View Single Post
Old 13th October 2019
Gear Head

Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
I used to do audio repairs for a living both pro and commercial. Some of the German Hi Fi gear was really novel in the way it actually worked.

Example, a filter used in an EQ or for radio frequencies would typically consists of a cap, a coil and a resistor. In order to vary the frequency or level of EQ you'd typically vary the resistance with a potentiometer. Reason being is coils are typically a fixed number of winds and caps a fixed length of plates rolled up and sealed.

For a radio tuner you typically use a set of plates that move when you turn the knob to tune in stations. Works relatively good and you switch could for different frequency bands. Now I don't know whether it was just a matter of being different but you'd fin the tuning knobs in some vintage Grundig stuff, instead of rotating caps plates it was connected to a cable which inserted and withdrew a metal core on the coils which changed the Inductance instead of the capacitance. In the end the results were identical, it changed the EQ or radio band frequencies but it was a cool design you just didn't see anyplace else.

You find that on allot of post WWII gear. After the war all the electronics manufacturers switched back to making their own unique gear, including audio stuff. they used the technology developed during that war and put it to use making commercial stuff. It wasn't just German gear either. Some of the finest Hi Fi gear I ever heard was made by a company called Tamburg out of Norway. Not only did it sound good but you opened it up to find all aluminum housing and actual glass boards you could see through and they'd slide into place and plug in. Both the Amps and Recorders were superbly made, Even better then some vintage US and German made stuff.

When I did that work I came across a couple of German amps to rebuild. I remember working on a Shaller, Dynacord. I did some refurb work on an Echolette echo unit like this one.

Allot of Hi Fi stuff made in Germany like the vintage Blaupunkt consoles were a real hoot to work on too. They really tested your electronic skills.
Here's a typical example. This had push buttons back in the 50's. If you look in the center its got a 4 band EQ. In back of the see through window there was 4 small levers with a rubber band stretched across them. When you turned the EQ up and down the rubber band would form an EQ curve so you had a visual idea of what bands were being peaked or cut.

They didn't skimp on the tubes or speakers either. Even a little table top sounded wonderfully warm.

Even the Car radios kicked ass. I worked a Transmission shop as a kid back in the late 60's. They had a late 50's Mercedes there. I took the opportunity to check out the radio. It was a Mono Tube set that took about 30 second to warm up. The single 10" speaker had some the best sounding bass tones I ever heard and I installed high end audio systems for a number of years.

I should mentioned I worked on allot of newer SS stuff too. Its really a mixed bag when it comes to quality. Just like everyone else, you basically get what you pay for. Most German companies have their gear made in China now just like everyone else does. Some of it can be pretty good but its a matter of comparing apples and oranges. They made some real duds along with some of the better stuff. Some became successful because there simply wasn't any competition and people kept their companies strong by keeping their national pride string and buying their own brands instead of all the imports.

I'm sure if you asked someone in Germany what American made gear they'd like to have, you could probably find many who would love to trade you a decent German made amp for an American made one.
Nice anecdotes! That was my understanding as well - that people used different solutions to the same technological problem/area of electronics, even within countries (The Moog vs. Buchla schism comes to mind). Things seems more standardized nowadays.

Anyways, I've heard very good thing about the German amps elsewhere - and from German forums using google translate. Supposedly build to last (the "German engineering" cliché) and judging from demo videos, it has an amazing really vintage sound

Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The ECC808 is essentially a premium quality ECC83/12AX7/7025. It contains physical improvements to reduce microphonics and reduce/eliminate hum.

The US equivalent/direct replacement is the 6KX8

He's a page with links to data sheets.

It looks like the pinout is slightly differe3nt from the standard 12AX7, as it has only a 6 volt heater winding instead of the usual 6V/123V and it has an extra connection for a shielding screen between the two sections.

It should be easy to adapt the amp to run 12AX7/7025s.
Awesome. I might buy that Orgaphon that I'm really eyeing after all then - it has those ECC808's as well. Thanks for the tip!