Single ended tube amplifier using 808 and 6EM7 tubes

In a previous post I mentioned acquiring a pair of 808 tube amplifiers and over last two months I completely rebuilded the amplifiers in order to improve the sound quality and reduce the noise floor.

The final circuit (lower in this page) is inspired by Shishido circuits but it’s not the official Shishido 808 circuit..

The output section, the grid bias circuit is from this 808se circuit :

The driver stage is a variation of this shishido circuit :

When I got the amplifiers I was planning to get rid of the 6EM7 since the nature of the tube makes it quite hard to match both triodes to get similar gain between channels. I tried going back to 2 separate tubes and realized the 6EM7 is overall a truly fantastic tube and shopped around to find 3 good matched pairs (mostly the first triode need to be matched) so I will keep this configuration.

In the circuit, the plate resistor for the first triode can be replaced with a pair of lundahl LL1667 / 05mA for a nice sonic upgrade. You will have to position them well to prevent any noise pick up. I’ve experimented with 2 hammond 156C in serie too, it work well but is very noise sensitive. I will be returning to plate chokes on the first triode eventually.

I got the amplifiers with noisy edcor power transformers and one electron ubt-1 output transformers. The one electron didn’t provide enough primary inductance to have proper bass and their impedance wasn’t high enough. The edcor had too much voltage variation.

I’ve decided to go full hammond transformers in the rebuilding process, the power transformers are the 374BX, the outputs 1630SEA, the interstages 126B, chokes 159Q, biasing transformers 166E30. The 1630SEA completely changed the low end of the amplifiers and are very good. I know the previous generation had their flaws but I think hammond did well with the SEA serie. The 1630SEA are massives btw, you will need a large chassis to build all of this. It was the first time working with the hammond 126B and the measurements are really impressives. I didn’t need any modification of the loading at the output to damper some resonances as I had to do with lundahls in the past.. The PS choke is a little bit small but I have limited space. If you can, go with 10H 200mA or 8H 200mA or go with CLCLC. With my actual configuration, using good Solen PPE, I have more than enough filtration as it is. I brought the noise down enough to use the amplifiers directly connected to a pair of 112-113 db eff horns in an active system.

For the 808 filament I went with switching power supplies. First, I’m not interested in going AC with anything DHT to avoid any intermodulation distortion with the filament. Secondly, I’m not afraid of switching power supplies if they are properly built and shielded. A friend recommended it, I tried it since it was relatively cheap to experiment and the results are very good. One trick with this kind of switching is not to add any capacitor at the output and not trying to add any filtering at the input. The manufacturer did his job filtering and eliminating noise and it’s easy to mess this up. Also, get he shielded version of the switchings if you go that route, the model ending with -C are shielded. I went with a pair of Mean Well EPS-65-7.5-C with the faraday cage. The noise floor with theses switching is a lot lower than with a conventional rectifier capacitor solution that was implemented when I received the amplifiers. Having separate supplies for the heaters bring the opportunity to get a separate preheating mode for the 808.

For the power supply capacitors I went with Solen PPE serie of metalized polypropylene capacitors. Avoiding electrolytics, especially at the last stage of filtering is one simple way to improve the overall sound of an amplifier like that. Use the same PPE from Solen for C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 if you can. C6 can also be mundorf Mlytic or Elna cerafine serie. The rectifier is a 5R4WGb which is one of my favorite. I did chose the 374BX knowing I would use the potato masher with higher loss of voltage but you can always tweak the final voltage changing the size of C5 which is the first capacitor after the rectifier. The smaller C5 is, the more space you need around L1 to avoid any induction from the magnetic field of the choke.

You can use the amplifiers with or without feedback. I don’t use any feedback when using it to power my midrange horns but adding 3-8db of feedback when using them full range give really good results. If you add feedback you will probably need to put a small capacitor in parallel with R13, adjust the size looking at a 10khz square wave on an oscilloscope. Stay with polystyrene or silver mica for this capacitor if possible. Personally I added 2 switches on the back for the feedback so I can change from 0 – 3 – 6 db for NFB on the fly. The NFB resistor and capacitor is very dependant on the output transformer used. You can also make the feedback loop outside the output transformers with a shade style injection. With the 1630SEA I can include them in the NFB loop with a real load. I had some 30khz + resonnances with the ubt-1.

Noise can be an issue with the 808. First, the filament need to be clean at 7.5v 4A. You should go DC for this considering the the 30w it will pull. Secondly, the tube need to be far away from the power transformer and the PS input choke. This choke, been almost a choke input, will radiate quite a bit and proper positioning and spacing is important. I have small chassis so I had to add Mu Metal sheet between the 808 and my transformers to reduce the 60hz hum. Using proper grounding techniques you can bring the amplifiers under 1-2 mv of hum before feedback. The 6EM7 is not too finicky fortunately.

I tried different operating point and returned to 350v b+ and 120mA (about 40w on the plate) for the 808. It will give you around 8-8.5W output depending of your output transformer efficiency. Adjust the lm317 to get around +30Vdc (biased in A2) at the first startup and when the tubes are hot adjust to get 0.120vdc at the 0.1 ohms test point. With good 808 you will need around 26-28Vdc on the grid (the other side of the interstage) to get there. The 120mA is more important than the grid voltage when adjusting and let the amplifiers heat up before the final adjustment.

For the driving stage you can remove both cathode bypass capacitors if you want. It will be beneficial to remove both if you don’t use feedback since the overall gain will be on the high side. The low mu triode of the 6EM7 sound better with degenerative cathode. The high mu triode sound good with or without, try it for yourself, you can even add a switch for this.

With dozen of reconfiguration and lots of testing, this is the configuration that I prefer so far. I will be testing the lundahl plate choke again now that my noise problem is fixed. It should work well if you have proper spacing between the plate chokes and … every thing radiation magnetic or electrical field.

Getting good 808 can be complex and apparently they can get gassy. I was lucky and got two pairs and a spare that are all good. The tubes are very old and you will probably need to test them on the amplifier directly since not many tube tester will support them. Btw it is perfectly normal that the tantalum plate of the tube get cherry red. This plate is used as a getter for the tube so don’t panic when they heat up. In the picture, the GE 808 are installed in the amplifiers. The RCA are build a little differently inside but measurement pretty much the same as the GE. I couldn’t find any other maker for this tube.

The amplifiers sound really nice but are more on the open and dynamic side than the sweet one. They are not as accurate as my SETH PP 2A3 but have that midrange clarity of large DHT while not having the typical dark sound of low voltage 845 or some 300b. If you have heard 845 running 1000V + of B+ and also heard vintage single plate 2A3 … it’s kind of a mix of the two. It’s a vivid tube with good level of details. Considering there is no expensive iron in this build, the voltages are reasonable for the tube amp and it’s a A2 class of operation … I’m really happy with the results.

My final circuit and couple pictures of the monoblocs :

You can right click on the images and select “open in new tab” to see them full size.

I plan on replacing the front switches soon and do something with the side wood panels that need sanding and some finishing.

Another thing I will be experimenting with soon is converting the amplifiers for SV572-30. I have some pairs of those here and I always wanted to see what I could do with them and the conversion to these seems relatively easy to do been already in A2 with grid bias, same socket and similar requirement. We will see but I would like to be able to run both tubes with a set of switches and quick bias adjustment. The 808 are getting impossible to find but the SV572-30 can still be found.

If you have any question, let me know. You can find my direct email in the about section.


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Quick update for my sound system

I’ve selected the bms 4526nd and azura horns 5/8″ 1200hz to replace the beyma tpl-150. I’ve since painted the horns in black.

I also have a new pair of amplifier using 808 tubes in a shishido configuration in A2 operating class. I’m including some temporary pictures.

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Experimenting with new horns.

After my last update I added a set of Beyma cp21 on top of tpl-150 and was happy with the results even if this added the complication of a 4th way.

This week I’m trying something different, by replacing the tpl-150 on jmlc horns and installing a set of 2khz jmlc compression drivers. The drivers are BMS 4526 and the horns are wooden Joseph Crow horns for 0.63″ drivers.

This combination need some EQ and is only usable on an active setup like mine to work but, after finish one proper integration, I’m quite happy with the result. This is now a real 3 ways setup covering 20hz to 20khz. Since the efficiency is higher at 112 DB/w I’ve taken the time to lower the power output of my 2a3 Seth amps.

I will be living with this setup for some days before getting to any conclusion about if this is better or not than my tpl on jmlc horns. It’s certainly less of an eyesore and would be easier to fit on a metal rack with the 320hz horns.

Bms 4526 with JMLC 2khz white horns

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Replacing the old bass cabinets with the new ones.

A friend of mine, good with woodworking, had the time to build my new bass cabs recently and, last week-end I found the time to assemble everything. I’ve reporter building the bass cabs for two years so it was time, thanks Dan. I’ve used my temporary white test cabinets for over 5 years and puchased all the necessary material a long time ago so it was time. The goal was simply to double the number for drivers and raise the efficiency while keeping it to a a “reasonable” size.

The cabinets are made with 1″ baltic birch plywood and each side include 4 completely sealed volumes. Each volume has a dedicated passive radiator that can be externally tuned. Basically, it’s like having 8 small subwoofer organised in 2 groups. I could, if wanted, tune each passive radiator to different frequency and may eventually try it. My first experimentations had me tune them all to around 24 hz, for now. My previous tests regarding passive radiators had me prefer tuning them as low as possible, when you have the possibilities to do active correction. I use to tune my previous cabs under 20hz but with this 24hz tuning in this setup I get some impressive outputs from 20 hz to 370hz.

Inside the cabinets I went with a mix of 2″ carbon foam and bubble wrap (a la sonus faber and goldmund). Those are placed behind the driver, between the driver and the passive radiator. The final volume for each separate volume is around 60-63 liters. I didn’t unroll the bubble wrap since I got rolls that were exactly the perfect height and already tightly turned so, I simply jammed one roll per cavity in a slighlty asymetric positioning. The old “battery test” tell me they are now slightly under damped. I can add damping later but the frequency response is really smooth so I think it’s doing a good job.

The drivers are 8 visaton tiw250xs, it’s a unique woofer/subwoofer with a very light cone (49g) but with very good excursion and that can take massive corrections without breaking a sweat. The output is clean enough to be used well over 500hz, closer to 1 khz in some applications but that’s not my goal here. yet, this give me lots of possibilities for the crossover point considering that my largest horns are 320hz concrete JMLC.

Doubling the number of drivers per side not only changed the low end response, it also changed the sound dispersion and efficiency of the low mid. They are way more powerful, sound a lot larger and fuller in this configuration. Of course it was expected by doubling and arranging the drivers in a quad configuration and I’m really happy about the results. Now it sound like a large driver with tons of weight in the 100-400 hz while keeping the possibility of shaking the house in the 20-50 hz. It’s like having a subwoofer and a efficient woofer in the same cabinets. I understand that it’s not a small solution but there is no free ride when you want basse and efficiency, the result won’t be small.

My final crossover point is to be determined. With the previous configuration I enjoyed more having the jmlc horns crossed as low as possible . This was using the large horns like a wideband driver. I went with a selection of motor and diaphragm to get a usable 370 hz and up. With the increasing of the surface area, now 4x 10″ per side, it’s quite possible that moving my crossover point higher be beneficial. It’s on the list of things to experiment.

I still have to build the horns rack so I can move the larger horns over the smaller ones, having them in a vertical axis. I also need to build a set of passive radiator hiding grills or metal sheets, the css apr10 are quite ugly because they are externaly tunned. I’m not sure what would look best, for now they will stay visible, like on the included pictures, until I decide on the way to go.

I have a pair of beyma cp21 in the mail that could potentially replace the super tweeters I’m using right now. I will post results when I have the time of comparing the two solutions.

In short, the systeme right now is :

  • a pair of bass cabs using visaton tiw250xs and css apr10 passive radiator, custom design with walnuts finish. All internal wiring is done with belden 5t00up double runs. The speaker cables are made with double runs of the same belden cables and a set of furutech spades and a set of banana plugs so each run get a good contact patch. Crossover point from 370hz to 500hz.
  • the mids are matched jbl 2440 with radian 1245-16 diaphragms and JMLC 320hz concrete horns. The back cover are removed from the motors (kind of a dipolar configuration) and the speaker cables, made of belden 9402) are attached directly to the diaphragms. Crossover point from 1.2khz to 6khz (the larger horns start to beam a lot over 5khz)
  • the highs are beyma TPL-150 with customs JMLC horns in the front and the rear so they are dipolar. The speaker cables are custom made too but with silver plated copper and teflon protection and vampire termination. They do 1.2khz and up but preferably over 2khz.
  • the super tweeters are vintage diatone horn tweeters with unknow specs but around 101 db/w and 8 ohms. I simply put a 1.5 uf caps on those connected to the tpl-150 so the crossover point is really high at around 15khz. They may change for beyma cp21 if the 15khz and up is better on the cp21.

It’s imortant to note that my back wall is quite damped as si the room. I largely prefer a damped environment to be closer to the recording.

A DEQX hpd3 control everything. My actual crossover points right now are 370 hz, 5 khz 15 khz. I also have quick programmation for 370 hz, 3.5 khz, 15 khz. I’m not decided between the two since they can be both really good, both horns do the 2khz to 5khz really well so it’s mostly about off axis response and technically the modified tpl-150 should be better but I mostly listen on axis and the larger horns are really energic. I can switch to 4 predetermined configuration on the deqx so I can switch bettwen different configuration depending if I’m on axis or off axis with the remote control.

The amplifiers are :

  • for the bass, bryston 7b3 mono blocs (my charges are 8 ohms) so I get a nice 675 watts per channel.
  • for the mids, custom made 7189 single ended and triode configured. Output are james 6123hs with a dead silent power supply. It’s crazy over built (audio note transformer, large polystyrene coupling capacitors …) and deliver a “massive” 3.5 watts per side. No global feedback is used here.
  • for the highs it’s a pair of custom made magnequest SETH PP 2A3 amplifiers using nikel core and only quality parts … delivering a big 10 watts for each side. No global feedback is used here.

I would estimate the efficiency of each section around :

  • 95db/w/1m for the bass cabs
  • 112 db/w/1m for the 320hz JMLC horns
  • 102 db/w/1m for the JMLC TPL-150 and the super tweeters

My listening position is about 10 feet from the speakers.

The preliminary results are incredible. I will try to optimize more but it’s already fantastic results. I leave you with some pictures and will update later for my tests regarding the low end integration frequency.

I still have lots of experimentation to do like :

  • trying to remove the back horns on the tpl-150
  • maybe doubling the number of tpl-150 since I have 4 wood horns to play with
  • changing the super tweeters to beyma cp21 so it can match the efficiency if doubling the tpl-150
  • crossover points for the bass cabs
  • adding stuffing to add damping of the bass cabs
  • tuning each passive radiators to a different frequency (ex : 20hz, 30hz, 40hz, 50hz) since all my tiw250xs are in different volumes.
  • building a metal support to hold the incredibly heavy 320hz horns made of concrete over the tweeters so I can get a vertical disposition

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State of my audio system in early 2020

After a complete change of career, around 5 years ago, I didn’t had much time to invest in hobbies anymore. The limited free time I had was invested in learning more about pedagogy. This is Slowly changing, returning to more reasonable schedules at work, and I recently started playing with audio related projects again.

During that period of transotion I lost interest in social medias, forums and blogs … But I did manage to do some improvements to my audio gears and here they are :

A new amplifier for the mid horns

Since 2016 2017 my only “big” project has been to build a small tube amplifier for my mid horns. It’s a simple, but overkill, el84 in single ended triode configured and driven by a 6n1p. I only used high quality components that I had laying around (ex : audionote power xfo, james 6123hs outputs, elna cerafin in a LCLCLC-C configuration after hexfred diodes) etc. It’s a huge amplifier considering it output only 2 watts per channel … while consuming a 50 watts from the outlet. It sound fantastic when used full range but I’ve limited the frequency range to 100hz and up. The reason been that it will only be used only for mid-range. In my current application, the amplifier cover from 370hz to 2khz.

Going from icepower to a small tube amp completly opened up the mids and brought back a level of information missing. I tried going back to the icepower in the next summer (to limit exelectricity consuption when running the AC unit) and just couldn’t live with the icepower on my mid horns anymore. The first D class amplifier from my system was gone.

Adding new beyma tpl-150 in JMLC horns

I wanted to get rid of the raal for some time and after trying diffretent solutions, a friend sold me a pair of beyma tpl tweeters. They are fitted to small JMLC horns. I was curious to see how well they would work with my mids.

In my system the synergy with my larger JMLC music concrete horns is fantastic. The efficiency, dynamics and tonalities are a huge improvement compared to the small raal. The raals did a good job from 10khz and up but couldn’t match the livenes and dynamic range of the horns so they forced my to use a high crossover point and get some directivity in the mid range.

While Amazing from 2 khz to 10khz, the tpl didn’t cover the 10 khz to 20khz as well. For me, the 2khz to 10khz is a lot more important than the 10khz and higher. Later I got a NOS pair of coral horn tweeters, in a swap meet, for a ridiculously low price and brought them home hoping they would be efficient enough to be used over my tlp-150. After some measurement and trying different ntegration point, I’m now using them from around 10 khz to whatever they can give . They go up to around 20khz and match the efficiency of the beymas quite well. It sound nice enough and I don’t miss the raals for the 10khz plus anymore. Eventually I may try replacing the corals for a pair of visatoon tl16h. I really like their frequency response measurements published on a French audio forum.

I’ve bean listening to those two tweeters together for over a year now and still enjoying it.

Fast forward to 2019

Late 2019 I got a chance to purchase back my old pair of SETH PP 2a3 amplifiers. I had the pair home around 2010 and after couple or years, I sold them needing more power. I always regretted selling those, fearing that one day I would get speaker efficient enough to use them. The amps resurfaced on the used gear market and spotted them while I was searching for parts to build something similar. Finding permaloy transformer and nickel interstage and chokes is not easy task now and it’s really expensive.

The SETH PP 2A3 magnequest amplifiers are a design of Jean-Francois Lessard that was published on magnequest web site some time ago. It’s a DIY poject published for free and you can find the parts around the web. The 3 transformers and 3 chokes per mono block , using magnequest nickels parts made the project very expensive and few have built them. The result extremtly good and completly noise free (a must for my 103 db eff tweeters). It’s a push pull of triode using no feedback at all, and a center tapped choke specifically made to be used as a phase splitter.

I bought the amplifiers back, removed the Chinese tubes on it and installed a fresh pair of 2A3 sovtek tubes. The amplifiers are now used from 2 khz and up (tweeters) replacing my old icepower 125asx2. Since I cross my tweeters quite low, at 2 khz, the amplifiers sound quality is very important. This change helped a lot when matching my mids and highs horns seamlessly. This change brought me closer to the music and turn out to be an important one.

A second D class amplifiers was gone

Removing the back caps of my JBL 2440 with radian diaphragms

A simple test of measuring the horns with and without the back caps of the compression drivers revealed a nicer and smoother frequency response when removing the back cap. Since my horn loaded beyma are also di-polar, I simply installed some heavier shades behind the speakers and I’m now having the diaphragms completely exposed on the back.

The drawback of doing so is that you have expensive diaphragms completly exposed on the back of the compression drivers.

Now, if you want to visit me, you need to sign a mendatory weaver stating you wont put your fingers in those radian diaphragms ūüôā

One way was still using D class amplifiers

The last D class amplfier standing was my custom made pair of icepower 500asp. The 2 mono blocks power my visaton tiw250xs woofers. Considering that removing the other icepower amplifiers made me enjoy more and more my system I was curious to know what would be the result of replacing those 2 mono blocks by something with similar power while been A classe or AB classe.

It’s not easy to find a 500-600 watts tube amplifiers and I didn’t want to manage a farm of high power tubes so I was fixed on transistor for this way. I started reading about different type of amplifier and was looking for either Krell, Passlabs or Bryston monoblocs.

In the last days of 2019 I’ve been lucky to find a deal on a nice pair of bryston 7b3 (or 7b cubed) mono blocs. These are demos from a local retailer I often do business with called Solen ( and got what is pretty much a brand new pair of fully warranty covered amplifiers. It’s a very expensive upgrade but after reading a lot about the bryston’s cubed serie it seems to be a departure from their older sound which I wasn’t specially a fan of. The new sound is more on line with what I like.

Bryston is a Canadian company with an amazing warranty. These two points helped to take the decision. I wasn’t looking for the most powerfull amplifier at 2 ohms (or 1 ohms) but to get over 500 watts at 8 ohms. They also need to sound good even on a small full ranger driver pushing low power or in other words, the first watt need to sound very good. The 7b3 mono blocks fitted the needs but at a cost, a high one. I bought them.

My 7b3 are delivering 677 watts in 8 ohms (manufacturer test sheet), my soon to be redesigned bass cabinet will now use 4 visaton tiw250xw and 4 externally adjustable passive radiators per side and this configuration will result in 8 ohms instead of the 4 ohms I’m now getting. This mean my 500asp would had went from 500 watts to 250 watts per side. Compare this to the 7b3 I go from 250 watts to 677 watts and from 2 drivers to 4 drivers per side. I’m pretty sure the efficiency and power will make my bass cab closer to match the energy I get from the horns. Anyway, right now at 500watts in 2 drivers per side it’s very impressive for the reality of my home and room so it can only be an improvement.

I had to install my 100 pounds 70″ lcd screen on the wall in order to make room on the top of the audio rack for the amplifier. I also had to bring a dedicated electrical circuit just for the amplifiers.

I got the amplifiers home today and did a quick replacement and gain adjustment to do a first listening session and so far so good.

It’s another layer of veil lifted and my low mid are more detailed and energetic. Everything is new and I have to take more time to fine tune the integration in my DEQX but just matching the gain was enough to convince me I went the right way by removing the last D class amplifiers from my system.

I will have to take some times to listen and compare before having a final idea but so far I can’t see a negative side while enjoying the impeovements.

I was afraid the bryston wouldn’t control the woofers as well as the icepower asp series of amplifiers but it’s not the case. The bryston have no problems on this aspect. So far I would say the kick drum punch more with the brystons and sub bass is solid and free of distortion.

It’s not over

Next step is finally making my version two of the bass cabinets doubling the drivers from 2 to 4 per side and also doubling the number of passive radiators.

Basically, each cabs will be 4 independent cabinets for a total of 8. This project should start in February and hopefully be functional this summer.

My actual cabinets are poorly made proof of concept using thin plywood and no bracing and even then they are very enjoyable. I have huge expectation for this anyway since I will raise efficiency, lower the distortion a reduce cabinet resonances.

I did take a break of improving my system for some years and took time to do other hobbies (photography, cycling, mechanics on my old car, work …) but during that time I never stopped using my sound system and was enjoying it a lot. When I’m home, there is either music playing or a TV series playing. I work often from home in my new career and can really enjoy siting on my computer desk while having nice music playing. My sound system is a very important part of my life.

I wouldn’t say the D class amplifiers that I replaced where bad, in fact I was quite happy using them for many years. There is always something better but the complexity and/or price to to get it can be a huge barrier. If you are willing to go the extra miles it can be rewarding but it’s costly and complex in my case.

Those last changes made my sound system more enjoyable and brought me closer to music.

The biggest change is when listening at low or medium sound level. It used to be a little flat and dead compared to when pushing it. replacing the amplifiers for class A on mid and highs and a quad something bla bla AB class from bryston removed that problem and I can feel the energy of the instruments without having to get to unreasonable spl. At higher spl there is also a good gain in realism and accuracy.

It’s, in a way, a huge change for me. Would someone that listen to my system only from time to time feel the same way ? … will see.

What’s next ?

  • Building and finishing the bass cabs
  • Making a for of stand to place the horns over those bass cabs
  • Changing the driver section of the SETH PP 2A3 amplifier to the mkII version using a 6H30 tubes (I just got all the parts for this)
  • I would like to try a pair of visaton tl16h instead of the coral horn tweeters for 10khz and up
  • I wand to change my mid amplifier coupling from the driver stage to the el84 with a pair of lundhal inter-stages transformers
  • Improve the digital source, testing other solutions to my hifiberry digi out
  • And other things for sure

Thanks for visiting my blog, I will try to post the next projects when they are done.

A good 2020 year to all !

Edit : I took some time to rearrange my components in the audio rack so it’s all contained and no amplifier has to sit on the ground.

Here is the new arrangement :

With tubes on the top shelf
Front view
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Ajouts de photo a mon compte flickr, adding pictures to my flickr account

Compte tenu qu’un blogue n’est pas la place id√©ale pour pr√©senter des photos j’ai envoy√© le tout sur un compte Flickr que vous pouvez consulter ici :

Compte Flickr Sylvain Paquette’s account.

Since exposing pictures on a blog isn’t quite ideal, i’ve send all my new pics to my Flickr account, visit me there.

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Exporail St-Constant Lowkey Monochrome gallery

I went shooting at Exporail St-Constant and used my panasonic GX85 with an olympus 7-14mm F2.8, a panasonic 20mm F1.7 and a 42.5mm F1.7.

Most shot are made using L.monochrome profile and fiddling with the filters and contrast.

All shot in JPG and direct from the camera.

Here is the Flickr share : Lowkey Exporail album from FLICKR

I strongly recommend visiting Exporail if you are interested in trains but also in photography. The lighting in one of the hangar is really nice.

Here are the informations to get there : Exporail St-Constant informations

Couple of examples :

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Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro lense

Yesterday was my birthday and I got myself a nice gift … ok it wasn’t really my birthday but still got the lense.

I’ve been using Micro 4/3 for couple of years now and still hasn’t got a UWA lense when my 10-22 ef-s was my favorite on canon aps-c and the sigma 10-20mm was my favorite on my full frame canon kit.

Until now I’ve been using the panasonic 12-32mm kit lense as a wide angle but … it’s not really one at 24mm equivalent. It’s an amazing kit lense, the first kit lense that didn’t end up in the original box sitting in a closet but it’s not a wide angle lense when the crop factor is 2. Yet 24-64mm equivalent is close to the perfect general use range. The lense is sharp, super light and fast, dual stabilized and corrected in the body. Even if really good I wanted something wide, really wide but not fish eye wide.

I was considering the panasonic 7-14mm F4, the olympus 7-14mm F2.8 and the new panasonic leica 8-18mm.

Since I was going after the widest possible and fastest possible lense the olympus looked like the perfect choice. The panasonic didn’t impress me, for the price I would had expect better build and IQ and why not make it OIS for dual stabilisation. The leica is almost the price of the olympus and from the pictures I’ve seen the IQ is still below the olympus while not a constant F2.8 and the feeling in hand is not as good. The biggest advantage of the leica is the removable hood and thread for filter. I won’t do much video so it won’t be as important for me but I understand that for video the leica will be a better choice even if not constant aperture.

I’ve been able to play with the 7-14mm F2.8 in a store and it didn’t take much to convince me that this is the UWA to get for the Micro 4/3 still shooting. The build is incredible, the clutch manual focus ring is a joy to use and the IQ is really high even wide open and from 7 to 14mm.

I’ve use the lense only for two days but I’m already convinced I made the right choice. It bring back memory of my 10-22mm ef-s lense but it’s wider, brighter and better IQ. Of course it’s bigger and heavier but combined with my panasonic GX85 it’s still easy to manage. With the lcd system in the GX85 you can pivot the lcd so it’s visible from the top and take those dramatic shoot close to the ground. It’s a really nice combo.

When shooting FF I always kept a 28mm lense in my bag and the 7-14mm give me that perfect balance of 14mm to 28mm equivalent with a nice constant F2.8. The leica would had given me better range on the long side but I would had lost a precious mm in the wide range. When getting a UWA, that 1mm is of importance considering it’s 2mm FF and make a big difference when trying to include as much as possible in the frame. Honestly if the leica had been 200-300$ less I would had consider it but it was only 100 canadian pesos less and not close to the feeling of handling the olympus.

I’m sure I will greatly enjoy that lense, it’s always fun to play with those extreme lenses. My 10-22mm was the most used of all my lense, I suspect this lense will be more often than not on my camera. ¬†The Micro 4/3 system is filled with those interesting gems of lenses and the price is generally quite reasonable. Sure this lense is expensive but in comparison with other system it’s still a bargain.

Today I had an very interesting discussion with another amateur photographer that was quite curious about the lens and camera combo I was using. We were discussing about how peoples are so focused on big sensor and shallow depth of field these days. He did exactly like me and switched his huge and heavy bad of nikon gear for a small fuji setup and seems really happy with the move.

I’ve had the most fun in this hobby with this simple setup. I’ve been fortunate to own or use amazing lenses (135mm f2.0, 85mm f1.2, 50mm f1.0 etc) and body in the past but this didn’t translate in the fun I have now. Smaller, lighter, more versatile, better user interface, good jpg results, uploading directly from my phone and camera to google photos, compatibility to old manual lenses … I can pack 5-6 lenses, 3 batteries, the camera in a small bag and no back pain at the end of the day. I don’t sit at the computer for longer time than what it took me to snap the shoots anymore, I simply transfer the file and automatic backup handle the rest. I’ve been bringing my camera everywhere I go for a month now, I would never do that with my previous kits.

BTW the GX85 do post focusing directly in the body. It’s really nice if you want to get a subject and background all in focus.

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro mounted on a panasonic GX85


Here are some picture taken while I’m getting use to the lense and still learning a lot about my Panasonic GX85. This small camera is filled with features and so nice to handle.


Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85

Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85


You  can always use it for portrait if you are after goofy faces !

I should provide this picture for my passport renewal.

Portrait using olympus 7-14mm F2.8 pro on panasonic GX85.


For my next post I want to talk about a real bargain that I keep in my bag and that give me the best bang for the bucks I’ve seen in photography. Yes my olympus 40-150mm lense that can be purchased for around 150 canadian pesos. I don’t know if I won the lense lottery but I get really good results with it. As long as the sun is there since it’s not a fast lense but IQ wise it’s surprisingly good.

In near future I have plan to convert my olympus e-pl1 in full spectrum or IR. I want also a second body, was thinking of the pen F but the LCD pivot system is of no use for me. It’s really deceiving since I really liked the rest of the camera. Maybe a OM10 II or older OM1.

I played with extensions tubes also, it’s nice and I’m getting used to it but eventually I’m thinking of a macro lense, something like the 60mm F2.8 from olympus. The 30mm macro F2.8 from panasonic seems rather short for macro but I would like to have a nice 30mm prime lense in my bag … will have to try one.

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Experimenting with JMLC (Jean-Michel Le Cl√©ac’h) horn loaded beyma tpl 150

I bought a pair of beyma TPL 150 with 4 horns (JMLC expansion) configured in dipole from a friend.

Replacing my raal 70-20xr for something more efficient has been almost impossible so far but gave a shot to those. I’ve not heard the beyma tpl 150 in original configuration before but the JMLC charge had me pull the trigger and purchase them.

The reason I want to replace the raal is not because of sound quality since so fat from 4-5khz up nothing come close to this. The 70-10 are more interesting over 10khz but the 70-20xr make a wonderful job at 4-5khz and up. My main horn are ok up to 5khz after that it’s pushing it since they start to beam quite a bit. The reason is mostly because I want to build a tube amplifier dedicated for the tweeters and the efficiency of the raal would had needed more power then I wanted to build. I use a 2 watts amp for my mid, I don’t want to build a 50 watts ¬†amplifier for the tweeters.

So the raal 210-10 was a huge disappointment, the yamaha 4281 an even bigger one. I can’t stand jbl 2404 2405 and most ribbons. Not an easy task to find a good tweeter that can push 100+ db/w and doesn’t sound harsh or aggressive or dead.

I didn’t expect the horn loaded beyma to be this big so I had to improvise some form of legs until I fix my drivers and rebuild my cabinets. Fortunately I don’t have to make up excuses about horns not to use them in my living room, It’s not about the look¬†for me and frankly I like odd looking speakers in today boring waf approved slim tower market.

I’ve tried some 300 db/oct integration from 1000hz to 5000hz with the deqx and I’m extremely impressed at what those can do. Even at 1000hz they still get lot’s of energy, no harshness and give solid results. The horn seems to do an amazing job a loading them.

When I get time I will post a serie of measurements at 1m and different angles. Nothing scientific. Using my ears I would say at around 8-10khz they start to get slightly directional but nothing really problematic.

For now I’ve settled for 370hz to 3000hz for my mid, 3000hz and up for the jmlc beyma and I’m going to listen to that for some time.

The difference with the raal from 1000-10000hz is big, more energy, realism no harsness and open sounding. Over 10khz I think the raal had a little bit more sparkles but I don’t hear as high in frequency as I use to and this won’t bother me at all. I don’t see any downside going with the beyma except for size. Cymbals sound fantastic and life like, trumpet and female vocals too. Both horns mix really well.

I’m not sure I will keep them dipolar, I will have to compare with and without. I’ve never kept anything dipolar in my room for a long time. I don’t like mixing ways where some are dipolare and some aren’t, it’s messy and even optimized for the listening position they are still trace of reflection distorting the original sound.

I can always keep the back horn and absorb the back wave in it since the original back cover are known to cause some frequency aberration and I don’t want to reinstall those. It’s gonna be my next thing to experiment with those.

I will try to live with this configuration for couple of weeks and if it’s all good will start the process of rebuilding the bass cabinets with double the number of 10″ drivers and passive radiators. Then integrate the tweeters horns in this cabinet and make some form of post for the large JMLC 320hz horn on the side. This should be the final form of my home speakers.



Not the horn but just for fun

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Retour à la photographie comme passe temps, mes commentaires sur la panasonic GX85

Apr√®s avoir mis mes √©quipements photos de c√īt√©s dans les 2-3 derni√®res ann√©es, j’ai ressorti le tout pour faire¬†un peu de m√©nage, recharger mes batteries et faire quelques photos.

Mon vieux olympus pen e-pl1 fonctionne toujours mais il commence √† √™tre tr√®s d√©suet. Cela a toujours √©t√© difficile de faire un focus manuel avec cet appareil. Le pen epl1 √©tait un gateway lorsque j’ai d√©cid√© de tout vendre mes √©quipement full frame canon. Je l’utilise de temps √† autre lorsque la cam√©ra du cellulaire ne suffit pas mais sans plus.

Mes objectifs manuel canon fd, mes om mount de olympus et mes nikon F et pre ai sont toujours en bon √©tat. Pas surprenant, c’est indestructible c’est vieux objectifs.

Je me suis d√©cid√© √† remplacer mon boitier pour un bo√ģtier moderne pouvant utiliser mes vieux objectifs et comme j’avais d√©j√† tous mes adaptateurs pour fd, om mount, pre ai nikon, l’id√©e de demeurer avec le syst√®me micro 4/3 √©tait tr√®s tentante. De plus j’adore le format 4/3 que je trouve plus appropri√© √† la photo artistique que du 16:9 par exemple.

Un peu de lecture sur les inter-tubes et les choix se dirigeaient vers un de ces bo√ģtiers¬†:

  • panasonic GX85
  • panasonic G85
  • olympus e-m5 mkii
  • olympus e-m10 mkii

La stabilisation en boitier et mirrorless √©taient au top de mes priorit√©s puisque j’utilise beaucoup de vieux objectifs manuels.

J’ai pris le temps de regarder les produits fujitsu et ¬†sony aussi. Le prix, le format et la gamme d’objectif ne m’enchante pas trop et je trouve les fujitsu exag√©r√©ment retro dans leur look. Sony … j’ai entendu de mauvaise histoires avec leurs boitiers et capteurs ce qui n’aide pas.

L’attrait du format 4/3 et la taille des bo√ģtiers en 4/3 est un grand avantages pour moi. Quelques tests en magasin m’ont aussi montr√© que la diff√©rence entre un petit senseur 4/3 et un aps-c est rendu n√©gligeable pour utilisation web. √Čvidemment les full frame et format medium sont plus performant mais d’aucun int√©r√™t pour moi maintenant. Le but c’est de l’apporter partout avec moi.

Le GX85 a √©t√© mon choix finale suite √† une visite chez LL lozeau √† Montr√©al. Cela a √©t√© difficle a d√©cider entre le G85 et le GX85, la prise en main est plus moderne sur le G85 et il a quelques avantages en vid√©o comme une prise de microphone mais il est aussi pas mal plus encombrant et je ne passe pas des heures √† tenir le tout dans mes mains. Esth√©tiquement j’adore le look “rangefinder” du GX85 et sont format est id√©ale. Aussi le viewfinder num√©rique tout en haut √† gauche me plait. Cela permet de prendre le pouce gauche pour choisir la zone focus sans retirer son oeil du viewfinder. Tr√®s plaisant √† manipuler et efficace.

Les avantages du GX85 :

  • stabilisation dans le bo√ģtier 5 axes
  • double stabilisation avec objectifs o.i.s de panasonic (se rapprochant d’un steady glide)
  • beaucoup d’options pour vid√©o 4k et photos 4k comparativement √† olympus
  • taille tr√®s compact et bon feeling de solidit√©, ca rappel la s√©rie pen de olympus
  • √©cran de haute qualit√© qui repr√©sente bien le r√©sultat final
  • viseur num√©rique¬†de qualit√© tr√®s utile.
  • exporter les photo via wifi sur cellulaire ou ordinateur (fonctionne bien sur cellulaire mais moins avec les ordinateurs)
  • mode d’aide au focus manuel de panasonic extr√™mement¬†efficace
  • gamme d’objectifs superbe de panasonic √† prix tr√®s raisonnable inclus la stabilisation dans les objectifs
  • bruit a haut iso √©norm√©ment am√©lior√© versus mon ancien boitier.
  • aucun filtre passe bas r√©duisant la r√©solution et couche logiciel pour r√©duire les effets de moir√©e efficace.
  • filtres artistiques en jpg utile et nouveau modes noir et blanc haut contraste magnifique

Le G85 et son 12-60 “kit lense” me plaisait bien aussi mais l’appareil devient moins int√©ressant. Je veux pouvoir entrer le tout dans une poche de manteau avec 1 ou 2 objectifs pancake et ne pas tra√ģner de sac photo. Le 12-60 me semble un bel objectif aussi bien que beaucoup plus gros que le 12-32. Il semblerait qu’il est un peu moins sharp mais 24-120mm c’est une belle plage comme zoom a tout faire.

Le GX85 vient avec un minuscule¬†objectif 12-32mm stabilis√©. Je croyais que ce serait un autre objectif √† laisser dans la boite d’origine¬†mais, contrairement au 14-42 d’olympus, celui-ci est compacte, plaisant √† utiliser, une belle plage d’utilisation du zoom (12 √† 64mm √©quivalent), il est sharp, focus rapide et demande aucune correction (ou elles sont fait directement dans le boitier). 12mm f3.5 stabilis√© s’utilise tr√®s bien et permet pas mal de latitude pour les photos int√©rieur. Un des rare kit lense qui vaut amplement le prix demand√© lorsqu’ achet√© s√©par√©ment. Ici il est inclus avec le boitier et m’est revenu √† 999$ canadien pour l’ensemble, ceci donne un rapport qualit√© prix incroyable selon moi.

Apr√®s avoir jouer un peu avec le 12-32 fourni avec cela m’a convaincu de me commander un panasonic 20mm f1.7 et un 42.5mm f1.7 que je suis a d√©couvrir pr√©sentement et je suis aucunement d√©√ßus jusqu’√† pr√©sent. L’ensemble 12-32mm, 20mm f1.7 et 42.5mm f1.7 est extr√™mement compacte et compl√©mentaire. Pour le t√©l√© j’ai mon vieux vivitar 70-210mm et mon superbe olympus zuiko 135mm manuel.

Je suis encore a d√©couvrir¬†l’appareil et m’habituer avec mais c’est tout un monde comparativement a mon ancien pen epl1 ou m√™me mon 5d mkii niveau optimisation de l’interface utilisateur. Un charme √† manipuler.

Jusqu’√† pr√©sent je ne peux √™tre plus satisfait du r√©sultat.

Panasonic GX85 et objectif vivitar serie 1 70-210mm f3.5, photo prise avec cellulaire.


Quelques photos prises en exp√©rimentant avec l’appareil (directement de l’appareil, aucun traitement) :

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 135mm f3.5

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 50mm f1.8

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 50mm f1.8

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 50mm f1.8

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 50mm f1.8

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 50mm f1.8

panasonic gx85 et olympus zuiko om 28mm f2.8

panasonic gx85 et lumix 20mm f1.7 o.i.s

panasonic gx85 et lumix 20mm f1.7

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