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Author Topic: What's Your Brand of Tubes?  (Read 3282 times)

djwaudio

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What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« on: November 27, 2011, 01:31:05 AM »

I think we have some tube gear junkies here, what do you like?

I've been through Telefunken, Valvo, Mullard, which were all pretty sweet sounding. I've got some GE 5star that are rockin the Manley Slam at the moment. I'm getting ready to buy some RCA black plates & Raytheons for the Vari Mu. I'm also going with the lower gain 5751 over the 12ax7s that it came with.

It's interesting, the difference tubes can make. It's like buying new gear without the $x,xxx price (though you could get pretty silly tube bills if you're not careful!).
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Dana J White
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 06:38:04 AM »

RCA, Mullard, Gold Lion, GE are some of my favorites. I try and stay away, if I can, from the Chinese tubes and some of the early Russian Tubes. Sylvania tubes never seem to last very long in equipment for some unknown reason.

I work on a lot of older tube equipment for friends and getting good NOS tubes can be difficult to be sure. I still have my trusty military surplus tube checker and my trusty RCA tube manual. Most times Antique Supply has what I need. Sometimes people don't want to spend $65.00 for one NOS tube so I have to put in what they are comfortable with spending. I am so use to working on transistor equipment that I have gotten rudely awakened while working on tube equipment when I was not careful and got my fingers where they should not be. A 350 VDC plate supply can be a bit much early in the morning.

Nice topic.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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OTR Mastering

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 08:38:43 AM »

Love the bite of a Telefunken and the bottom end of Mullards. A good Amperex has a way of making a mix sound like its something. Those are the ones I've played with so far. It is amazing how much difference there is between different tubes...
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JL
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hnewman

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 03:51:02 PM »

Got any favorite online stores for sourcing good/cheap tubes?
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bradsarno

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 07:13:14 PM »

I'm a fan of old Tung-Sol's, GE's, certain RCA's, Telefunkens in the right place, Mullards, Sylvanias, etc. Really hard to beat if you find a nice healthy and non-microphonic NOS or UOS. But I must say that I've had a change of heart in the past couple of years regarding the Shuguang 12AX7's out of China. I dismissed them for years and years because, well, they're Chinese and they used to be pretty bad. But in fairness, I took the advice of a few audiophiles and amp designers and tried the latest 9th generation of their 12AX7, and they have proven to be perhaps my favorite new 12AX7. Not only do they sound pretty good as a clean tube once WELL broken in, but they seem to hold up fairly well for a new tube. The other thing that's good about them is that in a circuit that has a "cathode follower" where there's a high heater/cathode voltage potential, they appear to be about the best tube on the market with regards to adhering to the original spec. Some tubes simply fail in this respect, and most tubes that use spiral filaments are very risky in this situation.

As a tube gear manufacturer, I've had to find a reliable and plentiful source for new tubes, and I've had to give up on Sovtek, EH, new Mullard, new Tung-Sol, and even JJ. These Shuguang 9th gen have been more consistent, low-microphonic, and faithful than anything I've found in recent years. And trust me, it goes against my general instincts to make this choice. So anyway, for new and very cheap tubes, I can honestly say that I think it's worth giving them a shot if you're not in the mood for the pricier and obviously superior NOS magic.

Brad
www.sarnomusicsolutions.com

djwaudio

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 07:16:19 PM »

I'm getting excellent service from www.vacuumtubesinc.com

It seems like if you want the European tubes, the audiophile market has pushed prices into the absurd.

For the fun of it...  :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSo4uYrwbH4
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OTR Mastering

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2011, 09:44:43 PM »

Did a little tube swapping today......the combination I ended up with - Telefunken 12AX7 & RCA 12BH7 - sounds really, really good; at least in the gear I was using and for the song I was playing with. Really nice punch, tight solid well-defined bottom and crisp clean yet soft top end and just the right tube compression (Tele's)....

 8)
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JL
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djwaudio

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 12:55:03 AM »

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lowland

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 06:36:49 AM »

Comments? I've watched this at least ten times now!

Like! What year, I wonder?

Here's another tube/valve video, this time making them by hand. It's been posted to this and other similar forums at least a couple of times, but well worth a look if you haven't seen it before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl-QMuUQhVM

Part 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S5OwqOXen8&feature=related
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Nigel Palmer
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GYMusic

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 01:51:55 PM »

Tubes.  Interesting topic.  I hesitate.  I started my electronics repair work in the late 60's.  I'm a pack rat.  Throughout my life, I have collected lots of electronic parts, pieces and gear.  I liked collecting things of quality.  What didn't fit in my garage, went into storage.  One of the things I collected were vacuum tubes.  Mostly those used in RF and audio circuits.  My son got interested in music (without my pushing) and playing guitar and bass.  We started modding and repairing old audio/music gear many years ago before the big NOS tube fad.  My son now sells NOS audio tubes to many manufacturers of high-end recording gear.  Chances are, if you purchase a piece of gear with special NOS tubes in it, they could have come from my old stock.

Now that you know a bit about my history, I'm here to tell you that we did extensive testing of different brands of the same type of tube in a piece of gear and measured the results.  By ear, distortion analyzers and spectrum analyzers.  The same digital source was used on all testing for repeatability.  What proved to be a great test for something like a mic preamp, was to apply the digital source through the preamp with one brand of tube.  Record a WAV file of it, change the tube brand and record another WAV file of that tube.  Then, line up the WAV files in the DAW and place one out of phase for a null test.  What do you think we found out?

After all these years, I found out that it really doesn't matter what my son and I found out.  All that really matters is what YOU think you're hearing and the price you're willing to pay for what you think you're hearing.

GY 

Hermetech Mastering

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 04:18:07 AM »

Oh come on you tease, what were your results? :)

SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2011, 11:33:05 AM »

Whatever came stock on the DCL200 and I have a modified box with
some old but matched Telefunkens in.
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Barry Gardner
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PBM

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 08:15:41 AM »

I think we have some tube gear junkies here, what do you like?

I've been through Telefunken, Valvo, Mullard, which were all pretty sweet sounding. I've got some GE 5star that are rockin the Manley Slam at the moment. I'm getting ready to buy some RCA black plates & Raytheons for the Vari Mu. I'm also going with the lower gain 5751 over the 12ax7s that it came with.

It's interesting, the difference tubes can make. It's like buying new gear without the $x,xxx price (though you could get pretty silly tube bills if you're not careful!).

Mullards in the Thermionic Phoenix; Phillips JAN in the OCL-2 and Tungsol Gold wherever I need 12AX7's. RCA cleartops in the Stax driver.

Cheers,

Eric
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guivieira

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Re: What's Your Brand of Tubes?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2011, 12:34:06 PM »

Like! What year, I wonder?

Here's another tube/valve video, this time making them by hand. It's been posted to this and other similar forums at least a couple of times, but well worth a look if you haven't seen it before:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl-QMuUQhVM

Part 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S5OwqOXen8&feature=related
Oh my childhood...
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