Crisp sounding tubes for Modwright 5400ES

I recently upgraded from a Modwright 9100ES to a Modwright 5400ES. While there were improvements, the richer mid-range and more powerful bottom end of the 5400ES tipped my previously balanced sounding system into one sounding a bit overly polite with a lack if crispness in the top end.
Can anyone advise me on what tubes (output & rectifier) and power cables to chose so as to brighten the top-end.
Grateful for your advise.
Mullard 5AR4 rectifier
Shuguang/Psvane CV-181T/Z for the 6SN7's.

Plenty of info here:
I also have a modwright 5400. Wonderful player. As much as I love the Mullard 5AR4, it would be moving in the wrong direction based on my experience. I would suggest you go with a new production Create Audio tube. I found this tube to be less "tubey" much quieter, and more dynamic than the vintage Mullard. I was very pleasantly surprised by this tube. Finding a new production 5AR4 that is in the same class as the rather scarce vintage Mullards is a huge deal. The dynamics might help out with the overly polite character. When I got this tube in the 5400, the Mullard went into storage. I'm not selling the Mullard, but I haven't felt the urge to put it back in either.
I use Sophia's for 6SN7's. Its the only thing I've tried other than the stock current production Tung-sol's. The sophias are a way better tube, but I'm not sure its the right tube for what you are trying to do.
5AR4 for sure and some Ken Rad VT 231 or some Sylvania's W, found these way more open with airy highs and fabulous soundstage and imaging than the Shuguang.

The Ken Rads are a little better in my system, fuller sounding.

Where can I get these Create tubes?
I wasn't aware that Create made a 5AR4 tube? They have the 6SN7 and the 12AT/AU/AX7's, but I've never seen a 5AR4 by them.

Here is a website that sells them:
Solentgreen, I had the same issue with the Sony. I sold it and bought the modright modded Oppo 95. I like this much better. In my opinion it is more open and extended on top and much tighter in the bass. I tried a lot of tubes with the Sony and ultimately was much happier with the Oppo.
ALO in Portland is an awesome store. Bought tubes and my headphones there.
Thanks to all of you for your advise. One thing I neglected to say was that I had already switched to using a Mullard 5AR4 and Sylvania 6sn7 GTBs; sorry for that.
I had read elsewhere in Audiogon forums that the Mullard can be a bit 'overly-sweet' sounding, which I take to be overly-rich? So I was looking initially to change the rectifier tube for something which would give a crisper top-end. I read in another forum that the EML 5U4G has a more more open top end. Has anyone tried this?
Jwn, thanks for the benefit of your experience with the Oppo. I did think about this but then stopped when I read the following thread, where their observation was the the Oppo was fuller and warmer sounding. I am sure your experience was valid in your system; I guess that's the thing with our hobby; there are so many combinations and permutations and different outcomes in audio.
If your goal is to add more crispness on the top, then I would go with Audience Powerchord for the power cables. I have this pc on all my components now. I would also recommend the Sophias for the output tubes. The Sophias are not euphonic or "tubey" sounding. They are instead linear and 3D. I have the Modwright tube Oppo 83, which I thought was a tad too warm when I first got it. The Audience powerchords and Sophia tubes brought the sound of my rig back into balance.

What are you using for ic's and speaker cables?
I would contact audiogon user Fork on the Create audio 5AR4. I got mine from him. It is not unusual to have to wait. Limited supply and
I hear a lot of people really like this tube. Based on my experience I think it might be a better choice for you. I found the vintage Mullard wonderful, but almost too much of a good thing in the Modwright sony.
I've owned the MW Sony 5400 for quite a while now and for me, it's a keeper. I also have a huge stash of NOS 6SN7's I've accumulated over the years while looking for the best(for me) tubes for my Atma-Sphere MP-1 pre and MA-1 mono's; combined, they use 20 6SN7's!

I use the Mullard rectifier and like it a lot, but as mentioned, it will add a bit of warmth. If you're looking for more "crispness", I'd probably just stay with the stock tube or try some of the current offerings.

As for the 6SN7's, I'd pick up a couple GE 6SN7 GTA's or GE 6SN7 GTB "coin base". They are seriously good and quite inexpensive and they'll give you the open, airy extension in the top end you're looking for. JWM has heard them in both his MW Oppo and his MW Sony 5400 and he too liked them a lot.

Another option might be NOS Tungsol GTB's(not the black glass version). They're also inexpensive and offer a leaner, cleaner sound with great extension on top. As mentioned, there are a few Sylvania "W" variations that may do the trick but they tend to be a bit pricey, especially the nickel base version. The Kenrad VT-231 is also a very nice tube but they often tend to be microphonic so buyer beware.

As for the MW Oppo vs MW Sony debate, JWM and I, while good friends, agree to disagree on which to go with. Of course, there's no wrong choice cuz they both sound exceptionally good but I prefer the Sony.

I spent a lot of time in the Modwright room at this year's Rocky Mountain Audiofest and Dan did several A/B/C comparisons between the stock Oppo, his tube modded Oppo, and his tube modded Sony. EVERYONE agreed, including Dan, the Oppo is warmer and fuller but the Sony is more resolving. Everyone also agreed, the stock Oppo ain't bad but either modded unit mops the floor with it!

After several hours of listening to JWM's modded Oppo vs his modded Sony, in his system of all VAC equipment, I came away with the same impressions. We went back and forth between the two players, and by the end of the night, we pretty much agreed, the Oppo sounded warmer and fuller, the Sony was leaner and cleaner. The Oppo sounded better on mediocre recordings but I thought the Sony made good recordings more exciting and believable. To my ears, the Sony is more resolving, open, transparent, and extended on top. As for which has the best bass, I'd call it a draw.

Solentgreen, I find Mullard GZ32 'overly-sweet' sounding in my MW Transporter. I'm rolling NOS Tung-sol 5u4gb and I think it will work for you.

I know several also find gz34 and EML 5U4G too sweet and highly recommends JJ 5u4gb. I haven't rolled but only $15 so will try soon.

Good luck!
+1 regarding Audience powerchords. When I initially did in home comparisons of different PCs, I heard dramatic differences swapping the PCs on Modwright Sony 5400es. I quickly chose Audience powerChords for all my equipment. It adds a sense of energy and life to a more quiet background - more ease without robbing dynamics. Uncorks the sound. ESP on the Modwright.
I'm very sorry for "intervening" with this question, but I am curious since I have a stock Oppo 95:

Where does the stock 95 fall on the warm/full to open/detailed spectrum of the modded Oppo and Sony? Or maybe it's "outside" that spectrum?

Thank you

I'll let you know how the Synergy/Create 5AR4 tube sounds compared to Mullards when I receive it.
Wig, Yes, please do let us know. I will be interested to know if you also prefer the Synergy to the vintage Mullard in the ModWright. By the way, what year production Mullard do you have? Mine was 1969.
Hey guys, really appreciate all your help here. It looks like the first thing I should try is to swop out the Mullard 5AR4; then maybe try some other output tubes, maybe the GEs.
As for my cables, I'm using a Lessloss DFPC power cord for the 5400ES, and a Black Sand Silver Mk V for the power supply. From the power cable forums, it does not seem like these cables would cause my problem. As for ICs, I have tried Pure Note Vanguard and VH Audio fine silver DIY ICs. The latter helps to bring to lift the top end a touch.
In case any of you are interested, the rest of my system is Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp; Krell FPB300c power and Von Schweikert VR4jr speakers. I use a Hydra 8 power conditioner and a separate Hydra 2 for the Krell. I also take a lot of care in component a lot of care taken in system set-up with use of Herbie's accessories equipment & speaker support with accessories from Herbie's Lab.
Thanks again.


I believe mine are early 1960
Podeschi is spot on with his power cord observation on the MW. Audience PC produces a quieter background and allows you to listen deeper into the soundstage. Other cables were good if you want a more forward sound and less
precise localization of images.

Audience just sound more natural...
I just rcvd the Create 5AR4 tube and my initial 15 min observation with my Shure 840 headphones and they are fantastic and will need 50+ hours to stabilize.

Waay more ambiance and detail retrieval, more to follow after listening through my system tonight...
I found the Synergistic Hologram D PC to be a substantial improvement to other cords I tried. On the PS I use a T3. Also receptacles can help you shape the sound. The TeslaPlex will certainly make your system less polite and perhaps the cheapest change.
Wig, Glad to hear the tube is showing some potential for you. At the very least, I think this tube is going to take some pressure off of the vintage Mullard market. I found the tube to be exactly the ticket for the ModWright Sony. People who use a 5AR4/GZ34 owe it to themselves to give the Create tube a try.
I will be getting this tube this week and report back on how it sounds in the Modright Oppo 95.
The tube has open up a bit at the 30 hour mark and I'm amazed that a 5AR4 can make such a dramatic difference over a Mullard which has more body but I don't mind trading body for more detail.

This 5AR4 swop is more noticeable than swopping a Sylvania "W", Chrome Dome or Ken Rad VT-231 6SN7, you'll hear the change upon install...
Many thanks Wig for this; it sounds like the Create 5AR4 is just the ticket for me, as what I want is to trade some mid-range richness for some more crispness at the top end. Can I ask where did you got this tube? I also agree with you that swopping the rectifier tube can make more difference than the output tubes. It definitely was the case in my rig when the Mullard went in!
Thanks also to Brownsfan & the other guys for the benefit of your insights. I swopped out my Mullard for my stock rectifer tube, a Ruby 5AR4, which helped to restore some of the top/mid balance to my system. Can't wait to try the Create!
Many thank to Brownsfan and others for their knowledge and on a great find with this tube.

If you do a search under 5AR4, the name FORK will come up and you can send him a private message since he has tubes for sale on A'Gon.
Thought you might be interested to know that after I swopped out my Mullard 5AR4 for the stock Ruby rectifier which my Modwright was supplied with, the frequency balance in my system returned. I then bought a Create 5AR4 (living in Hong Kong, I got it direct from China). From new, I was a bit surprised to hear hardly any difference between the Ruby and the Create. If anything, the Create was a little softer and the Ruby a bit more dynamic. But upon swopping the two to compare, I noticed they look very similar. Further examination confirms it, the base was identical, in colour, material and moulding. And the parts inside the tube also are effectively identical, apart from minor differences due probably to the fact that they are hand assembled? I probably should clarify that I am not saying that Ruby and Create are identical tubes. All I am saying is the two look very similar to each other. Maybe the factory that makes Ruby 5AR4s makes tubes for Create too? I will put some hours on the Create and do another comparison with the Ruby and keep you posted.
I just received the Create 5AR4 and it is fabulous in the Modright Oppo 95. I hear a clearer, more open soundstage with tighter bass and better dynamics. This tube replaced a new old stock Phillips tube from the Netherlands. Wig thanks for your feedback. I can't wait until I get at least 50 hours on this tube. It is hard to believe that a stupid rectifier tube can make such a difference.
I just rcvd a JJ GZ34/5u4gb and it's fabulous in my MW Transporter. It's only $14.99 plus it's new production so available. It's neutral, clarity, transparent, dynamic, high resolution ...

I also find Mullard GZ34/GZ32 too sweet so been using NOS Tung-Sol 5U4GB but it's getting difficult to find so looking for alternatives. The JJ sounds very similiar to the Tung-Sol and worth a roll.

Like I said earlier, JJ is highly recommended by MW owners that find Mullard gz34 and EML 5U4G too sweet.
Knghifi, can you define "sweet"?

In my MW Transporter I have been using a pair of Mullard ECC32s and an EML 5U4G mesh rectifier. I really like this combination. I am also a vinyl lover to give you some sense of the sound I enjoy.
Dminches, Too much body, warmth ... I'm using BT CV181-Z and TS 5U4GB in my MW Transporter. There's no right or wrong but just my preference.

2 TS already died so looking for alternatives. I still have 2 more and so far enjoying the JJ GZ34.
Knghifi, I had Dan reduce the voltage being delivered to the 5U4G. People had noticed that their EMLs were dying prematurely. This may be what's happening to your TS rectifiers.
Dminches, You'll probably right.

Dan is investigating installing Bybee rails and Audio Magic pulse gen zx in the Transporter so I will have him lower the voltgage when in the shop. Meanwhile I'll just use the JJ GZ34. After 24 hours of use, the only difference is JJ has a little bit more body than TS which is not bad.

I was amazed at the difference as well! This tube alone will make an average 6SN7 sound splendid...
If you're still using Mullards in your power supply, you're missing crucial detail like vibrating cello, violin or guitar plucks, deeper/wider soundstage, longer decays and the overall satisfaction of almost being at a live performance.

I have over 500+ hours of constant use and I will say without hesitation the Create/Synergy 5AR4 are better the my 1960's Mullards.
Wig I agree, I still can't believe the difference like a whole new system. I am using the Sylvania VT-231 Fat Boy 6SN7 in the main unit and love the sound. I wonder how the Create 6SN7 would sound?
I wonder the same thing and I'm using Sylvanias Jan-Chs VT-231 with excellent results but hear the Create 6SN7 are very good.
Just swapped the Create Audio rectifier tube for my Mullard. Can't say I am super impressed. Will let it burn in for a while and see if it changes. Right now I would characterized it as:
- no more resolving than the Mullard
- introduces an upper mid-range glare
- introduces a treble hardness that reminds me I am listening to digital
- less even and coherent sound stage laterally
- only positive is I do pick up some slight increase in reverberation cues (better sense of space on some notes) but also notice a flattening of some microdynamics at same time

It will get better over the next few days of run in. The Mullards will sound congested in comparison but you'll notice more subtle cues and textures never heard before on CD's you listen to the most.
Thanks Wig. I have my modwright on repeat.
Podeschi,you are hearing something much different than what I heard. I got my Create tube last winter and put it into play while it was still cold from being in the mail box. It was really good from the start. It could be you got a bad tube.
My tube did not change significantly with burn in.
Podeschi, my tube also was good from the get go. I am using the Oppo 95, but using the same tube.
Ok I will chime in on this one. I just replaced my RCA (Mullard) with the Create tube. It sounds about the same as the Mullard, not worse, so I need to let it break in before I can really decide if it's that much different.
I either have a bad tube or my ears are telling me Mullard is better. Or Create isnt broken in.
Poseschi. The Mullard tube is very good. In my system, the Create was better. I heard none of the bad things you heard. It is possible that the Mullard sweetness has better synergy with the rest of your system or is more to your taste, but the relatively poor performance with respect to spacial clues tells me it is a bad tube. If it were me, I'd ask for a replacement. If you don't like the replacement, I guess you have your answer. I had heard that Create had problems with a batch of these tubes a while back, so it does happen.
To me the create is much more open, faster, and more dynamic. The Mullard slows things down.
I let the create tube burn in for 3 days per distributor/seller. It sounds better. Midrange glare is gone. Some upper treble hardness that reminds me i am listening to a digital facsimile is still present. While it has more apparent spatial and micro resolution it isnt as analogue sounding as my mullard. Worth the money and worth keeping? Most definitley. A different flavor compared to Mullard. Cheers.
I ordered a Create 5AR4 for my Modwright tube Oppo 83 to replace a vintage Mullard. One tube costs $90 shipped. We'll see how it sounds......
If you are looking for more detail, deeper/wider soundstage, much lower floor noise, sharper images and flat out overall better sound? Try the new Synergistic fuses, my Supreme Hi-Fi fuses doesn't come close to the level of performance these things bring right out of the box.

It's like switching from the Mullard 5AR4 to the Create, and could be even more dramatic. 30 days to try for yourself and they are not going back...
Forgot to mention that the Hi-Fi fuses are more warmer and fatter in their presentation, which can come off as slow and congested in some systems.