What does VTL charge to retube it and put it back to factory specifications? That seems like the best place to start to establish a baseline.
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I have retubed the line stage side of my 5.5 and I have found that the Mullard CV4004 tubes were my favorite so far. They have a very nice midrange and extended highs that sparkle but are not too bright. The bottom end was tighter thant the stock 12ax7s.
I also tried some Telefunken ECC83s for a little while. They were very nice. The mid range was very lush and pretty. I thought the highs were a little rolled off and the low end didn't have the same punch as the Mullards. I liked the Teles but I thought they were a little too polite.
I have and older TL 5.5 and it uses 6350 tubes in the line stage instead of the 12at7s. I switched these out as well with some tubes labled IBM but noticed no difference from the stock tubes.
My phono stage is very noisey as well but I don't have a turntable hooked up to it. I am interested to see what you come up with to fix it, as I am thinking about getting into turntables.
Hope this helps a little
Thanks for info, this help a bunch. I have gone with the Mullard CV4004's as well in the phono stage for starters in the V1 slots to get the noise down and they made a big difference. So much that I put a second pair in the V2 slots. As for the V3 it uses the 12AT7 and I picked up a pair of the Mullard CV4024's to go there. All in all they have worked very well in the phono stage and the noise is much lower now and it sounds great with my Linn LP12. Based on the good results from the phono stage I was going to pick up a pair of the CV4004's(Cryo'ed to lower the noise even more). When these show up I will first try them in the V1 slot on the phono stage to see if the extra $$ makes a difference on the noise or not. That should take care of all the 12AX7's and will move to the 12AT7's. Good info on the Teles...I was thinking of giving those a try (ECC801S version=12AT7) and see how they sounded against the Mullards CV4024 in the line stage. It uses two pairs of AT7's and one pair of AX7's. Thanks again for the reply's and I'll let you know how it works out with the phono stage...Jim
Update: Received the pair of Cryo'ed CV4004's(12ax7) and first tried them in the phono stage (V1) and it seemed to me that the non-cryo Mullard pair has less noise...? Now have them in the line stage and they sound great!! Sounds to me that the V1 tubes on the phone stage made to biggest difference in the noise and the Mullard CV4004's worked great in the spot. Still want to try some teles in the 12at7 spots or any other suggestion out there? Thanks Jim
PS - does anyone have a manual that they can copy for me, please let me know and I will send some $$ for your time and trouble...Thanks!
I have no ownership experience with the 5.5, but I owned a 2.5 for several years. I found that the stock tubes in the line stage and phono stage were a bit on the noisy side. I also found that the Multicap upgrade quieted the preamp, but I believe the 5.5 ships with Multicaps.
I replace all of the line and phono stage tubes. Quality, tested Mullards, Tele's and Radiotechnique tubes were a huge improvement over the mostly Chinese stock tubes. As to which of the three I used, is a matter of system matching and personal taste. The Radiotechnique tubes were one of my fave's, but they are getting harder to find these days. Just be sure to purchase your replacement tubes from a trusted source.
As a side note, if you ever ship your preamp to VTL for service and/or upgrade be sure to remove the NOS tubes. They take issue with use of non-factory issue tubes, and bring warranty complications up as an issue.
Thanks for the reply. I have heard that same thing in the past as well regarding not having the stock tubes and VTL service. The 5.5 does have the Multicaps, but I will look for Radiotech tubes as well, had not thought of them before.
On a side note what amps are folks running with there VTL pre-amps. I have a Anthem Amp2 SE which is an hybrid but what to get into the mono block world...I think. Jim
The VTL MB-125 mono's are a nice match, of course, which I ran for over a year. I also owned the ST-150, which had a bit more slam than the mono's, but not quite as nice thru the midrange and highs. I chalk this up to the 125's using EL-34 output tubes vs. 6550 tubes for the ST-150. I also tried the Plinius SA-100 MkIII for a bit...very enjoyable with plenty of impact, but I still preferred the tube amps. Of course, you need to take into consideration what speakers you intend to drive. I found that ProAc 1.5's and Meadowlark Shearwater's were both great matches to the two VTL setups I mentioned (15x20x8 room).
I'm currently using a Cary SLI-80 with Grado's nice little PH-1 for phono stage. This comes very, very close to the quality of sound I previously had, with smaller outlay of funds. Can't wait 'til I start tuberollin' with the Cary.