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Friday, July 2, 2010

The Salmon's Choice



Completely unlogical, like a salmon swimming against the river stream, it's that so definite, strong feeling of "being 120 percent right" when I apply more than "logic", "instinct".

It's like that "quality" pouring from this or that object or gear or, simply, a choice, an idea - both aesthetic and technical - be sort-of DNA-hinted more than a fruit of guessing and thoughts: the best ideas come, like blossoming in the mind, naturally.

It recently happened with the new R-120/WE 171A 5W amplifier: it's an unassuming, old-timey looking, little gizmo built around one pair of those sought-after irons, as used in WE 91A classic Mirrophonic amplifiers, using WE 300B in its classic way: the Western Electric 171A.

WE 300B triode needs an 80mA plate voltage, BUT, measuring and carefully tracing the square waves at the oscilloscope, the 171A weren't at their VERY best with 300B... oh, oh?!?!?! The King is naked;-)

Some homeworks and tubes data-sheets browsing, plus the fortunate availability of a N.O.S. quartet, well worth some years of music and sonic bliss, of R-120 triodes, made the 2+2=4, indeed... and now, me and my friend Gianni didn't read it on a magazine, pals;-))) - being thirsty and hungry of searching isn't something to be copy-catted: IT IS, pure and easy as breathing.

R-120 makes also an awesome Fivre single-plate 2A3 to sound a tad forgiving in micro-detail, still being among the very best sounding (little) triodes ever conceived: AD1, 45, 50, RE-604, 71A, 10Y... then there are the large triodes outsiders: 212, 849, 851, RE-241, 211, 845, TH-100 and the like, BUT I'm talking about intimate, homely use... not power-plant giant tubes.

So, using some instinct, first, the 60mA needed to drive R-120 proved to be, both sonically and at the oscilloscope with a BEAUTIFUL square wave clearly showing an easier load for the old 171A, and a truly amazing choice: low end richness, smoothness and details and soundstage depth 2D4... ALL is here!

A true little monster delivering more than 5W: 5,000.00 mW;-)))

Also the painstackingly choosen WE wire resistors, the yellow caps, the Cornell Dubilier only paper in oil, so important, when used properly, to add a "magic" to any sound, un-mechanical, smooth and ear-friendly... like in a haute-cuisine recipe... too much an ingredient, also the best available, can ruin a prelibate dish... measure, loving components choosing and listenings.

The little copper chassis amp was a winner when still on the work-bench... remember? The salmon, the unlogical choice of NOT using a WE 300B, BUT a seldom seen R-120 triode with the most classic of 300B irons ever... the Real McCoy, used "wrong"!

I love our passion, folks... and being a salmon!

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