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Old 21st November 2007, 07:47 PM   #1
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Default The Vacuum Tube Truth

Hi Everyone,
I am ready to re-tube my Audio Research Reference 1. Now I am not to familiar with various
tubes and there sound, but I really do not want to start tube rolling.
Now here is my question the tubes inside my pre-amp are the Sovteks, they have been pretty
good to me , plus they have lasted a long time. There is some quite expensive tubes out there
like the NOS type. Do these Nos tubes make a huge difference? ( Quantum Leap ) or is there a subtle difference? I just need some justification , because a set of 8 Electro Harmonix Gold pin
Matched cost approx. $150.00 and some of these NOS tubes cost $150.00 each? Please if you are a vendor or flip tubes meaning buy and sell , your input will be biased. I spoke to about
5 different NOS tube vendors and all of them had different opinions and they all thought they were better than the other vendor, I am sure someone else has run into this situation? Please give me your honest opinion.

Thank You.
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Old 21st November 2007, 08:29 PM   #2
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It really depends on the rest of the circuit. NOS tubes do offer an improvement, but it is usually the last thing to worry about. And, I think that rather than spending over $1000 for 8 tubes, you'd do better to buy (or build) a new preamp that uses a better/less expensive tube in smaller quantities. You'll see very few preamps around here that use 8 dual tubes -- one or two is more like it. And, tubes like the 6DJ8, 12AU7, 6SN7, etc. are worth staying away from. Manufacturers use them, presumably because if they used unknown tubes the audiophile cognoscenti wouldn't buy. But, there are better options.

Anyhow, in your case, since you use 6DJ8/6922's I think, the best of the cheapies would be the semi-NOS Philips military tubes (semi NOS because they were made up until the 70's or 80's). The are marginally more expensive than the EH's or the Sovtek's (about $3 more per tube) but are quite close to the more expensive tubes in performance. You can find them at Triode Electronics ( http://triodeelectronics.com/6dec69e8.html )
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Old 21st November 2007, 08:38 PM   #3
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Now there's a loaded question! And it's complicated by the fact the one tube that sounds great in one amp may not do so well in another.... then add in personal sound preferences. Then it also depends on what is subtle or a big difference.

Here's my take: yes, for some reason, different makes of the same tube type can sound different, and sometimes the difference can be surprising (in my own experience).

But when I build a circuit, I optimise it with whatever tube I have in there. I suspect companies do the same with their preferred yube. So I figure, you might want to replace with the same thing, unless you have money to throw around on tubes, or actually heard (and prefer) a different one using the same setup you have now.

By the way, I have heard some cheap old Toshiba 12AX7's that I prefer over some pricey Telefunken ones (in one amp... but the difference was small). So I don't take real expensive tubes very seriously. Others may feel different about it....
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Old 21st November 2007, 08:41 PM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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The people most likely to have the answer as to what is currently good, and reliable are likely to be tube vendors - you need someone who is not specifically allied to one brand. I can recommend Jim McShane or Ned Carlson (no longer of Triode fame) as guys who are ethical and will try to steer you in the right direction

I do sell tubes on an infrequent basis, but only to my former customers so I have no agenda by way of disclosure..

I suspect that the ARC Reference 1 was designed and voiced using the tubes originally installed. Given the feedback levels employed in ARC designs and the mix of semi-conductors in the signal path I doubt you are enjoying what most here would consider classic tube sound, the sound of most ARC designs (and I've repaired a few) relates more to circuit design and construction technique than to the specific tubes in it..

Why not just get a set of selected replacement tubes from ARC themselves, these might cost a bit more than the prevailing market, but they will retain the reliability and performance you are accustomed to with your Reference 1.
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Old 22nd November 2007, 04:07 AM   #5
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by dsavitsk
NOS tubes do offer an improvement,
Oh for goodness sake...
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Old 22nd November 2007, 06:11 AM   #6
hbi is offline hbi  Romania
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Old 22nd November 2007, 09:31 AM   #7
beamnet is offline beamnet  Netherlands
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What the *BLEEEEEP^

$48 for a GU50 that is not even military? I'm selling my stock!

OT

Buy the sovteks, or a cheaper amp. Differences are marginal and you have gotten used to the sound of the sovteks. Why bother buying more exprensive tubes?
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Old 22nd November 2007, 10:00 AM   #8
7N7 is offline 7N7  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally posted by beamnet
What the *BLEEEEEP^

$48 for a GU50 that is not even military? I'm selling my stock!

OT

No, that's 48 euros - about $69
Click the image to open in full size.

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Old 22nd November 2007, 11:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
I suspect that the ARC Reference 1 was designed and voiced using the tubes originally installed
I would agree with that sentiment. I had a MF X10D and thought an upgrade to some nice Mullard NOS would be an improvement. I slipped them in and the sound was bloated and very disappointing. More is not always better as they say.

Reserve expensive tube rolling for your first DIY attempt where you have a bit more control over the end result.

Shoog
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Old 22nd November 2007, 01:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shoog


I would agree with that sentiment. I had a MF X10D and thought an upgrade to some nice Mullard NOS would be an improvement. I slipped them in and the sound was bloated and very disappointing. More is not always better as they say.

Reserve expensive tube rolling for your first DIY attempt where you have a bit more control over the end result.

Shoog

It's just what I suspected, I have been doing some serious internet searching on
various tube sound signatures, and other than what the vendors have to say about them, there is no reference what so ever....... There maybe a couple of people out there, but it' totally controversial or opinionated at most.

Thanks for the replies keep them coming....................
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