Best current 845 Tubes

NOS is ridiculous to find, and if they aren't fakes, and aren't used up they get really expensive. So lets keep them out of the equation.

A few searches revealed a few flavors available. And some information that makes them all seem like the same tubes re-branded. So I'm looking for opinions.

Shuguang 845
Shuguang 845B
Shuguang 845C
Psvane 845-T
TJ Full Music 845
Sophia Electric 845
Create Audio 845
Taylor 845

I think TJ and Sophia are the same tube.

Showing 3 responses by 213cobra

As with any task to designate a "best," a best 845 tube doesn't exist. First, it depends on your amp. One of the touted advantages of tube amps is the ability to "roll" or change tubes from one brand or build variant to another. Now, I say this as a lifelong tube audio devotee: if tube changes alter the sound of an amplifier, then which produces the accurate or highest fidelity sound? It becomes quite subjective. In some respects, audiophiles use tubes, like cables, as fixed parametric tone controls to tune the sound of their systems to personal preferences.

For example, nearly all of today's 845 amps ship with the cheap and ubiquitous Shuguang 845A commodity tube. It's super cheap and reasonably tough, and sounds fine out of the box. But I've not heard a single 845 amp that sounds its best with this tube, no matter how many times the maker says "the best tube is the one we ship with the amp." For most amps, the Shuguang 845B will improve everything over the 845A, at a modest increase in cost. The B tube will prove long-lasting and both electrically and physically durable, able to handle amplifier circuits that run the 845 aggressively.

But the Shuguang 845C has some interesting qualities. Its transparency, high frequency extension and transient speed are remarkable, though it produces about 20% less power than the A or B tube. It also is rated for less plate dissipation than normal spec (~75w v. ~100w in the A and B tubes) so in many amps it will have a short life and run borderline runaway, but that's a separate matter. Point is, in an amp like my Audion Black Shadow monoblocks, the 845C sounds shrill to the point of unusability unless paired with a speaker with a rolled-off top end. But if used in a Tri amp, which is voiced more like Shindo for a too-soft top end, and undynamic with rounded transient character, it *can* be an asset, depending on your preferences.

For most, the 845B is the "best" 845, because it is neutral, toneful and delivers good bass control, plus it's affordable, reliable and predictable. Some people prefer the Psvane 845-T to the Shuguang B tube, but the sonic advantage is not large and the newer T shows indications of being less reliable. It certainly hasn't established the long-term track record for reliability yet. But it's worth a try for someone restless.

The standard TJ tube has lower-than-spec plate dissipation, so it isn't universally compatible. The TJ Carbon plate that Sophia sells claims full RCA spec, so it should be fine. I haven't heard it. Nor have I yet heard Canada Fuller, Create and Synergy.

The KR 845 is the outlier. It is an interesting design innovated by Kron and it's off spec. It's dynamic, transparent, vivid. The initial version had serious reliability problems due to the ribbon filament shorting. This has allegedly been corrected though I can't personally vouch for current reliability. The maker of my amps, Audion's owner, says it's a drop-in replacement with no problems and it's his favorite way to listen to the amp. Prices are nearly at NOS levels in the US. In some other amps, some modification to the filament supply may be needed.

What's the best 845 tube? Tell me your amp, your speakers, your room characteristics, your tolerance for risk and expense, and your general sound preferences, and we can narrow that down to a "most likely to be best" for you.


You have the 845A. It is most of the reason for the glare bothering you. Spring for a set of Shuguang 845B to smooth out your sound.

I have both 845 and 300B single-ended amps. My answer is, yes the best 845 can compete with 300B in the midrange. The quality of the driver tube might be more important in the 845 than in the 300B, in getting equal midrange. There will be greater variances from amp to amp in the 300B realm than between the two triode tube types themselves. "Compete" doesn't mean exactly the same. If the two amps pitting 300B v. 845 are built to equal standards of design, circuit execution and build quality, the 300B amp is likely to be perceived as delivering marginally more finesse and dexterity and the 845 more energetic dynamics and projection. But the underlying fundamentals can be quite similar. You just have a few more tube options in 300B for voicing an amp than you have in 845. I will say, however, that if the oft-cited midrange magic of 300B SET is your first priority, you will get it from a cheaper 300B amp than 845 for similar sound. The less expensive 845 amps generally don't have as much resolution, clarity, dimensioning and light-handedness as entry level 300B.

But again, I am describing differences of degree. Both will give you essential SET tone. My 845 and 300B amps are the same rated power -- by virtue of the 300B amps being PSET. The midrange quality between the two is fully competitive, but the 845 sounds more dynamic and energetic, and the 300B amps have a little more ultimate resolving capability, in part influenced by the higher silver content in the 300B amps. The larger qualitative differences are in design and execution more than in the tube types.