I have been interested in these tubes. Please continue to post your observations.
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OK, tubes have over 10 hours now, the initial excitment settled down a bit....
What is clear at the moment:
1) They have much better, controlled bass which is no way boomy. I have Klipsch Heresy 3 and REL Strata 3 sub... At the moment I am biased to use sub as triphonic system, I just feel there is enough bass for me and for the room (20 sq.meters).
2) Midrange is more open and sweet. I feel it might become (I hope so) more defined.
3) Highs (trebles) are delicate, I wish they becom more articulated and airy.
4) Soundstage is big improvement over my previous tubes, it is just amazing.
At moment I find sound of these tubes very relaxing and addictive to listen over period of time.
Funny enough I have Senns 650 with Stefan Art cable and subversion of headamp called Zana Deux Micro (at the moment available in Russia only). I liked the delicate and airy sound and preferred it before to my speakers rig, now I prefer the sound of speakers, find headphones a bit lacking resolution.
Tubes are revealing to show a bit mechanical sound in records which were made in late 80s and they sound lively with records from 60s, it could be my setup though (Thorens 124, SME 3009 and ZYX R50).
I will post another comments when tubes will be over 100 hours to see whether sonic presentation has changed.
I am glad someone else is also appreciating the Shuguang, I actually prefer them over the newly minted Western Electric 300b. It seems like the Shuguang Black Bottle has more "bass slam" and more articulate than W.E. The Golden Dragons Iv'e heard not bad really, like them better than Svetlana. Let us know any other discoveries. Mike
Yes, I read from somebody who preferred them to new WEs 300B, I guess it is just a matter of time when people start realizing qualities of Black Bottles.
My tubes are still under 100 hours burn in, I think that midrange is somethings special though, I am still hesitant to draw any conclusions, as I understand, they dramatically change at 300 hours burn in...
After 100 hours (that counts both playing time and powered on but not playing time) I can confirm few things about them:
1) Soundstage is really (IMHO) something to get them for. If I close my eyes listening to music, the sounstage extends both in wide and in depth. Cannot say this regarding exact location of the performers/instruments, but "the picture" gets reaallly big.
I never could understand why many of my fellows are funs of mono recordings, with these tubes I can get an idea :) Listening to mono records is a fun.
2) Bass gets more focused and yet, it is still there and it is more powerful and meaty).
I tried to be critical to something that I wish would be improved. Trebles. I wish them become more airy, with delicate rollof, they are very nice but I hope when everything settles down they would become even better.
Also must say that they are quite revealing to the quality of recordings, exaggerated highs, boomy bass - you get everything what is in there.
And, yet, they are VERY seductive tubes. I often put a record to check out any changes, and stop listening when the complete record has been played through.
OK, it seems that I have got circa 300 hours of burn in on those tubes, I might write some summary of impressions about those tubes.
Burn in. Tubes change dramatically during 50 hours, after that I was seening little or unidentifiable changes. Those tube take 300 hours I believe to burn in completely, before sounds settles up completely. There is one interesting thing to mention - the base came up suddenly after 100 or 200 hours (cannot tell), it becomes solid and punchy and articulated, just out of blue.
I think burn in is important, since the sound becomes definitive, airy on highs and seem to improve sound just in every direction.
Out of the box. Sound is wonderful, by all means. Easily beats up Golden Dragons and Svetlana which I used before.
Qualities of the sound.
Soundstage. It is big, huge as compared to those tubes I used. Soundstage seem to increase in wideness as well as in deepness of the scene.
Midrange. Sound very open, without any veil, very lively.
Bass. Punchy, articulated, but gets even better after 100 (200) hours. It is not boomy by all means.
Highs. I think the most difficult part in the sound of those tubes. I found myself wondering where are the highs?? :). Having compared to Senn Hd650 (Stefan Art audio cable), plugged in Zana Deux micro (Russian variant of famous headphone amp) I realized that they just give what I have in the system (I use Audion Phono, Pre-Amp and Silver Night classic SET 300B) running Klipsch Heresies 3. Very revealing the quality of recordings too - switching between vinyl and CDP, easily seening how the record was made.
Starting from this, I changed wiring in amps (all three) to silver (audio consulting wires). The effect was immediate - more resolution came up right away.
Sound texture and resolution. I think they give very good level of texture, could notice subtle details in performances.
Way of presentation. The most magical part of the tubes. It is so addictive that you could find yourself wondering about CD/LP music (not sound!) sounding sooo gooood... Starting listed to LP I often stopped when the side has been played through. CD - listening track after track. The best word I believe would be seductive (tubes). The sound is so easy and relaxed that often at times I fall asleep :)
Now, what about drawbacks?
1) They are most expensive tubes in the range (twice more than TJ Full Music Mesh plate)
2) At my system, I would not say the imaging was very exactly locating instruments and performers.. But that could be my system, may be horns are not good at that, compared to bookshelf speakers.
3) They are quite revealing, could be thought as drawback by some people, I think, in some systems.
4) It takes 300 hours to burn in !!!! you could go nuts before they settle down.
The final part of the impressions would be when I visit a friend (he has WE new production and 2 amps using 300 B) to make a comparision like A/B to see how they perform vs. westerns.
If I understood you correctly, you are asking about 300B models in Shugaung range... Black Bottles is their top model, and I (personally) think (reading from reviews) is much better than comparable TJ ones (I believe also that JJ, Svetlana, etc does not stand out at all in this competition).
If you go to grantfidelity.com you can find short review by the guy claiming that they are better than new WE. A friend of mine has new WE and he has heard Black Bottles. When I asked him to do A/B testing between those 2 he refused)))
The 300B tubes are similar to the TJ MESH at first in transparency. After 50 hours or so, imaging takes off. But, not until 300 hours do they enter spooky real, assuming your other equipment can deliver this. In my case this is the occasional "spooky real." And, I need to do more listening, but that is due to the system hitting its quiescent state after literally hours of play. In the end, at least in this case...they are better and it seems you get what you pay for...in ever increasing slivers....Remember the bit about imaging...lifting off the speakers...that was something I really noticed at first....I did not take notes...so take this for what it now is....a memory...
My BT 300B-Z do not sound good yet. In fact, my old EH Gold Pins deliver all of the things that I like about tube amplification. The BTs sound way too forward, brassy at anything above 'normal' volume, kind of SS overall. I put the EHs back and pleasure has returned. I am going to try the BTs again (and give them more time), of course, as I didn't buy a quad of these things to resell them. My surprise is that I have not read any other acccounts of these tubes sounding this bad right out of the box.
Here's something I pasted from AA. The author is Chris O. It could explain a lot.
"You really have to watch out when you start swapping 300b or other big filament power tubes. The current draw on the heater for one tube brand or type or batch may be very different. Plugging several different brands of tubes (EH, TJ, KR) into a given amp showed each had very different voltage on the heater and bias points for the voltage and current supplied by the amp. In particular, the TJs sounded bad with 5.7 volts on the heater, much better at 5 volts exactly. Also, at the higher voltage they would have had a short life. The EH with the same supply were 5.2 volts.
Don't slam tubes (or anything else) if you don't know how you are using them. Most of the time, using the tube within the manufacturers specifications and optimizing a tubes operational points based on listening makes them a lot better."
Jwm, you misunderstood why I quoted those paragraphs (the 2nd one is still part of the quote).
Melville is preferring the EH, Charles1dad thinks the BT's are better. Conclusions: one of them is wrong or they are both right. I go with the latter.
I posted the quote after I read Charles last sentence: "Sometimes I wonder how much of these different impressions are due to the amplifier used and or system".
The price of tubes can be quite high, easily over $1000. When people are looking for help, I think it's important they understand that besides their own personal taste, the amp that they are used in can be a factor.
I believe certain amplifiers are voiced to match specific tubes sometimes.Many 300b amp owners have praised the W.E.reissue tubes but in my Frankenstein amp this tube was a disappointment. In the Wavelength or Airtight which seem to voice around these tubes people say they sound great.It appears so far the Takatsuki has been universally raved about.There`s some listener out there(it`s just a matter of time) who`ll say the Takatsuki is nothing special. That`s just the way it goes.