• WARNING: Tube/Valve amplifiers use potentially LETHAL HIGH VOLTAGES.
    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
    performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with
    the safety precautions around high voltages.

Tube Makers

Tom D

Member
2002-09-16 4:17 pm
USA
I was just wondering if there is actually a resurgence of Tube Makers/Manufacturers; or is there really only a very small market for Tube based components.

Reason for asking is: If you were to buy or build a high quality Tube Amp or Pre-Amp; would replacement tubes still be available say 10 years down the road?
 

Brett

Member
2002-01-07 6:02 pm
Tom D said:
I was just wondering if there is actually a resurgence of Tube Makers/Manufacturers; or is there really only a very small market for Tube based components.

Reason for asking is: If you were to buy or build a high quality Tube Amp or Pre-Amp; would replacement tubes still be available say 10 years down the road?
The audiophile part of the tube market is avery small percentage when compared to the musical instrument amp market. So things like 12ax7, EL34 and EL84 will continue to be available and high quality for quite some time yet. New manufacture of many of these tubes are excellent, and cheap. More specialised audiophile tubes like the 2A3 and 300B will still be available too, but not at the bargain prices of the MI amp tubes. Almost all currently manufactured amps use tubes that are in ready supply. Some of the smaller boutique manufacturers like Gordon Rankin, can afford to use unusual and rarer tubes because they don't have the volume of sales that say Manley Labs or ARC do.

Long term availability of tube types depends on which one's you're talking about. If you want something like a 71A, then you're going to be buying old stock, so grab all that you can find as a cache. I even stock up on common tubes in the flavours I fancy when I see them (esp on special), and I have a bit of spare cash.

If you build then it won't be an issue, especially if you know what you're doing. If I build for a particular tube, and stocks become unavailable, I simply redesign it to what I can get. Most of my amps don't stay static for long here anyway.

There are lots of tues that are less commonly utilised for audio, that sound excellent, and are available. For example, the 12B4A. Great sounding tube, and I know where I can get hundreds of them for a dollar or two each. I seldom run my tubes flat out, and use soft starting circuits, so they last a long time. I already have 40 12B4As, more than I'll <i>probably</i> ever use, but when one of my fave tube dealers has a special on them, I'll buy a few more. I also like tubes with top caps, and as I don't have any ankle biters to worry about I can use them safely, even exposed in an amp chassis, where this wouldn't be practical for many people. So there are a whole lot of extra tubes open to me to use, like 807's and 813's for example, bith of which are still used in transmitters and so there are millions available.

So to aleiviate you're concerns, tube supplies are not an issue, except for rare vintage types.

Get thee some tubes. Sand is for beaches.

Cheers
Brett
 

Tom D

Member
2002-09-16 4:17 pm
USA
Thanks for the responses.

I also wanted to say that I was going to build a Tube Headphone Amp from World Audio Design or World Tube Audio; I'm not sure if I got the company name correct. They are in the UK. Before I purchased the kit, I checked all over the internet to see if the tubes that were used in this kit were readily available. I beleive the tubes were EL83.

As much as I could find out; these were not very common; but maybe there are equivalents that could be used. So, I did not order the kit after all.

I do own the X-Can v2 which uses the 6922 tubes which always seem to be available by all Tube dealers.