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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Type 50 Amplifier

Supercharger amplifier with type 50 tube, anyone? Want to listen to how a pure type 50 tube amplifier really sounds like without other tubes to color it? Well, Sakuma style is a good example, using 50 to drive 50. Due to the scarcity of type 50 tubes, let's not waste the 50's. 

Note: One can use ANY power tube to replace type 50 tube in the below example, DHT, IDHT, pentode, tetrode, or any power tubes, even power transistors! Since we just heard the good news that Elrog is coming out with type 50 tube, now is a good time to look into this DHT tube!

Caution: Not any input transformers can be used in such circuit. Ordinary input transformers may not have enough core volume to sustain high voltage swing (usually <10Vrms). Ordinary input transformer primary winding may burn if driven by a power amplifier. Special input transformer is required for such purpose.

Some previous reading:
Supercharger Amplifier
Step-up input transformer

Type 50 tube amplifier

Take a look at the schematic above for type 50 tube. It is as simple as can be. Of course, you can complicate it a bit by making it fixed bias, add more bypass capacitors, LED bias, regulator tube bias, and etc. The power supplies for B+ and filament are kept out for the moment. Let's just keep it as is for now for simplicity sake.

There are 2 resistors that MAY be redundant too - the grid leak and the grid stopper. Grid stopper - prevent tube oscillations. Grid leak - as described in type 50 tube datasheet, needs to be <= 10K to protect the type 50 tube. In this case, it may not be necessary since the input transformer secondary acts as the grid leak path. The transformer secondary will be the least resistance path for the type 50 tube grid to take even if you connect a 10K resistor. Also, if the resultant waveform is not having severe ringing (even if it rings), the grid leak resistor, which act as the load for the input transformer, will tame the ringing. For type 50 tube, with input transformer, it is better not to have the grid leak resistor if possible.

Let's take the operating point of type 50 tube as 425Vdc B+, -70Vdc grid, 55mA, which is quite commonly used by a lot of folks. This needs about 140Vpp to drive type 50 tube to full power. That produces about 4W of undistorted power output to the load (your definition of undistorted may be different, especially the SS folks).

Say, let's use a standard source, which is an ordinary CD player, or DAC, with 2.8Vpp output and 600 Ohm of output impedance. To get sufficient Vswing to drive type 50 tube to full power, one needs a gain of = 140Vpp/2.8Vpp = 50. Wow, that's a lot of gain required, and is not feasible at all here. Let's drop the standard source.

Let's go for a preamp instead, say a 5687 simple tube preamp with output transformer, having output impedance of say 150 Ohm. 5687 has a u of 18, and is usually loaded with 5K primary impedance. With that, the resultant gain would be root of 150/5000 * 18 = 3. Not so much eh, but is good enough perhaps? Let's check.

With 50 / 3 (gain of tube preamp), we get to gain of 16. Hooray! STU-001 here has a gain of 1:18! Just close enough, with a little bit more for headroom or circuit tolerance. 

Conclusion? As previously mentioned, a very high drive strength preamp is required if a supercharger is driven. If tube preamp is used, something with output transformer and higher gain is required. The above example of using a simple 5687 with output transformer looks like a bare minimum supercharger amplifier can tolerate. 

Enjoy tube tasting! 

J&K Audio Design

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