When most people think of tube circuits, the first thing that comes to mind is often the use of high-voltage power supplies. It wasn’t a given for tube circuits, though, as a range of low-voltage devices were developed for applications such as car radios. It’s one of these, an ECH83 triode-heptode, which [mircemk] has taken as the basis of an audio preamplifier circuit.
The preamp circuit is pretty simple, being a two-stage single-ended design using both halves of the tube. Between the two is a three-band tone control circuit as used in classic guitar amplifiers, making for a serviceable and easily achievable way to chase that elusive “valve sound.”
There is much discussion among audio enthusiasts about the supposed benefits of vacuum technology as opposed to transistors in an amplifier. Much of it centres around the idea that tubes distort in the even harmonics while semiconductors are supposed to do so in the odd harmonics. Still, we’d be inclined to spot a bit of snake oil instead and point to early transistor amplifiers simply being not very good compared to the tube amps of the day. That said, a well-made tube amplifier set-up will sound just as amazing as it always did, and since this one is paired with a matching power amp we wouldn’t say no to it ourselves.
If you fancy messing about with tubes for not a lot, there’s a cheap module for that.