Article on the return of DIY stereo kits

I wish I could do this but I’ve never been anything but dreadful with a soldering iron. It’s a skill I’ve tried again and again and never been able to master.

I really need to find a mentor.

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I’ve built a pair of tube mono block power amps from kit, also modified an old Dynaco ST 70 with a new driver board. Both sound pretty good.

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There are a few key rules I’ve learned over the years.

A good physical connection first then solder.
Heat and add solder to the parts.
When building a kit, triple check every step and connection before adding power.

I started with a simple single tube preamp circuit. It was noisy and messy but it worked and gave me a taste of tubes. Around ‘04 I discovered Bottlehead and built many of their kits. After years of reading forums and an old RCA tube manual I decided to build a modified version of the old dynaco ST35 based off the schematic and what parts I could cobble together. I made my own layout and point to point wiring… That was a real learning experience. It sounded so good I couldn’t help building more and trying different layouts.

Here’s my latest version.

Custom ST35 w/EFB v5


For me, soldering became easy after purchasing a decent iron which gets sufficiently hot, but with good temperature regulation so it operates consistently. Keep the tip clean and tinned.


A good, hot iron with a clean tip (I replace tips frequently) and above all squeaky clean, shiny surfaces for the wires, circuit board pads … whatever you’re soldering together. Can’t emphasize that enough, even a thin layer of skin oil you can’t see can compromise getting a good solder joint. I use alcohol to clean all the metal and I may even burnish it to remove any hint of oxidation before I put the soldering iron to it. My latest project was an Audio Note Kits EL34 amp, btw.


Agree completely with you about the importance of thorough de-greasing.


Beautiful, just beautiful.

I second that, there is nothing as frustrating as solder that won’t “stick”…there’s a reason it isn’t sticking.

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I built both a Hafler power and and an Hafler preamp from kits about 25 years ago and used them for years. It’s very rewarding to be able to sit back and listen to components you’ve assembled. It’s too bad there aren’t more kit makers around anymore.

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I’ve built the M125’s mono blocks from this kit makers, been in service since 2014.

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Anyone any experience with the elekit valve amp kits that Hifi collective sell?
They have an EL34 variant, single ended, auto bias and multiple output TX configurations (pentode, tetrode, ultra-linear)
I was looking at one today…

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Here we go - I suspect it will be disappointing compared to my old Beam Echo valve monoblocks, but they are long gone and this might be fun to drive my Pavanes (rated 15 watts, high sensitivity speakers).

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I’ve heard good things about the Elekit amps. A little modding can also improve their performance over stock.

Check out Mark on his site, he has different builds listed. He gives you the build materials, schematics and has a youtube video’s of the build to help one out.
He doesn’t sell any amps or parts for this build, but steers you where you can buy the parts or use what you have hoarded up

It’s a kt-88 single ended amp scroll down the the Single Ended KT88 Amplifier, about half way down the page on the link below.


Cheers :slight_smile: