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-   -   £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers (https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/showthread.php?t=182418)

David G4EBT 31st Jul 2021 3:28 pm

£10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
I follow a a site called 'New Yorkshire Workshop' where Russ, (who modestly describes himself as a 'life-long carpenter'), makes bespoke plinths and cabinets for high end UK Hi-Fi amplifiers and turntables. He doesn't make a song and dance about it - he just gets on with the job with no spoken dialogue.

I watch the videos to pick up tips and inspiration to improve my skills and knowledge of how to do a better job is restoring 'woodie' radios, (veneering & finishing etc). I'd previously posted a link to a £15,000 turntable, because it featured veneering using the iron-on dry PVA technique, which I've just used to good effect to re-veneer a cabinet for a Murphy A124 'woodie'.

Russ has recently made a batch of plinths for high-end valve amplifiers made by a small firm in Manchester called 'SJS Electroacoustics' run by Simon Shilton. Judging by how many plinths he made in the batch, the amplifiers seem to find a ready market. I have little interest in hi-fi, and less still in amplifiers, but I know that many on the forum do hold those interests, so I thought it would be worth posting the links:

If anyone is interested in what goes into making the solid wooden cases (plinths) for the amplifiers, the New Yorkshire Workshop video is here. (Fast forward to 27 mins to see the finished case with the amplifier):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMuXU6ndJ2o

Definitive Audio (Long Eaton, Notts), market high-end audio equipment manufactured by small companies from Japan, USA, Switzerland, Slovenia including that of SJS Electro Acoustics:

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/pr...acoustics.html

SJS Electroacoustics Blogspot, where there are pics of the amps including beneath the chassis is at this link:

http://sjselectroacoustics.blogspot....ed-silver.html

The list of other brands of high end equipment marketed by Definitive Audio, (none of which I've ever heard of), can be found under 'portfolio' in the menu:

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/ab...ive-audio.html

I can't imagine what these valves cost:

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/pr...0b-valves.html

We might feel that much of the cost that goes into such equipment may not even be discernible to the human ear - certainly not to the aging ears of those who have reached a age and a stage in life at which their disposable incomes are high enough to be able to afford to buy it. However, there is something uplifting - to me at any rate - to know that there is a niche market for products which are built to the highest standard by highly skilled people, rather than produced down to the lowest cost base. A market in which accountants have no role, and there are no tenders to be won by those who submit the lowest price.

Hope the links are of interest.

GrimJosef 31st Jul 2021 4:05 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David G4EBT (Post 1394336)
... I can't imagine what these valves cost:

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/pr...0b-valves.html ...

A matched pair of the new production Western Electric 300Bs will set you back $1500, plus whatever it costs to get them here from the USA, where they're made. I imagine they might be £1500 in this country. According to the ONS https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentand...y-earnings-awe that would amount to a bit less than three weeks' average earnings.

My 1939 Osram Pocket Guide lists PX25s as costing 20/- each, so £2 for a pair. In 1939 the average weekly earnings seemed to be about 65/- https://www.measuringworth.com/index.php. So a pair of comparable valves would have set you back a bit more than 60% of a week's wages.

So the price has gone up perhaps 4-5 times, in real terms. That is a big hike. But given that audio triodes were being mass-produced in 1939 whereas it's pretty much a cottage industry now, the price doesn't seem too unreasonable.

Sadly most of us can remember the 1970's, when valves were being sold for 'scrap' prices. So spending a hefty chunk of our salary on them now seems like madness. The fact, however, is that it's the 1970's prices which were madness. It's just hard for us to grasp that.

Cheers,

GJ

Radio Wrangler 31st Jul 2021 4:22 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
We might just be regretting, GJ, that back in 1970 when valves were at scrap prices, we didn't spend a month or two's wages on them and stash them for 50 years...

It would have to be the right ones, but that would involve predicting fashions and fashions are notoriously fickle.

I've seen Russ' videos. He's a great craftsman of the modern type, using spindle moulders and special tooling. He's into production not hand-carving but his products are gorgeous. His filming is good enough to let the quality of his work show. The ladies loo spray booth is a good joke too.

The special attributes of the finished amplifiers and turntables lie chiefly in the minds of the purchasers. Other people do not seem to be able to discern them. So how do those beliefs get into the heads of the purchasers and the heads of those who cannot afford them but just have to remain onlookers?

I think it's via the spoken and written word as internet articles, reviews, magazines etc. Unless you subscribe to the right ones you won't form the required expectations to become a customer, real or aspirational. If you read different ones, you'll likely get steered to different brands.

Whether or not it makes any difference as perceived by your ears, there is something satisfying about an item that is clearly well made.

To gain a sense of perspective, consider how little overlap there seems to be between high-end musicians and ownership of high-end hifi.

Of course, it could just be that they don't pay musicians enough :-)

I wouldn't give one of those amplifiers house room, but I'd happily hang an example of Russ' work on the wall.

David

stevehertz 31st Jul 2021 4:37 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
I have to laugh, in the description of the LV300B valves it says, "We have increased the emission on this latest batch to good effect." ?? That clearly looks like an admission that the previous batches of these uber high end valves had insufficient emission! So on the one hand we have comments like "Tube rolling to the nth degree", "Strict specifications", and the normal, dripping, 'audiophool speak' about sound quality, and on the other hand, effectively, "We are still in a product development stage". Hmm, but charging lots of dosh for you to be part of their learning curve. There's a similar story about the WE300B valve. Although in fairness this time they admit that they don't know what's going on, quote; "Perhaps itís the graphene-coated anode, who knows,...". Then there's the giveaway poor English; "This is a modern, open, wide bandwidth sound yet with grace, poise and impeccable manners." The "yet" clearly not needed or - to my mind - suggesting that a modern, open, wide bandwidth sound does not go with grace, poise and impeccable manners.

crackle 1st Aug 2021 6:17 am

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David G4EBT (Post 1394336)

If anyone is interested in what goes into making the solid wooden cases (plinths) for the amplifiers, the New Yorkshire Workshop video is here. (Fast forward to 27 mins to see the finished case with the amplifier):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMuXU6ndJ2o

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/pr...acoustics.html


http://sjselectroacoustics.blogspot....ed-silver.html

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/ab...ive-audio.html

https://www.definitiveaudio.co.uk/pr...0b-valves.html


What a load of bunk. Amps made with over hyped specs for old men with bulging wallets and deminishing hearing responces.
In my view total waste of good hardwood trees.

Mike

David Church 1st Aug 2021 6:49 am

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by crackle (Post 1394508)
What a load of bunk. Amps made with over hyped specs for old men with bulging wallets and deminishing hearing responces.
In my view total waste of good hardwood trees.

Mike

Hiya Mike...

I cannot disagree with the point you make but its a matter of personal choice.

How much time have you spent on what interests you? In my book time=bulging wallets=whatever.

The money, time and effort you put into your museum was, I think, well worth it and to be honest inspired me, its a shame you let it melt away.

I have mates who would think you and me (mostly you) are nuts, and the blather we come out with regarding old technology to be total bunkum. They certainly think the money I have personally spent is madness!

Its all fun, if its not only then is it bunkum.

Are you coming to Punnett's? If so I will buy you a coffee and show you some pics of my Western Electric 252A that old men with bulging wallets and diminishing hearing responses are welcome to demonstrate their strange value judgments over.

Diabolical Artificer 1st Aug 2021 7:39 am

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Saw that too David and popped over to SJS's site for a butchers. The amps do look nice- ish, don't really like that aesthetic though.This week it'll be touch and go whether I have enough money to pay the bills, that some folk have enough spare cash to drop 10 grand on an amp or a second house in Cornwall boggles my mind.

Couldn't find a schematic but suspect they follow the standard 300B amp architecture - driver valve - 300B - fancy OPT with maybe some dedicated filament supplies, a mosfet or two and a tad of secret sauce.

Quote:

In my view total waste of good hardwood trees.
The rich do like a bit of Walnut or Rosewood to tastefully show how cultured they are, it also blends well with the gold taps, ruby encrusted remote,vibrant pink shagpile and the tiger skins. We get the offcuts formed into MDF.

Still, that said the amps and cabs look well made and use decent components with the right names attached, I doubt the bloke who made them will grow rich building them and is probably like us in it cause he loves working with his hands and mucking about with electrickery.

Andy.

Duke_Nukem 1st Aug 2021 9:15 am

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David G4EBT (Post 1394336)
If anyone is interested in what goes into making the solid wooden cases (plinths) for the amplifiers, the New Yorkshire Workshop video is here. (Fast forward to 27 mins to see the finished case with the amplifier):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMuXU6ndJ2o

Thanks for posting David, only meant to take a quick squint at the video but watched it straight through. Fascinating for someone like me whose woodworking limits are a junior hacksaw and a hammer :)

TTFN,
Jon

David G4EBT 1st Aug 2021 11:06 am

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Duke_Nukem (Post 1394539)
Thanks for posting David, only meant to take a quick squint at the video but watched it straight through. Fascinating for someone like me whose woodworking limits are a junior hacksaw and a hammer :)

TTFN,
Jon

Glad you found it interesting Jon.

I'd previously posted a thread on making plinths for £13,000 turntables, basically because it shows the 'iron-on' technique of using dry PVA adhesive to apply veneer, and I felt it was relevant to the restoration of 'woodie' cabinets. It was to me as I had a Murphy A124 which I needed to re-veneer, which also posed the additional challenge of how to bend the veneer against the grain to a radius of 25mm. (Now successfully completed).

Over the years I've done quite a lot of veneering of woodworking projects, and have mostly used hide glue, which is messy and smelly. The larger the piece of veneer, the more challenging it becomes. Self-adhesive paper-backed veneers are available which I've never used and whilst they might be perfectly satisfactory, I've always been a bit sceptical.

I guess that most restorers tend to focus on the electronics first so that they have a working radio, and leave the cabinet till last with no great enthusiasm, and even if the cabinet is sound, they wonder what finish to use to achieve an acceptable appearance as close to or better than the original. I invariably start with the cabinet first, whether it's wooden or Bakelite and assume that I can successfully restore the electronics, which experience has taught me can be dodgy logic!

The earlier thread showing the iron-on PVA dry adhesive veneering technique is at this link:

https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=180037

I'll add a thread on re-veneering and finishing the cabinet of my Murphy A124 using that technique, which might be of interest.

G6ONEDave 1st Aug 2021 4:44 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
With valve prices like that, I would want a 40 year service life g/tee on all the capacitors, so that if any went leaky or worse and caused any valve damage, the valves would be replaced along with the faulty capacitor/s for free.

Dave

Radio Wrangler 1st Aug 2021 5:15 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
40 years is a lot longer than the half-life of small boutique manufacturers. It's unlikely anyone will be around to honour your guarantee when you need it. Or the brand name will have passed on to some investment group and they'll say it's nothing to do with them.

David

HG MICKE 1st Aug 2021 5:38 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
They look nice, but all that money and they use cheep cable ties to hold capacitors in place.

Colin

dave cox 4th Aug 2021 8:25 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

You cannot judge how fine a meal going to taste by looking at the recipe, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this is a gastronomic indulgence beyond repair.
Ooops, I guess they don't mean 'beyond repair' :)

Actually, in this case the recipe really does give it away, like containing a crude old single ended triode!

dc

Radio Wrangler 4th Aug 2021 10:00 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dave cox (Post 1395604)
like containing a crude old single ended triode!

People have been excommunicated from modern hifi groups for saying less than that!

Isn't it odd how at the time, people, broadcasters, pundits, reviewers, highly respected manufacturers and highly respected designers welcomed beam tetrodes, push-pull and ultra-linear circuitry with open arms.

How stupid they must have been! How clueless!

How bad their hearing must have been!

Davi

Restoration73 4th Aug 2021 10:19 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Some "valves" exceed 100 years life ;

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_air_gramophone

PJL 5th Aug 2021 1:48 pm

Re: £10,000 wooden-cased valve amplifiers
 
Triodes remained the choice of high-end radiograms into the 50's but maybe the target market for these radiograms were old luddites like some of us ;D.


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