Tortuga Audio TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer

Tube Preamp Buffer Released March 2017

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Update – March 1, 2017 – The TPB.V1 Hybrid Tube Preamp Buffer has been released. A review of the TPB.V1 can be found here.

January 7, 2017 – We are pleased to announce that Tortuga Audio will release its long anticipated Tube Preamp Buffer (the “TPB.V1”) on March 1. The TPB.V1 is available for pre-order direct from Tortuga Audio starting today. More info the tube preamp buffer and pre-ordering can be found here.

The TPB.V1 is a high performance non-attenuated hybrid tube/solid-state active line stage that serves as an ideal complement to any upstream passive preamp including Tortuga Audio LDR passives or other attenuated audio source. Use the TPB.V1 to upgrade your system’s performance while keeping your existing preamp/attenuation gear. We are confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Sporting a lively hybrid 6H30 triode input stage and solid state FET output stage, the TPB.V1 delivers powerful and dynamic sonic performance with just  the right amount of tube euphonics to breath new life to your music. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying your music collection all over again…and again!

Designed from the ground up for balanced audio, two triode tubes are employed with each tube dedicated to a stereo channel. Single ended systems benefit from the same dual tube design. The TPB.V1 is available in both balanced (XLR) and singled-ended (RCA) models.

The TPB.V1 can be ordered with numerous optional upgrades.

Upgrade Options

The TPB.V1 is designed with numerous potential upgrades in mind for the discriminating audiophile. Current and future upgrades include the following:

Matched Tubes

For a modest additional cost, we offer a matched set of tubes for the ultimate in channel and tonal balance. Tube matching is performed by our suppliers and as such is subject to availability. An excellent discussion on tube matching can be found here.

Military NOS Tubes

Although difficult to source, when available, we will offer the Russian military NOS 6H30P-DR version of our tube. Pricing will be subject to market at the time we secure supplies.

Belleson SuperRegulatorBelleson SuperRegualtor

The stock tube voltage regulator can be upgraded with a high performance Belleson SperRegulator.  The Belleson SuperRegulator is arguably the best linear voltage regulator available today with 110 dB ripple rejection and less than 1µV/Vout RMS noise over the full 20Hz-20kHz audible range.

Vishay “Naked” Metal Foil Resistors

Vishay "naked" bulk metal foil resistorsAlthough the stock design employs excellent Vishay/Dale metal film resistors in the signal path, you can opt for the ultimate in precision low noise resistors by upgrading to Vishay “naked” metal foil resistors. A single metal foil resistor typically cost $10-15 each and there are over 30 resistors involved in the balanced buffer model.

Output Coupling Capacitor

A good yet modest stock polypropylene output coupling capacitor can be upgraded to an excellent high performance V-Cap oil impregnated metallized polypropylene capacitor. More info on the V-Caps can be found here.

Output Module

As discussed below, alternative plug-in output stage modules may eventually become available that can be easily swapped out for the stock module.

Design Considerations

The challenge with any active line stage component, including a buffer, is to render a satisfying listening experience that remains true to the source material while simultaneously enhancing the audio signal with no ill effects.

The TPB.V1 achieves this by keeping the signal path design short and simple with a unique hybrid tube/solid state design and robust low-noise power supplies.

6H30 Tube Input Stage6h30 tubes for Tortuga Audio's TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer

We chose the 6H30Pi Gold triode tube from Electro-Harmonix  because of its reputation for sonic excellence, robust long-life, and the fact that it’s a contemporary tube that isn’t likely to go out of production for a long time to come.

The 6H30 is well regarded by high performance preamp designers who are looking beyond the dwindling supply of new old stock (NOS) tubes.

The 6H30 tube draws considerably higher heater current than most triodes. To meet this higher power demand, we opted for an oversized DC power supply with switching DC-DC regulators capable of powering a pair of 6H30’s with ample margin to minimize thermal issues. As a result, the TPB.V1 is able to handle the current requirements of almost any 9 pin tube thus making tube rolling a distinct possibility.

Conversely, we drive the 6H30’s will a very low plate voltage. This lowered voltage reduces tube stress and together with its already robust design will all but guarantee that the 6H30’s will last a lifetime.

simplied schematic of Tortuga Audio's tube preamp bufferSolid State Output Stage

The TPB.V1 is referred to as a hybrid buffer because it combines a tube input stage with a solid state output stage bringing the best of both worlds together

The Tube Preamp Buffer has a proprietary output stage that uses a Class A field effect transistor (FET) in combination with a constant current source. This low impedance output stage delivers the type of compelling robust dynamics that can really enhance your music listening experience.

The output stage is encapsulated in a 4-pin removable plug-in module.

Future Developments

Alternative Output Stage

The output stage is encapsulated in a 4-pin removable plug-in module. By making the output stage easily removable and replaceable a future upgrade may be as simple as a  plug-in.  We look forward to exploring the possibility of further improving the sound of this wonderful preamp buffer.

Active LDR Preamp

The TPB.V1 works with existing upstream preamps or signal sources that provide volume control and optional input switching. As such the TPB.V1 is not a standalone self-contained preamp.

Tortuga Audio plans to combine the LDR attenuation technology used in our line of passive preamps  together with the TPB preamp buffer design to produce a new line of active line stage preamps. We are very excited about this and look forward to offering outstanding performance and value in both passive and active audio preamps.

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6 years ago

[…] been a year since we announced the release of our hybrid TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer back in March of 2017. It’s proven to be a popular addition to our product line and a great […]

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