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Author Topic: Time for another surprise  (Read 14085 times)

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Offline Doc B.

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Time for another surprise
« on: August 04, 2015, 09:41:58 AM »
We've been discussing for some time what we would do to improve the Crack circuit if we had more real estate and a little bit bigger budget. PB has been building and testing various ideas over the past few years and this summer we decided it was time to pick the best bits from those experiments and combine them with some other tricks we have developed for other kits along the way.

One big consideration was that this kit was to fit between the Crack and the Mainline in terms of price. We wanted to keep the price below $700. Yes, the S.E.X. kit fits in that price range, but there seems to be a devout following of high impedance headphone specific OTL amps that we wanted to address, and thus this alternative offering.  With that in mind we decided that the biggest benefits would be from a more sophisticated power supply and the ability to upgrade to our very special stepped attenuator as used in BeePre (and in a slightly different form in Mainline). We also know that our customers like to have multiple switched inputs, so we include three.

And so Crack-a-two-a is a premium version of the direct coupled Crack circuit, with the C4S active loads of the Speedball incorporated and also shunt voltage regulation in the form of two 6AQ5 tubes along with a bigger power transformer. There are three pairs of RCA input jacks and a volume and balance control. The standard potentiometer controlled volume/balance setup will be upgrade-able to a coarse and fine stepped attenuator very similar to the BeeQuiet attenuator used in the BeePre preamp and a similar style used in our most premium Mainline headphone amp. Like Crack this amp is intended to be used with high impedance headphones (200 ohms or higher) like Sennheiser HD600/650/800, Beyerdynamic 250 and 600 ohms headphones, etc.

The chassis is twice as big as the Crack chassis and along with fitting in the extra inputs, shunt regs and attenuator components there is plenty of space for those humongous output coupling caps everyone wants to add to their build.

Crack-a-two-a sonics? Compared to the Crack the shunt regulation gives a slightly more quiet background and a sense of better bandwidth and control. The balance control allows one to compensate for the tolerance variations in the volume pot that create imbalance at low volume settings in some Crack builds. Upgrading to the stepped attenuator is as big an improvement in the OTL circuit as we have found it to be in all of our other circuits that incorporate it - the presentation is more resolved and more natural, particularly vocals.

This kit doesn't replace Crack in the lineup. Crack is just too great a value for the dollar to let it go. The intent here is to offer a higher level of performance potential than one could ever squeeze into the Crack chassis or price point, while keeping well below the cost of the more premium Mainline kit. With this in mind the introductory price will be $599 with the stock volume and balance pot configuration. The attenuator upgrade will come out in the future and will be priced similar to those offered for our other kits. Life is not interesting without many choices, and this is another really interesting one.

Here's a link to the new web page in our online store:
http://bottlehead.com/product/crack-a-two-a/
« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 05:33:29 PM by Doc B. »
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
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Bottlehead Corp.

Offline Rocketman248

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2015, 01:00:15 PM »
Ooo....I want this.  I have a feeling this will be my next kit.

Great looking kit.  I love the symmetry of the layout. 
Nick DeBrita
Yokosuka, Japan

Offline pendergast

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 01:07:06 PM »
It is beautiful!

Bottlehead envy...

Offline denti alligator

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2015, 01:25:40 PM »
It is beautiful!

Bottlehead envy...

As in, your Bottlehead's bigger than mine?
- Sam

Rega P3-24 (w/AT 150MLX) w/Groovetracer upgrades / Eros II / FLAC -->J.River -->DSD256 -->Gustard X20 / Stereomour II / Klipsch Forte II w/Crites upgrades / C4S S.E.X. 2.0 +Nickel MQ Iron / Speedball Crack / Sennheiser HD600 w/Cardas cable

Offline Aeolus Kratos

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2015, 04:20:04 PM »
Dear Doc,

Thank you so much for your "guidance" and recommendation. I'm very excited about the Crack-a-two-a. I think the Crack-a-two-a really "fits" the gap between the Crack and the Mainline perfectly.

But for those who already had highly-modded Crack (premium tubes, big capacitors, nice stepped attenuator, good RCA jacks and many other upgrades) which cost them nearly as much as a Mainline does, how would you recommend them? Get a Crack-a-two-a or go ahead and get a Mainline?

One minor thing that makes me a bit confused, if the price for a Crack-a-two-a is ~$600 and the Crack-a-two-a is highly upgradeable , then I'm afraid the cost for a modded Crack-a-two-a can be over the cost for a Mainline.

Otherwise, great idea, Doc! I'm eagerly looking forward to hearing more news about this upcoming Crack soon!

Best regards,
Kratos.

Offline Doc B.

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2015, 05:26:05 PM »
I'm not sure highly upgrade-able is my wording or even my implication. The Crack-a-two-a will be $699 after the intro pricing. With the attenuator upgrade it will still be under $1000. That is the only upgrade I have mentioned, all the other cool stuff like the shunt regs and multiple inputs is already in the kit. And that $1000 price with the upgrade is well under the price of the Mainline with its more expensive tubes, output transformers that allow it to run headphones of any impedance, and switchable balanced/single ended output.

As to other mods we have no control over what people might decide to mod their Crack kits with, including spending lots of money modding it with expensive caps or wire or fuses. Builders will do that same kind of stuff to any kit, so I think our consideration of the cost of mods beyond those that we we offer is rather irrelevant. Our focus is to make different kits with different levels of circuit sophistication. Throwing boutique parts at something will not make the circuit better than a more sophisticated one. A stock Mainline will still be a more refined design than a Crack with $300 Teflon caps, silver wire, a Gold point attenuator and a filter choke.

In terms of what to buy, I think one should buy what one can afford. That is precisely why we are trying to place a kit between the Crack and the Mainline. If you can afford Mainline, it's the best. If buying it is an unreasonable stretch on the budget, Crack-a-two-a will be next best. If that isn't affordable Crack has a zillion raves all over the internet. There's also a chance someone else will say this is all wrong. To each his own.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.

Offline Rocketman248

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2015, 06:16:54 PM »
....aaand ordered!  Can't wait.   :)
Nick DeBrita
Yokosuka, Japan

Offline Doc B.

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2015, 06:18:52 PM »
Woo Hoo! Thank you Stan and Nick for getting this baby rolling!
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.

Offline ssenesy

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2015, 06:48:52 PM »
Thanks!  Looking forward to a new project! 

Offline grausch

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2015, 12:36:27 AM »
Just as I was considering building my Crack into a Mainline sized enclosure this comes along...

Any chance we can get some shots of the underside?
Gunter Rausch

Modded Bottlehead Crack
Modded Stereomour with Two-tone Orcas

Offline Doc B.

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2015, 05:03:38 AM »
We're waiting for the output caps that we will supply with the kit, as right now we have some different ones under there. Once those are in I will take a photo of the underside.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.

Offline braubeat

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2015, 07:36:35 AM »
will the heater be hefty enough to roll in some 5 amp tubes?

michael

Offline DDDamian

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2015, 09:23:56 AM »
If history is a reliable indicator this will be another legend. Congrats and keep up the great work. For the modders it's a bigger case, for the budget-minded it's already beefed-up, and for everyone else it's a BH amp. 'nuff said.

Offline Doc B.

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2015, 09:31:13 AM »
will the heater be hefty enough to roll in some 5 amp tubes?

michael

Nope.
Dan "Doc B." Schmalle
President For Life
Bottlehead Corp.

Offline adydula

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Re: Time for another surprise
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2015, 09:54:35 AM »
Dang you Doc!!

Just after building the crack which I really, really LIKE....OMG!

Well now I know what I want for Christmas!!!

Alex
(Big Smile!)