Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Low Voltage Tube Phono Preamp Kit

The kit, ready to build.

Mark Houston recently posted a review of a rather neat little $47 (AUD) stereo RIAA preamp kit for moving magnet photo cartridges. Made by Oatley Electronics in New South Wales, it's built around four new-old-stock Raytheon JAN 6418 sub-miniature pentode tubes that draw only 10 mA each with a barely perceptible glow and very little heat.

The kit features inexpensive polyester capacitors, carbon resistors and a switched-mode AC power adapter, which are big no-nos in some audiophile circles.

Even though it sounded pretty good with the inexpensive parts, Houston decided to build a second higher-end version using polypropylene capacitors and a solid state DC power supply.

Assembled Pre-amp

Houston concludes, "This is an unusual RIAA phono preamp kit that uses a strange mix of parts and ideas, but one not scared to deliver exceptionally good music at a cheap price. 

I have managed to get in a few hours of listening with the SE MkII version. I'm not convinced it is better than the basic kit version. Sonically, both builds appear to be equal. There will be those who just can't stand the thought of polyester capacitors, carbon resistors and the two SMPS.

I would say whichever way you go on to build the kit, you will not be disappointed. In a blind listening test the basic kit outperformed two Cambridge phono preamps and a Hafler phono preamp in front of six very critical listeners of the Melbourne Audio Club, across three different turntables and cartridges."

6418 Tube RIAA Phono Preamplifier Kit [thanks, Gio!]

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