Show Us Your Space: Acouphonic Amp and Pedal Workshop in Vouvray, France

Welcome to the latest installment of Show Us Your Space, a series in which we invite producers, sound engineers, technicians, craftsmen, luthiers, and musicians to introduce us to their studios, workshops, and other music-making environments. Recently, we toured Enmore Audio in Sydney, Australia, and Influx Studios in Bern, Switzerland.

For this installment we head to Vouvray, France. We decided to ask Antoine Bourgougnon, a member of the Reverb team who is passionate about vintage electronics, to take us through his studio, which looks like a 1950s radar station. Even without knowing what all these machines do, there’s an astonishing aesthetic at play here. It comes as no surprise that Acouphonic’s Instagram feed has thousands of followers.

To see the beauty of vintage, tube-powered electronics, follow along with Antoine below.

Welcome to my workshop, where I’ve built and repaired vintage gear for several years. I came up with the name Acouphonic about 10 years ago now, while I was still in high school and daydreaming about building my own amps and my own brand.

Back when I first started making music, I didn’t have the money to buy my dream amp, but I was lucky enough to have a dad who was an electric engineer. He told me at the time, “You could very easily buy an old radio set and tinker with it a bit to turn it into a small amplifier.” So, I set the iron to solder, and I was hooked.

The world of tubes and vintage electronics is hard to break into for two reasons. First is the lack of reliable information, and the second is the dangerous nature of the work. You don’t just go about repairing a 700 V amp as if you were soldering a fuzz pedal on the corner of a shaky table. I got started by devouring tons of books about old electronics. Ten years ago, it was impossible to find reliable information on the internet, so the way to learn was by digging for information in books and experimenting on your own.

I love to build and fix with utmost respect for the true artistry of the electronics workmanship developed in the ‘50s and ‘60s. If you’ve ever been curious enough to open up a vintage Hiwatt amp, you’ll see that the wiring is neat and extremely orderly, which is a treat for the repairperson and a boon for the amp’s own robustness. For me, this neatness is the best way to work, and I never use a printed circuit board simply because I find it much easier to build a reliable and easily fixable amp or pedal following this method.

A small bit of history, the military-level precision of Hiwatt’s wiring should come as no surprise, as it was Hiwatt’s own Harry Joyce, an ex-engineer for the Royal Navy, who introduced military specs to amp wiring in the first place.

Over the years, I’ve surrounded myself with old measurement tools. I love to be able to experiment and crosscheck my calculations and designs. I could be content with an oscilloscope on my computer and a generator on my iPhone, and I’d definitely have more accurate measurements sometimes, but my measurement tools have a real soul to them. I love working with them, I know how they function and how to calibrate or fix them if necessary, and for equipment from the ‘50s, they’re very reliable and extremely precise.

This is where I do all my tests. I’ve got all I need at my fingertips to test and measure an amp or a pedal that I’ve just built, from top to bottom. I can also use these devices to check if an older amp is operating properly. On the right you can see an authentic Tektronix 585 full-tube oscilloscope, the same kind used by NASA in the ‘60s.


This is the bench where I build my effect pedals and amps. I only use high-quality tools—nothing more frustrating than working with bad tools.


Metrix U61C

This is a Metrix U61C tube analyzer, or tube tester, and it’s one of my main measuring instruments. It was built in the ‘50s in France and runs entirely on tubes. Unlike several other tube testers, this device doesn’t give a “guesstimate” measurement, it offers real measurement conditions with actual supply voltages close to what is found in a real-life amp.

Metrix U61C

This is a Metrix U61C tube analyzer, or tube tester, and it’s one of my main measuring instruments. It was built in the ‘50s in France and runs entirely on tubes. Unlike several other tube testers, this device doesn’t give a “guesstimate” measurement, its measurement conditions offer actual supply voltages similar to what is found in a real-life amp.


Metrix 626

Built in 1952, the Metrix 626 is an impedance bridge, or an LCR, meter. It helps me very precisely measure inductances, capacitors, and resistances. It’s very accurate for its age, and with it I can test live components up to 600 V, something that has become a rare find in more modern devices. In the middle, the green "eye" is a special tube to make accurate measurements by measuring the balance of the bridge.

Metrix 626

Built in 1952, the Metrix 626 is an impedance bridge, or an LCR meter. It helps me very precisely measure inductances, capacitors, and resistances. It’s very accurate and in great shape for its age, and with it I can test live components up to 600 V, something that has become a rare find in more modern devices. In the middle, the green "eye" is a special tube that measures the balance of the bridge for accuracy.


CRC DH 160

The CRC DH 160 is a distorsiometer, that, as the name would suggest, measures an amplifier’s harmonic distortion. At the time it was built, this device was originally made for the French Navy, and as such it’s extremely precise. It’s an all-tube device, and I use it when I build my amps to adjust everything perfectly.

CRC DH 160

The CRC DH 160 is a distorsiometer, that, as the name would suggest, measures an amplifier’s distortion. At the time it was built, this device was originally made for the French Navy, and as such it’s extremely precise. It’s all-tube, and I use it when I build my amps to adjust everything perfectly.


Metrix 675 A

The Metrix 675A is a device for testing the different transistors I use in my workshop. Fun fact, not only can this device deeply inspect a transistor’s features and offer perfectly stable supply voltages, but it runs on twelve 1.5 volt batteries.

Metrix 675 A

The Metrix 675A is a device for testing the different transistors I use in my workshop. Fun fact, not only can this device deeply inspect a transistor’s features and offer perfectly stable supply voltages, but it runs on twelve 1.5 volt batteries.


This is a frequency meter from the ‘60s with a working Nixie tube display. A little bit of back story, it was an older gentleman who sold it to me, and he had just calibrated it with a V-4700 rubidium atomic clock. In its heyday, that device alone was about the same value as a nice house.


Sable and Mercure

The Sable and the Mercure are two of the pedals that I build. The Sable is an overdrive, and the Mercure is a boost. The building for each is done on a lug bar, and each component is thoroughly checked before assembly.

Sable and Mercure

The Sable and the Mercure are two of the pedals that I build. The Sable is an overdrive, and the Mercure is a boost. The building for each is done on a lug bar, and each component is thoroughly checked before assembly.


Amplificateur A-15-N

This is the prototype for an amp I built a few years ago and which will soon be available for sale on Reverb. The power unit is provided by a pair of 6P14 / EL84 Soviet tubes. On the front are three settings: a volume and a two-band EQ. It comes with an open cabinet with two 8-inch Jupiter speakers.

Amplificateur A-15-N

This is the prototype for an amp I built a few years ago and which will soon be available for sale on Reverb. The power unit is provided by a pair of 6P14 / EL84 Soviet tubes. On the front are three settings: a volume and a two-band EQ. It comes with an open cabinet with two 8-inch Jupiter speakers.


It’s hard to not accumulate lots of old parts. I like to use older components for my builds, and I have a huge stock of them, so it’s kind of like my small contribution to the recycling of raw materials.

Tubes are always findable, and certain models will always be in production, but it’s important to have older models in stock to compare how they work, or even some that aren’t in production anymore to use for troubleshooting older non-working gear.

Older parts certainly come with their fair share of mojo, but there is something very subtle and interesting as well about specific components such that, in every case, they are just much more suited for use in tube audio. That being said, even mojo has its limits, and some critical components these days are much more reliable than they used to be. Safety should never be sacrificed for mojo.


Have you assembled an awesome music space that you want to show off? Contact us at showusyourspace@reverb.com


comments powered by Disqus