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

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by purr1n, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Wasn't sure where to post this since the EC studio thread is dead and I don't want to post it on the DN or AF threads.

    Acme 2a3 from psvane. I got a pair of these NIB, cheap from a guy who didn't end up using them.

    [​IMG]

    They have a unique balloon shape which is the first I've seen of the 2a3.
    Plate and filament design is very similar to Electroharmoix 2a3. I don't like the eH very much, they are kinda glarey and hard sounding.

    [​IMG]

    My EC studio runs quads or two pairs of 2a3, in the two pair configuration you sort of get an amalgamation of both tube signatures. So this is not a great comparison as I am not able to properly compare with only the single pair.
    However, after spending a lot of hours with the studio and just about every 2a3 on the market, I believe I can pick the signatures from a single pair as I know fairly well the signatures of my other 2a3 pairs.

    I started by trying the eh with the acme, mainly because I was worried the acme might blow up my amp or other tubes.

    [​IMG]
    @Mongstradamous who made this joke and now I can't stop thinking about road runners..

    Fortunately they didn't explode or kill my amp. Straight out of the box the first 20 hours was a bit hard, and lean. Super airy but bass was a bit loosy goosy. I rolled in some NOS RCA black plates instead of the eH and that seemed to make things sound more linear, bass extends well, remains tight and well controlled, at 50 hours resolution is ALMOST as good as my favorite fivre copper rods and might be at a similar level by the 100 hour mark.

    Have been happily listening and would say that these are really fantastic sounding tubes in this set up.
    Running the LM erricson drivers, tele recs and hd800sdr with convert 2. These psvane a2a3 sound fairly normal considering their design and shape. They are definitely on the same playing field as good quality NOS and are better than sophia, eh, new Kron, EML mesh in my opinion.
    WRT single plate, copper rods, dual single plate, avvt and old KR, these are likely to perform slightly better with good synergy but due to their volatility, rarity and price tag, I would say the acme is a great buy with a warranty and 95% of the performance of these examples.
     
  2. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    The Acme 2A3s are most likely the best current production 2A3s. I have not heard all of them, but that was the manufacturer's goal. Grant Fidelity has them. You can buy a select matched pair or a cheaper pair. They have nice defined bass, a good clean full midrange and lovely sweet highs as best as my old ears can hear. A great tube. My friend, Ruby Tiger had a hell of a time breaking in his non select pair, but felt rewarded at the end. We use them with that big daddy EML 5U4G.
    The KR 2A3s are another good current production tube.
     
  3. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I'm looking for tubes to roll into my incoming Shortest Way, and wondered if anyone had any suggestions or knowledge of how any makes and models of the following might sound.

    6Z51P
    EF184
    6EJ7
    6F19
    6F26
    6BY7
    EF85
    W719

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Very very interesting and thanks for the tip. Psvane has been experimenting a lot with all sorts of approaches. I think the 40-hour burn-in is reasonable for it to come into its own. If you said 280 hours, I wouldn't have believed you :)

    Globes always sound better for some reason. Maybe it's how the electron cloud forms? Haha, a lot of audio remains wizardry and magic.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
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  5. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    My buddy, Ruby Tiger spent three weeks and at least 200 hours breaking in his non select pair of Acme 2A3s. Every few days I would get a grumpy gram about how crappy they still sounded. When they made their last change, he talked me into buying a select pair from Grant. Mine sounded OK from the beginning and best by 80 or so hours.
     
  6. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    Xecuter, I am not familiar with your EC Studio. From what I see in your pics, that amp takes four 2A3s, right? are they all used as power tubes? What do you use for a rectifier?
     
  7. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    I use tele ey500a rectifiers. There are a few variants of the tele ey500a floating around and I prefer the triple mica version.

    @Claud I suggest googling or using the search function before asking basic questions about gear. This isn't a chit chat type forum, bring something to the table when you post or don't bother posting.
    Also no one gives a fuck about Ruby Tiger.
     
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  8. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    am still more inclined to "trust" (sound and lifespan) NOS spring top or Ken Rad 2A3s at $500 a pair (if legit)
    vs
    Psvane Acme 2A3 at $565 a pair

    but that's the gamble these days with inter webs shopping.
     
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  9. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Highly entertaining exchange. LOL, Ruby Tiger. Epic. Does he have wings?

    The Acme have been out for about a year, and I remember several DOA tubes reported at least with early batches. Those might have been the higher power tubes though. GD Parts is good about replacement tubes anyhow. There's a guy near me that has a high efficiency speaker rig with a 2A3 amp. I just confirmed that the Acme tubes were in the rotation when I was last listening to his system. I concur they are better than EH, JJ. Held their own for the most part with NOS RCA. Pretty cool if they're 95% of the Fivres. The ones I heard had been run in a while.
     
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  10. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    I posted an old NOS 2a3 break down a few years ago here:

    Which later evolved into this which I never shared publicly.

    Sophia 2a3: limp dick, wet sounding, bloomy warmy crap 50%
    EH: better than expected for price but a bit glarey and hard with some genres. 85%
    EML:mesh: a little bit softer than neutral with a weak grip on bass 85%
    EML solid: very neutral with controlled bass, 90%
    Acme psvane: fantastic air (slight brightness in highs), good detail, timbre less natural as some NOS, tight bass: 95%
    RCA grey plate: fairly thin sounding with loose bass. 70%
    RCA: jan crc. fairly garbage, lean bright hard, warm up over 100 hours but still kinda etched with good detail. 80% (Do not buy these from Demag on gumtree or ebay!)
    RCA/Kenrad: black plate: great tube, good value, less etched than jan and keeps getting better with time. 90%
    RCA spring: no etch, warmer top to bottom, well controlled, good detail. 94%
    Fivre (copper rod 2a3), philco: something about the copper tubes just give these a bit more timbre and tone in instruments, this is my choice for daily cheap use 97%
    Westinghouse (made in canada! not "for westinghouse"): similar detail as rca but with better bass and slightly warmer up top - good value. 95%
    dual mono plate - (very fragile tube) well balanced sounding with a bit more bass extension. I've had two pairs and one tube in both pairs died before I got to 100 hours.. 95%
    RCA/arctarus mono plates: top tier NOS. slightly warmer than other RCAs but maintain incredible detail and speed. incredible tube. 98%
    fivre mono plate: very similar to the RCA monoplate, these are maybe even a touch warmer than RCA with similar detail and speed. this is my tube of choice. 99%
    AVVT: mesh: very neutral tube, bass is not super deep or tight but it's a top tier tube and definitely the most beautiful design. Suits amps with warmer transformers than mine though. 97%
    not enough experience with KR, the HP ones blew up my mates studio and the original Kron Pre 2007 ones seem to be better than the new stock. Buy with caution.
    I have never tried JJ

    Take this with a grain of salt, rectifiers, driver tubes, transformers, dacs and the transducer you use will have very different synergy requirements. The percentages should probably not be used to quantify anything, I'm only trying to show that the difference between $300/pair tubes and $2000 a pair tubes is awfully close in my impressions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
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  11. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    This, tube impression especially output tubes are very hard describe. In my experience the tube with the highest gain has the biggest impact in a circuit which usually is the input.

    My experience with 2A3 on the Stellaris/Stratus is a different given its warmer nature. From what I've read about the Studio it's ruthlessly neutral towards bright so my views are different on some times:
    EML Solid: boring and lacks dynamics, too dense and heavy without extension. 85%
    Sylvania S plate fishing pole: average performance, slow and rolled off at both ends, too mid centric and lacks true tonality. 78%
    Sylvania dual mono plate: mini single plate, very balanced and fast, low end is not the most extended and controlled, treble is sparkly with great detail, good to great tone. 90%
    Ken Rad black glass: the hip hop tube, deep low end with weight, great mid range but on the denser side. 90%
    RCA monoplate: the reference 2A3 in my view, all the other constructions after it was a way to lower production cost. Lighting fast speed, best extension out of the NOS family, beautiful tone. 97%
    Fivre monoplate: the same as the monoplate with additional warmth without messing up the sound. I can't say it's better than the more neutral RCA, a different flavour depending on the headphones. 97%
    AVVT mesh: most neutral out of the bunch and works wonders in the DNA amps with a matching input and rectifier. Midrange presence and tonality is the highlight, best extension but not the last word in low end control or top end fineness. 100%
    Telefunken AD1: My new discovery. Radiomuseam has it as a 4V 2A3.
    In the Stellaris it can be used just with an adaptor. The voltage is at 3.8V, withing 5% tolerance. Max voltage is 250V so lower drop rectifiers such as GZ32 or 422A should not be used as the plate voltage is around 270V. This will wear out the tube prematurely. The U52 is a great compliment and in my view the ideal running the AD1 at 245V and 42mA. Other AD1 such as AD1/350 or EBIII cannot be used in the Stellaris without mods.

    [​IMG]
    The cleanest sound, surpassing any 2A3. My guess is the distortion figures are ridiculously low. Extension is dead flat, low end is controlled to the best capabilities of the output transformers. Smoothness in the top end like no other with exceptional detail and sparkle. Microdynamics king. Above all else it's musical, mono plate musical but better.
    Price is stupid, 1500$+ for a 80%+ tested pair, if you can find any. 110%
    45:
    [​IMG]
    People are wetting themselves over this tube. It has a very addictive sound, to a fault. Even if the midrange has extraordinary presence it sounds hollow somehow to me. Low end is unimpressive but those mids are worth it. If I were to built an amp for someone new to tubes I'd use this, very lovable, better than the majority of 2A3 apart from mono plates. Not the last word in microdynamics. 92%
    45 globe:
    [​IMG]
    Globes sound better for some reason. I don't know if it's the construction or glass shape, where the 45 ST is mid centric, this one has extraordinary detail with lots and lots of air. Could be the airiest so far. Linear and neutral, a bit light sounding in a good way. 97%
    46:
    [​IMG]

    A weird and unknown tube. Dual grid, can be wired in triode with an adaptor. Sounds like a 45, 2A3 hybrid, it has the weight and impact of the 2A3 with a lesser 45 midrange, good treble extension but a slightly coarse. 90%

    PX4 shouldered:
    [​IMG]
    Trades blows with the AD1, not as clean sounding but not in a negative way. Best top and low end from a purely music enjoyment point of view. Similar mid range to the AVVT, slightly more forward. All 2A3 sound rolled off at the extremes compares to the PX4, large and deep soundstage. This is my cheap daily driver, in the UK the pop up for not insane prices. I got two NOS pairs, one for 550£ and the other for 420£. 105%

    PX4 globe(Mazda PP3/250)
    [​IMG]
    Only had a short audition as one died, doesn't conduct anymore. Sounded like an improved ST PX4 just like the globe 45 is the the standard version. On par with the AD1 for SQ. 1500$+

    AVVT PX4:
    [​IMG]
    Doesn't sound like the 2A3 mesh and has similarities to the PX4 ST with increased focus and speed. Only listened for a couple of minutes as it's not ideal for the Stellaris. Once my new amp arrives I'll share more about the PX4 family vs 2A3.

    My apologies for the short impressions, I haven't used some of these in months.
    At this point the only 2A3 I'm using is the AVVT and consider the European PX4,AD1 tubes as being better for my tastes in the Stellaris. They sound bigger, bolder. With all 2A3 apart from single plates and maybe AVVT there are tradeoffs where the others offer different presentations of great sound without compromises when the input and rectifier is matched.

    Also the earlier the tube the better is sounds for some reason, single plate construction seem to be best such as 2A3,45,PX4,PP3,AD1 etc, globe is even better.

    My views, my gear, my tastes etc...

    P.S. I'm very very happy with AVVT as output tubes, you can't really ask for more for DNA amps. I had a need to listen to the absolute best there is and it lead me to the more exotic tubes. The experience of listening to them has completed my view of tubes and tube amps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  12. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Apologies if there's already a tutorial for toob noobs here, but I often find it hard to figure out what's what wrt tubes.

    I also bought Matsushitas branded as Westinghouse and Toshibas branded CGE. None of the tubes are labelled "Mullard", "Matsushita" or "Toshiba", so how does one know that that's who made them? I searched online including all the codes that are printed on the RCA (JB3, B5B4), but zip nadda zilch. Is there a tube blue book or something? Or is this just esoteric knowledge that is acquired over time?
     
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  13. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    No blue book that I'm aware of - I believe it's mostly esoteric knowledge about getter style, construction, glass processing and stamps, etc.
     
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  14. gurubhai

    gurubhai Friend

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    Here's the blue book.

    JB is type code of EF184 and the second line starting with B means Blackburn Factory (Mullard).
     
  15. TristanL

    TristanL Rando

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    I just got into audio things, and I'm wondering if anyone has experience or own(ed) a WA6se (2nd gen) and has a preferred set of tubes?
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  16. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Good stuff, thanks!
     
  17. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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    What a $23.99 274B from China looks like when it arrives:

    [​IMG]

    That box is unopened (at least by me). :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  18. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Finally found one tube of the end of rabbit hole edition, one more to go. Globe PX4 I can actually use, the first gen globes were something like 600mA heater with max 200V, full getter flash using the azide process, they later switched to oxide coating. Similar plate aesthetic to the globe PX25.

    Fun fact, the predecessor to the PX25 was the LS6A first launched in 1929, I'm not aware of anything before it.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2019
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  19. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Found this gold mine for the early vacuum tube enthusiast and collector. I've learned the history of some of my favourite early European DHTs, a lot of details of tubes on my shortlist and just general salivation. Check the category list on the lower right side. European power tubes and rectifiers were my first curiosities.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  20. Claud

    Claud Living the ORFAS dream

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    m17xr2b, I never thought you might be Asian. To me, it explains your insatiable curiosity.
    Unfortunately I can not read your gold mine of tube info. I am the typical dumb American. All I can speak and read other than my native English is a bit of French.
     
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