DIY audio: Five Fish preamps for Shoji

I assembled a set of Five Fish preamps for Shoji and they turned out really well!  The preamps sound fantastic and thanks to the high quality of the kit and the great support offered by Five Fish, the build process was very enjoyable.  Here’s a time-lapse video of the construction!  Photos and a review of the kit follows the break…

Impressions, short and sweet

Great kit!  Great preamps for the price ($250 for two channels including PSU)  Very well organized, clear explanations.  Incredible support!

Highly recommended.

Soldering the electronics

Soldering the PCBs was fun.  It took longer than I expected (maybe 3 hours for the PSU board and 2 hours for each of the SC-1 boards), but I was probably more careful than I needed to be.  For the first SC-1 board, for example, I measured all the resistor values before installing them.  But since every resistor was perfect, I stopped pre-testing them when soldering the second SC-1 board.  The solder pads are big and “sticky”, so the soldering was easy.  There are no extremely delicate parts.  I used .022 dia solder and set the iron to 650F.

I did make one major mistake during the PSU soldering.  I switched two of the three power regulators, assuming they were all the same.  This was totally my mistake, as they are clearly labeled LM337 vs LM317.  “owel” in the support forum gave me immediate and helpful advice.  He helped me track down the issue and we determined that I’d fried the regulators.  owel quickly sent me replacement regulators at no cost.  You can see the thread in the forums here. The service was really amazing!  Thank you, owel!


The Five Fish 4-channel enclosure is very well made and easy to use.  Since I didn’t have to worry about front-panel drilling, I had time to get the cabling just right.  I’m particularly proud of the power distribution lines, made from a recycled ribbon cable.

For reference, the left image is how cabling usually looks (from the Five Fish website).  The right image is Shoji’s preamp.  Nice, no?!

Check out the finished preamp installed between a UA1176 and Gordon preamp… in very good company!  :)

The sound

“I love this preamp!  Since Kris delivered it I’ve been using it on everything and have found that it sound particularly good on the drum kit.  It’s become one of my core pieces of audio equipment and know that I’ll use it on every project from here on out.” — Shoji

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12 Responses to “DIY audio: Five Fish preamps for Shoji”

  1. Ron says:

    Very cool! That one section where nothing was happening except for the sunlight moving across the table was an especially nice touch.

  2. shoji says:

    Nice video kris! I love the end and the way your t-shirt keeps changing color:)

  3. jacob says:

    Hi Kris, you made the same mistake of switching voltage regulators twice now!

  4. kris says:

    Hiya Jacob! You and your amazing memory. That bit was actually from when I built the power supply for my own Five Fish preamps but I included it here since it’s helpful info for people building the Five Fish kits. So thankfully it was only one time… I learned my lesson!

  5. hiro says:

    ビデオ、はやっ! 画像がちょっと見づらくて残念。しかし、出来上がりが見事だねー、美し~~い!やっぱ栗だね~♪

  6. 栗寿 says:


  7. JonB says:

    dude, that is amazing!!!

  8. cclove says:

    Kris, I love it, thanks for sharing, you made it look easy!

  9. owel says:

    Cool time lapse video and nice review! Thanks for the kind words. (and yes, your wiring looks great! :)

  10. Kris says:

    Hey owel! Thanks again for the help along the way and this great kit. I hope FiveFish has continued success in 2010!

  11. Ken ? says:

    Are these kits still available in 2016 ? is there a web site for five fish kits ? thanks guys

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