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turkey101
Score:
9

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Echoplex Preamp Tribute

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)
Variant: Echoplex Preamp tribute with side mounted Fat switch

Build description

I built this pretty much exactly as per the Ares specs.

I bought a handful of 2N5484 and 2N5485 transistors and tested them using the tagboardeffects “Greatly Improved JFET Matcher”. I found a good pair – IDSS for Q1 (2N5484) was 2.94mA and IDSS for Q2 (2N5485) was 7.51mA.

I wanted it to look more like the Echoplex Preamp pedal so I centred the pot, added a chicken-head knob, and side-mounted the Fat switch. The artwork completed the look.

I’m pretty happy with the result!

Sound-wise, I prefer the bright “early version” EP-3 position on the Fat switch and leave the Volume knob at about 1 o’clock. I place it at the end of my pedal chain, just prior to the amp and use it as a solo boost. It pushes the tubes just enough to provide a bit more drive/compression, whilst the brightness edges it above the mix for solos. Nice!

Note: Be careful of the third position of the Fat switch – it’ll blow your head off! 🙂 I might re-consider the capacitor value for that switch selection.

Modifications or part substitutions

Centre mounted the pot and side-mounted the Fat switch.

Score:
7

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Two Ares Builds

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)
Variant: 2N5484/5 FETs

Build description

Box #1 (Black)
Standard Aion layout with side jacks. For this build, I used 2N5484 and 2N5485 tansistors and did not measure the IDSS values. Everything else was pretty much stock and it was my first pedal build.

Box #2 (Orange):
For the second box, I jammed top-mounted jacks into the enclosure. If you want to do this, as well… it would be wide to find a smaller 9V jack, as the flange and barrel on the recommended part required me to shave a little aluminum from the enclosure.

For this one, I fabricated a transistor tester (as recommended in the directions) and matched the FETs to recommended IDSS values.

Sound:
The pedals have substantially different sounds – which can almost certainly be traced back to the FET selection. Build #1 is a bit more smooth and has less top-end clarity than #2. Actually, #1 loves my Strats and #2 loves my Les Paul.

It’s hard to describe this effect other than to say that when you turn it off, you immediately feel it missing.

In the “traditional” EP modes, you get a very small gain boost, but it makes the sound much more harmonically complex. Cleans get a bit fuller and fatter. Drive sounds cut better and sound bigger (hard to do both, but this does it).

The 3rd voice is a pretty drastic boost – and not a clean boost at all. It changes the signal and adds seasoning.

I am using it at the beginning of my pedal chain (although it’s great at the end) and pushing a TS-9 and/or a ZVEX Box of Rock. It HATES fuzzes.

Great pedals. Kind of a must-have.

Modifications or part substitutions

-Good idea to socket the transistors. Different IDSS values give very different sounds.
-I opted for Switchcraft open jacks, which are easier to deal with in my opinion
-One of the builds used top-mounted jacks. See above for comments.

florian
Score:
2

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Golden Indian Boost

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)

Build description

Here’s my first pedal ever. Was fun building it and will be fun in my setup as a clean boost at the end of the chain.
Thanks to musikding.de for the kit and to aion for the effect.

Looking forward to building my next aion project!

Cheers,
florian

Thomas J.
Score:
2

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Ares “Gray Box”

Project: Ares (EP-3 Preamp)

Build description

I built this to Aion’s specs using Vishay RN55D resistors, Panasonic electrolytic and film caps, and C0G MLCC for the picofarad caps. I did not measure the transistors but chose to instead systematically choose them by ear. This is partly because, though I’ve built at least a dozen DIY audio projects, I know very little about circuits and can’t even read a simple breadboard diagram to build the testing circuit (I should get on that). But the better reason is that I’d rather trust my ears, and I humbly suggest other builders try what I tried, even if you have the skills I lack. I purchased 5 of each JFET as Aion suggests, and I set out to audition the pedal with all 25 possible combinations.

This sounds like tedious work, but it probably goes a lot faster than you’d expect. In my case, I didn’t even need to try all 25 combinations. I distinguished my transistors by keeping each one in its own small zip bag (leftover from Small Bear orders), labeling each set of bags “1” through “5”. Using sockets, I kept one 2N5485 in place and tried each of the five 2N5484s against it in turn, playing a short series of chords and riffs, both clean and dirty, trying various knob and switch positions. I jotted down quick notes with each test. The fourth 5484 I tried was a clear standout; for some reason that one clearly had some magic the others were missing…only one of them sounded “bad” but the rest were either harsh or nondescript. The fourth one did exactly what I hoped, added some kind of intangible, musical, harmonic deliciousness that was subtle, but I definitely missed it when I turned it off. OK, promising. I then put in a different 5485, and again cycled all the 5484s against it in the same order, taking notes. Once again, 5484 #4 sounded easily the best. At that point, since the 5484 seemed to keep its good properties against multiple 5485s, I decided that must be the one…OK, the 5484 was chosen. I then kept the magic 5484 in place and auditioned the five 5485s against it. There was indeed a clear standout pairing, with one of the 5485s sounding best — the one I tried initially, actually — and that was that, the transistors were chosen. The whole process took about 25 minutes (probably not much longer than building a test circuit and testing 10 transistors); I have no idea how the chosen JFETs measure, and I don’t care.

The pedal sounds really great, and instantly became an almost-always-on pedal for me. I decided to forgo artwork and labeling and keep it a humble gray box with blue knob/LED. I had a 125B enclosure on hand so I used that. I tried it both at the end of my pedal chain, and the beginning (well, after tuner and fuzz). Both sounded good but I prefer it at the beginning. One of the simplest/cheapest builds that Aion offers and well worth it. And again, I really think people should commit to auditioning transistor pairings by ear. With any luck it won’t take too long, and you won’t be stuck wondering, “They measured ‘correctly,’ but are they really the ones I think sound best?”

Modifications or part substitutions

125B enclosure