Experiencing true vintage sound goodness from a 21st century device relies on A) the exclusive use of components made decades ago and B) using them in old-school topologies with some interesting twists. All components used for Phil‘s Cascade were made when we were kids (or not even born yet) by legendary brands like Sprague, Erdmet, Wima and PSW.

The NE and NX series transformers made by Philips in 1975 were actually never meant to be used in audio environments. However, first experiments quickly revealed they perform like real rock stars, now building the core ingredient forming the unique sound of Phil’s Cascade. There definitively is a lot of iron in this signal path!

Beyond the few tube types which are still available for serial production these days, the rabbit hole of weird, amazing and yes, magic NOS tubes couldn’t be any deeper... All made by Philips long time ago, the ECC91, EF183 and EF86 are everything but your typical audio tubes. And that’s exactly what makes them so valuable, as their special sound signature is plain and simple unique.

Hardware rule #1: The heart of any audio device shall be its power supply! The 12 lb. power transformer used for Phil’s Cascade originally comes from vintage Tektronix measuring equipment, surviving the times when even this was based on tubes exclusively... With its many windings and taps, this mothership of a transformer is perfect for a multi tube-driven project.

Old electrolytic caps can really suck. These, however, are in still in great shape. Made by Roederstein (ROE) way before the company was acquired by Vishay in a time when even ‘smaller’ capacities came in a considerable footprint. Anyway, this batch of truly beautiful caps offers all the capacity needed for Phil’s Cascade – and then some!

What a stunning piece of engineering art! Rotary capacitors like this were used in old tube radios. What a beast for realizing just a single function... The scale is especially stunning on this one, and as a wonderful detail it is backlit by a small E10 light bulb. After a little bit of modification, this historic piece became the central gain controller and indicator of Phil’s Cascade.

Phil’s Cascade is controlled by a set of authentic bakelite knobs, made in the US many decades ago. Just a few of the knobs in this batch (a lucky find) were in such great condition, only showing signs of their respectable age, but no significant discolorations or cracks. Against the odds, not only two different sizes, but also a single On/Off knob were found inside the dusty old box.

Some icing on the cake... This pilot light is very rare new old stock made around the 1950s. It shines a truly significant shape of light, and it perfectly fits the aesthetics of the exclusive housing designed for Phil’s Cascade. But the wildest aspect about it is the light intensity which can be dimmed down mechanically, until just a super tiny spot in the middle of the lens remains.