I would go with Svetlanan el34 or try the new JJ KT77 . I am using the Cryo version of the Svetlana el34 and haven't yet tried the JJ kt77 but will soon....The Cryo Svetlana EL34 is awesome!
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I recently went thru your exact situation and found the following:
Tesla's: an unoffensive tube, evenly balanced, but just a hair lean in the midbass
EH: Very lean, a sibilant bite in the mid treble, didn't make me want to listen
Svet Winged C: Yes. Smooth, balanced, no edge, great bass, makes me want to listen
A group of us (Mechans, BadBoss429, Audiogon dealer Quest For Sound - Stephen Monte, and a few of our other cohorts) recently conducted a 3 step Tube Shootout that I'll write up here on Audiogon one of these days using the following:
JJ Blue Glass E34L
Mullard EL34 XF1
JJ Blue Glass KT88
In my opinion, if you want the best EL34 made today, it's the JJ E34L.
Currently, in my Jadis amp, I'm running the JJ KT77. Far more powerful low frequencies than the E34L, but the E34L's midrange is much better. More or less a question of which you want more.
In the end, I'm just going to have both on hand, and switch between them based on the music, mood, etc.
Interesting shootout Trelja! Too bad you couldn't incorporate the SED "winged C" EL34s in there somehow. Looking forward to your write up, especially your results compared to the $$ Mullard XF1s.
I will be going thru the same thing myself, comparing the JJ E34Ls, JJ KT77s, SED Winged Cs, and NOS Mullards, all on a pair of the excellent Dodd 120 monoblocks.
Ericusrex: As you can tell by other systems ,your mileage may vary.I am only going by what i have tried. The EL34 Svetlana Cryo tubes are $70ea. at Tubedepot.com ,when you can get them. They usually get about 50 pair and they are gone the next day. I like the Svetlana very much, but the cryo version is a touch more refined and has a bit better depth and the highs are a touch sweeter will less edge,and the bass is exc....I did hear good things about the JJ KT77 but haven't yet tried it.
After a week of listening to JJ E34Ls, JJ KT-77s, and SED "winged C" EL34s on Dodd amps, I can conclusively say that I preferred the SEDs over the rest. Both JJs were closer sounding to each other than different. The SEDs gave me an airier, bigger (in all directions) soundstage, and a more natural, very pleasant midrange. I may have sacrificed just a little of the slam and transient response using the SEDs, but that is minor compared to the nice sonic gains.
I still need to compare the SEDs to the NOS Mullards.
In our shootouts, in three different systems (mine, Badboss429's, and Audiogon dealer Stephen Monte's/Quest For Sound) the JJ E34L and JJ KT77 sounded nothing alike. One would probably not expect they were made by the same company, as normally I find tubes have a definite house sound. However, the JJ KT77 sounded more than a bit close to the JJ KT88, but with superior mids.
We also tried the 1960s Mullards, I'll write the findings up in a thread here soon.
I was hoping we'd be able to try the SED tubes, but no one had a set to put forward.
It's nice to get a lot of different perspectives here, as it broadens the understanding of the tubes. Guess the old adage of system dependence is at work...
Hey Trelja, I agree, it just goes to show you that the ancillary equipment using particular tubes also has a definite affect on the sonics of the tubes.
I was expecting the same results as you with the KT-77s after all the raves, and I'm probably the ONLY guy who is underwhelmed with these otherwise fine tubes.