Eastern Electric MINIMAX Phono and Line Preamps

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Eastern Electric MINIMAX Phono and Line Preamps

Postby jadis » Thu May 02, 2013 6:38 pm

MAXING OUT ON A 'MINI' (MAX)... :lol:

THE EASTERN ELECTRIC MINIMAX VACUUM TUBE PHONO PRE-AMPLIFIER

Pat Morita called up yesterday and was in his usual frantic self - "O!!! Ano, pwede ka ba ngayon? Dala ko mimimax dyan!" Having a free afternoon, I said yes.

Upon meeting him outside my door, the audio zen master was carrying a box like this with only 1 hand, :o and in more stable fashion that I've seen those Fedex couriers handling a delicate package. :D


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Flipping the box open, I had trouble trying to pulll the Minimax out but he shoved me aside, dug his hands into the plastic wrapped phono pre amp and while experiencing difficulty from yanking it out himself, FLIPPED the carton upside down and CAUGHT the pre-amp with his other hand! :o :o ASTIG! :lol: Deep inside, I was thinking to myself, is this the pre-amp that he wanted me to OWN??? :lol:

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After removing the plastic wrap, a handsome audio gear surfaced. Muy guapo, I said to myself.

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DUAL MONO Moving Coil Step Up Permalloy Core Transformers:

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Power & Choke Transformers:

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Rear View:

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Dedicated MM input, and 2 MC inputs, High setting at 100ohms loading, and Low setting at 47K:

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Side View:

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Mute/Play Knob:

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Power Switch:

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3 Factory supplied ECC83/12AX7 tubes:

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1 6X4 Rectifier tube:

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All fired up and ready to play! 8)

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The audio zen master promised me a classic tube sound from his product. A classic tube sound that I know and got to love after all these years. And he told me this design was based on the classic Marantz Model 7 and Audio Research SP 1 circuits. And that the 12AX7 tube is the most desired tube for the phono stage.

He also promised me that even before warm up, I will hear improvements over my long serving ARC PH3. Bold words. And after 2 sides of Michael Hedges' Aerial Boundaries, I have to agree. Very definitive improvements in air, space, bass content, and yes, wonder of wonders, THE CLASSIC TUBE SOUND is there. These traits, out of the box! Frankly, I never expected it THAT soon. But it's a pleasant surprise indeed. The man has spent countless visits chatting with the designer personally on the design philosophy at Eastern Electric. I never had imagined something to blow me off my chair on such little notice, but I had trust in the man who had been in the hobby since the late 60s, whose love for tubes and tube gears brought us together 10 years ago.

More to come in terms of listening impressions as the recommended burn in period is but 100 hours. And the manufacturer does recommend tube rolling, and I shall try that too. I will max out the 'mini'. 8)
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby kabubi » Thu May 02, 2013 10:39 pm

How much, Teacher Jadis?
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Fri May 03, 2013 7:43 am

kabubi wrote:How much, Teacher Jadis?


O-Bi-1 Kabubi,

According to Zen-sei Morita, the SRP is $1500. But this unit, and the units he brought in has upgraded parts modifications based on Morita's own request, and this unit retails for $1800. All prices subject to 'kamikaze' discount. :lol: According to him, this model provides good value for money. And the 4 trannies in itself make the unit so heavy compared to others that I have seen and tried.
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby kabubi » Fri May 03, 2013 8:39 am

Thanx so much, Teacher Jadis :)

i'll ruminate on the price after we go and win Game 6. See you there!
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Fri May 03, 2013 9:39 am

kabubi wrote:Thanx so much, Teacher Jadis :)

i'll ruminate on the price after we go and win Game 6. See you there!


Go go go Celtics! May the force of Red Auerbach be with US! :rock:
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby troporobo » Fri May 03, 2013 10:11 am

When you're ready to do some tube rolling, I recommend trying the Sovtek 12AX7LPS. These are about the best value tubes for phono amps going. I replaced the EH tubes in my Cornet II with the Sovteks and the difference was readily apparent and positive. Short of some NIB Amperex, they are the go-to tube.
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Fri May 03, 2013 10:25 am

troporobo wrote:When you're ready to do some tube rolling, I recommend trying the Sovtek 12AX7LPS. These are about the best value tubes for phono amps going. I replaced the EH tubes in my Cornet II with the Sovteks and the difference was readily apparent and positive. Short of some NIB Amperex, they are the go-to tube.


Thanks Robert. Will keep that in mind. :)
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby O.D. Yeo » Fri May 03, 2013 7:09 pm

jadis wrote:
More to come in terms of listening impressions as the recommended burn in period is but 100 hours. And the manufacturer does recommend tube rolling, and I shall try that too. I will max out the 'mini'. 8)


Hi Phil,

I've been a very happy EE Minimax DAC customer, since I paired it with my Olive several moons ago. In my case, Psvanes did the job and continues to do so. The curious thing, at least for the DAC, is that the solid state option is just as good. I wonder if "this works" for the Phono as well.

Let's go, Knicks!!
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Fri May 03, 2013 8:27 pm

O.D. Yeo wrote:
jadis wrote:
More to come in terms of listening impressions as the recommended burn in period is but 100 hours. And the manufacturer does recommend tube rolling, and I shall try that too. I will max out the 'mini'. 8)


Hi Phil,

I've been a very happy EE Minimax DAC customer, since I paired it with my Olive several moons ago. In my case, Psvanes did the job and continues to do so. The curious thing, at least for the DAC, is that the solid state option is just as good. I wonder if "this works" for the Phono as well.

Let's go, Knicks!!


Hi Billy,

Knicks ka pala??? We have a series, though it could end tomorrow, we Celtics have nothing to lose really, being down 0-3 once and projected to not win anymore - by the non-Celtics. :lol: Regards to Melo and his wife. :)

And a fellow Eastern Electric user. 8) Welcome me aboard too. :) The Phono stage does not have options for tube/ss switching. That's interesting that your DAC has that.
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby dimfer » Sat May 04, 2013 10:41 pm

hmmm, mukhang maganda yang Easter Electric na 'yan... masubukan nga :D
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby northwardnimbus » Sun May 05, 2013 5:16 am

ang ganda. i hope i can listen to one in he future. :)
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Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Sun May 05, 2013 5:27 pm

I CREATED A 'MUMMY'... :lol:

New toys breed new problems, as I have found out in the past and so often does that happen. In audio, I have learned it's not a plug and play world. My old ARC Ph3's gain is 54db, and this new Minimax's gain is pegged at 57db. I have to lower my volume pot a notch or 2 but I notice that now, due to the added gain, there is an added hum, not enough to bother the music, but nevertheless I felt it is now a bit more audible than with the old ARC phono stage. I have to stick my ear about 6" near the speakers to hear it with no music playing and volume unmuted, and 12" away I cannot hear it. BUT these things drive me crazy. :@ :lol: My phono cable has been an aged but beloved MIT 330 Shotgun interconnects and it's not known for its shielding qualities. They have a tendency to pick up hum or noise from parts unknown so for the most of the 20 years of its life, and they have been literally glued to the phono jacks in their exact position since that time. Moving them a bit left or right will pick up added hum. Again, this drove me crazy in those days. :@ But these past few days, knowing that the slight hum is there, I knew I HAD to do something as I can't sleep well. :lol: The MIT shotguns looked like this, like a black snake:

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I read or heard many many years ago that to reduce hum or RFI being picked up by cables, aluminum foil can be used to shield the cables from the stray 'rays'. And after sacking the kitchen drawers for foil past my daughter's rolling eyes, my MIT shotguns now look like this, all wrapped up in foil like a 'silver mummy'. :D

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EGAD! It worked! Whatever humming noise while sticking my ears near the speakers has be reduced even further and I'm very happy with the results. It probably might not do much to the music or maybe it will, but sitting down and knowing that the hum has been reduced make me feel a lot better, :lol: or maybe hear better. I call this phenomenon 'psycho-neurosis'. :D Not that I'm happy to have it, but I promised to max out the Minimax, and it's taking its toll. :sweat: :sweat: What a crazy world. I know some people out there may consider me 'tame'. :D
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Sun May 05, 2013 5:44 pm

A LOOK AT THE 'BOTTOM'


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From a net photo, the bottom looks quite neat and 'sumptuous' - malaman. :lol:
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby muypogi » Sun May 05, 2013 6:58 pm

Hmmm . . .kaya ko lang bilhin sa thread na ito yung aluminum foil . . . ;(
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby dimfer » Sun May 05, 2013 9:35 pm

you are tame.. and the foil wrap work. All of my cables are now shielded, no matter what geometry is used. I use aluminum foil tape if the wire did not come in shielded from the factory, I also shield my connectors. Everything helps. again, you are tame :D
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Mon May 06, 2013 7:31 am

dimfer wrote:you are tame.. and the foil wrap work. All of my cables are now shielded, no matter what geometry is used. I use aluminum foil tape if the wire did not come in shielded from the factory, I also shield my connectors. Everything helps. again, you are tame :D


Good to know that, Ding. That may be good, or bad. :lol: I used to be real bad when I had a machine shop back then. I love those nuts, bolts and screws. :D
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Tue May 07, 2013 8:39 pm

After 15 hours, more or less, of breaking in the unit (only 2 hours a day, been busy these days), I have found out the this phono preamo is very revealing of ancillary accessory change. I have tried a regular power cord against an MIT Z Cord 1 and liked the regular cord better on some of my reference recordings. I forgot to mention that Pat Morita, the importer of EE, had replaced all units with a Telefunken ECC83 on the first input stage, (the middle 12AX7) and I found a treasured red tipped version in my vaults (actually just a tube box) :lol: and immediately felt that the standard Tele ECC 83 is less tight in the bass area and less robust. It seems I cannot wait for the suggested 100 hours before rolling some tubes. I'll check on my small small stash and see what is there. I shall hold as long as I can to put in my ultra favorite Mullard Long Plate square getters. Pat Morita may come knocking on my door seeking an audience. :D We shall test the patience of the zen-man by keeping him in suspense. :devil:
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Tue May 14, 2013 12:33 pm

A few weeks ago I entered the Subterranean Lair and experienced one of the truly 'sound' sound I have ever heard. I thought it would be hard to get back to a 'mortal' system like mine which, among others, can offer only bass from a 1 inch 'excursion' of its panels. :D I found out that the best way to shake off this syndrome was 1. Get on a 1 week vacation (which I did), and 2. Get a new audio gear (whatever the kind - speakers, pre-amp, and in my case, a phono pre-amp). :D Actually I have been wanting to get all sorts of audio gear the last few years (like who wouldn't) but a man has to prioritize things - :) As I mentioned previously, I took Morita's challenge to hear this out because of his long experience with this hobby. So continuing to listen through and see how this thing unravels, the weekend and holiday provided more time for this audio exploration.

First off, I have to say that GAIN is an important thing. I lost 2 db of gain moving from an old ARC amp to a new one and that had made me a lost dog if not a mad dog. :lol: The Minimax has a gain of 57db and my old PH3 was pegged at 54db. That sort of got back what I lost in the power amp upgrade I thought. So this fact should be taken into consideration when comparing the 2. A case of matching gears once again, and how integral it is an the audio hobby. The result is a more robust, defined bass, from the upper to the mid bass area. Plucked bass instruments like those in Toots Thielemans Contrast album on Command Records sounded really 'healthy' and with a great sense of solidity. I didn't have to crank up the volume all the way up past 12 o'clock unlike when the PH3 was in use. I feel that this is where those 2 Permalloy transformers come to the picture. It's like using an external SUT. And Morita has challenged me to bring in an external SUT and plug it to the MM sockets and compare it with the MC that utilizes this Permalloy transformers. Well, I told him he might as well PROVIDE that too. :lol: But right now I'm not too keen on that play. Playing my own self professed 'hot stamper' Kenny G Live LP was my own musical test. It usually blows me away on the cut Going Home, and I always await the entry of the drum sticks. With the Minimax, the stage is spread wider and instruments are even more delineated that what I remember it to be in my old PH3. The drum whacks are deliberate, timed so well that I lust for the next whack, and the fullness of the drum attacks is very evident. I have to feel good here to know that the Minimax is at least on par with my PH3. And yes I did. Not to say that it blew me away but it glued my back to the back of my seat. :) I suspect that when it hits 100 hours or more (now should be only be about 30), it might try to blow me off to the back wall. :lol:

I'm not ready to declare that this phono preamp has upstaged my PH3. Not broken in yet, for one. There are still musical plateaus my PH 3 have reached when its tubes were relatively in their prime and until this unit has fully broken in and tube rolling done to the max (no pun intended), that is the time to make the proper assessment. In the meantime, the Minimax is still providing good musical explorations in my vinyl closet. :)
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Re: Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby JackD201 » Wed May 15, 2013 3:37 pm

Sensei Morita should include his O.W.N. tubes in the package! :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil:
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Eastern Electric Minimax Phono Pre-Amplifier

Postby jadis » Wed May 15, 2013 4:26 pm

JackD201 wrote:Sensei Morita should include his O.W.N. tubes in the package! :devil: :devil: :devil: :devil:


How I wish he did, Jack. Well, actually, he did. :lol: He supplied his o.w.n. REGULAR Telefunken ECC83 in lieu of the stock Eastern Electric marked tube in the middle position - the first gain stage. YUN lang. Walang fabuluous 803. :devil: Pwede daw pero may bayad na bahay at lupa. :lol: I replaced that regular Tele with my o.w.n. red tipped Tele and got tighter bass among other improvements. I must admit that thus far, I have been amazed by the matched pair of stock Eastern Electric ECC 83s on the 2nd stage. Even without rolling them yet, the whole thing sounds very warm, lush and airy. And a incredible claim by zensei Morita is that if I were to swap the left tube with the right tube, the sound would be altered for the worse, as those 2 tubes had been factory matched to its left and right positions to boot. I have not done that yet, for fear that he may be right, mambo jumbo voodoo talk notwithstanding. :D
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