There was a strange little thing that appeared in Danish magazine Ny Elektronik (New Electronics) in 1989. A very simple preamplifier that used two L63 tubes in Class A with no feedback and it operated pretty much badly out of spec. (It was supposed to though, that was the whole angle of the article.) It was called The Bastard, and gathered quite a following (it got the name because it was a hybrid. The phono stage used transistors for better SNR), and somebody suggested I should try it.
Once I had some suitable tubes (6S2S, NOS, shipped from Smolensk in Russia), I knew I could go ahead with the project. I decided to skip the phono stage, since I already have some of those, and did only the line stage. ;)
A few iterations of the PCB drawings later, and it was time to order some boards as well.
The original Bastard, while probably sounding very good, did not perform that well (it had up to 6% THD+N). Some other Danish guys took a second look at it, and made a couple of changes. First, they bumped the operational voltage from 37V to 80V, to get it into spec. Then they tamed the gain and improved the performance by adding some feedback.
The result was this circuit which has a THD+N of 0.185% and a gain of 2.3:
The unregulated PSU in the original article wouldn't work for this revised version, so I made my own. It's actually two power supplies, both regulated, that delivers 78V/0.7A and 6.3V/1.5A. The 6.3V is for the filament heater, so it doesn't need a lot of filtering as long as it can deliver the required current. The 78V features a voltage quadrupler and uses an RC filter for better smoothing.
Measuring the PSU with load shows 0.00 mV AC on both DC outputs. I'm satisfied with that, although I haven't checked out the noise on the scope.
The BSTRD has been built and tested, and it sounds pretty darn sweet.
Note that because of the voltage quadrupler on the 78V side, you ABSOLUTELY NEED TO USE TWO TRANSFORMERS.
Since the filament heater draws 300 mA of current (a total of 600 mA for two tubes), the LT1086 and its heat sink get really hot. I would recommend using 6 to 9V AC, anything higher than that would probably require moving the regulator off the board and fit a larger heat sink.