New to PL so looking for knowledge and advice

dmccan13

Journeyman
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
50
#1
I recently got into vintage audio so there is a lot I need to learn. I've got basic electronics skills, currently battling gremlins in a Tascam 122 MKIII and a Sanyo Plus D65. I recently purchased a PL 700 Series 1 and a PL 400 Series 2 from a new friend and am looking to build them to help my little Onkyo TX-2000 get more out of some Allison Nines. Any help is going to be appreciated. Got a little worried today reading about all the Flame/Blaze Linear stories...

All I know is that I know nothing.
 

George S.

Chief Journeyman
Joined
Feb 18, 2020
Messages
1,429
#2
Welcome to Phoenix, the home of The Phase Linear Phreaks!
Before I rebuilt my two PL 400 amps I knew nothing about them. So I read every post concerning them, then researched the kits to upgrade them from White Oak Audio Design. Then read some more and studied lots of photographs on this forum.
Everything you need to know is here, and, if you have any specific questions, please ask.
There's a great group here. Again, welcome! But read and study the photos. Most of the threads meander here and there, but eventually get back on track. We're a very informal easy going group.
 

VSAT88

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Sep 7, 2017
Messages
1,194
Location
Phenix City Alabama
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Like my BlueTooth ?
#3
HA HA ! When folks abuse equipment then any of it can go spark crackle POP . I had a PL 400 in stock form preforming perfectly up till about 5 years ago when I decided to go ahead and build it but not because there ever was a problem. It still worked like new ! If you got anything that old that has not been rebuilt though you are probably sitting on a time bomb. That is why I went ahead and restored mine. You will be welcomed here. Lots of primo info. A host of knowledgeable dudes and very few assholes. In fact, I don't know of one asshole here. That does mean we don't ever "show our ass" though. See top left hand corner of my post. Welcome to Phase Linear WOPL territory !
 

dmccan13

Journeyman
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
50
#4
Welcome to Phoenix, the home of The Phase Linear Phreaks!
Before I rebuilt my two PL 400 amps I knew nothing about them. So I read every post concerning them, then researched the kits to upgrade them from White Oak Audio Design. Then read some more and studied lots of photographs on this forum.
Everything you need to know is here, and, if you have any specific questions, please ask.
There's a great group here. Again, welcome! But read and study the photos. Most of the threads meander here and there, but eventually get back on track. We're a very informal easy going group.
Really appreciate it! Thanks for having me. I'm really interested in the Whit Oak mods. I was lucky to stumble across this in the search, though now I see it's linked in White Oak, HA!
 

dmccan13

Journeyman
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
50
#5
HA HA ! When folks abuse equipment then any of it can go spark crackle POP . I had a PL 400 in stock form preforming perfectly up till about 5 years ago when I decided to go ahead and build it but not because there ever was a problem. It still worked like new ! If you got anything that old that has not been rebuilt though you are probably sitting on a time bomb. That is why I went ahead and restored mine. You will be welcomed here. Lots of primo info. A host of knowledgeable dudes and very few assholes. In fact, I don't know of one asshole here. That does mean we don't ever "show our ass" though. See top left hand corner of my post. Welcome to Phase Linear WOPL territory !
Thanks VSAT, it makes me feel better hearing that. With the condition these are in I think rebuilds are definitely in order. I'm still knee deep in cleanup :) I appreciate any help I can get and thank you for the warm welcome!
 

J!m

Veteran and General Yakker
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
3,319
Location
Connecticut
#6
Welcome!

That Tascam is a decent deck when properly set up! (I have two currently). If you use a wye ribbon cable, you can control two decks simultaneously with one remote!

Send it to Sam up at Skywave outside Chicago. He is the best Tascam tech out there. Mine perform better than advertised specs. He also Re manufactures the gear that is, or will be, broken. One of my decks I bought on eBay and just drop shipped directly to him. I didn’t have to give it a second thought. (Note he is quite busy last I checked but he is a member and always delivers the goods).

Hang on, cuz it can get bumpy at times but if you don’t watch out, you’ll end up learning something anyway.
 

62vauxhall

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Joined
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Messages
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Up a mountain between Castlegar & Nelson, BC
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No such things as bad days, just bad moments
#7
Really appreciate it! Thanks for having me. I'm really interested in the Whit Oak mods. I was lucky to stumble across this in the search, though now I see it's linked in White Oak, HA!
That is how I came to be on this forum. I bought a used 700B in 1990 for PA use in a band I was in but after some years it came to live in my closet. It had issues and when I searched online for tips on restoraton, I found Pheonix. Restoration was attempted but a WOPL conversion was the most sensible option.

Although I never witnessed flames, I did see a bright flash when something gave up the ghost. That is what prompted me to look into the possibility of a DIY restoration.

But to a degree, the bad rap 700B's have is somewhat deserved. They can exhibit a behavior discussed here as "latch up".

In stock form, when doing PA duty, it did that three times and each time PA speaker voice coils were destoyed. Amp and speaker repairs were done but after the third fix, consensus of the band members was it was not worth the expense since it was likely to happen again so it was retired and replced with a 300 watt mono Peavy.

That was the reason it became closet bound and subsequently elevated to WOPL status. Thanks in whole to long time Pheonix members.
 
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dmccan13

Journeyman
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
50
#10
Welcome!

That Tascam is a decent deck when properly set up! (I have two currently). If you use a wye ribbon cable, you can control two decks simultaneously with one remote!

Send it to Sam up at Skywave outside Chicago. He is the best Tascam tech out there. Mine perform better than advertised specs. He also Re manufactures the gear that is, or will be, broken. One of my decks I bought on eBay and just drop shipped directly to him. I didn’t have to give it a second thought. (Note he is quite busy last I checked but he is a member and always delivers the goods).

Hang on, cuz it can get bumpy at times but if you don’t watch out, you’ll end up learning something anyway.

Excellent J!m! Thanks for the contact info, if I fail at this mission at least I have a Hail Mary. I was wondering if I was wasting it's capabilities since I don't record, only listen to bootleg GD tapes.
 

dmccan13

Journeyman
Joined
Jan 6, 2022
Messages
50
#11
That is how I came to be on this forum. I bought a used 700B in 1990 for PA use in a band I was in but after some years it came to live in my closet. It had issues and when I searched online for tips on restoraton, I found Pheonix. Restoration was attempted but a WOPL conversion was the most sensible option.

Although I never witnessed flames, I did see a bright flash when something gave up the ghost. That is what prompted me to look into the possibility of a DIY restoration.

But to a degree, the bad rap 700B's have is somewhat deserved. They can exhibit a behavior discussed here as "latch up".

In stock form, when doing PA duty, it did that three times and each time PA speaker voice coils were destoyed. Amp and speaker repairs were done but after the third fix, consensus of the band members was it was not worth the expense since it was likely to happen again so it was retired and replced with a 300 watt mono Peavy.

That was the reason it became closet bound and subsequently elevated to WOPL status. Thanks in whole to long time Pheonix members.
That's freaky. It sounds like the safest way is the WOPL. I'm not sure my 400 is a candidate though. It doesn't have (I don't think) the PL 14 or 20 board. It has a PL36. I'm going to post pics later on tonight and see what people think. The last thing I want is a timebomb in the house :)
 

Gepetto

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Staff member
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
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Sterling, MA
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Old 'Arn Enthusiast
#12
That's freaky. It sounds like the safest way is the WOPL. I'm not sure my 400 is a candidate though. It doesn't have (I don't think) the PL 14 or 20 board. It has a PL36. I'm going to post pics later on tonight and see what people think. The last thing I want is a timebomb in the house :)
If it is a PL400 or PL700 it does not matter what generation you have. The PL14-20G1 board is universal for all PL400/PL700 makes.
 

J!m

Veteran and General Yakker
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
3,319
Location
Connecticut
#14
It's a fine player when aligned and set up properly (assuming the tapes were made on a correctly set up machine).

Issues that I know of, besides the gear that breaks, and petrified grease, is "production" alignment of the tape path and motor capacitors have to be done. When parts move down a line they are not adjusted that last %...

Note (but only really applies when recording) that 0VU is 250microwebers or whatever that crazy unit is, so it is quite a bit "hotter" than 90+% of consumer decks. I learned this sort of the hard way when doing tape exchanges. But the tape noise is driven way down. Also, you should use it balanced to take advantage of that as well. Most consumer decks have their 0VU corresponding to -3db on the Tascam.

The Mk. II is considered the best, because it has more internal adjustments, but I run pretty much the same tapes all the time (D, SA and MA rarely) and have had zero issues fine calibrating every version of these tapes I have used so far (again, important for recording).
 
Joined
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Messages
304
Location
near Liverpool, NY
Tagline
Lifelong student / listening = bliss
#15
I recently got into vintage audio so there is a lot I need to learn. I've got basic electronics skills, currently battling gremlins in a Tascam 122 MKIII and a Sanyo Plus D65. I recently purchased a PL 700 Series 1 and a PL 400 Series 2 from a new friend and am looking to build them to help my little Onkyo TX-2000 get more out of some Allison Nines. Any help is going to be appreciated. Got a little worried today reading about all the Flame/Blaze Linear stories...

All I know is that I know nothing.
Greetings dmccan13,

Welcome to where a lot of long-time/hands-on PL enthusiasts compare notes & help each other troubleshoot their gear. If vintage Phase Linear was like old Indy cars, then you have just wandered into Gasoline Alley. If you haven't already pieced it together, "Gepetto" is the engineer who is the subject matter expert behind all the 21st-century upgrades to Bob Carver's '70s-era PL amps.

Personally, I am in a 'barn find' situation -- the irony is the fact that I seeded the barn myself back around the turn of the century. Recently I've restarted the audio hobby, and after much searching about the interwebs for me this forum stood out in terms of signal/noise ratio on PL stuff. (!)

****

I'd like to address your concerns about the 'Flame/Blaze Linear' stories which abound...almost to the echo chamber level in some circles.

Using another car analogy, if during the '70s you hung out with the people running the Baja 1000 you would hear a lot of true stories about suspension failures.

On the other hand, if you hang out at the Bonneville salt flats you don't hear much about suspension failures...but valvetrain failures from extended high rpm runs are prevalent.

A similar thing if we were shoulder to shoulder at the local drag strip, we would be admiring the carnage surrounding failed u-joints, blown differentials, snapped axles, etc.

The point I'm trying to make is that you really need the supporting context surrounding the story to better appreciate the failure(s) that are being described to you. For me, all my PL equipment provided solid service despite enthusiastic usage...but the key is that I was using it at home, and not for sound reinforcement. (ie: I wasn't loading wooden chutes with dry ice in order for the amps to be able to deliver sonic excess to thousands of fans in the crowd. :0)

And for those who point out the PL failures in a home setting? Well, again context is key. Back in the day lots of PL gear was bought by passionate/thrill seeker/adrenaline junkie types. (guilty) The same kind of people that bought 350hp/327ci Chevy's, Boss 302 Fords, and Mopar Hemis. And without intending to, they would break their toys in their pursuit of happiness. (Meanwhile, the sensible slant 6 owners would report years & years of absolutely trouble-free driving -- which I believed entirely without question.)

****

The only thing left is to address (valid) concerns surrounding bringing 40-50+ year old gear into your house in 2022...and wanting to be able to enjoy real music AND peacefully coexist. (ie: You don't want to have to sleep with one eye open & one hand on the fire extinguisher. :0)

The short answer is that of the hundreds of parts inside your PL amps, some will outlast the owner. (ie: transformer) Nearly all of the other components were designed to provide a 15-20 year lifespan. (Which is true of anything built to a price point for the consumer market - engineers describe the birth > useful life > death of equipment using the bathtub curve.) NOTE: This applies especially to vintage electrolytic capacitors in all equipment by all vendors. (!)

Bathtub-Curve-Image.png

At any rate, a properly implemented White Oak upgrading of your Phase Linear amps gives you the best of both worlds. Essentially, Gepetto has done what Bob Carver would have done to implement his vision IF he had the ability back then to access today's technology.

Anyway, like the others said, make sure & read around, for there is a wealth of knowledge to be found herein.

Best of luck with your vintage audio hobby - fun stuff!

Cheers -
 
Last edited:

Gepetto

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
10,458
Location
Sterling, MA
Tagline
Old 'Arn Enthusiast
#16
Greetings dmccan13,

Welcome to where a lot of long-time/hands-on PL enthusiasts compare notes & help each other troubleshoot their gear. If vintage Phase Linear was like old Indy cars, then you have just wandered into Gasoline Alley. If you haven't already pieced it together, "Gepetto" is the engineer who is the subject matter expert behind all the 21st-century upgrades to Bob Carver's '70s-era PL amps.

Personally, I am in a 'barn find' situation -- the irony is the fact that I seeded the barn myself back around the turn of the century. Recently I've restarted the audio hobby, and after much searching about the interwebs for me this forum stood out in terms of signal/noise ratio on PL stuff. (!)

****

I'd like to address your concerns about the 'Flame/Blaze Linear' stories which abound...almost to the echo chamber level in some circles.

Using another car analogy, if during the '70s you hung out with the people running the Baja 1000 you would hear a lot of true stories about suspension failures.

On the other hand, if you hang out at the Bonneville salt flats you don't hear much about suspension failures...but valvetrain failures from extended high rpm runs are prevalent.

A similar thing if we were shoulder to shoulder at the local drag strip, we would be admiring the carnage surrounding failed u-joints, blown differentials, snapped axles, etc.

The point I'm trying to make is that you really need the supporting context surrounding the story to better appreciate the failure(s) that are being described to you. For me, all my PL equipment provided solid service despite enthusiastic usage...but the key is that I was using it at home, and not for sound reinforcement. (ie: I wasn't loading wooden chutes with dry ice in order for the amps to be able to deliver sonic excess to thousands of fans in the crowd. :0)

And for those who point out the PL failures in a home setting? Well, again context is key. Back in the day lots of PL gear was bought by passionate/thrill seeker/adrenaline junkie types. (guilty) The same kind of people that bought 350hp/327ci Chevy's, Boss 302 Fords, and Mopar Hemis. And without intending to, they would break their toys in their pursuit of happiness. (Meanwhile, the sensible slant 6 owners would report years & years of absolutely trouble-free driving -- which I believed entirely without question.)

****

The only thing left is to address (valid) concerns surrounding bringing 40-50+ year old gear into your house in 2022...and wanting to be able to enjoy real music AND peacefully coexist. (ie: You don't want to have to sleep with one eye open & one hand on the fire extinguisher. :0)

The short answer is that of the hundreds of parts inside your PL amps, some will outlast the owner. (ie: transformer) Nearly all of the other components were designed to provide a 15-20 year lifespan. (Which is true of anything built to a price point for the consumer market - engineers describe the birth > useful life > death of equipment using the bathtub curve.) NOTE: This applies especially to vintage electrolytic capacitors in all equipment by all vendors. (!)

View attachment 60077

At any rate, a properly implemented White Oak upgrading of your Phase Linear amps gives you the best of both worlds. Essentially, Gepetto has done what Bob Carver would have done to implement his vision IF he had the ability back then to access today's technology.

Anyway, like the others said, make sure & read around, for there is a wealth of knowledge to be found herein.

Best of luck with your vintage audio hobby - fun stuff!

Cheers -
And the bean counters weren't in the way. The only bean counter that I answer to is myself and I cannot count :)
 

mlucitt

Veteran and General Yakker
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
2,653
Location
Jacksonville, FL
#18
DMC,
I would suggest you tackle the PL400 first. A bit less complicated and easier to flip over, and over, and over...
The tendency for the Phase Linear amps to "Latch up" almost always occurred at power on. It was caused by the front end (input transistor pairs) failing to initialize and bias properly when power was first applied. Joe (Gepetto) solved this problem using SPICE software (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis) and a newly designed Control Board.

You should order the following from Joe's website https://www.whiteoakaudio.com/estore.aspx
PL400 Capacitor Kit
Rev G1 Control Board Kit (you have to assemble this, but the assembly and install instructions are clear and the difference is amazing)

You can begin to enjoy the amplifier at that point. If you like what you hear, you can upgrade further (most of us here have done it)
PL400 Backplane Upgrade Board Kit (to replace the point-to-point wiring in the back of the amp)
PL400 Backplane Wire Kit (needed to wire up and install the Backplane Kit)
16 New Power Transistors (8 of each type listed on the website)
16 Bergquist Power Transistor Insulators

Oh, and post some pictures of your PL gear.
 
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