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VINTAGE AUDIO RE-MASTERING GEAR  
Tube Preamplifiers
H.H. Scott 299A
H.H. Scott 299A Preamp
The 299A is a 40 watt preamp. Later versions like the 299D were 80 watt.
This is a Scott 299A integrated stereo tube amp we have attempted to use in the process of transferring vinyl LPs to CD. The Scott's strong point is its adequate amplification of 33 1/3 vinyl LP's recorded using the RIAA equalization curve. The lack of choices of pre-RIAA recording curves on this unit does not allow for good 78RPM transfers.

The 299A, manufactured between 1958 and 1960, has 40 watts of power. Hooked up to good quality Klipsch horn speakers the listening experience in itself is good but in all honesty probably not worth the money we invested in it to get it up to speed.

We had a number of challenges with this piece even after the famed Russ Friend of Russco Electronics restored it for us: Hum seems to be more annoying and often present with this delicate jewel; We could frankly find no value in the reverse stereo options; And it really does throw out a tremendous amount of heat if left on for longer than an hour or so.

For some, the mere act of waxing nostalgic while listening to music through a tube amp is part of the pay off. If this is you then it may be worth the 200.00 you spend for a used 299A in descent condition.

Keep in mind if you intend to tinker; tube audio equipment can have voltage potentials exceeding 700 volts AC. If you plan to perform your own internal maintenance (other than replacing tubes on unplugged equipment) you should learn and follow all precautions for high voltage electrical work. Most audio equipment will be safe when unplugged but some can actually retain high voltages even after powering down. Tubes can get very hot (especially if the circuit is not operating correctly) and burns are a hazard.

In the photo below you will note one of the tubes is white on top. This is because the tube was burnt at the time of this photo. Finding economical replacement tubes for tube equipment can be a challenge; especially when trying to find new, unused, tubes to match. Be careful where you shop! Many on-line dealers drastically overstate the value of some tubes. As our technician Russ Friend used to say "you'd have to have the ears of a dog to hear any noticeable difference between tubes."

When buying used tube equipment try to make sure all of the receptacles accept a male plug with ease. If you are going to spend the doe for tube equipment either; a) determine to spend the money employing someone who knows TUBE equipment to restore it or; b) buy good quality, barely used, or restored equipment from the git.

We find the Scott 299A a warm sounding preamp, capable of reproducing the sound of most stereo LPs well, with a robust low end. But for transferring LPs to CD, our experience was not so good.

The amount of time required for tinkering and refining this piece, to get the best sound and reduce hum, is for us frustrating. If you are a turn it on, twist a knob, use it, and shut it off type person, with little time to tinker; beware. It comes with the territory. Some find the tinkering and troubleshooting part of the joy in owning tube equipment.

If you live in a warm weather region get ready to crank up the AC in the summer. If you live in a cold weather region you could use one of these to heat your mini-warehouse. These suckers really heat up quick!

Remastering tip; Always start with the best possible sound rather than trying to clean up a poor transfer with software. This requires clean records and an adequate tone-arm and stylus combination. Generally with post 1955 vinyl LPs, equalization is not that big of a problem as the record labels were by then recording using the RIAA curve. However, attaining proper equalization is a must for pre 1955 LPs and 78 and 45 RPM records. Doing it by ear is a painstaking process. Using tube compensation and equalization units like the Gott GDP 50, the Bogen DB130 or the McIntosh C-8 is a great experience. For practicality and value however solid state preamps and re-equalizers are today being manufactured that make the process of listening to and transferring vinyl and 78RPM records to CD much easier.
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