Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by FlySweep, Nov 2, 2015.
12AZ7 are not warm. Give them a try
Yep found those to work great with modded 650s and 800s. Would call them neutral.
I've got the Amperex 7062 (a slightly taller and hotter 12AT7) on my list of things to try.
Are your Mullards the CV4024s?
I switched back to the stock tubes, and they really do sound great. Closer to the sound I prefer. A little less technically proficient, but it still sounds like a TOTL amp. I will probably order some 12az7 Telefunkens in a week or so.
So I am narrowing down some tubes for my next purchase. The stock tubes are great, but I want them strictly for backup (one of my Mullards literally just died on me this morning). I wanted to test the waters here for any feedback:
Siemens 1982 ECC801S
RCA Black Plate D-getter 12AZ7
Rca/GE black plate triple Mica 6072 5 star
My preferences are resolution/imaging/soundstage over anything else. Basically the least veiled tubes I can get for a reasonable sum. The above tubes I can get for $75 or so for a matched pair.
I am willing to possibly spend more on the following tubes (which are double in price), but only if they are worth the extra cost:
Valvo 1967 E81CC
Siemens & Halske E81CC 1960s triple Mica
12AZ7 are cheap. Considering your preferences, I would give them a try first before spending a lot on expensive exotic tubes.
Edit** by cheap I mean you can probably find them for less than $20.
If you search through this thread, I think @TomB had some recommendations for the 12AZ7’s
I did not have a good experience with a 1980's Siemens ECC801S in my Kenzie. Very forward and bright, light bass and mediocre soundstage. The good ECC801S are the 1960's NOS Telefunken "Diamond Bottom". Granted different amp but that Siemens really sucked YMMV. In my Kenzie a 1963 Telefunken ECC801S bests every other input tube I have tried. Not cheap though expect to pay about $220.
Yeah, I get that. But isn't there a reason people buy exotic tubes? If cheap 12az7 tubes were all you need, why bother tube rolling at all? There seems to be alot of that going on here. Or rather, will even a cheap pair 12az7 (regardless of tube, because you weren't specific about which tube) be better than say the Valvo I listed? I am really trying to be very clear about my needs... I prefer to get the best tube for a reasonable sum (under $175) and be done with it (at least until I need to get a new pair), instead of buying a cheap 12az7, getting curious about what I'm missing (unless cheap tubes are just as good), buying an exotic pair, and just having ended up wasting money in the long run.
I suppose the right question to ask is... are exotic tubes going to sound better in the T3? It the answer is yes, I prefer to get the best exotic tube I can for my preferences, rather than a cheap pair that wont be as good. For instance, the seller of my T3 has the GE/RCA five star I listed and is willing to sell them to me... he said it was the least veiled tube he tried... and it's not a 12az7 (unless I'm mistaken). So I am getting contradictory information and it's just confusing me.
From what I gather, the 12az7 tube family is not warm or veiled. But does that mean every other type of tube will be veiled in comparison? Even the GE/RCA 5 star I mentioned? I am trying to gather as much info as I can to make an informed decision so I am not wasting money in the long run. Thanks for being patient.
GE 6072 is a great tube for this amp. I'd suggest Amperex 12AT7 also, for good tone, attack and detail. Siemens 801S is more of a change of pace. It will be more relaxed and quite neutral. I've never heard a bright Siemens driver tube in any amp or preamp and the 801S is definitely not so in the t3.
It's been a while since I rolled tubes in the T3, but when @bazelio and @brencho and I did some tube rolling, I myself remember finding the 12az7s to be the best sounding tube family and match for the T3, regardless of price. Now those guys have gone on to try more things, but that's why it got so much love. I think the Amperex 12az7 was my favorite, clarity, warmth and power. If I remember right, the caps made a difference as well.
Thanks. There are a pair of RCA grey plate 12AZ7s for $24. The black plate versions are $50. Any difference between grey/black plates SQ-wise?
I'm afraid I don't know, but with the 2A3s the RCA black plates were the better ones.
There was a pair of Westinghouse 12AZ7s on ebay I snagged for $12, cheapest I could find. It's going to be a while before I can splurge on some tubes, so I figured I'd try these and see what's what. Worse case I only spent $12.
Most audio amps are designed around a select few tubes that people know. Those have become rare, and thus the price has gone up. But they are not exotic in the sense of being special, they are just being used up. The 12AZ7 is not typically on that list, and they are thus available for reasonable prices. I would never spend $75 for T3 tubes - there are plenty of great tubes out there for cheap 12AV7's run about $4.
The Westinghouse 12AZ7As arrived a few minutes ago. Oh baby... first impressions are extremely positive. Lack of veil or any kind of weird coloration. Just flowing music. Will let them burn in for a few days before offering details.
Approaching the 100 hour mark on the Sylvania's, which is about what I like to give tubes before I critically listen.
Let me start out by saying the stock tubes are excellent. I don't think they were fully burned in, because just before the Sylvania's came, they sounded alot better. But they still sound a little congested to me compared to better tubes.
The Sylvania's seem to strip away some (unsatisfactory) distortion and colorations that were going on with the stock tubes. It is hard to ascribe any particular character to them... they sound like... music. I guess maybe they sound every so slightly dark, as opposed to bright. I don't really know what "neutral" sounds like so I can't help anyone there.
I can confidently say at this point these 12AZ7's are essential to get the most out of this amp (at least so far). Without getting hyperbolic, the depth, layering, tone and dynamic shifts/contrast are incredibly impressive. Once again I am hearing things I haven't heard before... not in terms of details per se, but more the level of sophistication of each note and in the amount of things happening at once, with each piece being its own separated thing doing its own thing at its own pace without any sense of blurring or bleeding into other things or being drowned out by other things. You only start to realize how important this is when you get better gear. I've heard varying levels of this performance before, but I don't think I've ever heard it done this well. I am hearing room reflections and plankton on classical CDs I've listened to a hundred times that I didn't know were on the recording. I love continually being surprised as to what is on these old discs. And all this without the tubes forgetting to portray the soul of the recording. None of it sounds analytical.
I was never satisfied with the imaging on this amp. One thing Schiit amps seemed to nail was imaging. It was very very easy to place instruments on even the Lyr 2 (with the Tesla tubes I was using). I am extremely anal about this. The Sylvania's have removed my dissatisfaction with this aspect and I feel like the soundstage/the room/concert hall and everything in it is alot more "visible" now and I am not straining to visualize where everything is positioned. I don't know if this aspect can be improved even further... let me know.
I tend to use classical mostly when judging gear performance since it's so complex and seems great at revealing any deficiencies. The timbre of instruments feels alot more, well... instrumental. It's been like an onion revealing more layers as I've gone up the ladder with amps and now these tubes... the honky nature of a trombone is alot... honkier. Etc. You can start to feel the musician playing it and his/her intention with the way they're playing it. I have a feeling I need a Yggy2 to really dig into that aspect more (I am just using the DAC inside my Onkyo C7030 CD player, as I need to sell Gungnir Multibit to fund something important, but the DAC in the CD player is surprisingly not far off from Gungnir Multibit in terms of performance... let's just say I can live without it for now). I got promoted at work recently, so a Yggy2 might be in my future.
My only complaint is that while the tubes are airy, there isn't as much air as I'd like, I feel that could be improved maybe. It also sounds slightly "darker" than I feel is appropriate. It is hard to know what is "accurate" though, since every tube seems to impart its own character in some way. It's possible I'm still used to aggressive (brighter?) Schiit amps and that hasn't worn off yet. I don't know how the T3 compares to other summit-fi amps in those terms. Or what counts as "neutral" vs. "bright"/"dark". I haven't listened to alot of amps.
EDIT: (Since I can't seem to edit my post) The "dark" quality I spoke about doesn't seem to be there today, and there is more air. They seem to have blossomed even more. All the positive qualities I mentioned went up 3.8% I guess.
(DARTH VADER VOICE)
The circle is now complete.
T90s have been replaced with the HD800 and I gotta say, as good as I thought the T3 was, I had no idea it was this damn good. Threw a Shunyata Venom 3 power cord in there as well and all this talk about the 800 being sterile, cold, analytical, bass light? went right out the window. There's warmth without syrup, gobs of resolution and musicality for days. Slam and dynamics are just incredible. Listening to New Order's Blue Monday was like being in an 80s nightclub. Dean Martin's voice relaxes the soul. Live instruments feel like they're right in front of you. Just super duper happy and impressed with my setup now. Gungnir Multibit/T3/used 800 represents one of the best deals in the game I imagine. Money well spent.
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