The gyrator PCB has been updated to fit now a wider variety of lower enhancement MOSFETs with low capacitance and high transconductance. The best examples are the BSH111BK and BSN20BK which are great options for currents above 25mA:
The board offers now all the flexibility needed in terms of different TO-92 and SOT-23 package pin-outs to use whatever FET you want.
If you need gain and good drive, our friend the pentode is there. However, with the high anode resistance, it’s hard to implement as a driver. With a resistor load you get good results, but not optimal. The gyrator load (as a hybrid mu-follower stage) brings a good option to the pentode driver. The workaround to the high gain of the stage has been cleverly addressed by Gary Pimm. Here is just a brief summary of how to implement it:
The circuit can be explained easily. The pentode (U1) is loaded with the gyrator (g1). The pentode screen has a stable voltage (vs) which is provided by the voltage regulator (U2) and the CCS formed by M1+R2. You can implement the screen voltage source that best suits you. Anyhow, the input is provided to the grid (g1) and the grid resistor (Rg) provides ground reference. The cathode resistor (Rk) is un-bypassed. Quite unusual for a pentode. The thing is, we have gain to spare, but thanks to the gyrator, the output impedance of the stage isn’t mu times the Rk. Hence we can afford adding this resistor which also linearise the stage thanks to the negative feedback introduced. Ra is required to provide a stable output and limit the gain. The gain is therefore Gm times the Ra, Gm is degenerated due to Rk (unless you bypass it). Ra could be also be placed in parallel with G1, but as Gary Pimm well explains, it’s better to have it referenced to ground to improve the power supply noise rejection (PSRR).
The output is take from the mu output of the gyrator. The load is connected here. If you need all the gain from this stage you can bypass Rk or better replace Rk with a series of diodes (SiC) or LEDs. Whatever you please.
This stage can be a great driver for a SE stage. Like a 300B. A 4P1L will work brilliantly here. As most of the Russian pentodes.
Also if you want to go further, you can implement a pentode output stage and provide plate to plate feedback (a la Schade) and create a fantastic amp. Michael Koster and Anatoliy have covered this topology at length in DIYaudio, check it out. If you elevate the cathode of the output stage you can DC-couple it. Great stuff and sounds amazing, I did implement this with my 814 SE Amp.
As you can see, a very flexible stage, thanks to the gyrator. Once again, a very handy topology to use.
The upgrade made to the 814 SE was quite simple, I replaced the gyrator carbon 4M7 for a Holco one and the mu resistor for a Mills 820R MRA05 5W. The capacitor was finally reduced from the outrageous 1uF Mundorf Mcap EVO Oil Gold to an 220nF 450Vdc Mundorf Mcap EVO Silver Oil.
The main change was the capacitor and proved to have no loss impact on the bass. I have recently made the OT change so cannot comment on the overall impact in the sound of these changes. I can say at this stage that I cannot notice any big change. It sounds as good as before!
I’d have expected a noticeable change by reducing the size of the cap, but in this case I didn’t.
The return of the 01a stage
I remember my first 01a pre-amplifier to be one of the best sounding ones I ever had. The uniqueness of its tone, detail and clarity was astonishing. Perhaps it is due to the warm tone it provides and I guess this is the reason why Thomas Mayer branded his design as the “sound processor”. I fell in love with the sound of a CX-301a and the joy of listening to this stage was so great that I found a fantastic excuse now to re-build this stage. My Starlight Discrete DAC has a very low output due to the step down transformer it has. I can only get 500mV as maximum output level. Not enough to drive my system to full level. This was a perfect argument for me to look at building a simple amplifier stage that could add the sonority of the 01a in my system.
Continue reading “01a Preamp Gen2”