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Saturday, November 22, 2014

PCL85 Tube Amplifier Review

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr.Wong for posting his review on our custom made Night Light Tube Amplifier.

This is the tube amplifier that he ordered from us:
PCL85 Night Light Tube Amplifier


Here goes the review - unedited. :)


Custom designed and build PCL85 Single Ended Triode Amplifier by J and K Audio Design.


A few months ago, I was trolling the famous Ipoh Sunday flea market and found a box of NOS PCL82, PCL85, PCL86, and some other TV valves offered at flea market price. I bought the whole lot on impulse not having a clue what to do with them.


A search on the internet shows there are many simple spud amplifiers assembled successfully using PCL86 and PCL85 valves. These valves are equivalent (more or less) to ECC83/EL84 in one tube. As I own many valve amplifiers, I am curious how these valves sounds like. I called Ken Loo of J and K Audio Design whom I knew from previous purchase of his merchandise to find out whether he is interested to design and build a low cost simple amplifier using these valves on an aluminum plate.  A few weeks later, Ken replied that PCL85 valves are viable 2W in triode mode and list down the options on the components he would use and the associated cost. I have no illusion of what a 2W SET amplifier can perform as I already own a 1626 “Darling” SET amplifier rated at only 0.75 Watts per channel.


After several Whatsapp exchanges and a visit to Ken’s listening room trying out his Night Light tube amplifier paired with his 100dB Zu floor standing speakers, I eventually settled for the “over the top” option of using tube rectification and his propriety power and output transformers. This way, if the project turns out to be unsatisfactory, I would be still able to salvage the output transformer for a SET 300B amplifier and if it turns out to Ken’s confident claim it will be a keeper, I would have own the best endowed PCL85 SET amplifier (as far as I know) ever build. Ken informed me it would another month before he will start work on my project as he has a couple of ongoing amplifier projects.


The amplifier is ready for voicing out by September 2014 and after listening to some difficult music; Ken decided to do away with pentode and UL modes altogether as it sounded a little bright.

It was early September 2014 when the PCL85 is ready for audition. I went over to Ken’s place full of anticipation wondering how the amplifier would sound like.  When Ken greeted me with ear to ear smile into his house, my earlier worries just evaporated away when I hear the music coming from his listen room upstairs. 


We hurried upstairs into the listening room where the amplifier was cooking for the past two hours. I was greeted by another Ken’s regular audiophile client and listening session began.

As usual, the amplifier was paired up with Ken’s Zu speaker. My first impression was confirmed. The reproduced music is as immaculate as the amplifier layout and finishing. It captures the warmth and richness of music played. This little fellow got guts and bass! (Ken’s is a self proclaim bass freak).

We went through some audiophile recordings of my choice and the amplifier simply performed. It has soundstage, low frequency fidelity, texture, midrange clarity and treble refinement. It is a mini 300B! This is a keeper after all.


I am now a true believer of components synergy.  The choices of each components used requires the skill of a gourmet cook. Ken got the ability. 


Wong nit chuw

22nd November 2014

PCL85 is identical to 18GV8 tube. It is also directly replaceable by PCL805. With a change of filament voltage, 6GV8, 9GV8, ECL85, XCL85 and ECL805 can be used too.

J&K Audio Design
22/11/2014

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* Finished amplifiers, DACs, audio gadgets, upgrades and repairs - this is not our core business and we do it out of passion. We do not have fixed models, fixed price and we customize for each individuals. The sky is limit of creativity.

* Our product lines are always improving and increasing. If you do not see what you want, contact us!

* Please email for volume discounts, distributor and OEM pricing.

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