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Lineup of four: Help me choose?! OPT for SE

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Hi all!

This is really hard!:apathic:

Believe it or not:xeye:
- Yes I have searched, but not found a direct answer giving me the input I feel I need for my project. So please excuse me for yet another SE OPT question!

I am going to build DIY Hi Fi Supply Lux (12W SE300B with pentode + cathode follower driver), but I want to find the very best sounding OPTs for it. The originals are good, but can be bettered.

I want almost the impossible; tight bass, dense "goosebump" MF with details and 3D with higs that are airy and transparent.

I have chosen a lineup that's reknown for many of these traits. Which one to choose?
If anybody could please share their thoughts, impressions or know how about the following lineup of OPTs, I would be very grateful for their help:

* Hashimoto H-30-3.5S Here
* Sowter SA08 Here
* Tamura F-7002 Here
* Plitron/Amplimo VDV3035 Here

These are the ones on my list, and a pair of one of these it's going to be. So please only comment on the above mentioned ones. The prices are about the same (give or take some) for all of them. They have each got their special traits, and that's why they've made this lineup. More data is to be found on the net on many of them, but I know that all of them are really excellent designs, - so it is really "only" feedback on choice in relation to sound I would be interested in. As you see all OPTs have a Zp of 3.5Kohms, but there are different specs for the cores and the cores are of different material and construction. All have their special approach and I would probably be happy with any of these, but wich do YOU believe to be the "better" one???

It is hard to choose when the candidates all are soooo damned good!!!

Looking very much forward to all comments!

Best Regards Aril
As I have seen mentioned many places as being one of the best, the now gone Tango has to be mentioned here.

If anyone know of, or have a pair of Tango NY-15-3.5S or Tango X-3.5S for sale, please let me know :)

Just had to mention them.

Please just give me your impression on the OPTs mentioned, if you have heard them in a 300B design - or just give me your point of wiew.


I would say that you are very fortunate. I see that you haven't compared to any of the other I have mentioned, but then again one would have to try different OPTs in the same design amp to get a notion of the difference. My question is definetely not a "scientific one". I do not ask for "absolutes" but for subjective impressions!
Arnoldc, I would be very much interested in what you subjectively would say is your impression of the sound from the Tamura and Tango equiped amps you know. With these Japanese "iron" I would like to know about the frequency extremes; bass and highs. I know this is all about vague impressions that would be very difficult to find valid for a different amplifier but, in a way, this can make me (and others) "get a feel" for what to choose, when contemplating OPT-designs that are allready among the very best.

Hoping for more input. If more people could give their "subjective impressions" here, it would be a string of thoughts and opinions that may point to some differences in the perceived sound of these very fine OPT's!

Please just describe your notion about any of the mentioned OPTs, if you know any of them.

Regards Aril

If anyone know of, or have a pair of Tango NY-15-3.5S or Tango X-3.5S for sale, please let me know

Many Tango transformers are now being made by ISO-TANGO which is a small compnay started by the same peopkle who designed the original Tango transformers. The ISO-TANGO transformers are direct copies of the original Tango ones.

Here is a PDF of the current ISO catalogue http://noguchi-trans.xsrv.jp/digitalcatalog/main/iso.pdf

You can buy the transformers either directly from Japan or from a distributor like EIFL



Regards Hans
Thank you, tubetvr, - Hans!
I didn't know about the ISO Tango.
- As I see none of the two "old Tango" models I mentioned are being re-manufactured yet. But the others I have mentioned in my first posting are all in the approximate same quality-region, although different.
Does anyone know anything about the ISO Tango FC 30-3.5S ?
Core material (permalloy?) and sound? Is this the closest ISO to the old Tango X-3.5S?
Just wonder.

Please do comment on the other OPT's mentioned here. I believe the OPTs mentioned in this thread are among the best balanced and best sounding for SE and especially 300B ;-)
Hi again.

The ISO Tango must be a contender here as well. It seems like the FC-30-3.5S is one of their better OPTs for SE 300B ... It is in the same price range as the others I have mentioned. I have read sooo much nice about the old Tango X-3.5S so if someone could enlighten me (and others) about its relation to the new ISO range, I'll be very pleased. Hans, - there's a European distributor of Tango and Tamura (as well as Partridge): Here

I believe the OPTs on this list to have among the most balanced sound of all OPTs. When this is combined with exceptional inner detail, transparence, dynamic bass and magical midrange, this list is a veritable succulent smoergaasbord to drool over. It is difficult to choose and I can not afford to buy them all.

Well, here's the current list with a few comments. It goes as follows - and to choose is still very difficult (not in priority):
* Hashimoto H-30-3.5S
- Double C-core with very special winding and product of very long, very selective and very concious developement. Rich midrange and supposedly very good imaging and inner detail with extended, but somewhat "darker" highs. Very good bass! I do not belive in people "dissing" these OPTs for using HiB with a bit thicker laminations. I believe this to be a very concious choice that together with other factors make just one of the more magic MF's around - perhaps!
* Plitron/Amplimo VDV3035
- Mr. Menno is a genius. This is a very special product. It is perhaps a "wildcard" here, since it may be outperforming all its contenders in all respects(?). I haven't seen any comparisons with high quality Japanese OPT's, though, so I am assuming and guessing based on phenomenal data. It is only specced for 13W (at 20Hz?), though. Is this good enough for SE 12W Lux? The silver-wound OPT's are very expensive and not considered. Still, reading Menno's own findings about this makes me think if the "ordinary" 3035 is as good as I have come to suspect ... I am a bit confused.
* Tamura F-7002
Permalloy-cored and with a very, very good midrange. Does it compare to Hashimoto? I have heard about some less HF detail than Amorphous 5000 series, but it has a tight and good bass, which the 5000's haven't. I have heard it needs a lot of time to settle. Has anyone listened to a well broken in F-7000 series OPT?? The power-spec. of 10W worries me. Will it handle 12W Lux? Will the "headroom" be too little. Many peaople belive that enough headrroom (big core) produce better spatial characteristics in an OPT and certainly a better bass.
* ISO Tango FC-30-3.5S
If this is anything like its predecessor X-30-3.5S, it is phenomenal!
I do not know much about this one, only that ISO Tango consists of very knowledgeable people with "old" Tango know how and that Kondo has chosen to let them make his OPTs. If anybody knows something about this one, please do tell!
* Sowter SA08
Brian Sowter is knowledgeable. They make many very fine products! His EI-cored SA08 is supposedly better specced than Partridge OPT's used by L'Audiophile. The cores are HiB in thin lamination and the winding technique is second to none. How good is this OPT really? I have heard varied reports. It's on this list because I believe it is somewhat underrated by many.

I'm looking very much forward to your thoughts and/or experience!

Regards Aril
Hi Aril,

What I've learned is what is called "diminishing returns"

You can expect to pay so much, but you won't get that much improvement / dollar spent.

You might find it interesting to read Joseph Esmilla's thoughts about transformers from Tamura, to Tango to James.


He has used those transaformers in the same circuit, which he designed.
Hi Arnoldc,
Thank you for the link to JEL!
I know about the "diminishing returns" in developing a product. The OPT, though, is the most importand part of a tube amp and especially a SE one, so I believe to get at least some value for the money spent here.
I see Joseph Esmilla likes the Japanese permalloy "iron":)
- Both Tango and Tamura, especially the latter I see.
What are your subjective impressions of the sound from the Tango and Tamura OPT amps you listen to, arnoldc?
I am a bit skeptic to use a 10W specced Tamura in a 12W amp, though.

Hi Andy Bartha,
I will take a closer look at the Silk OPT's! Thanks for pointing at these. I know the "std" OPT that Brian use in his LD91 and Lux are really good! To make it any better one really must use the best OPTs there are (the silver AN, AE and Amplimo is not regarded here, as they're either too expensive or I doubt their "superiority" over non-Ag Cu ones - and I don't like amorphous cores :cannotbe: ).

Thank you for your reply :)

I've been mailing a bit with Jac Van de Walle of Jac Music in Germany about the new Emission Labs true Mesh 300B tubes!
I really would like to use these!
The problem seems to be that the DIY Hi Fi Supply Lux is a bit tough on the 300B tubes (as he says). The working-point for the 300B being 350V and 80mA, giving a plate dissipation of 28W. The cathode follower driver also can drive the grid of the 300B to near positive. As Jac says, the EML mesh 300B can not cope with such "abuse". What do you think?
(if no answers to this, I will make a thread out of this question).

Regards Aril
Hi Aril,

Between the Tamura and Tango, is a tough call. Both sounds good. I have a friend who is using a 300B @45mA with Tamura F-475. In one of the 300B shootout we had years back, it stood out. Some were using more expensive Tamura and Tango. So I believe the design will let you optimize the transformer.

My latest SE 300B used James 6113HS, and I've been very pleased with it. However, I sold the OPT because I'm embarking on a PP 300B and will need some funds for the purchase of either a Tamura F-783 (250mA/side) or James 6233HS (100mA/side).
In Japan both Tango and Tamura have their own group of users and in each group they argue for which is the best one, I don't really know myself but I have used Tango and is very satisfied with the results. Without argument I think it is safe to say that both Tamura and Tango is among the very best out there, (even though they are very expensive).

As Silk and other brands have been mentioned here I thought that this test could be of interest, it include Silk, Tango, James and Hammond among others. http://www.sacthailand.com/Transformer_TestOutput.html

Regards Hans
Hi Hans.
Yes I have read that test and see that they (Silk) have Tango as their reference. Silk have developed OPTs and measure their result against the FC 30-3.5S ... They have chosen Tango. Joseph Esmilla of JEL have tested many mid-priced OPT's against Tamura and Tango, and of course (my opinion) found that the Japanese are better! I wonder what he would have found if he also had tried Amplimo/Plitron, Sowter and Hashimoto?? They are all in the same class as the Tango/Tamura. On DIY Audio Craft forum, a designer/builder found that he much preferred the Hashimoto H-30-3.5S over the Tamura F-7001 Here
I have my doubts about the 10W spec. for the F-7002, (too small core) and I am now leaning towards either the Tango FC 30-3.5S or the Hashimoto H-30-3.5S ... These are both Hi B silicone-steel lamination core OPTs, the Hashimoto with a bit thick lamination, but double C-core and the Tango with thinner lamination and single C-core (please correct me on the Tango, as info. is soo scarce). Both can handle 30W - and have a healthy high primary inductance. It seems you often are selecting Tamura "iron", arnoldc. Any special reason for it - or is it that ISO-Tango don't have the OPT with "your" specs (their range isn't too wide)?

My problem is, when trying to choose, that this is based on lacking input from people using/having experience with the other OPTs mentioned here! I posted this thread because this forum have the most informed users and that it could have been possible to get more comments on the other OPTs mentioned. I hope for more input as this will give a more correct "feel" for what's right.
I will not simply "do what others do" since I know this often are a product of hype and belief in black arts. Still I have tried to choose a few OPT's from a few very respectable companies based on comments, listening and data that I have picked up over many years. I am no "OPT fanatic", as you probably can see, but I am just interested in finding a way through this jungle ;-)

In a tube amp, there's many things that matter, but OPT, together with a good design is the most important factor. Spending money on a good OPT is probably where you get the most value dollar/sound. There's also "synergy" to be factored in. I know people who have bought high end OPT's only to reveal more **** from their circuit design. They had to re-design - and then found that they made real progress. The OPT is very important, but may result in other modifications too.
I believe the DIY Hi Fi Supply Lux to be a good design, even when using cathode follower(?!). I believe it has its own "signature", based on this driver design - and that it could benefit from a verfy balanced sounding OPT with lush midrange, without sacrificing resolution in the highs or control in the bass. I believe the OPTs mentioned in this thread to be among the best for this.

Please continue to share your impressions, no matter how subjective they are!

Regards Aril
Hi again!

Sould I dare to introduce yet a pair more OPT designers and company to this list?

Silk S-325 shows promising data. It may be one of the very best "budget OPTs" around for SE 300B! Here - But should it be on this list? Is it really High End enough when it "only" seems to measure up against the Tango U808 ... and Tango FC line still seem to be some sort of reference to Silk ... It may be much better than James, Hammond and other mid-priced OPTs though, and it seems to have a very good Hi-B core ... It is probably a "killer OPT" for the money! It is still a "wild-card", until many more people have tested it. I had only hoped for it to have some more primary indictance ...

Electraprint have been very active in DIY community and in developement of OPT design.
I really believe US, Jack Elliano and Electraprint EI-cored, partial silver secondary OPTs to be among the better ones!!Here
I am sorry not to have introduced them earlier, but found them to be worth being on this list, when re-reading some internet-sites and threads on forums. When talking US, - O'Netics should probably be mentioned. Are they still up and running?

My current list for this thread:
*Tango FC 30-3.5S
*Hashimoto H-30-3.5S
*Electraprint partial silver OPTs (custom winding to your specs)
*Tamura F-7002
*Sowter SA08
*Amplimo/Plitron VDV3035

I have read mixed comments about the two OPTs mentioned last on this list. Some believe them to be very, very good - others feel they don't sound too good ... The other OPT's on this list generally get very good reports. The Hashimoto's sometimes is believed to be a bit "laid back" sounding.

I hope to have added something to this thread now that may spur some more interest in commenting ...

Regards Aril
Hi, the best documentation in transformers is found by Lundahl. Describes everything that matters precisely. The only drawback is the relatively small sizes available.

Second to that comes Sowter (i miss only the induction figures for the stated power).
While the japan iron has a very good reputation, based solely on specs, i would choose the Sowter. It is cheaper and first class iron.


I'm not affiliated in any way with the particular or any other company
I've tried to get some rank order out of various shootouts that have been described in these ages and on AA. Seems to come out a bit like the following:

Lundahl = James = Hashimoto = Tango
Bartolucci = Audio Note

Don't know where O-netics goes in this list, or Silk. Probably equal to Tango.

Amorphous and nickel preferred as a rule.
Hi again.

The best Japanese iron certainly have a good reputation, because the subjective qualities when listening/using them are so good! They know what must be done to get the soul of the music through. It is exactly the feeling of something of this missing that has been criticized when Lundahl iron has been tested against Japanese. The fine balance in the finest Japanese in bass, MF and highs, together with a lifting of curtains effect on clarity has been the strong side of the best from Japan. It is this that the Partridge from L'Audiophile WE91 fame, was so reknown for also. It is said that Sowter's iron has even better specs than the "old" Partridge. When writing this you probably will see that I'm not just out for the best specs, as I believe this doesn't tell the whole story about sound quality. There's "something" about materials used in context, based on a deeper knowledge on how this colors the sound and makes the best OPT, that must be there. This takes cognitive knowledge, gained through years of dedication to an almost impossible goal. Only those dedicated enough will ever find the way on how to make such products. As we all know, every component in an amplifier colors the sound. There is no such thing as "neutrality"! The best sounding OPT's do still have the best specs, there's some specs that tell a story of the sound to be expected - of course, but there's more to it than "just the specs".

It is because of this I feel I need subjective descriptions on listening to amps with the OPT's that this thread asks for.
This is why I do not simply buy the better specced OPT, like Plitron or Sowter. This is excatly why I trust that for instance Hashimoto know exactly what they are doing when using the core material that they do and why every other "legendary" (soundwise) OPT sometimes have "less than ideal" core-material, core type or other ... Does Sowter have the "magic" needed. Some reports may indicate that it doesn't, while some says it does. The same is true for Plitron/Amplimo. The James and Hammond in comparison to the "iron" in this thread always seem to "fall through" and be good but compromized, value-choices.

Regards Aril
Hi -and thank you all for really good input :)

andyjevans, where do you believe Sowter or Plitron/Amplimo to be on the list?

All I have heard about Tribute, could probably be equalled by AE (but AE isn't on the list) and amorphous always have a compromized bass-response and sometimes overly bright highs. I believe people to be over-focusing on treble-detail. I often believe people to lack reference in real life acoustic music. I dont know about the = between James and the others mentioned on the same line. Is this really the correct place for this "iron"? What model of, for instance, Tango is this compared to? Isn't the list you show us, andyjevans, only a reflection on todays hype - and not true balanced musicality??? In comparisons I have come by over the years, Lundahl and James has always come up short on musicality and "inner detail" compared to the better Tango iron. This is the "old" Tango I'm referring to - like the X-3.5S .... are the ISO Tango so much worse?
I have also heard that Japanese seem to favour Tamura these days over Tango ... Why? If used in a 12W amp, what Tamura to choose, if it should be at least as "good" as their F-7002??

Regard Aril
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