the harder your amp works, and the greater the high impedance mismatch the more likely you are to burn out your output transformer and/or power tubes.

 

For tube amps a low mismatch is typically safer than a high mismatch. The opposite is generally true for solid state amps.

 

Great info - thanks Kirk. You can see why a toobnoob like me can get confused. One site says 'no problem, just do it', another says 'be careful, you could break stuff'.  Normally in these circs I play safe until I know what I am doing (maybe never!) so I think I will stick with the 8 ohm taps, for now at least. Thanks for taking the time to post that info.

Edited by Zed Zed
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17 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

This is one tube, in its protective 'sock'.

Interesting how your tubes were individually wrapped.  Mine were all installed and a block of EVA foam placed over the whole thing.  Also stock tubes with KT88s.

PXL_20210130_170507180.jpg

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20 hours ago, Candan said:

Interesting how your tubes were individually wrapped.  Mine were all installed and a block of EVA foam placed over the whole thing.  Also stock tubes with KT88s.

PXL_20210130_170507180.jpg

 

I wonder why they changed it?  The way yours was delivered looks better to me, and easier for the user. Not that it was any sort of problem as the instructions were clear enough and all the tubes are marked with their relevant number, also printed on the amp itself, so the possibility of getting it wrong is slim.

 

I have 25 hours on mine now...

 

Can you (anyone?) tell me what to expect after it has been burned in for, say, 100 hours?  What am I looking for after this time?  What changes will occur? Sorry for these very basic questions, but I am a total tube virgin and trying to get myself up to speed as fast as I can. Thanks.

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23 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

Can you (anyone?) tell me what to expect after it has been burned in for, say, 100 hours?  What am I looking for after this time?  What changes will occur? Sorry for these very basic questions, but I am a total tube virgin and trying to get myself up to speed as fast as I can. Thanks.

 

The sound will mellow out nicely and captivate/immerse you in a balanced presentation that has everything going for it. You'll feel like you're part of the action and presentation. The depth and spread of the sound field will also fill up the listening environment. The tonal character will be there: top end, mids and bass notes will sound correct, open up and shine, and portray a realism factor that will excite. You'll get addicted to this sound and will keep coming back for more. 👍👍👍

Edited by xlr8or
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7 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

The sound will mellow out nicely and captivate/immerse you in a balanced presentation that has everything going for it. You'll feel like you're part of the action and presentation. The depth and spread of the sound field will also fill up the listening environment. The tonal character will be there: top end, mids and bass notes will be correct and shine, and portray a realism factor that will excite. You'll get addicted to this sound and will keep coming back for more. 👍👍👍

 

Wow. Thanks! Something to really look forward to then. I am already loving the sound, so if it is going to get even better, well, what can I say!

 

Am I right in thinking this will happen after 100 hours or so, or will it be quicker/slower than that?

 

Sorry for the endless questions, guys, but I really appreciate all the help from everyone. One day I might actually be able to contribute something to the discussion instead of asking question after question. It's great that I can reach out to the other side of the world for help and to receive it so graciously.

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6 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

Am I right in thinking this will happen after 100 hours or so, or will it be quicker/slower than that?

 

I received some glowing feedback today from a fellow SNA member about the 80 hour mark they had reached for some early 1950's 12BH7's I had recommended to replace the 12AU7's on his preamp. I said wait till you hit the 200 hour mark. 🤣🤣🤣

Edited by xlr8or
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27 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

I received some glowing feedback today from a fellow SNA member about the 80 hour mark they had reached for some early 1950's 12BH7's I recommended to replace the 12AU7's on his preamp and said wait till you hit the 200 hour mark. 🤣🤣🤣

 

I've a way to go then :)

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1 hour ago, xlr8or said:
2 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

Am I right in thinking this will happen after 100 hours or so, or will it be quicker/slower than that?

 

Prepare for 200 hours running r8. It s a surprise for you (good things)

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R8 made it to the states, Estimated TOA is Wednesday ,  that would be 4 weeks to the day....😎

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Following on from my earlier posts about using the 4 ohm taps with my 8 ohm speakers . . .

 

I have checked about 15 different 'audiophile' websites now for information on this and in every case the advice can be summarised as "it will do no harm to the tube amplifier or speakers so use whichever sounds best to you". There is usually a caveat that the user needs to be sure they are not running the amp into clipping by using it this way. This isn't an issue for me as I have plenty of power from the R8, with my speakers in my room at my preferred listening levels.

 

I have consequently switched back to the 4 ohm taps and I can hear an immediate improvement. The bass is fuller and tighter and the mids and highs smoother and more 'inviting'. (This is in Triode mode. I am not using Ultralinear mode extensively - just on certain types of music where the extra dynamism of this mode complements the content well). Used in this way, here at least, there is a beautiful 'liquid' quality, especially on female voice, which is astonishingly realistic in its presentation. I can hear no downsides at this time.

 

I now have about 60 hours on the amp and am looking forward to reaching 100 this weekend. :)

 

 

 

 

On 31/01/2021 at 4:23 PM, Wisker said:

R8 made it to the states, Estimated TOA is Wednesday ,  that would be 4 weeks to the day....😎

 

Today's the day dude!!! Is it on schedule?

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1 hour ago, Zed Zed said:

Following on from my earlier posts about using the 4 ohm taps with my 8 ohm speakers . . .

 

I have checked about 15 different 'audiophile' websites now for information on this and in every case the advice can be summarised as "it will do no harm to the tube amplifier or speakers so use whichever sounds best to you". There is usually a caveat that the user needs to be sure they are not running the amp into clipping by using it this way. This isn't an issue for me as I have plenty of power from the R8, with my speakers in my room at my preferred listening levels.

 

I have consequently switched back to the 4 ohm taps and I can hear an immediate improvement. The bass is fuller and tighter and the mids and highs smoother and more 'inviting'. (This is in Triode mode. I am not using Ultralinear mode extensively - just on certain types of music where the extra dynamism of this mode complements the content well). Used in this way, here at least, there is a beautiful 'liquid' quality, especially on female voice, which is astonishingly realistic in its presentation. I can hear no downsides at this time.

 

I now have about 60 hours on the amp and am looking forward to reaching 100 this weekend. :)

 

 

 

 

 

Today's the day dude!!! Is it on schedule?

All you do when you use a different impedance tap (4 Ohm) is changing the operating point of the tube. This will result in a change of tone. Whether good or bad is up to the listener.

The operating point was however chosen to operate the tube in the most linear region with the least amount of distortion.

But this is just another example of why you can never judge a hifi component from just reading a review. It is just to subjective.

 

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21 hours ago, Ihearmusic said:

All you do when you use a different impedance tap (4 Ohm) is changing the operating point of the tube. This will result in a change of tone. Whether good or bad is up to the listener.

The operating point was however chosen to operate the tube in the most linear region with the least amount of distortion.

But this is just another example of why you can never judge a hifi component from just reading a review. It is just to subjective.

 

 

Bear in mind that, despite having decades of experience with high end and ultra high end audio, I am a newb when it comes to tube amps.  So please don't think I am in any way contradicting your comments above - and I note and entirely agree with your last two sentences. That said, from my recent research, this is what I have learned so far. When using the 4 ohm taps to drive (some) 8 ohm speakers:

 

  • The 4 ohm taps will drive more current, whereas the 8 ohm taps will drive more voltage.
  • For a given speaker impedance the damping factor will be twice as high for the 4 ohm tap as for the 8 ohm tap. (Damping factor is inversely proportional to output impedance). This may explain why I am hearing a noticeably tighter bass - the amp has more grip on the woofers.
  • As we know, the impedance of most nominal 8 ohm speakers varies significantly as a function of frequency - so the 4 ohm tap may be a better match at some frequencies than the 8 ohm tap. This will result in a less linear output, but possibly a more pleasing or satisfying one.
  • Tonal balance is affected by the interaction of the amp's output impedance with the speaker's frequency-induced impedance variations. Now it is very likely that most modern speakers have been voiced with the expectation that they will be used with SS amps. Since SS have have vanishingly small output impedances (a fraction of an ohm), it may be that the impact on FR by using the 4 ohm taps comes closer to the interaction intended by the designer - this may noticeably impact the 'sound'.
  • Distortion introduced by the amplifier will depend to some extent on how well matched (or mismatched) the tap and the speaker impedance are at various frequencies.
  • Using the 4 ohm taps with (nominal) 8 ohm speakers reduces the output current demand on the output tubes, which may allow them (the tubes). to be more linear.
  • An obvious potential downside is that the power output will be reduced (possibly by as much as 3dB) - whether this is a real downside or not will depend, among other things, on the sensitivity of the speakers, size of room, preferred SPLs etc.
  • I should also say that the amp runs warmer. So far, this doesn't seem to be a major issue, but it is worth noting.
     

Now all of the above are just summaries of what I have read. As I say, my experience with tube amps is very limited. Nonetheless, I do understand the issues involved and all of the above seems to make sense to me, based on what I (think) I know.

 

I'll post some listening impressions later, based on a dozen or more female vocalist tracks which I think are particularly revealing. 

 

Since I  am hearing a significantly superior sound using the 4 ohm taps with my 8 ohm speakers, I would recommend people give this a try, experimentally, to see if they also hear any sonic improvements. It will depend on the speakers used and their interaction with the amp, and this will be different for pretty much everyone so it has to be a 'suck it and see' basis I think.

 

My speakers are not a difficult load and they do not dip below 5 ohms at any point in their frequency range. Below is the manufacturer's impedance curve, for reference. Clearly, what anyone else hears if they try this experiment will greatly depend on the characteristics of their own speakers.

 

 

302264939_F500Imp.jpg.5459495c535b73e55f1de096a8a82768.jpg

 

 

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions to my understanding of this issue. It is a learning process for me, which is ongoing.

 

 

Edited by Zed Zed
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Here are my listening impressions as referred to in the post above (the tracks used are listed at the end). All tracks played in Triode mode at moderate to high volume levels.

 

I am new to tube amps, but have decades of listening experince with high-end and ultra-high-end systems. It is difficult to describe what one hears without descending into 'audiophile BS', but I will try to give as objective a report as I can.

 

If I had to summarise in a few words the difference I hear when using MY 8 ohm speakers with the R8's 4 ohm taps, I would say this: a significantly deeper emotional connection with the music.

 

Why is this?

 

  1. The bass is clearly much better defined. Pretty much anyone would be able to hear the difference, more or less immediately. The bass is also (subjectively since I have taken no REW measurements at this time, but may do later) deeper. It may be that the greater sense of control (tightness) is giving an illusion of greater depth of FR, but whatever it is, this is how I am hearing it. This in turn adds to the rhythmic drive of the music (the 'foot tapping effect') and enhances one's pleasure.
     
  2. Mid-range is where the biggest benefits come. Music lives in the mid-range and if this region of the FR improves, then the entire listening experience improves with it. I am finding that, with the 4 ohm taps in use, the mid-range is more 'liquid', more 'fluid' - smoother and more pleasant to listen to. It is an 'inviting' sound which seduces you and draws you into the music (hence the greater emotional connection I mentioned above). The female voices I used for the listening test have 'body' as well as soul. I feel that I can open my eyes and reach out and embrace Alison Krauss, who is performing, just for me, right in front of me. It sounds like a real human being singing. There is a palpable tactility to the sound. Again, this adds to the emotional connection. Bear in mind that some of these impressions are there when using the 8 ohm taps, but they are *enhanced* when using the 4 ohm taps (in my system I need to stress - YMMV).
     
  3. The highs are smoother - more 'velvety' and 'liquid'. No sense of strain at all. Relaxed and seductive.
     
  4. Overall, transients are also better defined. This may just be a by-product of the enhanced mid-range, but I am hearing the leading edges of notes more clearly with a definition which then morphs into the harmonics seamlessly. I can hear this on all instruments but especially so on plucked instruments, piano and drums, where it is almost possible to determine exactly where on the skin the stick is making contact - more centrally or more to the edge. The decay of notes, cymbals especially, is also clearer.

 

I am fairly certain that I have nothing like a 'flat' frequency response here right now. Nor do I care one bit. I am seeking pure aural pleasure (note spelling ;)). I listen to music to have a good time, to have fun. At some stage I will probably break out my mic and run REW and take some in-room measurements of what is actually happening. It will be instructive to do a 4 ohm vs 8 ohm tap and to measure the differences totally objectively.

 

Following my listening test today, I am leaving the amp in the 4 ohm setting. I do believe this is something that is well worth experimenting with. Obviously, results will depend to a very great extent on the partnering speakers and I can only speak for my own.

 

Here is the content I used for evaluation. It is more or less all female vocalists. I believe that if I can get this right, then everything else I play will also sound right (based on years of similar evaluations of amp/speaker/turntable/cartridge combinations).

 

All the tracks were, for convenience, streamed via Tidal, using their highest level (some tracks in MQA, all others in their 'CD quality' 'HiFi' level). I use an SMSL DAC which is fairly neutral in its presentation. I would expect content played via my TT to sound even better, but that is a different can of worms :)

 

How Can I Be Sure - Shelby Lynne
When The Love Breaks - Vanessa Fernandez
Cry Me A River - Lyn Stanley
You Don't Know Me - Alison Krauss
Marisa - Dave's True Story
I Don't Want To Hear It Any More - Shelby Lynne
Immigrant Song - Vanessa Fernandez
Lullaby Of Birdland - Lyn Stanley
September In Montreal - Anne Bisson
Gentle On My Mind - Alison Krauss
Like A Rock - Dave's True Story
Concrete Love - Julia Fordham
Pretend - Shelby Lynne
Still Life - Sarah Jarosz
Use Me - Vanessa Fernandez
I'm Walkin' - Lyn Stanley
Soothing Your Sould - Anne Bisson
Tattoo - Janis Ian
Ghost In The House - Alison Krauss

 

On several of those tracks, I had a shiver run down my spine, which is what I mean by 'emotional connection'.

 

Thanks for reading my ramblings :)

 

EDIT: I didn't mention the apparent increase in dynamics. It may not have been too noticeable on most of the tracks above, but I have since played some of my favourite Muddy Waters tracks and wow! At one point, when he went from quiet picking to a full-on assault on the strings of his Fender Telecaster I literally jumped in my seat - the sort of jump you make if someone crept up behind you and shouted 'Gotcha; right in your ear. The sound just exploded from the speakers! Now I happened to play this track when I was on the 8 ohm taps, at similar volume level, and I did not jump the way I just did. I was totally taken by surprise by the sheer dynamics. Is this because I am supplying more current now? High current and sensitive speakers is, in my experience, a potent combination. I am loving this amp!
 

Edited by Zed Zed
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Great write-up @ZedZed Great test tracks as well, especially for "emotion".

 

Interestingly, my 6ohm speakers sound better on the 8ohm taps. I feel like I get more space between sounds/instruments, but it is very subtle. I also get a bit more output volume relative to volume position. I'll have to switch back to 4ohm taps now that I have a completely different tube configuration than when I first experimented with the taps. Maybe my preference will change. It's good to experiment with these things and choose whatever sounds best to your ears.

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Very interesting read @Zed Zed thank you for posting your experience and findings.  I am also new to the Tube world and your experiment is one I am going to consider further,  I have not rolled the stock Willsenton Tubes as yet and have approx 60hrs up also.

 

Not to derail this thread entirely but I have one question before I trial the 4ohm tap....My speakers can drop to 3.2ohm but are 8ohm nominal.  Will this drop to 3.2ohm have any detrimental or negative affect on anything compared to your drop down to 5ohm? 

*Sensitivity 91dB (2.83V/1m)

* Nominal Impedance 8 Ohms (min.3.2 Ohms)

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20210202_174140.thumb.jpg.37c7685f581c6da3be5e64532f34fb33.jpgThe R8 arrived last night late,  1 day early . Shipping container had normal wear and tear for traveling 7400 miles, Upon gaining access to the contents I commenced  the extraction from the box, I think that if I would have opened the bottom also it would have slid right out,  The tubes were individually wrapped in a bubble bag the wrapped in a sheet of foam and all stuffed in the cage.

The amp was very cold and I decided to wait till daybreak to bring this to life, I biased the tubes a couple minutes after start up, All 4 were in the middle range high right,  

 

After about 1 hour I re- biased, all tubes crept up a little so I tweaked them back to center, the adjustment is sensitive. After about 5 hours of running all tubes remain centered..

Output tube temp after 5 hours has been fairly constant at roughly 280 degrees or 137 Celsius . Power tubes are the stock Wilsenton KT88..

I went with the optional PSVANE cv 181's  for pre. Wife will be leaving shortly, so I have about a 3 hour window......... here are some pics all seemed well inside, and solder points look good, no scratches, so far so good... Nght pic coming ..20210202_175639.thumb.jpg.702dd74f4d6dcb0acd9cacd82258e1e5.jpg

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Edited by Wisker
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3 hours ago, echorec said:

Great write-up @ZedZed Great test tracks as well, especially for "emotion".

 

Interestingly, my 6ohm speakers sound better on the 8ohm taps. I feel like I get more space between sounds/instruments, but it is very subtle. I also get a bit more output volume relative to volume position. I'll have to switch back to 4ohm taps now that I have a completely different tube configuration than when I first experimented with the taps. Maybe my preference will change. It's good to experiment with these things and choose whatever sounds best to your ears.

 

Yes, the air and space between instruments is astonishingly good with the R8. Of course, I am the opposite wrt to output volume - running 8 ohm speakers off the 4 ohm taps gives me less output, so I have to turn up the volume a bit. 

 

I spent a whole day researching this and everything I read indicated that I would do no harm to the amp by running this configuration, so all i can suggest is that you experiment and let your ears guide you. Whichever sounds best to you, is best for you. :)

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1 hour ago, 08Boss302 said:

Very interesting read @Zed Zed thank you for posting your experience and findings.  I am also new to the Tube world and your experiment is one I am going to consider further,  I have not rolled the stock Willsenton Tubes as yet and have approx 60hrs up also.

 

Not to derail this thread entirely but I have one question before I trial the 4ohm tap....My speakers can drop to 3.2ohm but are 8ohm nominal.  Will this drop to 3.2ohm have any detrimental or negative affect on anything compared to your drop down to 5ohm? 

*Sensitivity 91dB (2.83V/1m)

* Nominal Impedance 8 Ohms (min.3.2 Ohms)

 

I'd say that you results will, theoretically at least, be better than mine because from 4 ohm to 3.2 ohms, the 4 ohm tap will actually be a better match for your speakers than the 8 ohm taps. With my speakers, they never reach below 5 ohms so, in theory, the 4 ohm tap never matches at all. I think this shows that you have to let your ears guide you. There is zero doubt in my mind that the config I am using is demonstrably superior - it is easy to appreciate the improvement within even a few seconds of listening. 

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3 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

 

I'd say that you results will, theoretically at least, be better than mine because from 4 ohm to 3.2 ohms, the 4 ohm tap will actually be a better match for your speakers than the 8 ohm taps. With my speakers, they never reach below 5 ohms so, in theory, the 4 ohm tap never matches at all. I think this shows that you have to let your ears guide you. There is zero doubt in my mind that the config I am using is demonstrably superior - it is easy to appreciate the improvement within even a few seconds of listening. 

Thanks @Zed Zed I am home next week and can do this  and see what my ears tell me. 

 

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13 minutes ago, Wisker said:

The R8 arrived last night late,  1 day early . Shipping container had normal wear and tear for traveling 7400 miles, Upon gaining access to the contents I commenced  the extraction from the box, I think that if I would have opened the bottom also it would have slid right out,  The tubes were individually wrapped in a bubble bag the wrapped in a sheet of foam and all stuffed in the cage.

The amp was very cold and I decided to wait till daybreak to bring this to life, I biased the tubes a couple minutes after start up, All 4 were in the middle range high right,  

 

After about 1 hour I re- biased, all tubes crept up a little so I tweaked them back to center, the adjustment is sensitive. After about 5 hours of running all tubes remain centered..

Output tube temp after 5 hours has been fairly constant at roughly 280 degrees or 137 Celsius . Power tubes are the stock Wilsenton KT88..

I went with the optional PSVANE cv 181's  for pre. Wife will be leaving shortly, so I have about a 3 hour window......... here are some pics all seemed well inside, and solder points look good, no scratches, so far so good... Nght pic coming ..

 

 

 

 

Thanks for sharing the pics! I did the same as you - biased the tubes a few minutes after start-up and then, a few hours later checked again and there had been a little 'creep'. I re-biased and centred the needle for each tube. I haven't touched the bias again and now, after 70 hours, the needles are still dead centre.

 

I hadn't thought to check the tube temps, but will do so. Since switching to the 4 ohm taps my unit runs a little hotter - if I put my hand on the power transformer it is quite warm - not so hot you have to remove your hand, but quite hot nonetheless. Having said that, it was quite hot with the 8 ohm tap setting too. I am using all stock tubes throughout.

 

Enjoy!

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Hey Zed,  Yes the middle transformer runs about 130 degrees or 54 Celsius. the outer ones seem to be about 15-20 degrees cooler, but all are steady..😎

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6 minutes ago, Wisker said:

Hey Zed,  Yes the middle transformer runs about 130 degrees or 54 Celsius. the outer ones seem to be about 15-20 degrees cooler, but all are steady..😎

 

Thanks for the info. I'll check mine with my infra-red digital thermometer tomorrow and report back. 👍

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The power transformer getting hot on the 8 ohm tap doesn't sound right. It may be warm but should be lukewarm to touch.

 

Me thinks you may have a 220v unit running at 240v AC mains. Might also explain why the 4 ohm tap sounds better.

 

This is just a guess that also requires data to confirm if this is true. Please ignore this comment as I'm trying to work out why the 4 ohm sounds better based on my own 40+ years experience telling me otherwise. Yes - it will be cleaner sounding, have less power output but also sound too SS in tonal character in particular when using triode over UL mode.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that tube magic comes from the 8 ohm tap. I use 8 and 16 ohms and in the good old days even tried 32 ohm as that along with 16 ohm were the most regular taps found on 1960's 2nd hand tube/valve amps.

Edited by xlr8or
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Been using R8-el34 for a month with forte iii. Recently i hear "kirr.. Drr.. Trr" noises in one of the channels. is anyone seeing this behavior? all stock tubes 

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1 hour ago, xlr8or said:

The power transformer getting hot on the 8 ohm tap doesn't sound right. It may be warm but should be lukewarm to touch.

 

It gets hotter on the 4 ohm tap, cooler on the 8 ohm. (I suspect you made a typo there?) It is hotter than lukewarm for sure. I will measure it both ways so we know what we're looking at.

 

Quote

 

Me thinks you may have a 220v unit running at 240v AC mains. Might also explain why the 4 ohm tap sounds better.

 

Well, I ordered a 230v unit and the sticker on the back says 230v. Of course, what it actually is could be anyone's guess ;)  Here in the UK, as in Oz too, the nominal mains voltage is 230v but the permitted tolerances are +10%/-6% so the actual voltage delivered could be anywhere between 253v and 216v, although I wouldn't expect to see such a swing from nominal.

 

Quote

 

This is just a guess that also requires data to confirm if this is true. Please ignore this comment as I'm trying to work out why the 4 ohm sounds better based on my own 40+ years experience telling me otherwise. Yes - it will be cleaner sounding, have less power output but also sound too SS in tonal character in particular when using triode over UL mode.

 

My experience with tube amps is about 5 days so there is no way I am going to disagree with you 😬 But I'll make a couple of observations - I have decades of experience with SS amps and I can say that what I am hearing here (on 4 ohm taps or 8 ohm taps) is nothing like what I have heard on SS amps. There is a world of difference. My last-used SS amp was a pure Class A Alchemist Kraken, which I have owned for many years and has been in and out of my various systems over that time. The Kraken (55 watts per channel dual mono design) has a beautiful 'Class A' sound and is smooth and refined. Some might even say 'tube like' :). But the R8 sounds nothing like it, in numerous ways. I don't hear the R8 sounding more like SS, tonally, in either 4 ohm or 8 ohm operating mode,

 

Second, I'd say that I am not alone in coming to the conclusion that the 4 ohm taps sound better. While researching the topic, I came across various forum discussions, some knowledgeable, some less convincing, but they all fell on the side that using 4 ohm taps with 8 ohm speakers was sonically beneficial (and caused no harm to the amp). I won't list the sites, but anyone googling '8 ohm vs 4 ohm taps' or similar will find the same sites that I found. On one or two, (apparently) respected designers of valve amps said similar things too.

 

Of course, one never listens to just one component in any hifi system, so my particular choice of speakers and how they interact with the amp will be significant, and will differ from yours, and probably everyone else's too. This will account for differences in what each individual hears. This is why I couldn't recommend using 4 ohm taps with 8 ohm speakers (even if I was confident that I know what I am talking about, which currently is not the case) but why I do feel comfortable recommending that others try it, if they feel so inclined., since every site I explored confirmed that no damage would ensue. 

 

Quote

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that tube magic comes from the 8 ohm tap. I use 8 and 16 ohms and in the good old days even tried 32 ohm as that along with 16 ohm were the most regular taps found on 1960's 2nd hand tube/valve amps.

 

I am grateful for your comments and perspective - the sheer amount of experience you have cannot be ignored. Although common sense would suggest that your infinitely greater experience with tube amps massively outweighs my total newb status with these devices, I am hearing what I am hearing, even though my lack of experience/knowledge with tube amps cannot provide a satisfactory reason why. (Although a newb with tube amps, I have decades of listening experience on systems going from midrange (say at current pricing, £2-3,000 GDP) to, a couple of times, ultra-systems costing in excess of £500,000 GDP (sadly not my own system!!) 

 

Your comments are well-received here, and will inspire me to keep searching and learning, as best as I am able. I may go back to the 8 ohm taps - not really planning to at this stage, but I will certainly swap back for evaluation, maybe on a wider range of test tracks. BTW, the reason I used that list of tracks (see earlier post) is that, a) I am very familiar with most of them and b) I invariably find that if I get vocals (especially female vocals) right, then pretty much everything else falls into place. As you know, human hearing is most sensitive in the frequencies where the human voice reigns supreme, so I have always used this type of music for initial listening tests, broadening the field out later to see if anything different comes to light (almost never does).

 

I have to say, that this forum, or this thread to be more specific, is one of the best I have used, anywhere, both for the quality of the content and the pleasant and helpful nature of the contributors. (I have about 28,000 posts on the American AVS Forums site - in a different user name) and the atmosphere there is often, how shall I say it, confrontational :) ).

 

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6 minutes ago, Rali said:

Been using R8-el34 for a month with forte iii. Recently i hear "kirr.. Drr.. Trr" noises in one of the channels. is anyone seeing this behavior? all stock tubes 

 

Could you maybe record the noises (recorder app on your phone would be good enough) and post the sound files?

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22 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

 

Bear in mind that, despite having decades of experience with high end and ultra high end audio, I am a newb when it comes to tube amps.  So please don't think I am in any way contradicting your comments above - and I note and entirely agree with your last two sentences. That said, from my recent research, this is what I have learned so far. When using the 4 ohm taps to drive (some) 8 ohm speakers:

 

  • The 4 ohm taps will drive more current, whereas the 8 ohm taps will drive more voltage.
  • For a given speaker impedance the damping factor will be twice as high for the 4 ohm tap as for the 8 ohm tap. (Damping factor is inversely proportional to output impedance). This may explain why I am hearing a noticeably tighter bass - the amp has more grip on the woofers.
  • As we know, the impedance of most nominal 8 ohm speakers varies significantly as a function of frequency - so the 4 ohm tap may be a better match at some frequencies than the 8 ohm tap. This will result in a less linear output, but possibly a more pleasing or satisfying one.
  • Tonal balance is affected by the interaction of the amp's output impedance with the speaker's frequency-induced impedance variations. Now it is very likely that most modern speakers have been voiced with the expectation that they will be used with SS amps. Since SS have have vanishingly small output impedances (a fraction of an ohm), it may be that the impact on FR by using the 4 ohm taps comes closer to the interaction intended by the designer - this may noticeably impact the 'sound'.
  • Distortion introduced by the amplifier will depend to some extent on how well matched (or mismatched) the tap and the speaker impedance are at various frequencies.
  • Using the 4 ohm taps with (nominal) 8 ohm speakers reduces the output current demand on the output tubes, which may allow them (the tubes). to be more linear.
  • An obvious potential downside is that the power output will be reduced (possibly by as much as 3dB) - whether this is a real downside or not will depend, among other things, on the sensitivity of the speakers, size of room, preferred SPLs etc.
  • I should also say that the amp runs warmer. So far, this doesn't seem to be a major issue, but it is worth noting.
     

Now all of the above are just summaries of what I have read. As I say, my experience with tube amps is very limited. Nonetheless, I do understand the issues involved and all of the above seems to make sense to me, based on what I (think) I know.

 

I'll post some listening impressions later, based on a dozen or more female vocalist tracks which I think are particularly revealing. 

 

Since I  am hearing a significantly superior sound using the 4 ohm taps with my 8 ohm speakers, I would recommend people give this a try, experimentally, to see if they also hear any sonic improvements. It will depend on the speakers used and their interaction with the amp, and this will be different for pretty much everyone so it has to be a 'suck it and see' basis I think.

 

My speakers are not a difficult load and they do not dip below 5 ohms at any point in their frequency range. Below is the manufacturer's impedance curve, for reference. Clearly, what anyone else hears if they try this experiment will greatly depend on the characteristics of their own speakers.

 

 

302264939_F500Imp.jpg.5459495c535b73e55f1de096a8a82768.jpg

 

 

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions to my understanding of this issue. It is a learning process for me, which is ongoing.

 

 

The Speaker impedance gets reflected back through the OPT via a formula that takes the turns ratio primary to secondary in to consideration. The reflected impedance is the load on the tube. The load on the tube is part of how the operating point of the tube is calculated.

Most of your points are generalizations and might have some truth to it depending on how the tube is operated.

If you want to get down to the heart of it you will have draw out the circuit and to take a multi meter to the internals and start to take some measurements and while the amp is live.

From there you can start working what the implications are of using the 4 Ohm tap. Everything else is speculation.

If you want to learn about tube amps get your self a good book and start building.

 

In most forums you will get only opinions. 

 

Enjoy the journey

Edited by Ihearmusic
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45 minutes ago, Ihearmusic said:

The Speaker impedance gets reflected back through the OPT via a formula that takes the turns ratio primary to secondary in to consideration. The reflected impedance is the load on the tube. The load on the tube is part of how the operating point of the tube is calculated.

Most of your points are generalizations and might have some truth to it depending on how the tube is operated.

If you want to get down to the heart of it you will have draw out the circuit and to take a multi meter to the internals and start to take some measurements and while the amp is live.

From there you can start working what the implications are of using the 4 Ohm tap. Everything else is speculation.

If you want to learn about tube amps get your self a good book and start building.

 

In most forums you will get only opinions. 

 

Enjoy the journey

 

Thank you. I wonder if anyone has already done the tests you suggest?  I'll take a look around. I am entirely in agreement with you that only objective testing gives reliable data. Unfortunately, while I am experienced in measuring acoustics and analysing and acting on the resultant data, I am far from an electrical engineer (about as far as it's possible to get TBH) so I won't be pushing my hands into a live unit 🤪💀.  The last time I did something like this, there was a loud bang and I accidentally let all the smoke out of the unit which resulted in the instant demise of the unit, but fortunately not of me. . . 

 

I may follow your advice to get a good book about designing and building tube amps though, just to add to my knowledge. Meanwhile, I am still of the view that the 4 ohm taps are delivering a more seductive sound, but I will do further (listening) tests, this time taking notes, to see if I really want to stick with the 4 ohm taps long term.

 

Thanks for your reply - I will do my best to enjoy this new journey, at the same time rediscovering some of my favourite music via the magic of tubes.

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I wonder if @Atmaj (the thread's OP) is around? Based on the thread's first post Atmaj is knowledgeable on the issues we are currently discussing and if he has the time to respond, I'd like to see his views. This is a great learning curve for me!

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2 hours ago, jgunner said:

@Zed Zed what speakers are you running the with the 4ohm tap?

 

Fyne Audio F500 standmounts. Nominal 8 ohm (see the impedance curve graph a few posts back). About 90dB/1w/1m sensitivity and very easy to drive. At no point does the impedance dip below 5 ohms (at 200Hz).

 

Today I switched back to the 8 ohm taps for further testing. SQ still better on the 4 ohm taps IMO. 

 

I (mistakenly) posted earlier that the R8 runs significantly hotter on the 4 ohm taps, but, as if to demonstrate the unreliability of subjective testing, I now believe this not to be the case (again subjectively). However, I have now properly recorded the temperature of the power transformer and will revert back to 4 ohm taps tomorrow, take the temperature again (after 12 hours running, as today) and post the results. I would be surprised if the two readings are all that different to each other. 

 

I think what confused me before is that the output transformer gets gradually hotter over the 12 hour period the amp is in use each day. What I did was (stupidly) take the temperature by resting my hand on the transformer after it had only been on for a couple of hours or so, and then compared that with the 'feel' on the 4 ohm taps, but after considerably longer running time. This time I will read the temperature with my infra-red thermometer using the exact same spot on the transformer casing and after exactly the same running time. IOW, with at least a nod to scientific method ;)

 

If I am right, and there is no excess heat penalty by using the 4 ohm taps, then I will revert back to 4 ohm and stay with it.

 

My unit now has 85 hours on it BTW.

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15 hours ago, Rali said:

Been using R8-el34 for a month with forte iii. Recently i hear "kirr.. Drr.. Trr" noises in one of the channels. is anyone seeing this behavior? all stock tubes 

I cant upload audio file here due to site restrictions. Here is what happened. I bought Melz 6sl7 tubes as recommended by forum members. replaced the 2 stock 6sl7. then started the krr.. Trr.. Brr.. Noise on one channel.

 

1.I interchanged the tubes and the noise shifted to another channel. This told me the issue is isolated with one tube.

 

2.connected the stock 6sl7 , no noise.

 

3. From an aerial view the problematic tube glows little mild. Rest guys are doing good.

 

4.my speakers are forte iii and this stupid speakers picks up these noises very well and is annoying.

 

5.i connnecetd PSB imagine T2, same observation with the tube but not that annoying.

 

So what you guys think?

 

Between, thank you moderators your suggestion to buy melz 6sl7 is perfect for me. This has mellow down my forte iii and sound is amazing. So tube rolling has significant impact.

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