I hate tube rolling, but let's discuss tubes.

Discussion in 'General Audio Gear Discussion' started by Marvey, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I hate tube rolling. I hate excessive tube rollers. I mean, WTF? Do you listen to tubes or do you listen to music?

    Anyway, someone sent me a PM regarding tubes. I can't find the PM. I don't know if it was regarding 6SN7, 6SL7, 300Bs, 6922, 7N7, 2A3, or 45 tubes, but please ask again here. I can only give tips since I don't own 1876 different kinds of tubes and I don't go around trying to stick random tubes that just happen to fit into sockets. However, the tips I provide (or others might provide) might be beneficial.

    And no pictures and no hand-jobs to each other. Pictures will be allowed for the identification of tubes (the plate structure, construction, etc.) since in many cases, a company would slap their brand names from an OEM.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015

  2. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    To start 300B. This is easy. WE 300Bs, but they do not exist anymore. As of 2015, these are the only three which seemed reasonable priced and available. There is a lot of crap out there. I don't care for any of the Chinese 300Bs, e.g. Shuguang's Poopy Treasures, Sophia Spoiled Princess, etc.
    • EML 300B Mesh. Less bloomy version of the Solid-Plates below.
    • EML 300B Solid Plate. Wide headstage with precise instrument placement. Some upper bass and lower mid bloom. Good tight bass. More solid-state sounding than anything below.
    • EH Platinum. Surprisingly good in all areas. Just a little bit less clear, less tight, less detailed, etc. compared to the better tubes. I wouldn't mind using these in a heartbeat.
    Would appreciate any impressions of the Takatsuki TA-300B related to WE, EML, etc.
     
  3. Olor1n

    Olor1n Friend

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    Yeah, I hate the neurosis of tube rolling. I like that Amperex tubes don't leave me wanting for more. Learnt this with the original Lyr, when chasing the unicorn threatened to get out of hand. First thing I did when the Valhalla 2 entered the stable was order some Bugle Boys and Orange label A-frames. A bonus that the Valhalla 2 sounds pretty good in stock form with the cheaper stock tubes. Pretty much a set-and-forget amp once you accept its limitations.
     
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  4. Griffon

    Griffon Portable prince - Friend

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    Since this is the tube general discussion thread, I'll post my little story and 2 cents.

    A few weeks ago I've got my first tube amp the Ember II. Then mikoss sent me some NOS tubes - the value of which I'm unaware of - to play with. Siemens CCa, Telefunken CCa, Amperex Miniwatts 7308, and Philips Miniwatts 7308. I also own three newer tubes - JJ 12AU7 (the stock tube), Tung Sol 12AX7 new made in Russia, and GE smoked glass 6DJ8. Turned out my personal ranking (with Anax 1.0 HD800 fed by Modi 1) would be Amperex>= Philips>Siemens=Telefunken>>GE>JJ=TungSol. Most of the time, I'm listening through the Amperex, while sometimes rolling the Philips. Amperex and Philips are really, really similar, but I somehow preferred the somewhat thin and dry characteristics of Amperex.

    But a week ago I broke the Amperex - so I though shit, I'll have to buy one - and started to look for the price of the tubes. It was a facinating experience to discover the respective prices. WTF the Telefunken CCa is 450US for one?? And a Siemens CCa is 150+US??

    I thought to myself, yeah price just doesn't indicate if a tube is to my preference, the same as other audio gears.
     
  5. jexby

    jexby Raised by Carthusian Monks - Friend

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    damn boyos, send me the remaining mikoss NOS tubes so I can put them in a Vali 2 on Thursday.
    whatever I don't prefer/want to keep I'll send back.
     
  6. Griffon

    Griffon Portable prince - Friend

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    LOL! I'm not risking breaking more tubes. Jokes aside, I have one more little story.

    So I went to a local old school electronics parts store, and I asked specifically for NOS Amperex/Philips Miniwatts 7308. The hunchbacked old gentleman digged his whole warehouse to find one. Brand fucking new!! He quoted me 100 loonies after tax, which is roughly 65 US. So yeah, I want to use this tube to compensate mikoss.
     
  7. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Dang, the 7308 are stupid expensive now. And holy crap, how did the 7DJ8s get so expensive now?
     
  8. Griffon

    Griffon Portable prince - Friend

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    http://www.upscaleaudio.com/telefunken-cca/

    If Upscale doesn't make a fair call of NOS tube price, I'm not sure where to look to.
     
  9. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    IMO the more useful work would be to rank new tubes and forget NOS ones. NOS are too risky to be safely adviced. Price are often Insane as well.

    I'm still waiting my Stratus , I already did some search about 2A3, 6N1p and 5U4G and bought a few but I'm more interested to know or test how compare all new 2A3 : KR, EML, PSVANE, SHUGUANG, Sovtek, JJ, EH. I was lucky enough to grab a pair of NOS Visseaux/Miniwatt for cheap and I sent them to Donad North who measured and heard it. Seems they're great but I won't spend more money in NOS. too risky . too much crooks.

    I'm not that much into rolling myself. Once found my prefered tubes, I stick with them.

    Another useful list would be the honest recommended dealers here or there.

    My 2 cents.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  10. mtoc

    mtoc SBAF's Resident Shit-Stirrer

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    I have an idea for many yrs. Could we just DIY some tubes?
     
  11. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    What I'd like are some tube-buying tips. There are a couple websites that seem solid, but they don't have the tubes I'm looking for very often. How does one shop Ebay tubes? etc.

    I'm not one to try and buy tons of tubes, but sometimes you have to get a set to find some you like.
     
  12. fraggler

    fraggler The Cable Guy - Friend

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    This please. I am quite pleased with the Vali 2 as is, but knowing myself I'd be interested in trying something just to see if I could hear a difference. Mainly, how would I make sure that the tube itself is internally balanced like Schiit tests for?
     
  13. feilb

    feilb Coco the monkey - Friend

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    Ive bought a few on ebay here and there. There are many, but little guarantee of quality. I havent been around HF much since rb2013 had everyone whipped up in a frenzy on Lyr rolling, but it was fever pitch in there for a while. Not sure if it has died down.

    Believe it or not, my favorite tube i found wasnt some magical unobtanium, but a simple Siemens ECC85, which works great in Val 2. If anyone wants some Amp USN-CEP 7308s, i've got a pair i dont use.
     
  14. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    The best tip I know for buying NOS tubes on eBay is don't. It is a great source for Soviet stuff (which is cheap and can be bought in bulk), but otherwise it is too hit or miss and too difficult to verify.

    And I agree with purrin that tube rolling is a waste. Different tubes may make a tiny incremental difference, but in a blind test I bet the differences are far smaller than most rollers think. There are other things (like a better circuit) that make a bigger one.
     
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  15. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Finding decent tubes on eBay will take some time for you to figure out how most sellers list the tube info. They all use different testers with different numeric results. I just look for something known good or NOS (new old stock). Tests great, tests good, blah blah. Nothing about "tests low" or whatever.

    Depending on your amp, you'll want to look for balanced or matching "sections." Something like that. Think about the Vali 2, or something like Crack, where you have a single tube doing stereo duty. If the sections aren't matched or balanced internally, you might get channel imbalances.

    Again, those numeric results are all over the place. Sometimes you'll see "test good, closely matching sections 50/48" or "tests great, matching sections 3000/2950" or whatever.

    The more tube listings you'll look at, the more you'll get a feel for it.

    The alternative is to pay out the ass on tube sites like Upscale Audio or the high-priced eBay listing. While not guaranteed, those seem to be more likely to be good, matched tubes. They might also be less likely to hum, hiss, and are generally more likely to be new-old-stock

    If you have an auto-biasing tube amp where single tubes aren't being used for stereo duties, the closely matched section aspect isn't as critical. I take the safe route anyway, though.

    I'm pretty noob at this myself, so someone please correct me if I'm wrong anywhere.
     
  16. Jeb

    Jeb Friend

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    Just to throw another question in there - I'd be interested to know what makes some amps more sensitive to tube changes than others?

    I think I remember seeing @purrin write that one of the Cavalli amps in particular was only as good as the tubes you used in it. I Can't remember which one. Hopefully I didn't just make that up.
     
  17. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    eBay is OK if you know what you are doing and you've come to know who is selling the stuff. The expectation is to not trust the "tested" stuff because most of those tests don't mean crap. I purchased some 2A3 tubes from a guy who ran the curves at realistic conditions and they were good. But otherwise, have full expectation of rolling the dice. Assume that 30%-35% of tubes you buy from eBay will be bad and you should be OK.

    It's just the nature of old tubes. Honestly, I can't say I've had any better experience with TubeDepot.com. A few years ago, one of my inquires on a bad tube went to a black hole. Upscale seems good.

    Liquid Glass.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  18. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Ok purrin , what would you stick in EC 2A3 that isn't 1/4 cost of the amplifier itself?
    I saw a list somewhere in CS or HF a while a go, but couldn't find it.

    I have Sovteks, Shuguangs and some Sylvanias (gray plates top and botom plate ) out of 2A3-s here. The goodness of sound to me is just in that order so that Sylvanias are the best of them. Any recommendations for driver toobs?
    What else great is there?
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  19. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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    In another thread I briefly covered some of my tube buying experiences, and like Marv, said roughly 30% of my purchases have had some kind of problem (microphonic, weak measurement, out of spec, etc...). The good sellers will take care if you, and the bad sellers will be difficult to deal with (I bought testers, so the bad sellers don't have a leg to stand on when it comes down to it). Also the testers help with my OCD when it comes to matching things.
     
  20. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    1. Buy six to eight old stock RCA, Sylvanias, Ken-Rads, etc. (Many of the old stock 2A3s sound about the same to me) for no more than $99 from eBay Expect 25-40 % of them to go or sound bad.
    2. Psvane WE275 from a decent Chinese dealer (MableAudio) for $175 a piece or pay a bit more from Grant Fidelity. This tube is a tiny bit drier and less lively than the NOS, but it does sound the most like NOS to my ears.
    3. EML 2A3 Mesh (but four of these could cost almost 1/4 of the amp).
     

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