6SN7 & 6CA4 Tube Recommendations for Cary AE-3 DJH

Would like to hear from all you tube rollers out their regarding different brand tubes used in Cary's AE-3 DJH preamp. Let me know what you tried, liked, & didn't like. I just got this preamp used and it came with Westinghouse 6SN7GTB & Valvo EZ80. I have a TV-7 tube tester I'll check them on this weekend before I fire up the preamp.

I owned this preamp, and thought it sounded wonderful with most any NOS tubes I tried. It didn't seem to make much audible difference to my ears. What I'm trying to say is that its a terrific pre, but in my experience, not a "tube roller's dream", as it didn't seem that sensitive to tube changes (and I tried a lot!).
I've been running mainly Pope 6SN7, purchased from Upscale Audio. Truly holographic and detailed with great extension. I also run early Sylvania GTs(circa 1944) which offer tremendous detail and realism. The rectifier seems to matter less, as long as it is still a healthy tube.

I wish I could run both sets of the aforementioned tubes as they both are excellent in various criteria. I have been thinking about upgrading to a direct-coupled slp98 line stage for this very reason, but it is hard to put the DJH aside as it is so capable.
All of the classic WWII/Korea era tubes sound great. These include those designated VT-231, JAN (joint army navy), the GTA and GTB series. There are various technical differences between the tubes but they all work in the AE-3.

I have bought (almost exclusively here on the Gon) and enjoyed many of the classics for my AE-3including Sylvanias in many incarnations-especially the so called Bad Boys, the TungSols, the RCAs with the grey glass, the RCA Redbase 5692s, and the Raytheons all have something a little bit different to offer. To state the obvious, this is all about synergy - what you really are looking for is the tube that makes the rest of your rig sing. (more tipped up or less, faster or slower, tighter bottom or not etc)

In my experience, the differences range from quite subtle then the extreme. In terms of what you will hear, 6SN7 aficionados distinguish between tubes by their air, lushness (fat), how much sparkle their is at the high end, how tight the bass is. While no one has a word for it, some are definitely faster and have more attack then others. Too much of this and people talk about the tubes being etched.

Some tubes tend to be quite microphonic and are obviously undesirable - this is something to discuss with the supplier before you buy. BTW this cannot be tested by thwacking the tube with your fingernail... Also the concept of matched is not about how the tubes test for life expectancy so much as it is how close the two triode sections test to one another within the tube, and then how well the tubes compare. Rare to find anyone doing this.

FWIW I have played around with various brass dampers, as well as the Pearl Coolers and the Herbies. Tends to be a bit tube dependent - sometimes they help, sometimes they kill some of the air.

I did find that cables make a big difference - a fairly neutral (but not critical)presentation is key if you really want to dig into the nuances. And I found that my AE-3 definitely benefited from power cords, footers and a fat wood block.

BTW, the Valvo (an English brand) is most likely a relabeled Mullard, the European designation was EC33.

There are a number of websites devoted to the tube and the differences you will enjoy:





Of course it is possible to get quite caught up either pursuing the ultimate sound or pursuing every flavor. I know this is not sporting to say, but IMHO once you get a good set I question the wisdom of continuing the chase - I will be posting about 20 of them soon. LOL

enjoy - its a great pre
It depends on the rest of your system, and on what sound you want to get.
That's what I call a quality response to a post. The "Gon" needs more like that! Thanks.
Ditto, (though the first 2 responses provided useful info too).
Excellent post guys.

Tube540... In my AE-3 DJH that I recently purchased, Im using RCA 6SN7 GT VT231 Gray glass. Audio Art Ic-3 IC's into a Pass Aleph 3. PC's on both are Oyaide Tunami Cryo GPX. I have not experimented as yet with any other 6SN7's.. I am using the latest Herbies Halo dampers. I very much like the RCA's. BTW.. the Oyaide's enhanced the performance of the DJH and Aleph 3 wondefully. More transparent, greater clarity, nice dynamics. Improved Soundstage and bass.
**addendum to my prior post**
This little preamp is a gem. Hopefully you are a believer in the difference power and cabling makes in a system because the DJH does respond very well with the right choices as other have mentioned here. I use exclusively Shunyata power cables in my system, and specifically a Taipain Alpha Helix on my DJH (with Mapleshade Excaliber interconnects) with excellent results. Right out of the box, the preamp sounds good, but really comes into another league when you have everything dialed in. Have fun and enjoy!
Thank you everyone for so many excellent responses. I've been banging around this hobby for about 40 years, and seen a lot of changes over the years. What hasn't changed is peoples' passion for this hobby. The Cary AE-3 DJH is poised to replace my dialed-in Sonic Frontiers Anthem Pre-1 preamp (hand tested and hand picked tubes, Herbies, dampening materials, unit recently checked by Parts Express). To answer your question Jalapenos, yes I have good wire in the system: Pro Silway interconnects, Acoustic Zen Satori speaker wire, various power cords from Shunyata to VooDoo to Synergistic. The rest of the system includes an EAD T-1000 CD transport, Bel Canto upsampling DAC, VTL-ST 80 tube amp, Paradigm Studio 100 speakers, and an older Oracle turntable with Fidelity Research arm. The CD sound is very clear and holographic, especially with voices. The challenge with the Anthem preamp has been/is finding quality QUIET 6922 tubes that can start and stay quiet (without sounding like mud). Which is why I am trying the 6sn7 route. I want to stay away from the "dark side" of tubes. When using a tube preamp and a tube amp the synergistic effect can be too dark for me. Clarity is key to my satisfaction. I may consider trying all silver cabling (one at a time) to see if I like the result(the Pro Silways are copper and silver together). Any other experiences you want to share about dialing in the Cary preamp would be appreciated. I still may send back my Anthem preamp to Parts Express for upgrading. Anyone ever use that service on their Anthem preamp?
Hi -

FWIW I had the Silway 3s between the AE3 and the amp (a Cary tube) and thought it quite swell. I am also very pleased with the Wolff Carbons and the Audience Au24 in that position - quite a contrast.

Your RCA gray glass are as good as any I auditioned, though I do like the Raytheons
I have had very good sound with 6h8c's from Upscale Audio. (Russian variation of 6ns7) - works with my system! By the way, Cary AE-3 DJH is a fine pre-amp.
As member Chalker2 said...I have had a very good sound with Russian 6h8c w/1578 stamp ( 6sn7 equivalent) and Sylvania 6sn7 gtb.with my beloved Cary Slp-98L...which is currently posted for sale ...feel so bad letting this one go.pescolar