Saturday, November 07, 2009

How About A Quickie?

It's been a while since I've built an audio kit (other than replacing the output transformer on and generally neatening up the wiring of my Assemblage ST-40), primarily because I've got more amps and preamps than you can shake a stick at. But I ran across one the other week I just couldn't resist: a battery-powered preamp.

I've long wanted to try battery power. Although most of you are probably shaking your heads, battery power has a small but enthusiastic group of advocates. The argument is that, because the equipment is not connected to the "mains" (as the British say), you eliminate the hum, noise and grunge that subsists in power lines and household circuits. In addition, audio equipment operates on direct current. By sourcing your power from batteries (which supply direct current), you eliminate the need for expensive and potentially noisy transformers needed to convert the AC from your walls.

Another consideration that made the kit a no-brainer was the source: Doc Bottlehead. For those of you who don't know him. Doc. B (aka Dan Schmalle) is a Washington State-based tube fanatic who has sold reasonably priced preamp and low-powered tube amp kits (300B and 2A3 based) over the internet for well over ten years. Doc's kits tend to have slightly racy names. His first product, for example, was the S.E.X. (Single Ended eXperimenters Kit).

Another Bottlehead mainstay for years has been the superb Foreplay preamp. I have two, one built from a kit purchased from Bottlehead, the second a Foreplay clone I put together using super duper parts, including stepped attenuators sourced from Welborne Labs.

Feeling the itch, I stopped by the Bottlehead site for the first time in a long while and immediately saw that Doc was now offering a battery-powered preamp kit called the Quickie for all of $99. I ordered one as quickly as I could fill out the form.

Both in my personal experience and according to the fans who flock to the Bottlehead Forum, Doc is extremely reliable, and this time was no exception. My Quickie showed up in a little over a week, and this morning I got to work. So far I've attached the hardware to the top plate. Now to fire up the soldering iron and start the wiring.


  1. Have you finished building the kit? If so, care to share your listening impressions?

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