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Old 11th January 2012, 12:35 AM   #1
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Have To: NOS (New Old Stock) Tubes!

Over the years I have enjoyed introducing friends and acquaintances to the wonderful world of high-end audio. I would only casually mention that they will probably want to replace the current production tubes with NOS tubes. Now I find myself looking carefully at the tube compliment before recommending any tube based equipment. I realize that even decent NOS tubes are getting harder and harder to find. As an old economic historian, I will tell you that higher prices should bring more supply into the marketplace, but I am finding that there is an acute shortage of quality NOS tubes available even at what we would call ridiculous prices.

My advice now, is to secure the NOS tubes that you need or want before buying new equipment. At a minimum, at least price the equipment and tubes you want before making a commitment, this way you will know your true total cost.

In many cases I recommend different equipment, based on someone's total budget because I know the availability and pricing of NOS tubes may change what the person thought he wanted.

Chinese tubes keep improving, I still find most too noisy for my ears. Theoretically the current production tube manufacturers should be willing to invest more and more money to produce a better tube as the price of NOS tubes rise. We should at some point reach an equilibrium.

Happy Rolling!
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Old 11th January 2012, 12:58 AM   #2
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Since you've been hawking NOS tubes at what (IMO) are extremely high prices, I can see why you might say this. But... for those of us who aren't trying to make money selling tubes, there's plenty of terrific new production tubes (many that are better than in "the Golden Years"), and there's plenty of cheap NOS available if one cares about performance rather than collector value.
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Old 11th January 2012, 01:13 AM   #3
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My thinking on the future of the tube industry is this,and I could be wrong. As the popularity of tube equipment increases from both the consumer side and the professional side. This will continue to increase the demand for tubes,even to the point,I think we could start seeing an increase in production of tubes here in the states,even tubes that have long been out of production. I see nothing but positive things happening in the tube electronics industry.
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Old 11th January 2012, 01:30 AM   #4
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There's already good manufacturers in Europe, so you may well be right. We know a boatload more about materials technology, and certainly vacuum processing equipment is far better today than in (say) 1965.
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Old 11th January 2012, 01:52 AM   #5
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Default Which current production tubes do you consider superior?

In order of sound quality which current production tubes do you consider superior to the best NOS tubes?
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Old 11th January 2012, 01:53 AM   #6
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There's already good manufacturers in Europe, so you may well be right. We know a boatload more about materials technology, and certainly vacuum processing equipment is far better today than in (say) 1965.
I've always heard that one of the reasons, other than manufacturing cost and demand,for the discontinued production of tubes in the states was enviromental issues(EPA) involved in producing tubes,is that correct?
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Old 11th January 2012, 02:38 AM   #7
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I've always heard that one of the reasons, other than manufacturing cost and demand,for the discontinued production of tubes in the states was enviromental issues(EPA) involved in producing tubes,is that correct?
There's some plausibility to that, but I think it's more economic than anything else. After all, we produce silicon wafers, and the toxicity of the chemicals used for that is way higher than anything used for tubes.
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Old 11th January 2012, 02:43 AM   #8
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In order of sound quality which current production tubes do you consider superior to the best NOS tubes?
My vote is in no particular order
NOS 6N6P at $2.50
NOS 6N8S at $3
New JJ 12AT7 at $10
New JJ ECC99 at $15
New JJ 300B at $110 (admittedly not cheap)
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Old 11th January 2012, 02:44 AM   #9
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After all, we produce silicon wafers
I claim ignorance; the US is still making wafers ?
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Old 11th January 2012, 02:59 AM   #10
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Yeah, there's a big Samsung fab facility just a few blocks away from my house. Freescale has a plant not too far away as well. There's probably more, and that's just Austin.
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