OTLs, tube rolling, and other glowing delights

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Shaffer, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'll Instagram you.
     
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  2. gibosi

    gibosi Acquaintance

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    I accept your apology. Thank you. :)

    Yes, my statement about the Glenn being able to handle low-Z cans was a bit vague, but I sure wish you had responded with something like, "Seriously? How can you say this?" In fact, I completely agree that if someone wants their low_Z cans to sound the best they can, an OTL is not the best choice. But if someone is hellbent on wanting to use low-Z cans with an OTL, in my limited experience, the Glenn should be on their short list. To be more specific, the Glenn can use a pair of 6336 for output tubes. These tubes have a plate resistance 100 ohms lower than a 6AS7, that is, 200 ohms instead of 300 ohms. And as every Glenn is custom-built, some folks have requested extra output sockets to allow the use of multiple 6AS7 and 6BL7 in parallel, which can reduce the total plate resistance even lower. All things being equal, the Glenn is deliberately designed to handle low-Z cans better than your average OTL with a single pair of 6AS7. And therefore, again, if someone really wants to use an OTL with low-Z cans, I would suggest that the Glenn is worthy of their consideration.

    And yes, I would agree that it would be best if I had first-hand experience with low-Z cans with a Glenn. But even first-hand experience is best treated with some skepticism. For example, when someone posts that their HE-560's sound amazing with an Elise, which has only one pair of 6AS7, I have to wonder...

    Oh, I most certainly did introduce myself (on page 17). I pointed out that I am primarily a tube collector. As a tube collector and roller, my expertise is centered around finding new tubes to roll. I do not have an adequate background in electronics to design amps, and perhaps more importantly, it just isn't something I want to do.

    In defense of tube rolling, I would like to point out that when manufacturer's design a mass-produced amp around a specific tube, supply and cost are major factors in their decision. There may well be better tubes, but if such tubes are rare and/or expensive, it can add significantly to the cost of the amp. And further, if the manufacturer wishes to maintain an adequate supply on hand to be able to provide replacements, cheap and plentiful tubes are to be preferred. For example, the Little Dot MKIII is designed around triode-strapped 6AK5 pentodes, cheap and plentiful. In my experience, triode-strapped C3g pentodes are far superior. But these are not cheap nor are they plentiful. So I most certainly don't agree with those who maintain that it is somehow "shitty" to encourage folks to roll tubes in "mediocre" or even cheap amps...

    PS, yes at 68 I am a rather old fart. lol. That said, my first exposure to this site was Takato's HD700 mod. Yes the language is quite colorful, especially compared to HF, but as a Viet Nam-era veteran, it certainly isn't anything I've never heard before. And as a result of copying his mods, my 700s sound the best they ever have. So while I do not feel very welcome here, I will most certainly continue to stop by occasionally to see what some of the amazing SuperBAF folks are up to.

    Cheers
     
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  3. Griffon

    Griffon 2nd biggest asshole on SBAF

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    @gibosi I think you're welcomed here. Your posts are creating knowledge of tubes, and you're defending your stance with reason and coolness. Folks use rough language, but in older times we've seen far worse yet we still somehow get to get along fine.

    I think purrin doesn't like to see excessive tube-rolling. Like rolling for the sake of rolling. To think rare=good, expensive=good, unobtainium=good, etc. On one hand, most of the former CS circlejerkers seem to like to go for a "find a favourite and set" approach. On the other, I can also see collecting tubes as the stamp-collecting in audio. But as ZD has said, people come here to seek genuine knowledge, so if anyone wants to share this kind of self-satisfaction, keep it to yourself, or go Instagram to get dick-massage. Then showing off one's tube collection with at best mediocre gear, as if they've reached the final frontier, is plainly wrong. Oh and top it off with the speaker card. Eventually someone like shaizada will come and blow the shit out.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
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  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    FYI, gibosi, I've appreciated your posts in this thread, and anything I said in the past was not directed at you. Just in case that was not clear.
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I genuinely appreciate your response. My wife tell did me that we were a bunch of assholes after reading through all of it. She did say that I should always remind newer members that our heavy dose of sarcasm and irrelevance should not be taken personally. The problem of the Internet is that we are not dealing with each other in person.

    Please carry on.
     
  6. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    I'm glad you guys sorted this out !
    On: thank you very much for the links, that's definitely something to look forward to !
    Oh and one more thing would be useful to know, is there any way of telling which tubes are good and which counterfeit ? The main place with lots of tubes seems to be ebay, but the same model can go as cheap as 3 euros, while others can reach 100. Thx again !
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    To detect counterfeits, take a look at the internal structures, the plates, the getters, etc. Of course the problem is that you would need a reference, and good photos rarely exist. You can use the same method to get a good tube for cheap because it happens to have the exact same internals as one of those expensive tubes, but is branded by another company with other markings.

    Yeah, but worry about getting an amp first. If you don't have an amp, the last thing you should worry about is tubes, or tube rolling. Never select a amp based on what you hear about how certain tubes sound, unless you already know exactly what you want (which means a custom amp). Also, think about the cost of tubes. A better amp is always going to be a better amp regardless of tubes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2015
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Right, I forgot to mention finding rebranded tubes. Same rule applies for tubes with rubbed off markings. If you know exactly what you're looking for, and the pics are accurate, sometimes you can find great deals that way too.

    IME, don't spend much on tubes. You can find ones in good condition, matched, for cheap. Or cheap relative to the high end of their normal market value.

    Just don't go crazy with it. A few to try is not a big deal. Having drawers or suitcases full...well...only if it makes you really happy, I guess. ;)
     
  9. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    Hey guys, I was about to post a little update on the thread in which I asked for advice, but then it's related to tube amps and tube rolling so I thought I'd share here. Anyway, before that, I really considered that @purrin and I think that's the best course of action, getting a decent amp and hopefully invest in a mid-range DAC later rather than waste it on low-end stuff. I'd been really keen on getting an Ember II, but PayPal just won't let me pay in U.S., so that really put up a lot of problems :(. The reason why I was hoping a little bit of tube rolling would get me what I want lies in the Schiit products, I thought I might get something which tames bright headphones nicely, like that way I thought they would provide a versatile signature for various needs with only a few pairs of tubes. So anyway, I finally managed to travel to our capital, I talked to the staff beforehand and they let me visit their showroom for a few hours so I can at least try a few Senn's and amps. I must say what you said about the 650s is spot on, the first thing they had around for testing was a really expensive Woo Audio, I'm not 100% sure about the model but I think it was a WA22. And maaan after trying Hd700 and 650, the 650 scaled far better on that one, to my ears it felt like the 650s were really close to the 700 in terms of quality, detail presentation and airiness. I went there expecting them to be muddy or maybe not too refined, but that amp paired with Queen Sofia and Sylvania tubes made them amazing. I could notice the spike fairly well on the 700s, but I think the amp was so good together with those tubes that it actually turned both into a pleasant experience, the amp was paired with a Matrix X-Sabre DAC. Bass seemed actually slightly punchy (which I totally enjoyed), but well controlled to me, unlike what most of the people around Head-Fi experienced (650s). I think they were actually much more euphonic than the 700s on that one. But then again, when I turned to a few solid state amps, plus cheaper gear like fiio, I think both felt like really not up to their rep, the 700s sounded pretty metallic or like sharp, and the 650 presented lesser details as well on a matrix HPA-3U. If I were to compare it to those solids, the tube amps really handled them easily, it never felt like the 300 Ohms needed any more voltage- high gain and around 10 o clock volume was already loud on them. Also another thing, the staff manager told me I need to be prepared for the consequences, as a lot of tubes don't really last that long, he told me he had to change Queen Sofias even monthly sometimes, and they are damn expensive in EU.
    Sorry for the long post, to wrap it up, I think tube rolling is the way with Sennheisers, although I couldn't try any solid-states known for being warm, tubes really fared much better in everything, it made them musical. However, regarding the 700 pair, I think you need to consider expensive amps for it, it really felt a bit sub-par on under 500$ solid state gear, and one of the most noticeable things was how its bass behaved on different gear, the expensive Woo Audio amps made a night and day difference out of it, while cheaper gear made it far less pronounced. Again, it was just my perspective, without having much experience with amps, I just tried to follow my instinct on the details. Overall I agree with Hands, I wouldn't be up for paying over 1k for a tube amp, only to have to spend another hundreds on a yearly basis on expensive tubes like the QS. I wish they had Herleens to try them out though.

    P.S:I hope mods are fine with this post, if it's an offtopic I will spare you the trouble and remove it. Also, sorry for the late reply (went to my family for Xmas) and I wish you all pleasant holidays and an outstanding new year !
    I'd attempt making a pun about next year's resolution and headphones, but screw it.
     
  10. gibosi

    gibosi Acquaintance

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    I have no experience with Queen Sofias so I can't really comment. However, if they really last only a month or so, I can't help but believe that the quality is very low. From what I have read, old stock tubes were typically rated for around 5,000 hours, and some premium tubes, like the E88CC/6922, for 10,000 hours.
     
  11. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    @gibosi I'm not sure, but he mentioned they were quality imports from overseas, which he paid import duty for. He just said these ones are risky business, as they seem to be unreliable. But anyway, I wish they had different tubes instead of Sylvanias, I would have prefered testing HD650s with something warm to see if their midrange is too slow with them as people have claimed. Anyhow, so far I'm leaning towards learning more about tube amps, there was clearly a considerable difference when I paired both to the M stage (it sounded metalic and unnatural), the sound was much more pleasant on the tubes.
     
  12. mtoc

    mtoc SBAF's Resident Shit-Stirrer

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    WOW!! The sockets will effect the sound?
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No.

    I meant there are references on what fits into what. I'm simply not telling people where to find them because I believe that excessive tube rolling is harmful to one's enjoyment of music and possibly harmful to amps.

    Much of this self serving or at least protective of people who make tube amps. You cannot believe how stupid people can be. People see a hole and try to jam anything than can into that hole. It doesn't work that way.
     
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  14. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    ^ that makes a lot of sense, maybe this is why Schiit chose a build that only lets you use tubes with lower thermal threshold !
     
  15. cardigan

    cardigan Almost "Made"

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    This logic applies to a lot more than amps. Just saying.
     
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  16. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Having recently returned to the world of tubes after departing it for a few months, I've taken a different approach.

    I now have both a tube dac and a tube amp.

    I'm working toward finding a good system synergy and I'm specifically targeting relatively easy to find and relatively inexpensive tubes.

    For example, I've found that I really enjoy old 6H6Pi / 6N6P tubes. They're dirt cheap and sound quite good. I've essentially stopped rolling on the amp side already and only swap between those and new production Electro-Harmonix 12BH7, which are more neutral than the 6N6P tubes (which are warmer with more bass and less detailed treble).

    The 6N6P tubes can be had for a few bucks a piece and you can buy them in big lots (I might). The 12BH7 are current production and run ~$20, so I'm trying to use those less so I don't need to replace them often.

    On to the dac. One thing that's nice about having a tube buffer in a dac in addition to the amp is that you can work toward a specific sound. You don't just rely on one piece of the chain to achieve what you're looking for.

    It's also a trap.

    People pay $100+ for Bendix tubes or new production JJ 6386.

    I've spent a good chunk of change on 5670 tubes to find what I'm looking for. I really enjoy the Western Electric 396A / 2C51 tubes, but they can be expensive. I've found very good ones for $25-$40 a piece, which is on the low end for those tubes.

    I bought a bunch of others to try out, though. GE 5-Star Red/White, Sylvania, Tung-Sol, CBS, etc. Basically, anything I can get my hands on.

    I have two of the same dac (MHDT Labs Atlantis), and I can directly compare tubes.

    I also have a couple of adapters on the way to try out 6N2P tubes with the dacs. In my heart of hearts, I hope those tubes perform very well. Those are even cheaper than the 6N6P tubes. I grabbed 4 of the maxed out versions (6H2Pi-EB / 6N2P-EV) for $12... and I overpaid because the seller was in the US. Buy them from Ukraine or elsewhere out that way and you can find them for ~$0.50 a tube before shipping.

    Anyway, the whole tube project of mine is part of my downsizing effort. I sold my Audio-GD Master-11. Amazing dac and amp, but more than I needed at home. I sold it and my dac at work, then grabbed a pair of MHDT Labs Atlantis dacs and a Garage1217 Project Ember and Horizon (one is being sold or going back with a restocking fee after I decide which to keep) for home.

    I have about a dozen tubes that I'll sell from my amps already. Some weren't cheap (e.g. Ken-Rad 6SN7GT). But as I dig out the best bang for the buck, I can trick myself into believing I'll remain happy with my choice because I feel clever.

    This weekend, I'll be posting a bunch of tubes for sale that fit in the Garage1217 amps as well as a bunch of 5670 / 396A / 2C51 tubes a week or so after that (most haven't arrived yet).

    Then I'll stop rolling and start listening.
     
  17. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Did you test out those Ken-Rad 6SN7GT at all?
     
  18. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Good timing. I just popped in it not 10 minutes ago. It's actually in a Horizon rather than Ember. I've already decided that I prefer the Horizon to the Ember. More to my taste.

    Sounds good already. Looks really awesome too with its black bottle.

    20160225_224505.jpg

    That said, I'll probably sell the tube along with most of my other tubes I have for Garage1217 amps. I really enjoy the el-cheapo 6N6P and 12BH7. I might prefer the Ken-Rad, but I can get the others super easily.
     
  19. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Any of those tubes suite your basshead needs?
     
  20. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Lots. Most tubes don't really enhance bass at all, but some seem not to extend all the way. Others roll treble off a bit, which means I can push up the volume and get more bass.

    That is part of what I like about the 6N6P tubes--they are smooth and don't have a ton of treble, so I can up the bass.

    I actually got a supercharger in the Horizon so it could use those tubes.

    Raytheon 5814WA is quite good for my bass tendencies as well.

    I mostly have lower gain tubes so I can use them with more headphones (12BH7, 12AU7, 6GU7, 5814, etc.)
     

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