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Best production EL34?
Best production EL34?
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Old 21st February 2007, 10:44 PM   #1
Pyre is offline Pyre  Canada
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Default Best production EL34?


I have a unmodified ST-70 that came with no tubes. I plan on modifying the ST70 and getting some better tubes for it later but would like to pick up a quad of current production tubes to run it with so that I know all the tubes are good and in case I blow some stuff up I am not tossing out a good vintage tube. From what I have seen for choices under $100.00 bucks a quad I have seen:

EL-34 Mullard Reissues quad 70$
Shuguang EL34B quad 45$
EL34 SED SVETLANA winged quad 80$
Quad 6CA7 ELECTRO HARMONIX EH EL34 Fat bottle 55$

Is there any EL34's under 100 bucks a quad new that are worth buying or does anyone have any good things to say about the tubes in this list. The Fat bottle electro's sure look pretty but that does not mean they sound ok.

Thanks for your constructive opinions in advance.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 12:15 AM   #2
Eli Duttman is offline Eli Duttman  United States
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Go with the SED =C= EL34. It's a nice tube that's not too far behind the Mullard original.

IMO, you should forget about NOS Mullard. They are SCARCE and COSTLY. You will surrender enough body parts to become terminally ill.
Eli D.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 12:17 AM   #3
andrew_whitham is offline andrew_whitham  United Kingdom
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not got experience of any other brands EL34's but I just got some JJ E34L's - maybe more than your $100 though

Nice tubes and I recommend them I bought them specifically because I perceived that they might suffer a bit of abuse. In fact they are currently running JUST outside spec

Otherwise the EH tubes havent let me down generally. Whats a "Sovtek" quad cost? I had nice results with their EL84

Maybe that puts your "fat bottle" varieties a little further forward? Really I'm suggesting you go for the ruggedest ones you can. Whilst youre tweaking. It'll be on and off a lot, with no HT delay these tubes will suffer.

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Old 22nd February 2007, 12:49 AM   #4
Pyre is offline Pyre  Canada
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It looks like the Sovtek's go for about 16$ a tube which is right in the price range. I have an Audio Research ST-70-C3 that has 6L6GC's and I have a quad of the Sovtek's for testing when I make any changes to it. They are kinda cool as they glow purplish when they are on. The only reason I got them as they had them in stock at an electronics store I goto.

The SED =C= EL34's do look pretty good.

The fat bottles look good as worst case I ruin 50 bucks worth of tubes and I can stick them to either side of my neck for a Halloween costume.

I do plan on turning it on and off a lot during testing and tweaking so it may be a good idea to buy something disposable. I have a Variac but still fear turning it up and smelling smoke.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 02:44 AM   #5
refference is offline refference  Brazil
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No doubt !!!

EL34 - SED =C= ( winged C ) is the best choice !!!

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Old 22nd February 2007, 03:06 AM   #6
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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I bought a bunch of different EL34 tubes when I was developing my Simple SE amp so I could evaluate several different tubes for reliability. I am known for testing tubes at and above the spec. I got a quad of all of the low cost brands from Antique Electronic Supply (JJ, Winged C, and Valve Art) I also got a quad of Sino - Shuguang from ESRC. In a seperate deal I purchased a large box of "pre auditioned" Russian tubes cheap. This included 8 Electro Harmonix EL34's, and one Elecro Harmonix 6CA7. I have used other tubes from these suppliers and manufacturers in the past with good success. I tested all of them in 2 different SimpleSE amplifiers at supply voltages from 325 to 465 volts.

I have always had good luck with old Svetlana / Winged C tubes, but not this time. One of the Winged C tubes had a clearly mis alligned screen grid which glowed brightly at 325 volts. It distorted badly and I did not want to try it at higher voltages. Another tube exhibits a glowing grid wire (only one) at voltages over 350 volts. The other two work fine and can handle everything that I throw at them. 2 out of 4 is not good odds, maybe this is an anomaly.

The JJ tubes can take every thing that I throw at them. All 4 are identical, they just start to show plate glow at 32 watts of total (plate and screen) dissipation, no grid wire glow at max voltage. These sound the best of all the EL34's too.

The Valve Art and Shuguang tubes are very good for the price. All 8 behave the same. Plate just starts to glow at about 33 watts total dissipation. No grid wire glow at max voltage. The sound is good, but maybe not as detailed as the JJ's.

The Electro Harmonix EL34's are the smallest EL34 tubes. They can handle about 30 watts before glowing. No grid wire glow in 8 tubes at max voltage. The sound is similar to the Shuguangs, maybe a little brighter.

I have one of the fat bottle EH 6CA7 tubes. Be aware that this tube is actually a beam tetrode so it is not exactly identical to an EL34. I tested it with good results. I could crank 35 watts through it without glow and it rocked. It is the loudest and has the best bass of all of the tubes tested. I only tested one tube, but it draws more current than the other types.

Which ones do I use in my amp? My amp uses any of several tubes, EL34, 6L6, KT88 and 6550. I change tubes depending on my mood, and what type of music I play. When I use EL34's, I use the JJ's.
Tubelab, it's 5 year mission. To explore strange new tubes, to seek out new circuits and topologies, to boldly go where no tube has gone before......
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Old 22nd February 2007, 12:17 PM   #7
nubbins is offline nubbins  United Kingdom
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In my current amp I have used Ei, Shuguang and SED Winged 'C' EL34 tubes and by far the best are the SED.

I found the SED's took as much beating as the Ei fat bottles whilst delivering a great deep punchy bass.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 01:04 PM   #8
kstagger is offline kstagger  United States
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another vote for the SED...

Surprisingly enough, I've also had good luck with the Svetlana 6L6GCs in the stereo 70. Another good 'NOS' bet is the 1970s Matsushita EL34 (often labeled RCA, GE, El Menco, etc) - these can still be found for a decent price, but the word on them seems to be out and prices have gone up.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 02:00 PM   #9
Jim McShane is offline Jim McShane  United States
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The SED EL34 is my choice for audio use. It is generally well made, and is very nice sounding.

Someone mentioned JJ - do what you think is best, but the build quality is so poor on the JJ octals that you need to be VERY careful about using them. There are a lot of issues besides the undersize pins that were a big problem.

The large bottle EH 6CA7s are very good tubes, but sound more like a "baby 6550" than an EL34. The fat bottles have more energy at the frequency extremes it seems.
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Old 22nd February 2007, 02:17 PM   #10
andRookie is offline andRookie  Norway
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I`ve heard that if you need a thighter sound than SED, the Golden Dragon i sa good choice. Norw. idealers of MingDa use them as an upgrade for their products. I bought a quad for my amp when it is ready.
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