REVIEW: Audiotailor “Jade” Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier
Nov 10, 2023 at 6:33 PM Post #946 of 973
Switched driver tubes so many times that the socket wore out, irritating intermittent pin contact.

Replaced it and all is fine. The amp still impresses, despite competition from a handful other very good amps.

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I know this is a monstrously old thread, but favor to ask of you @MDR30 or anyone who might know.

What is the pinout on the balanced cable? I'd love to make an adapter.
 
Nov 10, 2023 at 10:56 PM Post #947 of 973
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And it doesn't matter which plug you stick in which jack on the amp, you get proper L/R stereo anyway. The cable is the original one once supplied by Audiotailor/Joe Lau.
 
Nov 10, 2023 at 11:02 PM Post #948 of 973
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And it doesn't matter which plug you stick in which jack on the amp, you get proper L/R stereo anyway. The cable is the original one once supplied by Audiotailor/Joe Lau.
You are most kind! I absolutely would not have guessed that pinout at any point. I think I'll make up a female 4 pin XLR adapter for convenience.
 
Nov 12, 2023 at 11:36 AM Post #949 of 973
Re: irritating intermittent pin contact.
I had scratch noise. I had to get the technician to unscrew the circuit board so he could look at the other side. I was in the repair shop looking over his shoulder. There, we saw the broken soldering - and it was easily fixed.
Thanks for the headphone diagram. Has anyone tested - does it work? I use Audioquest Nightowl and Nighthawk headphones. They sound good using standard single drive output from the Jade - three pole large jack - but will probably sound better balanced. Can anyone suggest a headphone cable that plugs correctly into these phones? Or do I have to make the whole cable myself, with contact plugs to the headphones, as well as big jacks to the Jade?
 
Nov 17, 2023 at 3:27 AM Post #950 of 973
A friend of mine made a precious find deep in the digs of his basement workshop: the original manual to Audiotailor Jade.

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The specifications page may be of interest. Note that the input/driver tube is specified as 12AU7, not 12AX7. Joe Lau mentions in this thread that this was a copy error, nevertheless this tube works as well. As a matter of fact, when driven balanced the amp will be happy with a lower gain tube such as this or 12AT7 (and many others I have tested in these pages). I very seldom increase the volume knob above 9 or 10 o'clock.

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Thanks for the headphone diagram. Has anyone tested - does it work? I use Audioquest Nightowl and Nighthawk headphones. They sound good using standard single drive output from the Jade - three pole large jack - but will probably sound better balanced. Can anyone suggest a headphone cable that plugs correctly into these phones? Or do I have to make the whole cable myself, with contact plugs to the headphones, as well as big jacks to the Jade?

Of course it works, I and many others have done this successfully. I think Audioquest supplied balanced cables to their headphones with 4-pole XLR. Then an adapter with a female XLR and two TRS-plugs would be an easy solution, as elwappo99 suggested.

Making a new cable is also an option but then you need a good Y-split at the TRS end. Below my own adapter.

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Nov 17, 2023 at 8:48 AM Post #951 of 973
Wow what a find, an actual user manual! Thank you! I dont think it was included when I got my Jade, in April 2009.
 
Nov 17, 2023 at 9:03 AM Post #952 of 973
@MDR30
Ok it works - but how to do it.
I want to use a cable with four leads from the headphone, with the right inputs for Audioquest Nightowl and Nighthawk. I dont want to solder these mini plugs myself. However I can cut this cable, and solder the leads to the two big jacks into the Jade. Suggestions, good cable, welcome.
 
Nov 18, 2023 at 4:37 AM Post #953 of 973
Well, first you must confirm that four leads are actually connected all the way from the headphone to the 6,35 mm plug of your present cable. What does it look like, does it have a Y-split below the cups? If it's possible to open the 6,35 plug you can easily check this.
 
Nov 18, 2023 at 10:21 AM Post #954 of 973
Thanks! But I don't want to mess with my existing cables. I want to buy a new one, with plugs that fit the headphones, and two leads from each plug. These cables can be found, but they are (most probably) not ending in two big jacks into the preamp, connected in the way Joe described. But this I can do myself. I did it with an AKG cable. Suggestions for Audioquest-compatible headphone cable with four leads are welcome. Quality cable plays a role, from my listening to different owl/hawk cables so far.
 
Nov 18, 2023 at 10:48 AM Post #955 of 973
I first got Joe's balanced cable for my Sennheiser hd600. It worked fine but broke down after a year or two (poor soldering, material - dont know). i then bought an AKG 701 that I liked better than the Sennheiser. I had an extra cable to the AKG. I cut it close to the preamp plug, removed the isolation from the four leads, and tried them with tape to the plus and minus pins on the two large jack plugs I had bought and plugged into the Jade. Finding the correct sound wasn't very difficult, even without a schema. I have not tried, but changing the small headphone plugs seems more tricky. I am no expert with the soldering iron.

If this succeeds, it will be an Audioquest to Jade only type of cable. While keeping my existing Audioquest cables for standard unbalanced drive, which is all I have got in my main system, my portable player, etc. Maybe other solutions - more flexible - could be considered. What if I buy a new and better headphone - I would like to use a balanced cable, and not have to do the whole thing again.
 
Nov 21, 2023 at 8:24 AM Post #956 of 973
My summary so far:

Headphone left – plus lead to jack A tip. Minus lead to jack B tip. Headphone right: plus to jack A ring, minus to jack B ring. Jack A and B are standard three way big jacks – tip, ring, sleeve – TRS. Sleeve is not used.

Question; is this correct?

And - do the jacks have to be three way, or are two way ok? Havent opened Jade and cant find the cable i made for the Akg 701.

Your help is very welcome. It is quite amazing that 24 years after buying this amp I am still investing in its benefits.
 
Nov 23, 2023 at 11:37 AM Post #957 of 973
Hi @MDR30 - and all

I take silence for a "yes" (my connection summary, above, is correct). And I guess that the big jacks should be the three way TRS type.
Searching the web I cannot find original AQ headphone cables for balanced output. The two AQ cables I have, have three way jacks. I guess they have four leads down to the Y split, and then three leads (common minus) from the split to the preamp. Not sure, have not opened them, and the plugs are solid not made to open. On Ebay I see aftermarket balanced cables for AQ nightowl / hawk phones, from quite cheap to very expensive, but none of them with the dual big jack plugs for the Jade. So this is the part I may try to do myself.

My impression is that Jade does sound better with balanced drive, but it is not night and day, somewhat debatable, etc. I hesitate before investing a lot in a balanced cable. It could be overkill. I am mainly a speaker person, headphone listening is secondary. But then again, maybe I underestimate Jade - and the combination with the Nightowl/hawk phones.
 
Nov 23, 2023 at 11:53 AM Post #958 of 973
One more thing - creating a separate link or connector from the Jade jacks to the headphone cable seems a good idea (although ideally we would like direct cable). But if the contact is special, not so standard, we are back were we started, right? Lets say I want this shiny new headphone to replace my Nightowl, but it comes with a four way jack for balanced drive, not XLR. I would need one more adapter.

Whatever the solution, clearly the 'peculiar' arrangement for balanced drive on the Jade is a challenge, how to use it with different headphones.
 
Nov 23, 2023 at 1:40 PM Post #959 of 973
Let's not complicate things. You have one problem and two solutions, maybe three.

1. An adapter with two TRS plugs and one female 4-pole XLR gives you the freedom to listen to anode or cathode with your headphones ordinary 6,35 mm plug, or balanced with the adapter. And makes it possible to listen balanced with most other headphones (Pentaconn plugs excepted, and other non-standard connections).

2. You can make a custom cable with four leads (+/-/left/right) but then you need a Y-split to connect the cable to the two TRS-plugs as output is crossed between the left and right leads to the cups (drivers) of the headphone. Such a cable, to my knowledge, is not available but has to be made up.

3. If you want to be drastic you replace the two TRS outputs of the amp with a 4-pole XLR jack.

I have my own cabling since I prefer the mini-XLR (have it on all my balanced amp builds) to the regular size. Less weight, less strain and easy to switch from SE to balanced to Jade. Definitely not standard.

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Nov 24, 2023 at 7:45 AM Post #960 of 973
@MDR30
Thanks - great photos, and information!

Yes, this seems to be my options:

«1. An adapter with two TRS plugs and one female 4-pole XLR gives you the freedom to listen to anode or cathode with your headphones ordinary 6,35 mm plug, or balanced with the adapter. And makes it possible to listen balanced with most other headphones (Pentaconn plugs excepted, and other non-standard connections).

2. You can make a custom cable with four leads (+/-/left/right) but then you need a Y-split to connect the cable to the two TRS-plugs as output is crossed between the left and right leads to the cups (drivers) of the headphone. Such a cable, to my knowledge, is not available but has to be made up.

3. If you want to be drastic you replace the two TRS outputs of the amp with a 4-pole XLR jack.»

Or even – to be really drastic – mount a balanced mini jack (pentaconn - TRRRS) contact, as well as the XLR contact, on the Jade. If I want to play balanced from a DAP, for example (pentaconn now quite standard?).

Solution nr 2 seems the best now, as a first step. Maybe I give up the idea of buying a cable fit for my earphones and then cut it and install the big jacks on the preamp end. Instead I start from scratch, buy the two small plugs that fit the phones, the two big jacks for the Jade, and ca 1.2 meters good cable. I mean, how hard can it be? Even with my low level soldering skill.

In that case, I need acceptable cable (and connectors). I know that the Nightowl and Nighthawk headphones are cable-sensitive. Better cable (and shorter cable, at least for single ended drive) improves the sound. I don’t want to over-invest. But the cable should sound OK, not worse than the stock Audioquest cables (and better sounding is of course fine too). I don’t want to end up in a plus and minus situation where balanced sounds better in some ways but not in other ways (cable less good).

All help warmly appreciated.

PS Like I've said before, where is the audio prize of honor to Joe Lau for the remarkable Jade preamp. It made me fall in love with OTL sound fifteen years ago and I am still not 'cured'.
 

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