Author Topic: Restore that Citation I tube preamp! by Bob Carver  (Read 5486 times)

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Restore that Citation I tube preamp! by Bob Carver
« on: September 07, 2010, 07:49:56 PM »
New service The Bob is offering on epay .

This auction is about taking an old, beat up Citation I preamp and making it look new again, sound new again and be new again. When I am finished with it, it will perform equal to the original factory specifications. The controls will operate smoothly and silently, switches will be devoid of thumps and pops, and the noise floor and distortion of the moving magnet input will be state of the art and will surpass the original factory specifications. If you elect to have the optional updates it will include Stu Hegeman’s all-tube moving coil phono stage, and its noise will be almost state of the art by today’s standards.

Before and after photos:
The first picture is the shiny inside of a freshly refurbished unit. The next three pictures are “before” and the rest are “after”.

Here’s what you get:

    * Shiny new knobs, shiny new tube shields and a shiny new top cover finished in harman kardon Citation brown.
    * Polished chassis.
    * All needed parts including capacitors, resistors, and power supply components.
    * Reproduction of the original harman kardon citation I owner's manual.
    * Replace tubes with selected vintage tubes as needed.
    * Optional update includes a pair of vintage Telefunken 12AX7s for Stu Hegeman’s moving coil phono stage modification
    * We pay return freight.
    * 1 year warranty.

The Price:
The price is $375 for the refurbishment plus an additional $175 for the moving coil update - $550 for the works.

Jordon (my laboratory assistant) and I have offered this service as a result of the many questions we have received regarding the Citation I preamps I have been auctioning on eBay.

First meeting

I was just out of graduate school when I met Stu Hegeman for the first time. I was just a kid, and Mr. Hegeman acknowledged that by referring to me as "the kid". I didn't care, as Stu Hegeman was my hero and I was almost emotionally overcome by just being in his presence. At that time I owned a Citation I preamp and had concluded that it was the best preamp there was. It was early in my career, and I was working at Seattle Radio Supply  in Seattle selling audio equipment. We sold McIntosh, Marantz, Fisher, harman kardon (Citation), Eico and JBL. My boss allowed me to take any piece of gear home and listen to it for as long as I wanted. My job was to report back to him and tell him what I thought. Well, my first report was that the Citation I preamplifier was far and away the finest, most musical preamp of them all. I loved it. I was smitten. It's soundstage was enormous. It's articulation knew no peer. It's imaging within that soundstage was stunning, and difficult for me to believe. This all happened over thirty years ago, and Stu Hegeman was still alive. I read everything I could get my hands on about Stu Hegeman, his design philosophies, and his overall philosophical approach to amplifier and preamplifier design.


Fast forward
Fast forward to not so long ago, a time when Stu was still alive. I was at the consumer electronics show in Chicago, and Mr. Hegeman was there pitching his new solid state preamp (Solid state was all the rage and tubes were thought to be old fashioned, a thought that seems ludicrous today). Mr. Hegeman was enchanting and willing to share his ideas with me (the kid). We talked about his philosophy of designing a preamp using gain modules and passive networks between each module. It was this approach that he used in designing the Citation I vacuum tube preamplifier. He explained that at the time he designed the Citation, moving-coil phono cartridges were virtually unheard of, though moving magnet cartridges were ubiquitous. By the time of our later meeting, moving coils had attained a substantial following and Mr. Hegeman proceeded to teach me how to modify my Citation I for moving-coil applications. The secret was to use a Telefunken 12AX7 in the front end, modify it for an extra 24 dB of gain, and because the fundamental design was comprised of gain blocks he promised it would work flawlessly. He was right. More on that later...

I could hardly contain myself, and as soon as I got home I preformed his modification (update) and was treated to a moving-coil all-tube phono stage that was absolutely stunning.

Moving coil cartridge
This service comes optionally with Stu Hegeman's moving coil cartridge update to the phono stage. This update will include the following: The phono 2 stage on the preamp will include the option of changing between moving coil and moving magnet; all you will have to do is flip the installed switch located on the back of the preamplifier directly next to the phono inputs. The phono 1 input will be left unaltered as a moving magnet input. The existing front panel function selector switch will choose between the MM (phono 1) input and the MC (phono 2) input. The ceramic input will be used as a moving coil cartridge loading platform.

One more thing, I accept any form of rational payment.

Bob Carver and Jim McShane
Many of the preamps I have received have had the Jim McShane modifications. These modifications represent superb work, and I wholeheartedly endorse them. Our work is separate from his, focusing primarily on taking the unit back to vintage new and ultimate functionality, whereas his work focuses on a new power supply, new interstage coupling capacitors and several superb updates. Still, and just the same, his work and mine integrate together in a smooth and compatible fashion.

Bob Carver

The rules and the fine print
When you send the preamp in, it must be complete with all knobs (in whatever shape), All sheet metal, including tube shields - dented, scratched or otherwise - and all vacuum tubes, even if you dropped your power amp on them and they are smashed.

There’s more. After the MC modification is performed the sound will be absolutely stunning, however, even though the ultimate noise floor will be excellent, it will be about 8dB shy of absolute silence. The A-weighted signal to noise for the moving coil input will be approximately -90dB referenced to 10 millivolts at the input. This is very quiet, and with music playing the hum and hiss should be inaudible. Still, absolute state of the art with a transformer or transistors is approximately -98dB.

Send it to:

Bob Carver, c/o Rita’s Vintage Audio
1920 Bickford Ave.
Snohomish, WA 98290
Do you want ants? Because THAT'S HOW YOU GET ANTS!