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 Post subject: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Mon 18, 2016 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Feb Mon 15, 2016 10:22 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
hello, I just picked up a vintage Fisher X-202 integrated amplifier (not X-202-B)

it's not the prettiest or most cosmetically perfect unit, but it sure looks like a cool old-school relic!

the unit was rebuilt/restored internally by the previous owner, who seems knowledgeable and works on a lot of tube units

not sure of exactly what was done, but all the e-cap cans were replaced (some with full replacements, others were stuffed into existing cans)... most caps were replaced including some Russian PIO... selenium rectifier replaced.... some/most of the larger resistors were replaced... most if not all of the original carbon comp resistors were kept... some RCA terminals replaced... the work seems to be of very good quality

all tubes are vintage (most made in Britain, rebranded, some USA), except for the 4 output tubes which are a matched quad of new-manufacture Sovtek EL84M (purchased from a respected online seller)... this unit requires four 7189 output tubes

everything seems to work and it plays fine, very nicely actually

after about 10 hours of listening, here's what I've noticed and could use some help with:

1. SOUND QUALITY
the sound overall is "very good", but it seems to lack some vibrancy, warmth and smoothness... the high end is there, but not very sparkly, airy or highly detailed... generally there is a bit of veiling of the highs and mids, and mids are not that great... the lows are there and OK, but not too authoritative and it's hard to get just the right balance together with the mids/highs... ie., it seems to lack some of the characteristics that tube amps are especially known for... I'm suspecting that this unit can sound better than it does, based on what others have said about the X-202... hey, it's very good, but I'm just not all that excited about it... should I be or am I expecting too much from this amp?

2. CLIPPING + LOW CHANNEL
A. when I tested the high volume capability, all was good until I hit 11 o'clock position on the volume... it got pretty loud, but then I could hear some breakup distortion (especially vocals), almost as if a new distorted track was introduced over the music... at first I thought the speaker cone was ripped or breaking apart... I assume this is the clipping point of this amp?... did I reach the limits of the clean power output?)
B. then when I tried to debug and figure out what might be causing it by playing around with switches and settings, I discovered that the R channel was almost dead! (only 10% of L channel volume)... so, I turned volume back down, and eventually (after a few minutes), the R channel's volume went back up to normal... this problem has not come back since at normal listening volumes... very weird

3. VOLUME CONTROL
volume control is not gradual enough... from zero position, it doesn't take much rotation to suddenly get healthy volume (approx. only 10-15 degrees)... then when you go louder, it gets really loud (and into clipping I believe) at only the 11 o'clock position, not even half way to full rotation... this makes it hard to control the volume, and I'd far prefer the control to be spread out more over its full range... is this normal and can this be adjusted?

4. KNOB
has a non-original "Stereo Dimension" knob... it's too big and has silver edge ring... am I crazy to expect to find a genuine replacement?... does anyone have one for sale or a source?

general comments...

regarding my assessment of sound quality, I'm not a tube expert, but can at least compare to this Fisher against my 2 other tube amps: a little Electrohome SET console pull (12AX7/6BQ5) amp, and, my Eico HF-81 amp (100% rebuilt, with Russian PIO coupling caps, Russian output tubes)... both of these amps seem to sound better, more tube-ish, and more pleasant to listen to especially at normal modest listening levels... the Eico especially is excellent

I've noticed that the Fisher does seems to sound better after it gets real hot after 1.5 hours of playing

my best tone settings so far for normal listening levels is:
- loudness: ON (sounds dead and non-tube-ish with this OFF)
- bass: decreased to 10 o'clock
- treble: flat
- low filter: ON
- high filter: OFF
- stereo dimension: fully to the left (CCW)

any advice or comments hugely appreciated, I'm especially interested in maximizing the sound quality

thank you!


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Last edited by ssouci on Jul Sat 23, 2016 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Tue 19, 2016 3:53 am 
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The Level Set knobs on the back allow you to reduce each input so the volume control will have the right range, and volume will be similar for each input. They may all be at max right now, just look at the labels and adjust each one as needed. They are just volume controls for each input, ahead of the main volume.

The Low Filter is only needed with old phonos that had rumble, normally it would be Off.

The Loudness is really only for listening at very low volume when you would not hear much bass, it should not be used when playing at high volume. Your settings are fighting each other.

If that is anything like my Fisher 500C, it makes a difference which EDIT: 7247 tubes are in the phase inverter socket. I had to swap around until I had the voltages closer to what is shown on the diagram, EDIT: 90 on the cathode pin 3 and 190 on the plate pin 1. If it is far off, it will distort at high volume as it clips.
Here's a link to the schematic http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php? ... ns.265214/


Last edited by BikenSwim on Jul Thu 21, 2016 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 1:18 am 
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Remember the amp is only about 18 watts per channel. Adjust the input gain if where the volume control is bothers you. The Sovtek EL 84M in your amp is the closest thing to the 7189 that came in the amp. 7189 tubes are really high thrse days since they havent been made in a long time.

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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 3:29 am 
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Joined: Feb Mon 15, 2016 10:22 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
BikenSwim wrote:
The Level Set knobs on the back allow you to reduce each input so the volume control will have the right range, and volume will be similar for each input. They may all be at max right now, just look at the labels and adjust each one as needed. They are just volume controls for each input, ahead of the main volume.

unfortunately, the input level controls at the back provide the ability to control level of Phono and Tape only (one control per channel).... but I am using Aux for my CD player (CD is my normal source)

see photo:


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 3:40 am 
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Joined: Feb Mon 15, 2016 10:22 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
BikenSwim wrote:
The Low Filter is only needed with old phonos that had rumble, normally it would be Off. The Loudness is really only for listening at very low volume when you would not hear much bass, it should not be used when playing at high volume. Your settings are fighting each other.

I found that at regular low-to-medium listening levels, the Loudness ON was required to bring some needed vibrancy, richness and warmth to the sound

I also found that at high volume, turning the Loudness OFF/ON surprisingly did not make much difference

and with the Low (rumble) filter ON, in conjunction with dialing back the Bass a bit, I was able to tame the bass adequately while still getting good midrange... don't know why it works, but this combination seemed to provide the best results and balanced sound for my setup and room


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 3:48 am 
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Joined: Feb Mon 15, 2016 10:22 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
TomJoad wrote:
The Sovtek EL 84M in your amp is the closest thing to the 7189 that came in the amp. 7189 tubes are really high these days since they havent been made in a long time.

yes, that's what I've heard and it seems to be the consensus on the web, and that is why the Sovtek EL84Ms are in there

however, I have also heard that the Sovteks are "no match for NOS vintage 7189s, and will sound thin and shrill in comparison"

I sure would love to hear from someone who has personally *actually* compared the new Sovteks to vintage tubes -- in the same amplifier

they might be the closest thing, but maybe that small difference translates to a big difference in hi-fi sound quality?

and thanks everyone for your replies so far!


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 4:38 am 
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Now I am puzzled by the speaker connections, but Google found a link to a diagram of the output section. http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php? ... ns.265214/


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Thu 21, 2016 5:58 pm 
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Joined: Feb Mon 15, 2016 10:22 pm
Posts: 82
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
BikenSwim wrote:
Now I am puzzled by the speaker connections, but Google found a link to a diagram of the output section. http://audiokarma.org/forums/index.php? ... ns.265214/

yup, those are the absolutely most confusing speaker terminals I've ever seen... it's almost like someone did it on purpose as a test!... I have the manual, etc. and have it set up correctly


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Fri 22, 2016 2:04 pm 
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I have an X-101B with the original 7591 output tubes in it. My understanding is if you put the new import versions in the amp, you have to change the value of the output's grid resistance to make them work right. Wonder if there are any issues with modding the 202 for the use of the imports? Mine has decent bass but is not a real standout at either extreme, but that may be the speakers. What is in the middle is what appeals to me with this setup and I find some types of music just does not fit well. It is a secondary system. As for volume control settings, that might be affected by the output levels of your sources. I cannot understand why he did not use good quality film caps throughout his "upgrade". The slide switches in those amps can tend to get flaky due to oxidation of the contacts inside. But they are accessable to clean fairly easily, being open at both ends. You never say what speakers you use with it? Some speakers are rather low efficiency nowadays and might suck up a lot of power and have complicated crossovers that might interact with a transformer output to alter response. My idea is that you best try some other speakers with it. Maybe even vintage speakers from the tube era, too.

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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: Jul Fri 22, 2016 5:55 pm 
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada V6G 1Y5
wazz wrote:
My understanding is if you put the new import versions in the amp, you have to change the value of the output's grid resistance to make them work right. Wonder if there are any issues with modding the 202 for the use of the imports?

I've also seen mention of that, but sure would like to hear more from someone who knows for sure and exactly how to do this

wazz wrote:
I cannot understand why he did not use good quality film caps throughout his "upgrade".

I thought he did???.... I can see Russian PIO caps, yellow square-package film caps, etc.


wazz wrote:
You never say what speakers you use with it? Some speakers are rather low efficiency nowadays and might suck up a lot of power and have complicated crossovers that might interact with a transformer output to alter response. My idea is that you best try some other speakers with it. Maybe even vintage speakers from the tube era, too.

I am using DCM Timeframe TF-700 speakers... they are semi-vintage, and although not the most efficient speakers, they do sound really nice with my other 2 tube amps, even my small single-ended 12AX7/6BQ5 amp

thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Fisher X-202 amplifier - need advice
PostPosted: May Thu 16, 2019 8:02 pm 
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Joined: May Thu 16, 2019 7:12 pm
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I realize I am very late to the party, but I am struck by the apparent lack of understanding. Now I admit I have not heard the amplifier in question, but I do wonder if you understand that the areas that solid state does hold an advantage over tube, and vintage tubes especially, are in the frequency extremes. More extended and better controlled low bass. And more extended high frequencies. Although the upper frequency range in solid state is often shrill, hard, brittle, etched (use the adjective of your choice). Where tubes excel is in the upper bass, midrange, and lower treble range. or, WHERE THE MUSIC IS!!! I own an X202 and mine has a set of vintage tubes. The outputs are GE, which are nobodies idea of superior tubes. But they create magic! 7189 pentode tube is an EL84/6BQ5 variant with 400 volts on the plate instead of the EL84's 300 volts to squeeze out an extra 3-5 watts per channel. the X202 makes my Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures sing! I wouldn't recommend this combo if you listen to Lamb of God, Avenge Sevenfold, or 5 Finger Death Punch. But for acoustic instruments, vocals, Jazz, or most Classical it is heaven!!! if you listen to those aforementioned artist or other heavy rock 'n' roll, I would suggest using that Marantz 2275 the Fisher X202 is resing upon in the photo. Peace!


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