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FAME BVH300

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by T-Bird, Feb 11, 2008.


  1. Hi.

    The wait is sort of over, the package arrived via UPS today.

    662€ later the package was mine.

    Extremely well double packed with lot's of packing material as it should be.

    This was in the large box:

    PahvilootaFame. .

    Some additional form fit packing material later the head (under it is the outer box):

    Nuppilaatikonpll.

    As promised, some internal pics:

    Tubes removed showing the large toroid PT better:

    Ilmanputkiasalamalla.

    The PCBs:

    Piirilevytsalamalla.

    A pair of the six Electro Harmonix KT88EH tubes:

    Putkipari2.

    All the tubes are EH, one 12AX7 and two 12AT7 in the pre one 12AU7 as the driver.

    Unfortunately no modern (too)large glass tube travel well, so some tapping was required to align the innards as usual. I do admit that the coke bottle or this, lantern glass or whatever it's called, shape is very pleasant to the eye, but the internals will move until the mica disk touches the glass or when the internal wires short out, which ever happens first.

    The country of origin isn't that clear to me, but China is the guess I'd make.

    The manual is a joke as usual, so the bias procedure will be a secret to the majority of the buyers.

    The build quality isn't as bad as I expected. The pots feel solid and have a smooth feel and resistance. The PCBs are a bit on the thin side but nothing too serious. All the wiring seem to be heavy enough and some PCB traces have been beefed up with solder. The tube sockets seem to be some kind of white plastic but those are quite tight, none of the tubes had fallen out. The clip retainers are quite useless with the metal base sleeves, but prevent the tube from falling completely out of the socket. The only bigger concern for me are the filter caps:

    Konkka.

    The capacitance value is more than all right, but the physical size look somewhat smallish to me. The measurements will tell if the head is throttled by the caps or by the OT.

    OT iron measures 95mm*115mm*70mm which means ~20 cm2 cross section if I remember the EI standard dimensions correctly.

    Unfortunately I'm on a work trip at the moment, so I can't even plug the head in and watch the tubes glow :mad:.

    By the end of the week (or the weekend) there will be some additional information and hopefully some measurements also.

    At this moment the Fame still feels like a good deal to me, I expected a lot worse.

    Regards.
    Sam
     
  2. Willem

    Willem

    Dec 26, 2005
    Belgium
    I'm kinda interested in the sound... could be a good backup one day.
    I'm tuned in for the ride!
     
  3. barroso

    barroso

    Aug 16, 2000
    Italia
    thanks for posting.
    it looks really huge and deep!

    waiting to have some of your comments concerning sounds!
     
  4. Hi.

    Thanks' guys, appreciate the feedback. Perhaps the thread title should have been more provocative to gather the masses, perhaps not ;).

    The dimensions are (WHD) 56cm*27cm*31cm so yes, it's rather deep, but not as wide as Marshalls for example.
    The metal corners and metal case handles on each end of the box give an impression of a solid construction. The material is obviously chip-/particle board, but some manufacturers make even cabs out of that somewhat inferior material so go figure. Some poor plastic rhino has donated his leathers to cover the chip board. Looks cool though.

    Someone just told me that on 14th it's the Valentines day and I suppose that's something best to spend with the GF not with an amp. Well my GF still beats amps any day :).

    But no worries, on friday I can make some prelimenary tests and on saturday we are having a band rehearsal, so then it's the time for the thruth: Is this (most likely Chinese) family of amps any good.

    I sure hope so, and I do believe that a budget tube 300 watter is in everybodys (well, almost :rolleyes:) dreams and as I've said before, so far it looks quite promising.

    Do remember though that:
    This is only one example from one seller to one individual.
    These are supposed to have been around for a while, yet no-one seems to seen one in flesh or tried one.
    At the moment they come with several different "brands".
    Had I just plugged the amp in, three of the 6 tubes would most probably have died because of shorted internals (shipping).

    Regards
    Sam
     
  5. lame(B)ass

    lame(B)ass

    Jun 18, 2004
    Slovakia
    I really wonder how does it sound - the eq looks quite limited, but that can be good thing too - if the basic tone is good. :)
     
  6. the AUS version of it- ASHTON BVH300 - sounds good so I imagine it'll sound good too! Congrats!!! like to hear your report of it after rehearsal.
     
  7. okabass

    okabass

    Mar 19, 2005
    Finland,Lahti
    HI

    Thank you. Nice story. It looks quite good inside. Please, tell us your opinion how it sounds.
     
  8. tomas_almeida

    tomas_almeida

    Oct 5, 2007
    Portugal
    Dying for soundclips! :)
     
  9. Hi.

    As promised, a bit of an update.

    Plugged the head to a cab and played some and measured some.

    The cab is a some sort of newish Laney 4*10. Rear ported, equipped with Celestions.

    The head is loud. Not earsplitting loudenboomer loud, but loud. The EQ is a bit peculiar, no sound if all the pots are fully counterclockwise, but not much "boost", at least my brief scope test didn't reveal any.

    With all pots in the middle the sound is a bit bottom heavy, it seemed to me that only the first quarter of the bass control has any effect.

    Mid and the mid shift are good, treble is ok. Mind You that I'm used to the additional Marshall presence control that works a bit differently.

    A versatile EQ, and with more versatile bass than my Epi Thunderbird with an additional Model One, the tone stack is more than adequate. IMO of course.

    The drive (IC I believe) adds a bit grit to the sound, not bad.

    I couldn't quite figure out the the biasing and I didn't have time to do it properly, so an average listening/that seems like a good value was the way to go. I did ask from the store via e-mail, but that usually takes a few days and silly me asking about it today :meh:.
    It seems to me that the value is a pound of this, a bushel of that, as the readout isn't obviously direct.

    The result was an ashtonishingly flat response, only about 10% variation from 40Hz to 1KHz. There was about 10% drop from 130-600Hz and a moderate fiddling with the tone knobs didn't boost it a lot. 130Vpp clean sine to 8 ohms (reactive = Laney) translates to about 260W.

    NOT BAD

    And with the Laney and a EV15B (IIRC) equipped cab producing a 4 ohm load: 90Vpp that translates to about 250W.

    But that seems to be all there is and ever will be, if I didn't make any silly mistakes in a hurry. I don't have a distortion meter, but what seems to me as 5% or so distortion it doesn't increase from that, no matter what I did. No squaring up the waveform, no non-linear clipping, nothing. It's like a wall, what it really probably is. Either the power supply or the OT acts as an emergency brake. My guess is the power supply as the square wave signal is quite malformed. OR the circuitry acts differntly than the Bassman/Marshall that I'm more used to.

    Also the sine slowly turns from sine to a bent saw-tooth when dropping from 80Hz downwards. Even 30Hz (below the tuning of the cabs I know) was bearable, but the waveform looked a lot like mountain with a bent top.

    So is this head a good choice?

    IMO yes, but for a 4-string bassist playing rock. I'd imagine this head paired with a 8*10 fridge to be a killer set-up and quite affordable one.

    The reliability might be an issue and allthough the 3 year warranty helps a bit, this family of heads might turn out to be just another Behringer. We know when more people takes the chance and test-drives one.

    It does offer an affordable platform though. The iron, chassis and the tubes cannot be purchased with 662€. The separate power- and pre PCB offers a chance to install a DIY pre for example.

    So I hate to sound like a B-lover but: It's a good head for the money. That's all I can say at the moment. Let's see how my band-mates react tomorrow, I haven't told them that there's a new toy coming along :bassist:.

    There might be some sound-clips in the future, but to accurately record a sound of a particular head and to some-one to reproduce it with any significant results, that might be in vain.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  10. Hi.

    We had a rehearsal today. I recieved compliments from my band mates and what's perhaps more important, I really liked the tone this head is producing.

    That was until I decided to lower the volume. As with most of the hi-power tube amps the power tubes compressing and breaking up are the tools that makes the sound along with the OT. The boost switch helps a bit, but I think I'm in need of a rehearsal cab, the more inefficient, the better.

    When cranked, the head sings. On lower volumes it takes a lot of knob-turning to get the same tone as with higher power levels. I think in this case the Fender Bassman/Marshall two channels linked, and without master volume works better for some reason, or perhaps it's just the way ~100 tube watts have to be cranked to reach a decent bass reproduction.

    Unfortunately there's no word from the store about the biasing, might call for a bit of reverse engineering ;). The 6L6/EL34 swap has crossed my mind. That shouldn't be too hard and might prove to be the cure for too much volume allthough the OT saturation is lost.

    I am still extremely happy about the purchase and when I get the biasing data, I'll be able to make the final measurements and perhaps a tube swap comparison.


    Regards
    Sam
     
  11. Willem

    Willem

    Dec 26, 2005
    Belgium
    Sounds nice!
     
  12. tomas_almeida

    tomas_almeida

    Oct 5, 2007
    Portugal
    I was getting woried because you were comparing it to Behringer....

    But now I'm getting more confident. We're still waiting for some soundclips! :)
     
  13. Stromrider

    Stromrider

    Feb 16, 2008
    CT, USA
    "The capacitance value is more than all right, but the physical size look somewhat smallish to me. The measurements will tell if the head is throttled by the caps or by the OT."


    The size of the cap itself dictates its ripple current handling for the most part. That said, the caps of the old days were huge because of less manufacturing tolerances where as today you can get caps with alot of capacitance that don't take up much space. And, considering tube amps rely on high voltage to make power, and that their is a filter choke in that power supply you don't need caps with a big ripple current rating.

    Nice looking head, good build quality.
     
  14. Hi.

    It does indeed. Now I don't recommend anyone to buy a head just because I happen to like it, but with the warranty and all, this deal is really hard to beat. With a higher price tag (think the SRP) I wouldn't be so sure anymore. I'm just wondering when bigger T-store gets theirs ;)

    When the first Behringers hit the PA-racks in the mid 90's, they were praised beyond expectations. When the sales sky-rocketed and the line was broadened, the QC went downhill. Only IME of course. And YES, I still use Behringer processors.

    There will be some, those just might take a while.

    True, but more cm2 of surface area makes me more confident about the lifespan of a capacitor. I always choose the larger one over the smaller if possible when making AF repairs.

    You are absolutely correct about the choke, good eyes You have I have to say. I missed that as I automatically assumed that it is the filament transformer. Partially because the choke costs a lot more than a bigger cap. Well obviously with two leads it's not the filament trans.

    As a sidenote, could someone tell me what 90's guitar tube head had similar test-points and trimmers, I've been thinking and thinking and searching, but nothing comes to my mind. It was a four tube IIRC, up-market or perhaps even boutiqe.

    Not that it matters any, but You all know that nagging feeling like You've seen something somewhere, but can't quite remember where.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  15. okabass

    okabass

    Mar 19, 2005
    Finland,Lahti
    HI

    At the Muusikoiden.net someone did get answere: 20 mV bias, when he asked the shop.

    http://muusikoiden.net/keskustelu/posts.php?c=35&t=159688&o=20&co=30

    Its "Huuhkaja" at the end of the 2nd page.
    (Kyllä. Sama okabass on kyseessä ;)

    I suggest that you measure the B+ (anodevoltage) etc. to make sure, that 20 mV (or more precise: 20 mA) is ok value.

    If I have to guess, its sounds approximately right. For example the SVT has 24 mV/ tube. But it has 6550s and the B+ is around 660-700 V. Fame has KT88 (might be more powerful) and we (at least I) don't know the B+.
     
  16. Hi, okabass.

    Kiitos, on jäänyt vähemmälle tuo muusikoiden.net samasta syystä kuin HDCF:nkin sivut ;). Hullunhauskoja juttuja, ja tosivähän todellista tietoa. Poikkeuksiakin toki on, onneksi.

    B+ is 620V so according to my calculations 39mV would be closer to the 70% of assumed 35W. IF the TP resistors have been chosen wisely.

    These are some readings from one tube using the test points and a bias-probe:

    TP(mV)___Bias current mA

    20_______13
    25_______17,4
    30_______22,4
    35_______27
    40_______31,5
    45_______36,8
    50_______41

    I was a bit worried about the 50mV that I had after I tried 40 and 45. As the sound wasn't bad at all and the clean power rose from 220W (40mV) IIRC to 260/50, I left it at that.

    Didn't test it with the recomended 20mV, I will tomorrow.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  17. Hi, all.

    Been playing with the amp a bit now.

    It's still annoyingly loud in the practice settings if a good punch is wanted.

    The tone stack is good and rather versatile, but as with any other low end amps, turning the treble up introduces an annoying hiss to the sound. Doesn't bother me though, I don't like the trebly bass sound at all.

    Did some additional testing with a dummy load that I made and the power dropped a bit from the measurements to a reactive load. From 40Hz to 1K I was able to get 200W before clipping. Quite far away from the advertised 300W but still rather well from EH KT88s. Remember, while the reactive load is the true representation of the working conditions, the resistive load is usually the only way to tell the real power converting ability of an amp or a PS. And the resistive load is something that most of us can reproduce with enough accuracy to make the measurements comparable.

    I have a feeling that "better" tubes won't offer any significant advantage over these budget ones as the PS and the OT limit the low end reproduction if the square and saw-tooth signal shape is any indication. I did order a couple of Sovtek KT88s for comparison, I'll tell the results when I get the tubes.

    I fiddled with the bias adjustments, and left it to 30mV at the test points, which translates roughly as 20ma bias current. ( See the table above). There wasn't too much sonic difference when raising the voltage/current. At least not to my ear.

    By monitoring the bias shift with frequency/output, it seems that the tubes aren't matched in any way, there's quite large differences there. So the sound, wich is amazing at the moment IMHO, could benefit from more closely matched tubes even if the max power wouldn't.

    The CS seem to be a joke, or my e-mails aren't reaching the store at all, 3 e-mails and a phone call (int. mobile rates suck) later, NOTHING. It's been over a week since the last e-mail I sent. I could call them again, that's true, but paying big money for listening some crap muzak, isn't the way an on-line store should operate IMHO. And since the technical staff doesn't speak english and I dont speak german, we're screwed ;).

    Regards
    Sam
     
  18. TRU

    TRU

    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    Terve t-lintu,

    have you tested the direct out? My amp gets muted when trying to use the DI.

    This is a nice amp for the money. If you like tubes. Not as loud as my Glock (@440W), but the compressed oomph it produces when cranked is quite pleasing. I don't find much use for the tone-shaping section, though.

    And it is one ugly **** :)
     
  19. Moro, moro.

    No I haven't tried the DI, that "feature" would really be a bummer IMHO. When I find some time for the sound-clips, there will be the DI feed also. Assuming it works as it should.

    The tone section does the job for the raw tube sound IMHO, not even in the ballpark compared with my STUDIO220, but obviously has its limitations when the volume level changes. Also when I find some additional free time I'll trace the schematics for both pre- and power amp, for curiositys sake if nothing else.

    I'd really be interested to hear the design department comments about the design ideas behind the head. I they would put it in a more appealing package, the sales might go up. The backlit FAME logo is quite strange for example. The Eden version isn't that much better IMHO. And KT88 tubes hanging upside down, BAD IDEA if the clips are the same.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  20. danis

    danis

    Jun 7, 2005
    Athens/Greece
    Nice review T-Bird :)
    What about those sound-clips?
     

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