Differences Edcor XSE vs GXSE for Darling Clementine

sweet & juicy SE amp for 1626 Darlings and the 6L6 family

Differences Edcor XSE vs GXSE for Darling Clementine

Postby jukingeo » Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:39 pm

Hello All,

Coming back from a long hiatus of doing tube projects due to unforeseen events over the past decade or so, I have looked through one of my tube project boxes and had "unearthed", a Darling Clementine project. I remember a bit issue I had was that I had the Hammond 269AX transformer and not the specified 259EX one. However, in coming back here and looking up at what SE amp guru, Tom McNally was up to, I have noticed that in his latest Clementine Darling builds, he was using a rather interesting donut transformer made by Antek, I have decided to purchase that given that it was only $35 as compared to $50 for Hammond's 269F. Now the next thing I was turning my attention to were the output transformers I have. I have the Hammond 125E transformers...not the 125ESE. Keep in mind I bought the 125E's back when I first heard of the Darling amp all the way back from the creator Bob Danielak himself. This got me thinking that if it was affordable, perhaps I can do better than the lousy 100hz lower limit from the Hammond transformers as it is, I will be using speakers that go down to about 60hz.

Much to my dismay in my search, transformers have gone up tremendously in price. Hammond wants over $60 for the 125ESE and I find that excessive. I tried to look up what James had, but alas, they seem to be gone. Likewise with Transcendar. I been to their site, which is still up, but no prices are listed. So in my search, Edcor came up on my radar, but the thing I don't like with them is the long turn around time when you order transformers from them. However, in looking at their equivalent transformer to the 125ESE, which is the XSE line, theirs goes down to 70hz, which is better than 100hz. Further, I have noticed another line called GXSE and while they cost more than the XSE line, they are just a little over $40. I would say that is worth the price (and subsequent wait time) for a better performing transformer.

However, I am curious if there is a tremendous difference between the two lines because if the difference in sound quality is only slight, the XSE transformer costs only $23 each and it is about half the weight.

I know this question is more for those that have built multiple Darling amplifiers such as Tom McNally, as they would be in a position to have directly compared the sound and would know if there are any major differences between the two transformers.

So that in mind, should I go for the GXSE or would the XSE be enough. I mostly intend to use fairly efficient bookshelf speakers (Klipsch Reference Series), which will probably not go below 50hz anyway (more like around 60hz).

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Geo
Exit Light, Enter Night, Take My Hand...We're off to Never Never Land.
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Re: Differences Edcor XSE vs GXSE for Darling Clementine

Postby vvelt » Mon Mar 15, 2021 3:44 pm

At less than a watt the XSE probably delivers better low end performance than specified. Edcor also has a basic GXSE model that’s rated down to 40hz at just 5 watts, the GXSE5-5K. These cost and look like the XSE’s but have a lower power rating, which is fine for a Darling. I don’t know why Tom hasn’t built with these, there may be a reason. You could also contact Matt at Musical Power Supplies about a custom pair of low watt SE outputs. They make transformers for guitar amps but I had him make me a pair of HiFi OPTs once and they were fine. Lead time was about a month for those. https://www.musicalpowersupplies.com
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Re: Differences Edcor XSE vs GXSE for Darling Clementine

Postby jukingeo » Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:00 pm

vvelt wrote:At less than a watt the XSE probably delivers better low end performance than specified. Edcor also has a basic GXSE model that’s rated down to 40hz at just 5 watts, the GXSE5-5K. These cost and look like the XSE’s but have a lower power rating, which is fine for a Darling. I don’t know why Tom hasn’t built with these, there may be a reason. You could also contact Matt at Musical Power Supplies about a custom pair of low watt SE outputs. They make transformers for guitar amps but I had him make me a pair of HiFi OPTs once and they were fine. Lead time was about a month for those. https://www.musicalpowersupplies.com


So a transformer loses it's lower end the more power you put into it? That is interesting. Looking at Tom's projects, he seemed to favor the XSE-15 or the GXSE-10 for the Darling. For anything larger, such as the 6L6 Clementine, he uses the GXSE-15. So looking at the schematic for that amplifier, it seems that there is only a difference in a few parts to be changed, outside of the power transformer. So that had me thinking about doing more experiments with the Clementine board. Instead of setting up in a full chassis, I might set it up breadboard style and this way I could easily swap out transformers too. As it is, when I initially wanted to start this project, the go-to transformer for the Darling was the Hammond 125E...yeah, THAT far back, before Hammond introduced the 125ESE (and others in the SE line). After my hiatus and coming back to look over the many tube projects I wanted to do, but put on hold, I am just bewildered at how much the transformers have gone up. Hammond, which was mostly affordable, is getting up there in price. It seems like other moderately priced transformer makers, such as James and Transcendar are gone now.

So far the only reasonably priced company is Edcor, but I never dealt with them due to the long turn around times. Well, I ended up biting the bullet on that and ordered a pair of GXSE-15's last night. So now comes the wait. In the mean time I will start to get what I need to assemble the PCB. I had bought that new Antek donut transformer that Tom is using on the Darlings now, and that was pretty cheap. Further, it only took four days to arrive! When I have everything together, I can compare how the Edcor GXSE-15 sounds in comparison to that 125E I have. Further, I could test other transformers out as well. So I think it was a good idea to go the breadboard route first, just to do some testing.

Thanks for the info.

Geo
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