Review: Bottlehead Quickie tube preamp Page 2

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ASSEMBLY AND SETUP

The Quickie comes with step-by-step instructions in PDF form on CD-ROM. It’s the best assembly manual I’ve ever seen. Every step is explained in clear text and color photographs, in a casual style that’s surprisingly entertaining. If Bottlehead ever decides to get into furniture, I bet they could put IKEA out of business in short order.

I found the kit easy to assemble; I built tougher stuff than this when I was 16. All you need is a few basic tools, a volt/ohmmeter and a soldering iron (a 30- or 40-watter, or an adjustable model). The whole process took about four hours, half of which was just attaching the jacks, controls and battery holders to the plate. Assembling the enclosure takes about five minutes and requires nothing more than masking tape and wood glue.

Because all the jacks are mounted on the plastic plate, any cable connected to the Quickie will sprout straight up. This configuration guarantees a messy equipment rack, and it makes the Quickie look more like a piece of gear you’d see in a 1950s sci-fi movie than like an audio product you’d buy in 2011. But anybody who doesn’t dig that just isn’t cool and deserves to spend the rest of their life listening to this.

The tubes Bottlehead supplied are inexpensive NOS (new old stock) units of French pedigree, labeled “Tubes Électroniques Professionnel.” Unfortunately, they’re microphonic, which means they generate sound when the Quickie or the surface supporting it is tapped. This is no big deal, and actually, I think it’s kind of cool; it reminds me of those Chinese metal balls with chimes inside that you use to exercise your hands. The Bottlehead forum recommends using rubber hose slices to damp the microphonics, but I didn’t find it necessary because I didn’t notice the problem when music was playing, or for that matter when I wasn’t tapping on the Quickie.

I encountered only one disappointment during setup: After powering up the Quickie for the first time, I realized that the tube filaments don’t visibly glow. You can see a faint red light inside the tubes, but only if you turn off all the lights in your room and look real close. I guess you gotta give up the glow if you want to run off batteries. Bummer.

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