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Today's tube manufacters, best is?

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I just did search for some new tubes, mostly interested in EL34, ECC83 as usual proven combination for years.

Here I have this to buy, off course new:

Valve Art


Electro Harmonix

The last one is expencive, but nothin new for tube :) , also I newer try any Svetlana tubes (except in RF), other told me they are pretty good, and Valve Art is chines....hmm, newer did have good experiance in them with electronic components.

I ever tought to get some tubes and make test's on amps, using different tubes, but for now It's important to get my money in good ones.

So what would you recomend?
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NOS Russian made tubes from vendors located in former Soviet bloc countries selling on eBay.. Can't beat the prices, and quality is often far better than current production. Some common European types are not always available from these fellows.

IF you buy current production make sure the power tubes are tested, matched, and burned in for at least 24 hours - this will save you a lot of grief as it tends to weed out the early failures.
The best tube making in the world right now is done at New Sensor's Saratov, Russia, plant. New Sensor sells under several labels including: Sovtek, ElectroHarmonix, TungSol, Mullard, and GEC/Gold Lion.

The only Sovtek branded tube I recommend is the 12AX7LPS, which is quite good. Some GOOD tubes branded EH are the EF86, the 6922, the 6CA7, the 6V6, and the 6SN7. The EH 12BH7 seems to be OK.

"Reissue" TungSol branded 6V6s and 12AX7s are fine. The "reissue" T/S 6SN7 may be good too.

The "reissue" Mullard branded long plate 12AX7/ECC83 does give you some of the "classic" midrange accent.

The "reissue" GEC/Gold Lion branded KT88 has been receiving RAVE reviews.

Unfortunately, JJ's Octal type production is PLAGUED by quality problems. Some of JJ's miniature types, like the E88CC/6922, EL84 and ECC99, are quite good.

BTW, the EH 6922 is, in fact, the latest production of 6n23p-ev. As KK said, if you see a good deal on NOS 6n23p-ev tubes, don't be afraid to buy.

That's exactly why I suggest looking for the ev suffix. That suffix indicates a tube of the highest military grade.

FWIW, I use phonetic transliteration when indicating Russian, Cyrillic, types. It's the limitation of my US English keyboard. GOVNO!! TDSL shows what the Cyrillic characters actually look like.
Eli Duttman said:

That's exactly why I suggest looking for the ev suffix. That suffix indicates a tube of the highest military grade.

Not necessary. I don't remember all suffixes, but it seems to me E means more vibrations allowed, V means longer life guaranteed by manufacturer. It has nothing to do with tolerances, while rhombus stamped means special selection for military purposes.
May be it sounds not patriotically, but Russian NOS tubes often have too wide spread of parameters, like from Sevastopol to Vladivostok, so try to find some selected for army and navy that contain a rhombic stamp on them, they are more strict like between Moscow and Zelenograd.

Not all Russian tubes are so bad. Try this military tube, RB300-CX, (GM-5Bi) with plate dissipation 300W and tube height 7.2 cm only :) Tubes are very close by measured parameters from one to one.PDF This tube sounds perfectly too.

About usage in audio applications:
marin_iskra said:
So mostly advice be to stay away from Chines tubes and get some Russian. I did already look for look for quartet of EL34 from SVETLANA because it's available here and isn't expencive, so that probably may be my choice, only to see them first and get some warranty on them.

The SED (=C=) EL34 made in the St. Petersburg, Russia, plant is a FINE tube. Use it with confidence.
Some good info already above. I covet some replies from Jim McShane and Tubelab. They should have very good info regarding quality. For purchases of newer production valves I have purchased mostly only Russian valves, usually in fairly large quantity so I can match them up myself, and I have seen some of the spread that Anatoliy is talking about. I have mostly been pleased with the quality of these, though, but I know some people have reported some quality issues due to screen grid alignment in some Sovtek.

My experience has been with

6П14П - Many
6П14П-EV - Many
6П3C - Few
Sovtek 6L6WXT+ - Several
EH EL34 - Few
TubeHead Johnny said:
I've never had any problems with JJ octal types, I have been using them since 2004.

You are very lucky. Or you bought them from a dealer who took the time to weed out the junk, because JJ octals are abysmal quality.

As well, their 12AX7/ECC83 family tubes are notorious for microphonics and noise and/or weak sections and very large section differences.

The EL84, 12DW7, ECC99, and their much improved quality(!) E88CC are about the only ones I'll handle. SY likes some of the other small signal JJs, but since I haven't dealt with them I can't comment.

It's too bad, because some of their stuff is really good sounding - but I can't deal with >50% reject rates to try to find the few gold nuggets in all the debris.

Some comments about other brands:

1. I've stopped carrying the Shuguang/Valve Art KT88-98 due to poor quality. The triple getters are gone (no more side getters, top getters only now), the base pins are crooked and poorly soldered, and electrically many have tested barely above the level where you'd replace them. They were once nice, but they were obviously cheapened - and it shows. The KT66s are also poor now too, crooked bottles and bad bases. I'll put the few good pieces I have on sale soon, and that'll be it for them until they improve.

However, the most reliable 5AR4 in my stock is - yup, the Chinese tube!

2. From time to time Svetlana (called SED or Winged C in the USA) has issues. For a good period of time their 6550Cs were all hotter than a firecracker, cathode currents running way above typical for a 6550. That has improved, but if you need a "cool" biasing set of 6550Cs - good luck finding them! They still tend to be at the high end of the cathode current range.:hot:

They also go through periods from time to time where the 6L6GC and EL34 bottles are crooked in the bases. If the tubes weren't visible you wouldn't object as they perform as well as they always have. But they are not particularly aesthetically pleasing!!:xeye:

3. The New Sensor family tubes are absolutely the best quality, period. Even the relatively minor issue of the large-ish solder balls on the ends of the 6CA7 pin tips has been improved, my last batch was beautiful.

Their assembly quality is really good. And they are also making wonderful sounding tubes. The Genalex KT-88 is incredible, I'll say it is as good or maybe even better than any other KT-88 I've ever heard - including the original Genalex. The long plate Mullards are superb. The Tung-Sol 12AX7 reminds me of the old RCAs. The EH 6922 is so far superior to the old Sovtek it's become a really good sounding tube in most applications, yet it's still rugged and quiet.

Here's my two beefs on New Sensor stuff (oh, they're backbreakers too!!):

1. The Gold Lion lettering is easy to smear and sometimes goes away fast

2. The 12AX7 Tung-Sol and Mullard need some run-in before they come fully to life for test and match purposes.

Honestly, that's all I can beef about. The Genalex reject ratio is now about 1 -1.5%. The 200 Mullards I've handled have had zero rejects. Tung-Sol rejects are about 2-3% and dropping. 12AX7LPS (a FINE phono stage tube!) have <1% rejects. I've been able to listen to the new 6072/12AY7 EH and it blew me away. I was floored by how good it was.

There is a huge difference between brands, no doubt.
TubeHead Johnny said:
I really like JJ Electronics tubes, most notable the EL34, 6L6GC and EL84 types. I try to avoid most Chinese types as well, although they made vast improvements over the years (so I've heard).

I use the JJ EL34 and I think they sound better than a original Mullard tubes (which I bought a little while ago). Having said that, I think that the JJ's are visually quite unattractive (i.e ugly) but this is just personal taste. I still use them because they sound great. I might get a quad of Mullard reissue tubes one of these days to compare.

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