Bias Settings for Air Tight ATM-2 with TS 6550s

I have an Air Tight ATM-2 power amp which I bought used about six weeks ago on A'goN and want to roll some old stock Tung Sol 6550s (greyplates/no hole) into it.

About a month ago, I tried a quad of used 50s black plate 6550s when I first got the amp, but I didn't know then about slowly settling the tubes in--gradually increasing the bias over 4-5 hours. I lost a tube and a resistor in the amp, which I got replaced. I ran it with new re-issue TS 6550s for a month, to good effect, then tried some SED KT88s this past week, which were much warmer and mellower, though not as clear or focused or extended in the trebles. Now, I want to try some 60s TS 6550s which I bought used (about 100 hours) but they test very strong.

For about two hours now, I've been running the old stock greyplate TS 6550s at 1/5th the recommended bias (which is the low end of a "bubble" on the bias meter on the face of the Air Tight). At 1/5th the bias, four line increments below the bubble, the amp sounds terrific--big, mighty, mellow, fast, and with a warm string tone to orchestral music and good treble extension for choral music.

My question is this: why increase the bias to the lower end of the bubble (the recommended setting as I was told by The Analog Room) if the amp sounds good at the low setting about 1/5th of the way to the bubble? Am I risking any damage to the amp's transformers if I keep it at this low setting?

The only reason I consider this, by the way, is to shy away from the high bias settings which might stress these old tubes. The Air Tight is a high current amp and I've already had one old stock 6550 tube run away on me and blow. I don't want a recurrence.

Does anybody have any experience with this sort of thing? Please advise.
I also own the ATM 2, purchased from Analog Room, and have
had the bias set at left end of bubble for past year.
But, whenever I tried to improve tubes in my phono pre
(currently with Sylvania 6dj8,Wavestream pre) the sound would get leaner,pitched up toneally. I always assumed this
was a system issue, until a friend suggested lowering the
bias on the amp. WOW, what a great sound plus I now can use
pre tubes which have improved transparency & resolution.
There is no negative effect to amp, if anything, prolonged
tube life will occur. In my system, I set the bias to first
mark left of bubble, but just for fun, will try lowering
a little more to see if there is any positive or negative
effect. Everybody's system is different, two guys with same
amp (also understanding we each hear/listen differently)
can't trust some 'factory' or 'recommended' setting, that's
the moral of the story. Happy listening.

Mahalo Roesch,

I had the bias settings to the recommended left end of the bubble (as suggested by Scott at the Analog Room) too. But I found that old stock Tung Sol 6550s, both greyplate and blackplate (no holes), sounded better biased lower.

New issue 6550s and KT88s I've only tried at the recommended bias settings, but I will try a bit lower setting to see if that changes the sound for the better. Thank you for the suggestion and even more for the report of improved results.

I too have experienced that the Air Tight ATM-2 can sound "lean and pitched-up tonally," as you describe it, though this varies from CD to CD. I've consequently gone away from silver ICs (Audioquest) and back to copper (Verbatim and Cardas).

Where do you set the bias? I've just tried lowering it by two markers and noticed resolution in the treble range is improved, but only slightly. I'm using SED KT88s now.
Aloha Roesch,

Following up, I can report that lowering the bias settings by two marks has improved resolution in the massed trebles of choirs--the music I listen to and which was the main reason I got the Air Tight in the first place. It's still not perfect, but it's better.

I don't know what electronics are involved--do you? With the lower bias settings, I mean. Less current? I thought that would result in poorer performance?

You said lowering bias won't hurt the amp, but what does it control? Current or plate voltage or both? Do you or does your friend know? I'm sure this is very basic to cognoscenti, but I'm a novice.
Based on input from a friend I have measured and adjusted bias on my ATM-2. I was also far left, measuring 50 mA on the tubes (I use original GEC KT-88)

I was advised KT-88 should use around 70 mA. Well first I adjusted to 60 mA. In my amp, that is far right in the buble (absolute "full tank"). The dymanic improved in all range, and bass had much more punch. It was like getting new tubes!

Later I went up to 70 wich is halfway between the top of buble and end of meeter by the way. Maby again a small imporvement. But not as big as going from 50 - 60!

Not sure what this will do for life of tubes, but for dynamics and bass this was a great improvement!

Do anybody know the mA setting recomended?

Rolf E