Anyone have experience with the Trace Elliot TVT9 tube pre?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by CosbyTron, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. CosbyTron

    CosbyTron Member

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    Dec 10, 2012
    I've been wanting to build a small rack amp just for fun, so I recently scored a Trace Elliot TVT9 tube preamp. I don't have a power amp yet, so I'm running it into the effects return on a Peavey Classic 30.

    My initial impression of the pre was not great. With all dials at midnight, the EQ on both channels is crazy heavy on the low end. There is a presence knob that doesn't seem to do much of anything. Worst, the sound gets really harsh when you start pushing the gain on either channel. Sort of like the high end sizzle on a silicon fuzz pedal.

    Before writing it off, I put a 30 band eq after the TVT9. I was able to isolate the harsh frequencies around 8k and get better control over the lows. After some tinkering, I was actually getting some cleans and some high gain sounds I was quite happy with. But I'm still having trouble getting some pleasant low/mid gain rock sounds.

    So to anyone who has experience with the TVT9, my question is this; Is there a great preamp hiding in this box and I just need to give it some TLC? (It's got 4 tubes on each channel, so a retube won't be cheap). Or should I pass it along and look for something else in the same price range? (ADA MP1, or Peavey Rockmaster maybe?)
     
  2. CosbyTron

    CosbyTron Member

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    Dec 10, 2012
    Just in case anyone is interested, I thought I'd post some progress.

    I had a few 12ax7s sitting around, so i decided to open up the TVT9 and tinker (which was a chore because many of the screw heads had been stripped :p ). All of the existing tubes are stock, Trace Elliot branded (though a couple also have Sovtek branding, guessing they are all Sovteks, but who knows). What was immediately noticeable was that the V3 on each channel was significantly darker and more scorched than the rest of the tubes. I don't have tons of tube swapping experience, so maybe that's the norm.

    I swapped both V1s for a Ruby and put a Mullard in what I'm assuming is the inverter for the 1st channel (no logic to that, just experimenting). I then replaced both V3s with what had been the V1s (and which still looked shiny and almost new.. if the way a tube looks or is scorched means anything at all).

    Big improvement! That high end fizz is almost gone entirely from both channels. I still hear some hints of it in the low gain channel, but it is much less pronounced. Everything just seems less harsh in general. Not total night and day, but a big enough difference that I definitely think it's worth investing in some additional tubes. I may try some lower gain tubes in channel 1. Channel 2, the higher gain channel, is already sounding pretty great. I may not need to fuss with it much.
     

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