I have Teslovak E83ccs in the 12AX7 positions
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The best I have used and currently use are white label Amperex 6922's (late 50's/early 60's vintage) and Mullard CV 4004's in the 12AX7 slots. I also have the notorious Mullards 10M gold pins (12AX7), but found them to be a bit slow for my tastes.
Strongly recommend you buy from a reputable & knowledgeable tube dealer (Brent Jesse Recording, TubeWorld, & Vintage Tube Services). It may cost a bit more, but you'll know your getting the real deal.
Pdreher- Thank you for the advise...I don't know much about the tube world and I am interested in the difference in tubes(input stage vs output) and how they can change the presentation of solid state amps. My Aleph 3s have a very natural sound compaired to most s.s. amps I have listened to. Should I consider this as a factor in my tube choice?
I'll second Pdreher's tube selection, I used the same combo with enjoyable results. The 12AX7's are the impute tubes and have the biggest effect on the sound, the 6922 are like spices they accent the main flavor.
Kevin Deal at upscale Audio usually has the CV-4004's (gold grade) in stock, I would check with Brent Jessie first for the Amperex PQ 6922's. Don't be lured by sellers with cheaper priced tubes there's always a reason for the price, usually poorly balanced sections or tubes that are rated stronger than they are. Always buy NOS and not slightly used!!!!!!!!!!
Changing the 12AX7 tube will have a dramatic affect on the sound compared to changing the 6922 tube. As the 12AX7 is in the gain stage of the preamp. All of the recommendations above are excellent. You just need to know what kind of sound you are looking for. You also can change the gain of the preamp by -12db. The Calypso has a 29db gain for the balanced output, that is why you need an exceptionally quiet 12AX7 tube. By lowering the gain to a more realistic 17db a lot of other tubes can be used in this preamp, and the preamp still has plenty of gain for most amplifiers. I have used 1950's Mullard long plates, 1960's Mullard & Telefunken 1960's smooth plates in the 12AX7 positions along with 1950's 5751 GE tubes. They all sound slightly different, with the Mullards & GE having a richer sound in the midrange and the Telefunken being neutral. You will just have to get some different tubes and give them a try as all set ups are different.
Unless you need the high gain, I would suggest you lower the gain in the preamp first as it will reduce the tube hiss thru the speakers substantially. Thats not to say you cannot get a low noise tube to work with the high gain, as I have done so with the Telefunken & Mullard tubes, but it does take an exceptionally low noise tube to do so. All of the dealers above can supply matched tubes, but the tubes you will need with the high gain needs to be matched and low noise, which they can supply but it takes a little work.
A common theme in all of the threads on the Calypso has to do with the Calypso getting a bad wrap of being hard on tubes, because with the wrong tube the linestage can sound noisy (tube hiss thru the speakers). This has to do with the Calypso having such a high gain compaired to most other preamplifiers. Typically you will see the gain of a preamplifier to be between 12 to 18 db, compaired to 29 for the Calypso. I have had the Calypso over 3 years and have found it not to be hard on the tubes, in fact the tube have lasted a long time. You just need the low noise tubes in the 12AX7 position or lower the gain or both.
2nd what Samhar said about buying NOS, and the mentions about low noise tubes. Kevin at Upscale is very stringent in his testing procedures, and his noise grading is spot-on. You are assured of getting exactly what is stated/promised from him, in addition to excellent guidance in finding the tubes to sate your aural palate.
I have a Rhea and Calypso. I can attest that tubes that would otherwise be too noisy or microphonic can often be quelled with Herbies dampers (but you do have to experiment sometimes to get the damper positioned correctly). You should always have at least a pair of these around. They have saved me megabucks and hassles.
The Calypso 12ax7's don't have to be as quiet as those in the Rhea. I use my Rhea rejects in the Calypso. I'm not sure which Calypso gain setting I'm using but I do remember having to change it when I first received the Rhea. The two didn't interact well with the high gain I had selected for the Rhea.
If I recall correctly I was told by Glenn at Aesthetix that if you select an input on your Calypso that is not connected, turn the volume from zero to eight and listen at each increment in between, you will hear the maximum amount of tube noise that the Calypso will contribute to your overall sound. You may only have to listen at eight.
I have not tried old stock American tubes but have tried most of the Euro's including the 10M. I prefer Philips - D getters (Heerlen, Blackburn) and the Hamburg long plate slanted O getter - in the critical gain positions in both the Rhea and Calypso. You might prefer the sound of a Telefunken or even a 5751. It really depends on so many things, your amps, speakers, listening room, etc. The only way to know for certain is to try different types.
Thank you all for the good advice. I checked the gain jumpers in my Calypso and they are in the low gain position. I did not think I had a noise problem...but after trying Viiu's test I had a considerable hiss at the 8 volume setting. My last preamp was a Pass Labs X-0.2 and it was dead quite.
The sound I am looking for is similar to my X-0.2, very transparent and detailed but with a more natural presentation from top to bottem. My system at this point sounds like someone threw a blanket over my speakers... as if the sound has been muffled slightly.
I was not sure replacing my solid state pre with a tube pre would be an improvement...but I thought I'd give it a try. My objective was to reduce the amount of money I had tied up in my system without losing any qualities...build, esthetics and sonic performance. I have come close but my preamp is still lagging behind the Pass Labs X-0.2 in overall musicality. Hopefully with your tube recommendations I will be able to do so. Thanks to all.
Dopogue- I have looked into audio fuses and power cords. I believe they have a place in my system. I am of a mind that they account for a very small % of the overall sound. So they are on the back burner. I say that now....but who knows what I will do tomorrow!!! I just spent $350 on tubes for my Calypso...Made a call to Brent Jesse and pealed out the Visa.
I'm glad you ordered tubes, that is what you need to do, start somewhere. You never explained what you wanted from the stock sound, and what you were hoping to gain. As stated above the Mullard CV 4004 is an excellent choice, but I am on the opposite view, I prefere the lusher Mullard 10M gold pin (or any Mullard 12AX7 gold pin tube from the '60's. I used the 10M myself.
In the 6922 I went through many tubes, and eventually found a quit non microphonic pair of '50's Amperex pinched waist that are perfect matches with the 10M. The issue is in today's market that is $1000 plus dollars for four tubes, if you can find quit ones. There is some real question if $1000 in tubes in a $4500 component is even logical, but in my mind it made the Calypso a remarkable unit.
BTW, I kept mine in the high gain and it was dead quit. Also last year I upgraded to the Callisto, many more tube variables to deal with.
Jd - I talked for some time with Brent Jesse and took his recommendations on my tube selection. I told him my taste and what my system consisted of and what tubes were recommended by Audiogon members in this thread. I bought a matched pair of nos Telefekunken 12ax7s smooth plate, 60s vintage. A matched pair of nos Amperex 6DJ8s Bugleboys 60s vintage. I was looking for a transparent, detailed, natural sound without any coloration. Basiclly I want the same thing my Pass Labs X-0.2 preamp gave me but at a lower price point. My used Calypso came with 2 sets of 12ax7s (seller had a bad packing day)so I ended up going to a small electronics shop in Marin (north of San Francisco)and buying a pair of nos Sylvania 6DJ8s so I could get up and running. I am not disappointed with the sound I have now...but it is not up to the standard I was use too.
Why don't you look into the new Blackburn 12AX7's,. I found this write up and some responses posted in the other audio forum where the tube inmates hang out.
I am interested as well since I have an Aesthetix IO Signature and would be willing to try the new Blackburns as well.
I agree with Jadem6 as I use Mullard 12AX7 and Amperex 6922 in my Calypso. The tubes I found were dead quiet with the Calypso set in High Gain. I only mentioned the low gain setting as it opens up the doors to using so many other tubes. I am looking for a tube sound, otherwise I would have stayed with Solid State as it is less expensive in the long run.
AQ4life- Thanks for the Blackburn tube info...euro prices? about $60usd?.
Mds- I decided to start my tube setup with a neutral
sound...a place to start. The Telefunken/Amperex combo was recommended by some in this thread as did Brent Jesse. I replaced my S.S. pre not because I was searching for a better one, I needed the money. I sold my mono blocks, preamp, best CD players, very good wire and my Car! I replaced all with good "less expensive" equipment. I have come up with a better than expected system. I was not looking for a "tube sound", I was looking for the best sound for my taste that I could afford. I realise every piece adds it's own sonic signature to the music. I rely on my ears to decide if it sounds natural...nothing added...nothing taken away. I'm sure I will try different tube combinations in the future..that's what you guys are for...telling me what I am missing and what will sound better in my system. I do appreciate all the input!
I've had my Calypso for 2 years ... Telefunken 12AX7 ribbed for now. bought an NOS 6922 but honestly the difference isn't worth the extra $ (not that it isn't noticeable but i could spend $ on other stuff).
I always wonder if it's better if I go to something else like a Modwright transporter and skip the Calypso ...