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re: HH Scott 222 review

Hello inmates,
thinking of posting the following as a review:

HH Scott just simply amazes me, I don't know how to describe how satisfying it is to listen to their vintage tube amps. Some say they are a bargain, an under-dog, or "giant killer". They run side by side with the big names of their era and continue to blow away the new gear, many seem to think of Scott as a spoiler amp, well honestly I just think HH Scott are a first class act when it comes to tubes.

Through the generosity of a friend I received a very rare early 222D in a trade for services. The amp is really just a 222C with a rare 8-knob 222D faceplate. It was all stock and still running with the selenium rectifier. I had a tech bring it up and get it in running condition. I played this amp, stock, in a secondary system with some modest speakers.



It didn't stay in the secondary system for long, it became my main system after a short time. That little EL84 18 watt amp had better bass response than a KT88 amp I swore, or was I just going delusional? Well it bested my tube separate systems, which were all professionally restored. The over all sound spectrum just surprises the hell out of you. It sounds very natural and "musical" I felt. The sound spectrum features an ultra-wide open sound stage, this just made it feel like it could belt out a much bigger sound than you'd ever imagine from this little compact (and nice looking) unit.

Of course after some years of service the original components started to fail and I starting making plans for a major restoration. I decided it was also time for me to start learning more about DIY here at Audio Asylum. It was time to make a move in that direction after owning some tube gear and not really being able to get under the hood.

Fortunately, in a post about my plans for the amp, I got a response from Mike Samra, who had always answered my posts before about other questions, but this was going to be different. I was actually going to do the restore and really needed help in selecting components and a few lessons on how to install them.

Mike was beyond helpful. Through e-mails, pictures, and phone calls, we worked on this unit over the course of a month in very slow, step by step, sections. Mike had already done a number of these amps and developed a formula of components that would bring this amp to its full potential while preserving its vintage sound. This formula would also stay within a cost range that was completely sensible. I was very nervous through the entire process as I really loved this amp and didn't want to fry it. I could handle some high voltage shock, but if I killed the amp, I could never forgive myself.

Mike's component of choice was the Russian K40 cap, which we used to replace most of the ceramic caps in the output stages. We bumped up some values in the input stages but on his advice went with vitamin Q's in that chain. Finally we did a power supply revamp using Muse caps and replaced the selenium rectifier with a silicone bridge. There were some other (straight-up) repairs that needed to be done that Mike guided me through as well. The power switch and external fuse holder were broken and by passed. I fitted a new fuse holder and rewired the switch after tests confirmed it still worked. Through some close up images I sent via e-mail, Mike also advised me as to what components would need treatment with de-ox. He then worked me through a few test power-ups and bias adjustments. I would need to write an entire essay just to describe how nervous I was to turn this thing back on after the surgery...

Under the access panel:




I didn't stop there. After the internals were set and I was convinced that little red pilot light would light up every time I pulled the switch, I spent 2 weeks de-oxing the entire chassis, and actually restored all the missing lettering on the rear and the few missing elements on the face plate. Another article would be needed to explain this, but the point is, I wanted a thorough job, and for it to look as nice as it could.

Before:


After:


De " ox:


So after much procrastination, I hooked up my source and speakers then braced myself. I ran the system low in the background for a little burn-in a few days before sitting down and listening to it. One night I grabbed my favorite CD's and opened it up. Holy F-ing Sh$%t... the sound stage, which was great before, all of a sudden had another dimension.... right smack in the middle of the room! And as the burn in continues, it keeps improving. The next night I threw in a CD where a brass section of instruments actually startled me, you could actually feel how wet the mouth piece was, the details were stunning but it still retained that classic tube vibe. The contrasts were also much improved, playing really super quiet and handling soft voices like an expensive reference amp. I love how this thing performs at low and high volumes, improved dynamics, it seems like you always get richness out of it. The bass response, which has always been a remarkable characteristic of the amp, was solid as ever, a bit more controlled and "in place" than it was stock, but hitting you like a KT88 with lots of air. How?... I thought... how is this possible from such a little amp?



I continue to be enamored with this unit, and now with the restore, I just think the best way to sum up this amp with Mike's formula is "what else do you want? what else could you ask for?"

Mike thanks again...

Jeff


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Topic - re: HH Scott 222 review - mr9iron 22:42:37 05/30/09 (1)

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