Out of curiosity, do you do these mini tube projects for fun, as a means to stretch your design skills, or because the use of tubes makes an appreciable difference in the end result? I always enjoy looking at them, and am very impressed at your work, but I haven't tried to do any of them because of the added difficulty and power incompatibility as compared to solid state, 9v projects that do "the same thing".
So I'm just wondering if you find the tube tremolo, for example, to have a unique sound that one couldn't get with any of the solid state trems, or if it's more a matter of doing something no one's done before, for fun.
I've always preferred tube amps to solid state. I have nothing against solid state per se, I've built a couple of modular synths which are exclusively solid state. My last couple of builds have been a Big Muff and a Clari(not), I'm currently working on a Magnus Modulus and a Phase 45 with Maillet mods. I'm also in the process of breadboarding 'Event Horizon'
, which is solid state.
I built my first Valvecaster about a year ago, and loved it of course. It peaked my curiosity as to what else could be done with tubes. Then I came across Ton's work (puretube) and was just amazed. It set me on the course I'm still on right now, which is to design as broad a range of tube based effects as I can. Each design teaches me lessons which I can apply to the next one. I personally think my 'peak' has been 'Vintage Vibe'
, which has been compared sonically (not by me) to the Magnatone vibrato sound. I'm now trying to develop that idea into a phaser.
Yes it's fun, and stretches my skills as there are so few points of reference for this kind of stuff. With solid state design, it's always a case of looking over your shoulder at what others have done before, there's always an answer. I now find that I understand tubes more than I do solid state due to my incessant breadboarding. I won't hang up my tubes until I've exhausted the possibilities, so phase, wah, envelope filter and octaves are all still to come.
Regarding the added difficulty and power incompatibility, I don't think tubes are any more difficult than SS, and the 5672 projects in particular are easily integrated into the conventional 9 volt world, each 5672 draws 50ma for the heater and it's easy to drive the 1.25 volt heater voltage from a 9 volt supply. It's also possible to get up to (much) higher voltages using charge pumps and SMPS's from a 9 volt suppy.
As for having a unique sound, it's probably more appropriate for others to comment on that. Each effect, be it BJT, FET, IC or tube has it's own sound. My stuff just provides an alternative.
Ultimately though, I just do it because I'm Steampunk