s_k_77, appreciate you sharing your experience with the LTA ZOTL40 Reference with NOS Mullard tubes.
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" If you are looking to replace EL34 tubes, Mullard EL34 and TungSol EL34B are the go-to tubes. They are step up from the OEM tubes shipped with the amp, and will provide great tone."
My experience, I agree, new production, not pricey NOS.
In 1973 I inherited mono blocks made in 1958 with used but tested good original Mullard EL37’s in it (not EL34's), and a spare set of vintage Mullard EL37’s my uncle had ready to go,
I have bought new/collected old tubes for years, thus tried a variety of substitutes in those amps.
I also have used Fisher 500C and 800C receivers with various brands of 7591’s. There are differences, slight, and I have found, after research, the general descriptions of differences, i.e. more mids, firmer bass ... are correct.
I bought a Cayin amp, came with good 6550’s, sounded great, but, how would KT88"s sound in it? Bought the KT88’s, convinced myself I hear the expected slightly tighter bass. It could have gone the other way, came with KT88’s, try 6550’s, oh boy, those slightly better mids, .... i.e. how much do we convince ourselves?
OTOH, I have tried and hated a variety of 6sn7 tubes, clear differences, make sure your seller will allow returns after break in, like my favorite source
I can’t say how NOS Mullard el34’s will sound in an LTA amp but I assure that xf2 NOS Mullards (both single and double getters) and the unicorn xf1’s are so much better than anything made today that the difference wont be subtle. $800 for a NOS quad is actually pretty fair. i wouldnt sell my xf2’s for $800.
It is worth it. I love the XF2 Mullard EL34’s and will never part with them. I also have an older ZOTL40 and have taken it in to to get the latest mods. Check with Mark but I think for the price you will be getting more than just excellent tubes. They now have different/better resistors and Mundorf caps. The improvements from my original ZOTL40, and I do have one of the first ones, is tremendous.
IMO with my ears, no.
I bought new Chinese EL34s from a local tube matcher in Cleveland and they sound wonderfull in my RAM-9mkii. I would just start with matched new production Chinese EL34's and see how they sound. About 160 to 200 for the octet. I can give you the contact info on my guy in Cleveland if you want.
I have the Linear Tube Audio Z10 and all I will say is that you should try it and prepare to be amazed. Never heard another amp play music with such clarity and power that is far beyond what the watts would suggest. It’s less Tubey by far than my Primaluna was, but the trade offs i made for the Primaluna are gone. 40 watts on the Primaluna couldn’t match the 10 coming out of this. Just try it and find out.
So, not sure if this is of any use, but thought I would share my experience with EL34's.
Gone through a pile of them over the past 25 or so years with my amp. EH, JJ's, Psvane Phillips Replica's, Winged-C's Gold Lion KT77's (currently in amp) and some others that I don't remember???
Never spent the $$'s on NOS Mullards, was more than I wanted to dish out, and passed on the new production ones. However, that doesn't mean I'm not curious as hell to hear them in my amp...
The Psvanes, quite lovely sounding (open, nice extension), but my amp burned through them- two sets of quads in 18 months? Prior to those, I ran the Winged-C's for years with no problems and they sounded to me as I felt EL34's should sound. Warm, nice mids and tight bass. Would get again, but they have become a bit pricey. The KT77's rival the Psvanes as far as transparency and extension goes at half the price.
Then there are these...
The nice thing about LTA is that, in that amp, those tubes should last you a life time... I have the ZOTL10 not the 40, but upgraded to vintage 6085s and 7062 in place of the 12AU & AT Xs in the line stage (from the two suppliers mentioned above, in fact--I second their recommendation): wonderful improvement that I do not regret paying for--about half what you would pay. It's a terrific amp either way: I simply wanted to give it the best.
I bought the LTA Reference 40 earlier this year. It came with the NOS Mullards. It is the finest amp I've heard. A true giant killer. It is just stunning. As for the tubes there isn't a current production tube that can compare with the NOS Mullard EL34, which is one of the finest sounding audio power tubes to be produced. Those, combined with that David Berning circuit in the LTA, is just a match made in heaven.
@ ghasley & jjss49
Have accumulated > 80 NOS EL34s over time, ever since my first tube amps ( back in the day, Marantz 2s), Mullards, Philips & Telefunkens. For beauty of tone I go with the Mullards especially the earlier 6 much more expensive Xf1 series. The winged Telefunkens being more neutral and extended with tighter bass are great also but missing those meaty mids. Philips appeares to me somewhere in between.
If $ 800 seems too steep look into NOS Ultron brand EL34s, made in East Germany in the late 70´s/early 80´s and considerably cheaper.
I have NOS Mullard EL34’s and a quad of Sophia Electric EL34ST. The Sophia’s are as close to Mullard EL34 as you can get which makes them the best new production EL34 tubes made but they are expensive.
For you guys that have a new Z10 or ZOTL40, give those caps some time to break-in properly. It gets better.