Are cryo'd tubes always better?


I recently purchased a tubed phono pre. I read upgraded tubes can greatly improve the sound, so I purchased some cyro'd tubes to go with it. Im waiting for all to be delivered.

The experiece prompted me to post my question: Are cryo'd tubes always better? Is it a matter of longevity or sound quality or both? Thanks in advance for your responses.
tbromgard
This is only "my" take on cryoed tubes. I have the same tubes from the same supplier, one pair is cryoed, the other is not. Same batch codes, same date codes ordered at the same time. I can't tell the difference.

So when I buy tubes now, if they are cryoed already, cool. If not, I won't pay extra for them.

Again just my opinion, YMMV.
Always? Dunno, but from my experience with a couple small 9pinners, the cryoed version was 'better' or more to my liking than the non-cryoed versions. Batch numbers were not closely matched so it coulda' been just due to sample to sample variations.

YMWV
Cryo improves the performance of almost all materials, glass, plastics, metal, etc.. However, I think it wise to wait at least a few days, maybe as long as a week, before listening critically to allow the cryo'd material to recover from thermal shock.
At the risk of pissing off half of the people who read this thread, here is my two cents worth:

As one with an extensive educational background in molecular crystallography and metallurgy, I have to say that IMO almost all of the claims and "scientific" explanations made by the cryo vendors are pure BS. Exposure to extremely low temperatures will almost always cause a weakening of the structural integrity for most metals and alloys. One of the guys I went to school with worked for NASA and NAA on the Space Shuttle project, and later on the initial planning for the ISS. Anyone who believes that cryo is universally good for any commercial metal structure should read some of the white papers and technical information that is available to the public.

But for those who insist that science has no relevance for audio and that it is all about the sound, for myself I cannot hear any difference between similar tubes, cryo treated and untreated (beyond the variation one would expect between any similar tubes). But if it's good for you, then it's good.
Actually, cryogenically treating materials improves their strength, hardness,
durability and stiffness, making them less brittle. The improvement to the
material is due to the atomic structure becoming more homogeneous,
especially for metals that have pressed, bent, drawn or hammered. Thus,
cryo 'd tools last longer, cryo'd golf clubs hit the ball farther, cryo'd brass
musical instruments ring less and sound better, cryo'd Ferarri piston rods
last longer, and the valves on cryo'd trumpets move more smoothly. Put
succinctly, cryoing is cold tempering. Heat tempering obviously also
improves the strength and hardness of metals.

Cheers
Cryoed gun barrels shoot staighter.
'Actually, cryogenically treating materials improves their strength, hardness, durability and stiffness'

I'm almost afraid to sak!! What about body parts???? oh please say YES, please!!!
Rok2id, what are you, like in fourth grade?

(Just kidding)
09-26-12: Br3098
Exposure to extremely low temperatures will almost always cause a weakening of the structural integrity for most metals and alloys. One of the guys I went to school with worked for NASA and NAA on the Space Shuttle project, and later on the initial planning for the ISS. Anyone who believes that cryo is universally good for any commercial metal structure should read some of the white papers and technical information that is available to the public.

I understand your position and in some cases I can verify your statement is true. In other cases not.

The worst result from cryo came with treating tightly wound transformers, both large (amps or speakers) and tiny (MC Cartridges). After ruining several pieces we concluded that the transformer had no room to "compact itself" when shrinkage occurred at super low temperature. This caused fractures to the wire and even after lengthy break in times the damage seemed to be irreversible.

On the other hand, what Geoffkait claims is also true. I sell electrical outlets that are cryo treated and it does help the sound. If the cost is low enough to be worth the benefit I see no harm. Especially product that appears after many years experimentation to suffer absolutely no harm.

Precisely on this topic, my experience with cryo tubes are that they sound the same or worse. I have (unfortunately) not been successful with cryo versions. Then again, I suspect the tube type, tube design, circuit it's used in, personal taste and other factors all play a role.
Albert Porter,

Regarding cryo'd tubes, I am reposting my earlier comments on this thread here, you know, just in case.

"Cryoing improves the performance of almost all materials, glass, plastics, metal, etc.. However, I think it wise to wait at least a few days, maybe as long as a week, before listening critically to allow the cryo'd material to recover from thermal shock."

Cheers
Geoffkait

There is no need to insult fourth graders!
I'm a cable manufacturer and I cryo treat my cables and the difference is not small.
But, the burn in is a must to bring out what the cryo treatment does. I've A-B'd my cables before and after many times, and after the treatment and with the burn in, they always outperforms the before.
More macro and micro dynamics, more open and airy soundstage.
More extention on both ends, and the mids have more texture and a better tonal balance all around.

I don't know about tubes, but I trust what Albert says.
If he has had neg. experiences with tube being cryoed, I would trust it.
Albert Porter wrote,

"The worst result from cryo came with treating tightly wound
transformers, both large (amps or speakers) and tiny (MC Cartridges). After
ruining several pieces we concluded that the transformer had no room to
"compact itself" when shrinkage occurred at super low
temperature. This caused fractures to the wire and even after lengthy break
in times the damage seemed to be irreversible."

That's odd. Plenty of transformers and MC cartridges have been cryo'd
over the last 15 years without failures. Besides, copper is a ductile metal
and should not fracture, even under this sort of duress. Were you able to
observe fractures in the wire? Just curious.
That's odd. Plenty of transformers and MC cartridges have been cryo'd over the last 15 years without failures. Besides, copper is a ductile metal and should not fracture, even under this sort of duress.

Were you able to observe fractures in the wire? Just curious.

If the cryo is done to bare wire I agree totally with you and Zmanastronomy, excellent results.

If the wire for the transformer is cryo before it's tightly wound, no risk and great benefit. Some transformer designs may survive and sound great even if treated after assembly.

I'm betting this varies by design, tightness and density of the windings, the core material and so on.

The discovery of the negative side came when I was involved with Benz Micro of Switzerland years ago. At one time I did all their high end photography (magazine ads and show displays).

Anyway, I was doing their new product photography line and came up with the idea to cryo their top MC cartridges to improve performance.

After the experiment failed (sound wise) with both the Sound-Lab Ultimate toroidal transformers and a couple of expensive Benz cartridges the factory in Switzerland verified the damage and explained the results to me.

I assumed the same for the Sound-Lab transformer, but it was not microscopically examined. I returned it to Roger and Connie and I don't know what happened to it after that.

It made me a bit negative on cryo transformers. The loss of those top tier Benz cartridges and Sound-Lab best toroidal was depressing even though I was not held responsible for the damage the experiment caused.
Geoffkait,

>>The improvement to the material is due to the atomic structure becoming more homogeneous, especially for metals that have pressed, bent, drawn or hammered. Thus, cryo 'd tools last longer, cryo'd golf clubs hit the ball farther, cryo'd brass musical instruments ring less and sound better, cryo'd Ferarri piston rods last longer, and the valves on cryo'd trumpets move more smoothly. Put succinctly, cryoing is cold tempering.

1- Cryogenic treating CAN is an important technique in modern metallurgy, IF the alloy and manufacturing methods are specifically designed to utilize these processes. Taking any old tube w/ steel pins and composite grids (for example) risks introducing molecular-level stress fractures and discontinuities to the matrix.

2- Using the examples that you mentioned above, Cryogenic treating methods are an integral part of the initial manufacturing process. These parts were specifically designed for such treatment, and would not perform to spec if the cryo steps were eliminated.

3- As an extreme oversimplification, cryogenic treating can result in physical properties such as improved tensile strength and improved grain edge boundaries that facilitate tighter machining tolerances. But show me one study that demonstrates how cryo-treating improves conductivity or electron flow in off-the-shelf steel parts. It doesn't.

I believe that both Siemens and Telefunken tested cold treating steel parts as part of their manufacturing process for special tubes in the early 1980s. The results were less than spectacular. To be fair, this was with much earlier technology and possibly under less than perfect conditions, but the reported problems (including spalling on carbon filaments and dislocation [flaking] of certain REE coatings on tungsten components) remain problematic to this day.

But again, if it works for you then it works (for you)
Br3098 wrote,

"3- As an extreme oversimplification, cryogenic treating can result in
physical properties such as improved tensile strength and improved grain
edge boundaries that facilitate tighter machining tolerances. But show me
one study that demonstrates how cryo-treating improves conductivity or
electron flow in off-the-shelf steel parts. It doesn't."

I cannot show you even one study because nobody has studied it.
He-looo! Can you show me one study that demonstrates that cryo-
treating DOESN'T improve conductivity or electron flow in metals?

At least you seem to be coming around a little bit by acknowledging that
metals are not made more brittle by the cryo process as you earlier opined.

Br3098 also wrote,

"But again, if it works for you then it works (for you)."

Yes, it does work for me. Obviously it doesn't work for
those who never try it. Lol
>>At least you seem to be coming around a little bit by acknowledging that metals are not made more brittle by the cryo process as you earlier opined.

You only cited a small part of my response. You be an operative for one of the major political parties.

As a matter of fact I have purchased cryo'd tubes and cables. Other than the KT88s that died a premature death I could tell no difference, either by ear or by measurement.
Br3098 wrote,

"You only cited a small part of my response. You be an operative for one of the major political parties."

Actually, I'm an independent.

Br3098 also wrote,

"As a matter of fact I have purchased cryo'd tubes and cables. Other than the KT88s that died a premature death I could tell no difference, either by ear or by measurement."

That's very interesting. I can certainly understand why you couldn't hear a difference but, praytell, what did you measure?