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SOHA vs Millett

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I have some extra time on my hands (rare for me.) I have a millet with Blackgates, stacked buffers, and a linear power supply. I am very happy with it, I love the tube bloom on electric guitars. Is the SOHA a worthy upgrade ?
post #2 of 61
You can't go wrong with both.

Also, put some of Steinchen's DB's instead of those stacked buffers.
post #3 of 61
You should get the buffer board for your millet. It will make a difference.
post #4 of 61
From my listening exposure to my MH with 12FK6 tubes & diamond buffer compared to a basic SOHA with an ECC82 & OPA2134PA I would sum them up as:
- Millett brings out the bass and mids, while I find the highs are sometimes clouded with the FK6's. It feels like there is a lot of umph with the MH
- SOHA brings out the mid-to-highs clearly. The bass isn't as profound as the MH but it's still there with a punch.

Building both would be great if you could, IMHO they have much different sound signatures. Try em out!
post #5 of 61
Hmm ... looks like this thread may go the way of most: as many varied opinions as there are posts. One thing for certain: the DB's are a must upgrade for both, although Steinchen is just beginning the proto's for the SOHA.

The basic Millett with double BUF634 does not compare to the SOHA, IMHO. With DB's (and the right DB trannies), the Millett is a very smooooth and dynamic amp - a very well rounded one. I've built four and tried various combinations of 12AE6/A's and 12FK6's - I would say that with the right tube brand and with a TREAD power supply, that description holds well among all of them - only the gain varies between the 12FK6's and the 12AE6's.

I remember Vixr when he first built his SOHA - the bass was so powerful he was looking for ways to decrease it! I've always used 1000+uF caps in the opamp power supply, so maybe that helps. In any event, the SOHA is almost entirely tube dependent, and there are many 12au7 variants that sound OK, and some that sound superlative. To me they all have powerful-powerful bass - the difference is in the highs. Or, in the case of the wonderful GE 5963 - the difference is in imaging and soundstage. The GE 5963 is unique in it's extreme tightness and control - as if it were solid-state, not a tube. There are some tubes with better highs, though.

All in all , the SOHA can keep you busy just rolling tubes for a very, very long time - every one eminently listenable all the while.

I just posted a thread on Headwize about an experimental bargain-basement component SOHA that sounds great: http://headwize.com/ubb/showpost.php...57715&fpage=22



As you can see, I am using the Millett for direct comparison while I roll tubes and opamps in and out of the SOHA.
post #6 of 61
Thread Starter 
I have the DB board for my Millet, never ordered the parts to populate it since that review on the Millet forum said that the stacked Buff634 sounded the same.

I guess I would rather upgrade my Millett than start from scratch on a new amp. I put a lot into this one with the black gates and the regulated linear power supply. I listen to distorted tube driven 70's guitar rock, so the mushy highs are sort of a benefit .
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by regal View Post
I have the DB board for my Millet, never ordered the parts to populate it since that review on the Millet forum said that the stacked Buff634 sounded the same.
He was wrong.

As long as you've spent that much, you might as well get good output trannies, too. The std recommendation is either MJE253/243 or BD138/137, but Steinchen also likes these:

2SC3421/2SA1359
2SC3422/2SA1358
2SC2238/2SA968.

I built the MJE's, the BD's, and the first two 2SC/2SA's. The 2SC/2SA's are a definite cut above the others. They are available at BDent.com. The twoSC2238/2SA968's are suopposed to be even better.
post #8 of 61
Thread Starter 
which transitors would be best for little bass boost ( I have AKG271s)
post #9 of 61
tomb, a guestion of preferences for you

i'm sitting on a millet board, along with a few diamond buffer boards, looking to get into a tube amp, but i'm torn between the MH and a SOHA

typical music would be heavy rock/metal, using HF-1's, i like a decent amount of bass, but it doesn't have to shake my head, just needs to let me feel the kick of the bass drum

which would you suggest between the 2, and if the SOHA, suggestions on 2 or 3 tubes that might work well for me would be great
post #10 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mb3k View Post
From my listening exposure to my MH with 12FK6 tubes & diamond buffer compared to a basic SOHA with an ECC82 & OPA2134PA I would sum them up as:
- Millett brings out the bass and mids, while I find the highs are sometimes clouded with the FK6's. It feels like there is a lot of umph with the MH
- SOHA brings out the mid-to-highs clearly. The bass isn't as profound as the MH but it's still there with a punch.

Building both would be great if you could, IMHO they have much different sound signatures. Try em out!
I'll go along with mb3k. They sound different, it would be too bold to say one is better than the other.
The millet DB is a must.
post #11 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by nysulli View Post
tomb, a guestion of preferences for you

i'm sitting on a millet board, along with a few diamond buffer boards, looking to get into a tube amp, but i'm torn between the MH and a SOHA

typical music would be heavy rock/metal, using HF-1's, i like a decent amount of bass, but it doesn't have to shake my head, just needs to let me feel the kick of the bass drum

which would you suggest between the 2, and if the SOHA, suggestions on 2 or 3 tubes that might work well for me would be great
Well, if your option is to abandon the Millett and its boards, I would definitely recommend that you complete the Millett and the DB's. A Millett with DB's is superior - on the level of the clarity of a PIMETA except with a good bass kick.

However - this is greatly dependent on the power supply. The Millett needs at least a TREAD for minimum good bass. Even then, I can get it into clippling on some music. Most likely, a STEPS or upgrading the basic TREAD is needed long-term - maybe double the power caps on the TREAD, etc. If you've followed Cetoole's thread on the Millett Hybrid Max, you'll see that he's done the same thing, but on the board. Proto's are on order, I believe, but we have yet to build one.

The SOHA does not have the ultimate clarity of a Millett w/DB's, and it is somewhat more difficult to put together - the transformer is a major hurdle because you have to mess with power wiring. Frankly, I will never do it the way most do - with a transformer in the case. I prefer the walwart approach, and the Jameco walwart boxes make that pretty easy.

The number of caps, the regulators, and the CCS make the SOHA board rather complicated and easy to make mistakes. The translation from China had some obvious difficulties. After that, the SOHA is much more robust about power from the basic board - there is no lack of bass whatsoever - and I can't say that strongly enough. The opamp is a stumbling block, but using a quality opamp such as a OPA2107, AD843/845, OPA627, etc., can get you pretty close. (I used to recommend the OPA551 because of its high current, but I've gotten tired of its sound - too slow.) Steinchen is working on DB's, so the SOHA has the potential for leaving the Millett behind.

Recognize that most of these comments are highly dependent on headphones, too. With the Millett, the 12ae6 tubes give high gain suitable for Senn's and high impedance phones. However, a switch to 12fk6's will cut that gain in half, performing very, very well with Grado's. Grado's are problemmatical on the SOHA - the gain is 50% higher than the 12ae6's in the Millett. Adding output resistors (150ohm) can make the SOHA suitable for Grado's, but that reduces impact and starts to affect frequency response. Even so, most of the tubes are powerful enough to overcome it.

All that's a long way around of agreeing with blueworm: "... it would be too bold to say one is better than the other."

Good (great) tubes I've rolled in the SOHA:
GE 6680 - really sterling, fluid highs. A wonderfully liquid music tube. It also seems to have a little less gain than other 12AU7's, so it may be a tad better with low impedance phones.

GE 5963 - a "solid state" device - shocking in its tightness and control. You can't believe you are listening to a tube with this one. The only reason I don't put it at the top is slightly less capability on the top end (slightly). This depends on the tube apparently, and can vary some. The tight control results in an almost holographic soundstage, when paired with a phone such as the HD580.

EI 12AU7 Elite Gold - There have been some less than outstanding reviews on the steel-pin version of this tube, but I found the gold version to be the best in the bunch of new-production tubes (Electro Harmonix, JJ). Highs are right there with the GE 6680. I need more time with this tube, it may improve on my scale.

Sylvania Gold 5814, TungSol 5814, Raytheon CK5814, RCA Command 5814 - These tubes seem to run cheaper than the 6189's for some reason - you can find them for $5-$7 in many places. Some tube vendors have started marking up the special series, though. These are not JAN's, but military special spec made before the JAN's. They have the original mfr box and are fully branded with the company name and logo. Great bass power is exhibited on all of these with extended highs. As I've stated elsewhere - the highs and imaging are what distinguishes among 12au7's. Even so, the bass seems more powerful on these than most. The reason that these are better is that the highs are really great, too. Probably the Sylvania Gold is the best in this bunch, by a slight margin, followed right behind by the TungSol. BTW, I tried a GE 5-star 5814 and it was bad. It pains me to say that - I'm a real GE fan. It just had very recessed highs.

Electro Harmonix 12AU7EH - This is the fattest 12AU7 I've seen - it almost rolls over the socket like Joe 6-Pak's belly rolling over his belt. Perhaps the most powerful tube I've rolled - earthquake like bass, but tight. Highs seem OK, but maybe a tad recessed. Imaging is difficult to gauge because of the great power. I need much more time on this tube. It has gotten pretty good reviews, except for perhaps a metallic signature (I like metallic signatures, though). However, most of the time a new tube will really boom before it gets burned in - that maybe what's going on with this one - it just needs a lot more burn-in.

JJ ECC82 - It seems this tube gets used in a SOHA more than any other, by all reports. I don't get the fascination. A decent tube, it simply does nothing outstanding IMHO. Even the bass is bested by the Electro Harmonix, IMHO. Functional, however - if you get a good price, buy it.

JAN (PhillipsECG) 6189 and 5814 - These are a bit better than the GE 5814. I would classify them as functional. They would impress most anyone unless they've heard the others above. Nothing else very outstanding. If you get a great price, go for it - they are OK in that vein. There is very little difference in these and the JJ, it seems to me.

National - rebranded 5963 - This one looked like it may have been an RCA 5963. However, I discovered one way tubes can become horrible microphonic. In inspecting the tube - it looked like the square getter at top was actually bent down so that it was touching the top mica spacer and one of the plates. Sure enough, I put it in and its intolerable. The slightest touch anywhere - even on the table - is picked up and amplified. Unusable.


P.S. No more than $10-$12 was spent for any tube, except for the EI ($14.95?) Most were $8 or less. The GE 5963 is as low as $4 in many places.
post #12 of 61
I bet that rebrand is an RCA because I have an RCA 5963 and man are your right about microphonic! I have rolled several tubes and when I put that one in I though I had damaged my SOHA. It picks up extraterrestrial movements from Mars. Avoid at all costs! My RCA blackplates did not have this problem.
post #13 of 61
wow, thanks for the info tomb, the MH i had planned involved at least a tread, but more likely a steps in a seperate case, after all i can always reuse the steps should the tube sound not really be my thing and i move onto an m^3
post #14 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
Frankly, I will never do it the way most do - with a transformer in the case. I prefer the walwart approach, and the Jameco walwart boxes make that pretty easy.
Thanx Tomb for a great tube review. Could you elaborate this statement? The X will cause noise and distortion?

And for those using Digi's boards, how would you divide the PS? Just the lone toroid in an external case?
post #15 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaughter View Post
I bet that rebrand is an RCA because I have an RCA 5963 and man are your right about microphonic! I have rolled several tubes and when I put that one in I though I had damaged my SOHA. It picks up extraterrestrial movements from Mars. Avoid at all costs! My RCA blackplates did not have this problem.
Yeah - maybe they made them all like that. Perhaps RCA had an employee fall asleep on a shift and caused this?

BTW, that "RCA Command 5814" I have is a black plate. It's pretty good.
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