Your favourite Preamp Tube Type

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by msommers, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Seems like so many companies use so many different tubes it's hard to keep track. And some of their selections severely limit if you want to roll tubes or not (Audio Research's 6H30, for example).

    What's been some of your favourites?
     
  2. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Alright, not tube loaded, but I adore the Bespoke Audio product. It looks gorgeous!
     
  3. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Well, I have to say I am a big fan of Conrad-Johnson. They've been so dedicated to tube amplification for the last 40 years, and have released some truly important, seminal designs: the Premier line, ART, ACT and GAT-series, all of which advanced the "art" in pretty notable ways.

    Regarding tubes, after extensive tube rolling in six different tube-based components, I've come to the conclusion that there is no "one" best of any given tube specification e.g., a GE, Mullard or RCA 12AU7, for example. I've found that the tube I preferred was very dependent on what component it was going into; that is, there is likley an interaction between the circuit topology and the tubes that I prefer. For example, I liked Mullard CV4002s (mil-spec 12AU7)12AU7s best my C-J PV12, and Telefunkens in my EAR 384 phono stage.

    Regarding tubes for preamps, I really the 6922. This is generally a lovely, sweet-sounding (in a good way) and very musical tube, and there are lots of different flavors with which to mix and match to taste. My C-J Premier 17LS used 6922s and it was really a lovely, beautiful preamp. I ended up with NOS Amperex 6922s in my Pr17. On a somewhat-related side note, the input stage on my C-J LP70S uses 6922s, and I use Ediswans in that circuit which I like very much, as well.

    My current CT-5 uses 6N30Ps, a Russian military-developed tube, and there is basically only one choice here; i.e., the Russian military tube! I ended up a Sovtek DR version which sounds somewhat nicer than the OEM EH tubes, and provides considerable durability and reliability (Ha! Just thinking about it now, DR may just stand for Durability/Reliabilty! LOL).

    Of note is that after the CT (Composite Triode)-series circuit topology that C-J used for a few years, they went back the venerable 6922 for the GAT and ET-series (enhanced triode)-based products (ET3, ET5, and ET7).
     
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  4. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    The big difference I'd love to hear one day would be between 12AU7 and 6SN7 preamps as I understand they sound very different. Not a lot of 6SN7 preamps out there in comparison to the smaller tubes which is what started this thread in the first place!
     
  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Grab yourself a Garage1217 Project Sunrise and you can roll 12AU7 and 6SN7 (grab his adapter at the same time) tubes, in addition to dozens of others. I got really familiar with a lot of tubes with that amp... probably 50-60 tubes?

    The tube buffer in my MHDT Labs DACs (plural because I've had several) is also a decent way to try out specific tube types and their impact on sound in my system. I've used another few dozen tubes in my DACs.

    I really like 6N6P (or EH 6H30Pi for new production), EH 12BH7 (new production), 6N9S Melz metal base (6SL7 variant), Sylvania 6SL7, 6N23P-EV, GE 5670 triple mica, 6N26P, 6N3P-DR.

    Clearly I have a bit of a thing for Russian tubes. Not sure why. Probably has to do with bass.

    Ultimately, your tube choice will be dependent on what it's in, what's in front of it, what's behind it, etc. Some tubes are just junk and should be avoided, but quite a few will be great with the right synergy.
     
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  6. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Yes, I agree. I think it would be also nice maybe to reference against a 6922-based preamp because it has been used in so many different preamps, it's become a standard so to speak.
     
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  7. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Almost "Made"

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    Good info; those Sylvania and GE triple micas were pretty sweet....tube engineering back in those days was both art and science. Pretty interesting that many of those capabilities have been lost, just like the capabilities aroound knowing how to cut a master lacquer for an LP.
     
  8. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    +1
     
  9. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    We like everything that has tubes inside, so that's that.
     
  10. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    older U.S. made 6sn7
     
  11. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Why not, sir. Those can be good.
     
  12. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    Hello friends. Last week I had a chance to demo a preamp called Conrad Johnson ct5. I had an idea that CJ gear where mellow and slow tube amps and preamps, but this one was very different. I tooked my freya to my friends house to compare and with freya his system did sound strange, with bizarre timbre especially with tube mode... I almost thought freya had broken in the bus transportation, but it was not. Well, I have little experience with preamp, but this Conrad Johnson was really something. It was near 8000 dollars a few years ago. Cheers
     
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  13. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    If someone gave me $8k for a preamp, I would put it into a better dac, amp and/or speakers and nix the pre altogether. that is after room treatments, haha.
     
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  14. drgumbybrain

    drgumbybrain Science Nut

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    Yes, it’s very interesting how rich people deal with gear... I think one of this cables was 4.000 dollars!!! Hahaha
     
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  15. winders

    winders Know-it-all boomer, prob racist

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    Even going back to the early 80's I have always preferred a nice active preamp in my setup over a passive preamp. Today, my DAC has a nice passive "preamp" section (not really a preamp but a nondestructive digital volume control) that is very nice sounding., But my active tube preamp kills it.

    My point? Yes, I would certainly make sure I had a great DAC, but I would also have a great active, preferably 6SN7 tube-based, preamp too. Wait, I do......
     
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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  16. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    @winders
    Yes indeed!

    I had an excellent 6sn7 based preamp, the deHavilland for 14 years. Indeed a great preamp can do wonders for a system. I just got my setup to the point where a great dac going direct to my amp actually sounds better.

    I think this is hard to do with most setups, but once I got there, I didn't want to look back. Just depends on what you can try in your setup.
     
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  17. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Fo shiz. The best preamp is ... No preamp. Most systems aren't going to need preamp gain and will just attenuate it anyhow. Preamp tubes whether they be 6S*7, 12A*7, 6922, et al, or FETs will only negatively impact transparency. If your DAC has a digital volume control, you can still further improve your sound by bypassing it, and adding a simple autoformer volume control box.
     
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  18. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    super ditto!

    funny how old conventions from the vinyl and multi-component days keeps us tied to preamps.

    But there are some dac output stages that are so emasculated they need the extra body added by an active stage at the expense of some transparency.
     
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  19. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Throw those DACs out out the window at 80 MPH. That's what I did.
     
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  20. winders

    winders Know-it-all boomer, prob racist

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    If you guys think tube preamps and amps are all about how tubes color the sound, then I am wasting my time.
     
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