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January 18, 2021, 04:47:38 AM

Author Topic: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?  (Read 447 times)

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Offline Deke609

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I've ordered some supermalloy grid chokes (7,000H) to try in the Kaiju rebuild.  Doing a search on the BH forum turned up some interesting threads, including the following:

Doc B. discussing his use of grid chokes in an SR45 amp: http://forum.bottlehead.com/index.php/topic,127.0.html

Grainger inquiring about adding grid chokes to a Paramour, including a question about coupling cap value: http://forum.bottlehead.com/index.php?topic=132.msg635#msg635

Mcandmar noting that when he added grid chokes to a 6A3 amp, the bass was off with the 0.1uF coupling cap but fixed by going to a 0.22uF cap: http://forum.bottlehead.com/index.php?topic=9398.msg88024#msg88024

Anyone have any new thoughts or experiences with grid chokes and changing the value of the coupling cap?

cheers and many thanks, Derek

Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2020, 06:56:00 PM »
7000H should be OK with the stock coupling cap value. 
Paul "PB" Birkeland

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Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2020, 03:18:03 AM »
Many thanks PB.

A follow-up question: In the stock Kaiju, can the grid of the 300B ever be driven positive? 

I've just assumed that the amp is class A1 and keeps the grid negative at all times, but I don't know this for sure. I ask b/c the Silk grid chokes I'm getting cannot tolerate any DC current. I know that the coupling cap does DC blocking duty, so I'm ok from the driver end. But I don't know whether grid current has a DC component -- I *think* not b/c I imagine even in a class A2 amp the grid is only driven positive at the peaks, and so varies with AC signal. But WDIK -- better to ask people who understand these things.   ;D

IF there is any interest from the BH crew in getting some measurement data, I am happy to do some basic testing -- e.g., frequency response taken at grid of 300B comparing grid resistor to grid choke, or different values of coupling cap (although I'm not sure whether putting the scope in parallel with the grid choke would affect things). I have a signal generator and a scope. Otherwise, I will just go by ear.

cheers and thanks, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2020, 04:38:25 AM »
A follow-up question: In the stock Kaiju, can the grid of the 300B ever be driven positive? 
You could try, but you'd have to run the amp really hard and there would be a ton of distortion.
I ask b/c the Silk grid chokes I'm getting cannot tolerate any DC current.
They will tolerate a little grid current on high power transients.
I *think* not b/c I imagine even in a class A2 amp the grid is only driven positive at the peaks, and so varies with AC signal. But WDIK -- better to ask people who understand these things.   ;D
You can bias an amp in A2 where the grid draws current at idle.  We don't have any products using a design like this (yet at least), and it's rather uncommon.

IF there is any interest from the BH crew in getting some measurement data, I am happy to do some basic testing -- e.g., frequency response taken at grid of 300B comparing grid resistor to grid choke, or different values of coupling cap (although I'm not sure whether putting the scope in parallel with the grid choke would affect things). I have a signal generator and a scope.
Most scopes have a very high input impedance and very low input capacitance, so the presence of the scope across the grid choke isn't going to throw things off noticeably.  It would be interesting to see how pronounced the grid choke resonance is and whether that's audible when you listen to the amp.
Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man

Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2020, 06:03:48 AM »
Many thanks again, PB.

They will tolerate a little grid current on high power transients.

Would that grid current be DC or AC? - I'm still assuming AC and that this would be fine for the grid choke - but I'm not sure. If not -- if it's DC -- is there a way of preventing this? I doubt it b/c I can't see a benign way of capping signal voltage at a certain max (other than turning down the volume a lot). As I understand it, to avoid saturation (maxing out the tube's current capability), you can bias the tube super low, but then you get cut-off and no current -- pretty much the inverse of what you're trying to prevent with saturation. So I guess that's just the way it is?

Quote
It would be interesting to see how pronounced the grid choke resonance is and whether that's audible when you listen to the amp.

Would that resonance show itself as ringing?  I'm guessing you mean the coupling cap and grid choke form a resonant circuit. I just used an online LC resonant frequency calculator for 7000H and different coupling cap values: 6Hz @ 0,1uF; 4Hz @ 0,22uF; and 2.7Hz @ 0,47uF.

cheers and thanks, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2020, 06:16:41 AM »
When we talk about grid current in the context of an amp that's otherwise A1, it's presumed that we are discussing AC, as it's only present on one end of the swing, so the behavior is far from DC, but it is only in one direction.  This current will charge up the coupling cap a bit and create blocking distortion that's unpleasant.

You're attempting to avoid something that isn't a problem.  It's not like the choke explodes if the 300B draws grid current briefly; incidentally this is the point of grid chokes btw...

Yes, there is a resonant circuit, but I wonder if it would even show up in a response curve.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 07:01:30 AM by Paul Birkeland »
Paul "PB" Birkeland

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Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 06:34:42 AM »
Thanks PB.

When we talk about grid current, it's presumed that we are discussing DC, as it's only present on one end of the swing, so the behavior is far from DC.

[Edit: PB edited his post to clarify that it is an AC current, so I am crossing out my response/question b/c it is confused and confusing] Was that last "DC" supposed to be "AC"?  I assume so. So it's a varying DC current.  I keep slipping into thinking that any varying voltage/current is AC, forgetting that DC or direct current is uni-directional current.  A helpful reminder, thanks (assuming I interpreted you correctly).

Quote
It's not like the choke explodes if the 300B draws grid current briefly;

Hah! I was more concerned about saturating the core. I don't understand the physics of these things at all, and I don;t know how long it takes for a saturated core to recover (in this case a supermalloy core). 

Quote
incidentally this is the point of grid chokes btw...

Huh - you mean to deal with grid current?  I was only thinking of grid resistors and chokes as loading the plate of the preceding tube (in parallel with whatever the plate load is), and providing a ground reference for the signal/grid. 

.... AND the new grid chokes just arrived as I was typing this! Exciting! They're tiny, so they shouldn't be too difficult to fit.

Will report back later.

cheers, Derek
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 04:49:31 AM by Deke609 »
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2020, 07:02:18 AM »
A grid choke provides a low DCR path to ground to discharge the coupling cap far more quickly if you encounter blocking distortion.
Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man

Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2020, 07:24:11 AM »
Thanks for that. I've never heard of capacitor blocking distortion - I will read up on it.

cheers, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2020, 10:34:26 AM »
Don't study too hard, you are using headphones after all...
Paul "PB" Birkeland

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Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2020, 11:09:20 AM »
Meaning, "You're using headphones, so it should be easier to hear" or "You're only using headphones, so who cares"?
Derek
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Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Paul Birkeland

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2020, 02:06:51 PM »
You are very unlikely to use the full output power of the amplifier when using headphones, so you're very unlikely to encounter blocking distortion.
Paul "PB" Birkeland

Bottlehead Grunt & The Repro Man

Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2020, 04:17:37 PM »
Two hours of listening with the grid chokes and I am very pleased. I put this mod on par with going from stock interstage and parafeed caps to the Vcaps (which cost a lot more). And way ahead of replacing the 'lytic cathode resistor bypass with a big film cap, and all the various other "tweaks" I've made. That said -- I suspect it's all additive and that the grid chokes let me hear more fully the benefit of the previous changes.

Listening impressions: Added clarity and "naturalness" across the board - sounds both clearer and better (more toe-tapping, head-nodding enjoyable). I'm hearing extension on on both ends of the spectrum -- bass seems to go lower and highs higher. The grid chokes even cleared up some glare on the top end that I thought was just built into certain recordings. And the clarity and hit of the bass! Sweet Marie! Of course, to my ears, YMMV, etc.

Good stuff!

No hum or other bad things. Although, funnily, I thought I had some persistent hum when first listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan... but it's the hum of his amp. Prior to the grid chokes, I'd hear his amp in certain passages. But now I can make it out in pretty much every song all the time.  Neat!

In case anyone is interested in exploring doing the same, the grid chokes are "Silk" made by SAC Thailand. I bought them from diyhifisupply [no affiliation] - b/c the price was slightly better than buying direct.

cheers, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline 2wo

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2020, 05:33:03 PM »
I have used grid chokes in a few of my amps, I really like the sense of dynamics they add...John
John Scanlon

Offline Deke609

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Re: Coupling cap value with grid chokes: any new experiences or thoughts?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2020, 11:19:53 AM »
And here's a pic of them installed. They're quite tiny.  And helpfully labelled "grid choke" so they shouldn't be too hard to spot.

I increased the interstage coupling to 0.22 uF just to see. The higher capacitance seems to have shifted the focus away from the highs and onto the mids.  Not sure how I feel about this yet. I've kind of gotten used to what to my ears is the more treble-focused sound of the Kaiju. So it sounds a bit better in the mids, but a bit worse in the highs -- it's lost a bit of "sparkle."  Happily, those caps are easily swapped out, so I can always go back, or split the difference and go with 0,15uF cap.

cheers, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4