Who has the earliest made amps?

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MRHP
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by MRHP » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:25 pm

I agree with jjptkd on the Sunfires they were upgraded to higher standards especially the multi channel ones, but I wouldnt discount high quality parts going in the first runs....they had to be impressive to the public you know. I had a 95 300x2 and had Vintage HiFi put a new powersupply and a Rhodium IEC plug from Douglas Connection in it and it sounded incredibly good. I dont think they even put new caps or anything in it.
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by Snoop65 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:35 pm

MRHP wrote:
Miko1971 wrote:I tend to agree with the above statement, as the production costs are of a fixed value the thoughts of shareholders and profits allow the bean counters a crack in the door to "streamline production costs" shit gets made cheaper and the price goes up. Growing up in Michigan i have family who worked for the Big Three and small outfits that supplied components and what not. Plus, for what i do i see it first hand in how scrapping off any extra is S.O.P. Just like when Bob sold Sunfire...so in that respect, my quest for the 300's i want production dates from 95-97. Very cool Eric, thanks for sharing! Now, about those Lightstars?.........
Well the Lightstars are quite interesting themselves be cause BOTH of mine are serial number #0008????? There is a interesting discussion about them in the Lightstar forum. Also Snoop65 has serial number #0009 and found another formum member also with serial number #0009???? Love my Lightstars they are super clean, tight and accurate and loaded with detail although not quite as warm and subtle as say a 300x2 which has a more laid bak tube type presentation.

DaveS has Lightstar #0001 and said he was gonna give it to me on my birthday this year which is on March 8....just incase he needs a reminder.... :D
Eric hit it right on the head about the Lightstar. I would like to add that its the most transparent amp I've heard and the build quality is exceptional. You pop the hood and you see your money was very well spent.
CARVER LIGHTSTAR REFERENCE+SUNFIRE CLASSIC TUBE PREAMPLIFIER+JBL XPL200+MUSIC HALL MMF-9.1+GRADO REFERENCE MASTER 1+Cayin CDT-17a =WOW!!!!!!

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by Martin1970 » Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:17 am

jjptkd wrote:
Martin1970 wrote:
Robert R wrote:Nice to have the first, in the sense of historical pride. But personally I'd much prefer one of the last, for practical reasons. Not just in audio, but for anything manufactured, the first is most likely to be flawed – loaded with “bugs”. Better to give them time to sort out all the problems, make all those engineering changes, whether written up or just silent improvements. With experience and practice they really get better at making them.

RobertR
^^this^^
Also, I've heard that the best Sunfire gear is the newest stuff right before they moved production overseas.

This is true for the Sunfire line. Each Series had significant improvements over the previous designs including better parts used. Although there were several variations throughout the years with Sunfire there are really 3 significantly different designs in total.

1 The original 19" versions

2 The first 17" Series II version

3 The "Two," "Five," and "Seven" versions with the larger meter window.

This article talks about the original versus the Series II:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6 ... ature.html

"In October, 2001, I obtained the latest version of the Cinema Grand Signature. It has been upgraded with a larger power supply, including a changeover to a toroidal transformer (see photo below), making the amplifier heavier. The placement of the transformer has been changed as well in order to increase the signal to noise ratio."

"The result is a new rating of 425 watts RMS per channel into 8 Ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, at 0.5% THD, making the Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature one of the most powerful multi-channel power amplifiers in the world.
In our tests, the hum and noise did indeed reach a new low level. It is extremely quiet. This is important with the incredible dynamic range capability that DVD-A and SACD have.
The original Signature was a fine product and a heck of a bargain. The updated version, at $3,750, is even better, and still an excellent buy."
Any idea what improvements were made between the series 2 and the 'two/five/seven' versions?

It might be cool to put a couple of 400~Sevens up on Greg's bench at cf '15 and see what they'll put out.
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by kingman » Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:49 am

Hell , you can do that by yourself Martin!!! :rolleyes: 8) :lol:
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by Robert R » Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:17 am

The Lightstar serial numbers seem to be date-coded, so maybe two 008s are two amps that happened to be the eighth ones completed on two separate days.

Lightstar amps are a great basic design with far less than great mechanical engineering. When operating right, you can't imagine a better amplifier. But the physical design is a nightmare for the servicer - very hard to get into. They run quite incongruously warm - I'm not sure why, unless those very heavy transformers are saturable core types or something. All that heat, which in this design should not be a problem, has a killing effect. The original capacitors are pure crap at this point, and all must be replaced, and the plastic plugs on the interconnecting wires are brittle beyond belief - can crumble at a glance.

And here's the bad news - Martin may have to do it himself. As of last hearing there will be no "Greg's Bench" at CF 2015. Maybe no bench at all, unless somebody steps up. The Garskas can't make it this time.

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by MRHP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:20 am

Fill35 for the life of me I would love to have the two different adds but too much water under the bridge since then. My 75 has serial #93218500001.
I will let the powers that be decifer those first numbers, I know its 1993 and I received the amp on March 8th 1993, the 2185 Im not sure about. What ever month it is I would say anywhere from6 months to a year before March 8 would be a good place to star searching and I think it was a poplar mag like Stereo Review. The first add was a 1 page ad and it said "the most powerful home amp ever produced....I placed the order within 2 weeks after reading the add.

Wayne how can I build what Greg had to test wattage output my amps at 8/4/2/1 ohms. I would love to have one of them toys and would bring it to CF If I get it made in time.
TFM-75 serial #0001
PT-2400 serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0002
Cherry/260wpc Mono Blocks
Lightstar Reference
Sunfire Series II 625x2
Carver 490t
OPPO-103
Lucas Labs CF-14
Sunfire Tube pre
DENON DP-62L TT
DUAL CS 5000 TT
DQ-20's
Tesla CF-15 speakers
Douglas Cables
OK ERIC, LET GO OF THE MOUSE AND BACK AWAY FROM YOUR PC WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. NOW SLOWLY LAY FACE DOWN ON THE FLOOR!!!! - Snoop65

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by kingman » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:00 am

As of last hearing there will be no "Greg's Bench" at CF 2015. Maybe no bench at all, unless somebody steps up. The Garskas can't make it this time.
Well that's just unacceptable!!! =;
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by kingman » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:03 am

MRHP wrote:Fill35 for the life of me I would love to have the two different adds but too much water under the bridge since then. My 75 has serial #93218500001.
I will let the powers that be decifer those first numbers, I know its 1993 and I received the amp on March 8th 1993, the 2185 Im not sure about. What ever month it is I would say anywhere from6 months to a year before March 8 would be a good place to star searching and I think it was a poplar mag like Stereo Review. The first add was a 1 page ad and it said "the most powerful home amp ever produced....I placed the order within 2 weeks after reading the add.

Wayne how can I build what Greg had to test wattage output my amps at 8/4/2/1 ohms. I would love to have one of them toys and would bring it to CF If I get it made in time.
I got a pic of that 75 design somewhere...as for the tester, Martin is your hookup on that. If I find the pic I will post it.
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by MRHP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:41 am

Take off work and start diggin bro, Id really like to see those adds!!!

Martin...start building or tell me how, I want one!!!
TFM-75 serial #0001
PT-2400 serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0002
Cherry/260wpc Mono Blocks
Lightstar Reference
Sunfire Series II 625x2
Carver 490t
OPPO-103
Lucas Labs CF-14
Sunfire Tube pre
DENON DP-62L TT
DUAL CS 5000 TT
DQ-20's
Tesla CF-15 speakers
Douglas Cables
OK ERIC, LET GO OF THE MOUSE AND BACK AWAY FROM YOUR PC WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. NOW SLOWLY LAY FACE DOWN ON THE FLOOR!!!! - Snoop65

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by Snoop65 » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:13 am

Robert R wrote:The Lightstar serial numbers seem to be date-coded, so maybe two 008s are two amps that happened to be the eighth ones completed on two separate days.

Lightstar amps are a great basic design with far less than great mechanical engineering. When operating right, you can't imagine a better amplifier. But the physical design is a nightmare for the servicer - very hard to get into. They run quite incongruously warm - I'm not sure why, unless those very heavy transformers are saturable core types or something. All that heat, which in this design should not be a problem, has a killing effect. The original capacitors are pure crap at this point, and all must be replaced, and the plastic plugs on the interconnecting wires are brittle beyond belief - can crumble at a glance.

And here's the bad news - Martin may have to do it himself. As of last hearing there will be no "Greg's Bench" at CF 2015. Maybe no bench at all, unless somebody steps up. The Garskas can't make it this time.

RobertR
Probably the reason mine failed years ago. I had both channels completely rebuilt and it has been running fine ever since.
CARVER LIGHTSTAR REFERENCE+SUNFIRE CLASSIC TUBE PREAMPLIFIER+JBL XPL200+MUSIC HALL MMF-9.1+GRADO REFERENCE MASTER 1+Cayin CDT-17a =WOW!!!!!!

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by kingman » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:49 am

Take off work and start diggin bro, Id really like to see those adds!!!
Unfortunately I am taking off...celebrated by birthday Saturday and went to dinner with Tam, came back and turned the wrong way getting out of the car, popped a rib...sore as hell!
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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by fill35U » Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:51 pm

MRHP wrote:Fill35 for the life of me I would love to have the two different adds but too much water under the bridge since then.
Thanks for info on the possible ad times and locations, Eric! :) If I find them I'll let you know.
My 75 has serial #93218500001.
93 = 1993
2 = February
185 = product code for a TFM-75 (120V version?)
00001 = sequence number, first one made of that month's production

Considering the service manual drawings show the meter board schematic wasn't released to production until March 19, 1993, and the final assembly drawings weren't released until March 25, they might've serialized a prototype and sent it to you!
Wayne how can I build what Greg had to test wattage output my amps at 8/4/2/1 ohms. I would love to have one of them toys and would bring it to CF If I get it made in time.
If you're going to measure power, you have to specify conditions. Preconditioning, frequency, line voltage, etc. have to be specified and controlled. The two major standards for power amp testing are "IHF" (now CEA-490-A) and FTC (16 CFR Part 432).

Most importantly, what distortion level? You can get amazing power levels if you drive an amp far into clipping! The factory power specs for the Sunfires are are at no more than 0.5% THD. I'm pretty sure since the Sunfire amps use the usual transistors in an AB output stage that they will hard clip if you manage to drive them there?? Therefore you might get a good guess with eyeballing on a scope where a sine wave output into a load just starts to clip. You might be able to hear about 0.5% THD (if you tapped off the load to headphones or a good speaker). But to get meaningful specs you'd need a distortion analyzer, and another (or better, a power quality analyzer) on the AC line to make sure it can keep up.

And of course you'll need a suitable load bank: noninductive, configurable from 8 to 1 ohm, capable of dissipating up to 3kW+ without changing value or itself contributing appreciable distortion. Water cooling becomes attractive. Oh, an you'll need two, to properly check both channels at once.

And a bag of spare fuses...
Living room system: TGP IV, TX-8r, TD-1400, PT-2400(x6), PM-1.5a(x3), TFM-45(x2), TFM-55, Silver Amazings Mk IV

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by MRHP » Wed Jan 21, 2015 10:24 am

RoberR I saw inside the Lightstar it makes me think of what the underside of the spaceshuttle dash would look like. :lol: So from a service guys standpoint I can see how it would be a night mare. Me, Snoop, and Wayne had our Lightstars gone thru top to bottom with everything upgraded to the highest quality standards possible that why we (brag) on or like them so much. When they are they're "ON"......proably the best sounding solidstate amp on the planet in my biased opinion.

Fill35 Carver faxed me the March 8th delivery date, easy to remember because its my birthday......but it does seem they were a week or two late. So you could be right with the possible prototype, alot of things coming together in a short period of time there. As far as measuring power I would want to go with .5% like most of Bobs amps are rated at. Ater that you went right over my head :lol: :lol: :lol: Im a gear head and and can talk cam lobe seperation angle, rod ratio, intake centerline, etc but you electronic guys blow right past me. Thats why I like this website because I can learn new cool things that Im interested in.

Wayne....if my moonshine is causing you to break ribs Ill cut it below 140 octane and see if that helps :lol: :lol: :lol: Hey get well soon man I know them ribs can hurt bad. But keep looking for that add we would love to see it!
TFM-75 serial #0001
PT-2400 serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0001
Baby Black Magic serial #0002
Cherry/260wpc Mono Blocks
Lightstar Reference
Sunfire Series II 625x2
Carver 490t
OPPO-103
Lucas Labs CF-14
Sunfire Tube pre
DENON DP-62L TT
DUAL CS 5000 TT
DQ-20's
Tesla CF-15 speakers
Douglas Cables
OK ERIC, LET GO OF THE MOUSE AND BACK AWAY FROM YOUR PC WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. NOW SLOWLY LAY FACE DOWN ON THE FLOOR!!!! - Snoop65

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by Robert R » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:48 pm

Greg's gear has been used to test some big stuff at the last two Fests. Several M-1.0t (Mk II), his own TFM-75, and BrianT's Silver Sevens, hopped up with KT-12Os. The test requires just a few seconds of full output at a time, so the resistor bank need be nowhere near the full wattage rating of the amps under test. It would be foolish (and maybe fatal) to test an amp at full power on a sine wave for any extended period. A smallish fraction of full power is used for a burn-in test.

Agree that a good running Lightstar is second to nothing in sound. Hope yours were done with first class 105 degree caps. The originals were el cheapo 85 degree types - they are now el crapo.

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Re: Who has the earliest made amps?

Post by fill35U » Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:20 pm

Robert R wrote:Greg's gear has been used to test some big stuff at the last two Fests. Several M-1.0t (Mk II), his own TFM-75, and BrianT's Silver Sevens, hopped up with KT-12Os. The test requires just a few seconds of full output at a time, so the resistor bank need be nowhere near the full wattage rating of the amps under test. It would be foolish (and maybe fatal) to test an amp at full power on a sine wave for any extended period. A smallish fraction of full power is used for a burn-in test.
I'm not sure why you would claim this?

From one standpoint, most folks are quite happy with a quick check. I did mention above that such a thing is simple and easy to do with just a cheap scope and signal generator. And as you noted, power resistors can be pushed for short times (10x power for a few seconds, according to most data sheets). So you get a *quick estimate based on best case conditions*. It's a heck of a lot better than nothing, it's good enough for most people, and it saves valuable time so Greg (or whoever) can move on to the next project.

But it's a guess, not a test to specified standards accepted by industry and the law. Nor is it as rigorous as the two standards I mentioned above that have been in use for over 40 years now.

The Sunfire amps(at least) are rated for "continuous" "rms watts". That's *continuous*, no hint of a duty cycle (at least down to 2 ohms). Or do you think a Sunfire is in peril if one asks her to put a sine wave at full power into a resistive load of acceptable value?

Bob stated in one of the 'Fest vids that his amps will do their rated power continuously no problem.

Anecdotally, I've used the output of one of my TFM-45 to cook food. Bridged her, stuck in a 20A fuse, ran her into a resistive load at 1kW out and grilled hot dogs. That was 20 years ago and the only work I've had to do since was preventatively replace her rail caps.

Or that I crank my system full tilt once a week, all needles pegged, all yellows flashing. With Skrillex, the average dynamic range of some songs is a mere 2dB - that's *less* than the 3dB of a pure sine wave. The top LED's *stay* on for half a minute at a time. No smoke yet...

The CEA standard measures max output at 1% THD, continuous. "Continuous" is specified in the standard as no less than 5 minutes. So yes, to test an amplifier to a *recognized standard*, you need a load bank that will survive that load for that time. And neither change value nor introduce distortion of its own, which some power resistors are notorious for. Keeping the load cool helps both of those problems. As I said, to properly test a 300x2 Sunfire's continuous output at 1 ohm, you'll need two serious 3kW noninductive load banks. And a bag of fuses, because at even 100% efficiency she'll be trying to pull 40 amps of 120V out of the wall. Better stick to dynamic headroom tests for low impedances...

If an amp can't survive putting out rated power into the rated load for 5 minutes with a 1kHz sine wave, it's either defective, overrated, or operated outside specified conditions.
Living room system: TGP IV, TX-8r, TD-1400, PT-2400(x6), PM-1.5a(x3), TFM-45(x2), TFM-55, Silver Amazings Mk IV

Spares/projects: C-9, M-400, PM-350(x2), M-1.5t(x2), PT-2400(x2-1/2), PT-1800(x4), TGP I, Architectural True Sub, pm420

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