I have around 30 pairs of Voskhod Rockets dated ’73 to ’85, bought as a lot more than a decade ago, before they caught on. While some years are better than others, they all share a family resemblance in my VAC Phi Beta preamp: clear, balanced, detailed, and harmonically on the lean side. For comparison, I also have a bunch of Hamburg Valvo Red Labels, which are harmonically richer while still being detailed and balanced, and USA Amperex USN-CEP 7308 from 1964, and some NOS Seimens. The Voskhods are closer to the USA Amperex and Seimens than to the Valvos in their presentation--again, detailed, balanced, but a bit lean. I happen to like the Valvo Red Label sound. My point is you can pick up a pair of Voskhods from one of the less-fetishized years for pretty cheap and get a sense of whether you like that sound, then decide where to spend large.
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Tried a plethora of 6922 types, over the past couple decades. I’m using six of the early 60’s/grey-shield, round getter, CCa Siemens, in my system, at this time. I also have spare CCa and E188CC pairs, of the same iteration/vintage. The system’s revealing and I’m picky. Unless your E188CC/7308 valves are well up in hours; I doubt you’ll notice much difference, if you step up to the Siemens CCa, grey shield. That’s: unless used in a very high gain circuit (then, maybe). The silver-shield, internal date coded, Siemens CCa was too edgy, to me. Tried a (genuine) NOS, Amperex, USN-CEP 7308, grey shield/early 60’s, pair and found them a bit warm, for my tastes. Didn’t hear about the ’75, 6N23P, SWGP, Reflektor Silver Shields, until the prices were ridiculous. Don’t see any point in trying the less-esteemed Russian years/iterations, myself. The aspects of what I hear at live venues, are brought home (there and then, to here and now) with the Siemens, quite realistically (given a well-engineered recording, of course). https://www.head-fi.org/threads/6922-tube-review-17-top-6922-6n23p-e88cc-cca-7308-e188cc-tubes.76107...
Much appreciated rodman. I did try some NOS NIB French made Mazda (Dario labeled) blue tip e188cc from Brent Jessee in pursuit of a tad more harmonic richness, which indeed they delivered, but the sound was less real than the the afore mentioned Siemens provide. Also tried some orange globe Amperex 7308; similar result.
Getting the sense that there's probably not much room for improvement on this front...and the associated sense that I'm lucky to be where I'm at on this front!
Really lucky actually; the matched Siemens e188cc were bought from Upscale Audio in 1997 and used for only a few months in a Sonic Frontiers SFS-80 amp before selling the amp and stashing the tubes...only discovered the tubes in an old Rooney Brushes of England shaver box where I stashed them (24 years ago!) a couple months ago! Yes, lucky indeed.
Thanks very much for the experientially earned insights gentlemen. I'll stick with those happily discovered Siemens tubes. One case of audio nervosa cured :)
Try to get some 6n23p Voskhods 74-79 period and you will never look back, problem is to find a good and trusty vendor for these. They have a better pricing compared to other 88 family nos, have less tedency to microphonics, and generate less heat around the tube. I have tried nearly all in that family and i am happy to have a good stock of these and selling nearly all my nos stock of ecc88/e88cc/e188cc. Just kept some Holland ecc88, e88cc, e188cc, Siemens e188cc A frames (which i find better voiced than CCa's). D-getter Bugle Boys ecc88 and Amperex Holland e88cc straight D-getter 1958-1959 period are special but can become noisy. All depends on your gear and how hard it drives the tubes.
Another nice and linear sounding tube is Mullard e88cc-01, equivalent to CCa but unfortunately same pricing and more rare.
@xenolith - Sounds as though our sonic palates are similar. Given you got those from Kevin (very reliable NOS source): in most circuits, they should last around 10K hrs. Brent's another of my favorite tube mongers. You're probably already familiar with his views, on the 6922 family, but- just in case: http://www.audiotubes.com/6dj8.htm
Love this place.
Once had a mentor tell me "All good scientist must have a latent masochistic streak"...what he meant was that, necessarily, scientists must enjoy the suffering that necessarily predicates the solving of hard problems.
Could be wrong, but, I think that audiophiles, by that definition, are good scientists.
Yes on the Siemens grey plate Cca being a great tube. As our our fellow audionaughts (nuts?) here have convinced me, I likely wouldn't notice much difference relative to the 1963 Siemens E188CCs that I'm currently running.
A bit more on the Voskhods that are on the way (they shipped within 5 hours of purchase!)...the link below if for the same tubes that I bought 4 of. I've learned that one dead give away for Voskhod 6n23p that were made for export are the nickel plated pins...for corrosion resistance (domestic market have steel pins). The export versions are said to be the best sounding. Can clearly see the ones in the link have the nickel plated pins.