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denny9167 21st April 2008 05:03 AM

Rectifier Tubes
Do certain brands of rectifier tubes really make any difference?

Miles Prower 21st April 2008 06:20 AM

I doubt it.

dsavitsk 21st April 2008 06:39 AM

I have a Mullard 5AR4, and a cheap new production Chinese made 5AR4, and I feel like I can hear a difference -- a big difference actually. But, I suppose I could be convinced that it is all placebo.

On the other hand, there are lots of NOS rectifiers that don't have fancy names like 5AR4 that, if they do make a difference, will give you NOS sound for not much money -- often less than new production. New production 5Y3's, which might actually be 5Y3's if you get lucky, can be had for $10-12. On the other hand, a NOS 5AZ4 that has almost the same specs (different pins) is only about $4.

Colt45 21st April 2008 06:45 AM

Sound? - not likely.

Handling abuse? - sure. I've seen some chinese rects where the plate/fil are horribly misaligned and almost shorting... I'm sure a properly aligned tube can take a lot more before arcing.

gingertube 21st April 2008 07:11 AM

Depends upon the circuit used in the power supply. In a rectifier => 5uF=> 2H=> 470uF circuit:

I subbed in a CV717 (mil spec) for a 5R4 "Potato Masher" which had developed an arcing problem. Data on these say they are identical.

I definitely noticed an improvement in the sound - BUT I also noted a 10V rise in the B+. maybe the 5R4 was just old.


DigitalJunkie 21st April 2008 11:09 AM

I've noticed a difference in sound in a PP 6V6 amp when switching between different tube types.The amp uses the 5U4,but I tried many different tubes,for fun.I ended up staying with the 5U4(GB).
I even noticed a difference between the 5U4G/GB,and ended up staying with the GB.
The B+ voltage did change a bit in each case,due to the varying Vdrop of the different tubes. -Perhaps that was the cause of the different sound.I dunno.

(If you really care to know, I felt the 5U4G's had slightly better mid/top end.The 5U4GB's were close,but had much better low end. I decided I would sacrifice a bit of mid/top end 'sweetness' for better bass.)

SET12 21st April 2008 12:34 PM

Re: Rectifier Tubes

Originally posted by denny9167
Do certain brands of rectifier tubes really make any difference?
Yes and No! It really depends on the circuit for me some reveal little differences others like my 572 SET amp that uses some 1800uf/Amp for 10 watts/channel sound a lot different. My preference for it is the GZ37. Of course with the volume of capacitance like this it requires slow turn on which the GZ has it also has a 3 amp filament which I feel contributes to its warm and dynamic sound!

The tube is getting expensive! about 75 to a 100$ per tube. I have mono blocks and I love the sound of the GZ's

Another alternative is looking at damper diode tubes

Like the Svetlana 6D22S here

Its the high pulse current capability that generates great dynamics!
These things have a longer turn on delay more than the GZ and they are cheap!

I haven't heard Mercury Vapors but I'm told their sound is awesome again the Mercury Vapors have high pulse current capacity! But they require filaments to be turned on and then the AC applied and there are some limits of capacitance here, perhaps one could use current limiting with them to get them up.

But as you will see the 6D22S looks awful good at about 16$ a pair as they are half-wave rectifiers!

I diffidently want to investigate these myself!

In the end Vacuum tube rectifiers and how they are used are highly debatable!


Salas 21st April 2008 12:45 PM


Originally posted by Miles Prower
I doubt it.
I have 5R4GY, 5R4WGB, 5U4G, GZ34 in NOS RCA, Golden Dragon, Russian NOS, JAN, Mullard. I just exchange types and brands of same type on my DIY system. I hate to say it, but there is always a distinct sonic signature for each one. Not small stuff. Easily heard. Tone and dimensionality changes. Some are also more transparent sounding than others of same type.

Miles Prower 21st April 2008 04:49 PM

Well, Salas, the original question was: "Do certain brands of rectifier tubes really make any difference?" Here, he's asking about brands. Of course, sticking a 5Y3GT in a hole designed for a 5U4GB is going to make anything, especially a SE, sound different: different Vf, Isurge, regulation, etc. This is probably a bigger consideration for a guitar amp where good voltage regulation isn't so important, or even desireable.

So far as brands go, does it really make a difference if you use an RCA as opposed to a Sylvania 5U4GB (if that's the type designed for)? Unless it's a really horrible, cheap, bottom of the line, off-brand type, I wouldn't expect it to make a significant difference. Certainly not enough to get me to buy some of these "boutique" types going for over a $100 a pop.

Nordic 21st April 2008 05:41 PM

I was just goin to mention guitar amps, where a slight colapse in B+ seem to be desirable...

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