We love the articulate, natural, enveloping sound of tube electronics. Bottlehead has been putting out highly regarded tube gear for 22 years. The Bottlehead Tube Repro has become the repro amp of choice for many manufacturers vying for coveted “best sound of show” awards.
The Tube Repro is designed as a versatile tape head preamp that works well with medium to high inductance playback heads. It has been developed from the start as the perfect match to Flux Magnetics Extended Response playback heads. It can output both single ended signals at the consumer level -10dB through RCA jacks and balanced signals at studio level +4dB through XLR jacks. CCIR/IEC1 and NAB/IEC2 playback equalization are each available with the flip of a switch, and other playback EQs are possible on a custom order basis. Most any modern tape recorder, once modified to direct output from the playback heads, will work with the Repro.
The Repro’s circuit is designed to keep the signal as pure and uncolored as possible, while avoiding the harsh and sterile sound that can come from some gear that claims “great detail and speed”. EF86 pentodes are used at the input, chosen for their high gain, low noise and sweet sound. The signal passes thru a direct coupled passive equalization network to a 6DJ8 type dual triode. From there the signal can be taken at the single ended RCA outputs. To achieve a studio level balanced output the signal passes through a 6CM7 gain stage to balanced transformer XLR outputs.
The power supply utilizes a separate hybrid tube/solid state shunt regulator for each channel which tightly regulates the high voltage, giving a sense of bandwidth and separation unparalleled by other means of power supply regulation. Each signal tube is isolated from power supply noise by a Camille Cascode Constant Current Source, giving the sound a black background and bringing the dynamics to an elevated level of realism. Premium quality components are utilized throughout, Schottky diodes, premium Panasonic electrolytic capacitors, high quality Teflon and polypropylene coupling capacitors, and a range of premium resistors from tantalum to metal film to carbon composition, each one chosen for optimal performance in the job at hand. Individual PEC trim pots for level are accessible from the front panel, as is a selector for playback equalization. Tubes and output transformers are socket mounted on the back panel in the tradition of classic studio gear, to allow for quick and easy changes to suit the listener’s taste.
Price is $4000. These preamps are hand built to order.
As used in our own Bottlehead customized Nagra T audio tape deck-
CES 2018 – Robert Harley’s Best of Show
“The best analog at the show wasn’t a turntable, but a Nagra T open-reel tape machine (with Bottlehead Tube Repro) playing master tapes recorded by Nagra’s René LaFlamme. Through a full Nagra system including the stunning new Nagra HD Preamp and YG Acoustics Sonja 2.2 speakers, the sound was stunning in naturalness, ease, depth, and instrumental texture.”
RMAF 2010 – Robert Harley’s Best of Show
“It’s always hard to pick a single “best sound” because the selection of source material can influence one’s judgment. But I will say that I had a startling experience with the Magico Q5s; I opened my eyes at the conclusion of (The Tape project’s) Nojima Plays Liszt, played on a one-to-one open-reel copy of the original master (on the Bottlehead Nagra T/Tube Repro), and was momentarily startled to find myself in a small hotel room with a pair of speakers in front of me.”
“Two rooms stood out: the first was the Magico Q5 room, where a (Bottlehead modified) Nagra T audio tape machine spun a staggering rendition of the justly famous Nojima performance of Liszt (TP-019). The transparency, dynamics, and low noise floor were spellbinding”
Jacob Heilbrunn, The Absolute Sound
“Might as well spill the beans right here. The aluminum-boxed $60k Magico Q5 multiway floorstander (with beryllium tweeter) was, IMO, the best speaker at RMAF. Its sound was astoundingly beautiful and natural on a Tape Project tape of Nojima Plays Liszt (played back through Dan Schmalle’s smashingly good—and extremely rare—Nagra reel-to-reel tape deck). In fact, next to Robert Silverman playing Mozart on a real grand piano in the Marriott lobby, it was the most realistic grand piano I’ve heard at a trade show.”
Jonathan Valin, The Absolute Sound