Audio Aero CDP tube replacement: 6021 v/s 6n16b

During my recent trip to France, I met with an electronic engineer who previously worked for Audio Aero factory (France) and told me of a substantial improvement in musicality and overall sound quality of the Audio Aero CD players if the stock 6021W tubes (cryo or not) are replaced by the russian 6N16B tubes (selling for about $1,50 ea. on Ebay from Russia).

I did some research and came across several DIYers from Europe who have tried this route and confirmed that the 6N16B tubes take the Audio Aero players to another level.

Continuing my research, i recently came across a well respected french DIY website (in French language) - hosted and managed by tube researchers & professionals in France and a forum specifically on tube replacement in Audio Aero players.

It appears that those who have replaced the 6021 by 6n16b swear there is no contest: the russian tubes make the player a much better animal. The site is:

There is one caveat though (detailed out in the above thread): the 8 filaments of the 6n16b have to be soldered differently from the way the 6021 are soldered - the latter requires that the filaments be soldered consecutively in an orderly manner (i.e. filament 1 of tube 6021 on position 1 on circuit board, filament 2 on position 2, and so on in a regular pattern clockwise or anticlockwise etc..) , while the russian tube requires that some filaments be soldered in a disorderly sequence - some filaments having to cross others (and therefore require isolation).

I went on Lampizator website and found that Lukas has only praises for these little russian tubes and as he states in his own words: "One of the best sounding tubes of all time. The ubertube". The link is

Lukas uses them in many of his products (DAC, preamp etc.)

Convinced by these testimonies, I have just ordered eight 6n16b tubes from Russia for my AA cd player and am awaiting delivery. Have also bought some JAN 6021W Phillips just in case..

Anyone tried the replacement? Your experience, findings and particularly the complexity of soldering the 6n16b on the circuit board would be much appreciated.

Thank you
Many Thanks! for this intel. Hopefully, some day, I will own an AA cd player.

I have 3 AA players (capitole )
I have tried all tubes i could found ..raytheon from tubeworld is one of the best you can buy today but i think gryo treatment is making a trick at the sound (i am not sure but its not so normal sound is very clear but i think ...too bright and overdubbing ?? ) whatever ...
i have a box 6n1b and like you i wish i could try them but
its not so simple ...wires is very near and very complex to find where each one goes (its not clear like 6021 there is no mark or space get start there is no front and back !! )
The best tube i try in he past was a westinghouse black plate and GE 5 stars white letters but both not possible to find anymore ?
I think russians tubes is a must to try (6n1p/6922similar i use in my s.e amp is a very good tube -if you find a good pair- and kills many tubes cost a fortune )
Anyway if you have the experience with AA player let us know may be very interesting !
Thanks! for sharing.
Thanks for your input. I have not started the project (of installing the russian 6NLB yet but will tackle it in the coming weeks. Will keep you posted.

Finally i found the time and try the russians 6n16b
i found there is a mark at bottom glass that shows the plates (8&5) so was easy to make the wiring ..i did not noticed that before .(not easy to see anyway )

..well it seems or i did something wrong or this tube make capitole sound like ipod !!
I must say i tried the tubes also to prima amp and prima cd -before use it to capitole- all cases was dissapointing
At first you think the sound is interesting ..but soon is obvious it is just "nice sound" music is not there !!
compare to raytheon it is like a bad joke !!
The heater is quite more (100-140ma more than 6021)i dont know if this is a problem for the power supply.. but i dont think so..
Anyway i did the tube rolling and i use differnt systems make a long story short ..the tube for sure is not made for audio!!!
No need to say i check power supply voltages etc ..all tubes was ok (capitole has 5,9-6v for filament lower than typical but thats ok ..or maybe is better?)
It is really mysterious bad tube !
I really wonder.....if the extra current tubes need is too much for the player supply!! or something else that only russians knows !!
There are two Nichicon PM 100uF caps in power supply of my Capitole, have anybody tried to replaced them with some better Nichicon FZ or BlackGate caps ?

I have already replaced yellow audience 100nF with CuTF VCap 100nF with great sonic results.
I have heard that AA is once again in between distributors.
I hope someone is willing to take on this Brand and keep her on-track w/ product development and customer support.
First think that the tubes 6021wa and 6111wa have an expected lifetime of
about 10000 hrswhen we started with these miniature tubes I proposed to use the 6111wa which has less gain and comes close to this russian 6n16b
replacing the 6021 by a 6111 is easy as they have exactly the same shape.
this might be a better proposition then that funny brother PUTIN-tube.
regards AJ van Doorn
If you tried the 6N16B-V in the AA and you didn't like them all I can say for sure is that it's not the tubes fault.
You cannot "drop" the 6N16B in a circuit designed for the 6021 and expect to work wonders just because they are both subminiature, the two tubes have very different curves.
Biased at ~7mA and with 100V anode-to-cathode the MELZ 6N16B-V is the best kept secret in tube audio and one the best sounding tubes EVER MADE comparable only with BENDIX or diamond TELEFUNKEN.
Dear AJ van Doorn (Triodelogic)
Can you tell us if and when Audio Aero will be back in business?
I concur- Triode12-

I am hoping someone or some other company will re-invent Audio Aero. At one time, they made some of the best spinners
in the market place. Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
I can't solder well. Can I get recommendations of who works on these AA CD players? I would appreciate it.

AA was just bought out by Vermeer Audio of France. CDP's are no longer made from the website but they have taken the circuit of the Lafontaine and LaSource and supposedly improved the power supplies on the offered DAC/SERVERS. An upgrade will be offered to all of those owning the latest players mentioned above. I am not sure about Capitoles/Prestiges. I was lucky enough to buy a used Lafontaine with Esoteric transport and it is wonderful....the best I have ever heard in my system.
I was able to hear it compared to a Lampizator Big 7 with 45 tubes last weekend and I thought the AA was better although be it with a different PC and cables so not exactly a true comparison.
I own some 6021W's as GE 5 Stars, Sylvania Gold Plate, Jan's, Thomsen France (Made in France), Heintz & Kaufmans. I don't have the guts to try other tubes at this point outside the circuit design.
Issues can be resolved by Sedonix in Sedona, AZ. Speak to Greg as he said he can source parts from France. He has not worked on any of the later players thank god for that. The latest players are truly source winning wonders and appear to be much better in build quality coming from an owner of past Capitole/Prestige owner history background. One caveat, I doubt there is many of them out there.
Much Thanks! for the updates -GWalt.
this gives us hope on the continuance of such a great product brand as Audio Aero. I knew that there had to be someone (globally) that had a working knowledge of these spinners.
I would love to own a LaFontaine someday. Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
Google Vermeer Audio to find out the latest.
Generally the Russian 6N16 subminiature tubes are more microphonic (because they only have a single getter mounting point) than the USA made 6021 tubes. Additionally, if you check the datasheet for the 6N16 you'll find its lifespan is much shorter (only 650 hours verses 5000 hours for the 6021). It's not a superior replacement for the 6021.