EL34 & 6L6 characteristics


I finally got my garage sale tubes tested out , thanks bigshutterbug !
I rolled in some EH 6L6's in place of my EH EL34's to compare . About as close to apples-to-apples as I can get .

I am asking if there is a tube that combines the characteristics of these two tubes ?
I like the warmth , body and bass of the EL34's and the top end , detail and air of the 6L6's . Is there something that would have all of these characteristics in one tube ?
Yes , I want it all !

Thank you
saki70
A good 6L6 has bass as well. Nos RCA black plates are the best.
Did you try 6CA7 fat bottles. I guess you may hit the bull's eye.
Triode power tubes do that easily.
+1 Atmasphere, DHT tubes seem made to convey music. They are special.
I find 845 tubes to have the midrange magic of 300b but they have great bass with slam
I think that Saki might be referring to tubes that can be swapped into his existing amp, in which 6L6's and EL34's can apparently both be used. Saki, is that correct? And if so, what is the make and model of the amp?

Regards,
-- Al
Yes Almarg , you are correct . I am looking for one tube that will combine the characteristics of both the EL34 & 6L6 . I want this tube to be able to be used in my current amp , a Primaluna Prologue II .

Analogluvr ;
Yes these 6L6's do have bass but not as much as EL34's and the 6L6's are nowhere near as warm as EL34's . The warmth is the most important thing that I want to add to the 6L6 characteristics .

Thanks to all for the response , please keep it coming .
I have no specific suggestions, but for everyone's info the Primaluna Prologue II is apparently supplied with KT-88's, with the manual indicating that 6550's and KT-90's can be substituted, and that "you may also use EL-34, 6L6GC, 7581A and KT66 though power will drop slightly."

Regards,
-- Al
Saki,
I used the Shuguang Black Treasure 6CA7 in my Primaluna Dialogue One. It sounds to me to combine the best attributes of my NOS Reflector 6n3ce (6L6) and my NOS RFT Siemens EL34. Better detail and air, yet full, a drop of warmth, increase of quality bass. Generally all around better in my system. The Simens are also good performers. You might also like the Bugle Boy 12au7s in combo with Sylvania 5751 3 Mica Black Plates in the Primaluna. I know I like them a lot.
Mikirob ;
I have rolled the small tubes to Mullards for the ax's and radiotechnique for the au's and they made the biggest difference for me . I have lived with the EH EL34's for quite a while .
How plentiful are those Shuguangs and Siemans 6CA7's ?

Thanks
Have you tried using KT-77 tubes?
Saki,
The Shuguang Black Treasure 6CA7 is available in quantity from Rachel at Grant Fidelity. Likely about $300 per quad. Grant stands behind everything they sell. I also believe Trelja here, at Audiogon sells this tube. The RFT Siemens EL34 is harder to get and can be costly. I paid about $200 for a matched pair from Brent Jesse and $150 that matched well with the Jesse tubes from a friend.
I have also used the Mullards, very nice in 12ax7 position. I forgot to mention mention that I used the Gold Lion KT77s. Again, the Shuguang Black Treasure did it for me in both the Primaluna as well as my Coincident Dynamo 34SE. Best
David, most 6L6 vs EL34 comparisons EL34 come out the reverse of what you listed. Then again, EH tubes often sound among them most lush in the spectrum.

Generally, I would stick with the EL34, but try other brands. JJ E34L will come across a lot more as you described the 6L6, and in the right amplifier put forth an absolutely glorious midrange that almost nothing else compares to. JJ and Shuguang EL34 will track closer to what you described the EL34. These three tubes will come in at quite modest cost. EH 6CA7 will present the most slam, though in an easy to live with presentation. Shuguang Black Treasure and old Mullard do sound a better than the others, though at a higher price.

Of course, the amplifier itself plays a role. Your PrimaLuna features autobias, which provides a lot of convenience, though some implementations do not yield as much sonic flexibility as others. I've not lived with a PL amp, so I don't know how they react. With an amp where you adjust the bias, you can sometimes better dial in the tubes to your taste.
Joe ;
That's interesting , you are saying that EL34's should show quite a bit more air and delicate detail than what these EH's are giving me ?
I did get a matched pair of JJ EL34L's , that 'test' good , but am hesitant to try them as I have heard some real horror stories ! HMMM .
I also have 4 Ruby EL34LCZ's that I understand are rebadged Shuguang's .
Thoughts ?
Thank you
No Jperry , I have not . How do they compare to these others ?

Happy tunes
David, yes an EL34 should normally sound more upfront and sunny than a 6L6. 6L6 generally sound more lush and romantic, which many prefer in this day where components run more forward and/or lean even if today's high-end audio tube amplifier manufacturers rarely employ it.

You might want to give your Shuguang EL34 a 50+ hour try out. I find Shuguang tubes quite underrated, perhaps because of their low price. In my experience, their standard 12AX7, EL34, KT88, and 5AR4 represent the most rugged current production tubes. So, I'd have no fear in swapping them in place of the EH.

As you mentioned, some JJ variants do have a somewhat deserved reputation for failure; the E34L included. Still, I would not worry about yours since they test well. But again, try the Shuguangs first, and see if they begin to step in the direction you are looking to move. The JJ E34L will not sound as full or as even handed from top to bottom as the Shuguangs, but often present a more notable midrange.

I didn't live with Gold Lion KT77, but they're a tube to consider. I never liked the JJ variant as much as most did when they came out. Depending on the amplifier and system, I prefer either the JJ EL34 or E34L, but their KT77 always places third in the race. I have a quad of the big bottle 6CA7, but haven't tried them. I do like the EH 6CA7 tremendously, even though I have a pretty strong dislike of most (too harsh) Sovtek and (too muddy) EH tubes.

Again, I don't know enough about your amplifier to determine how it reacts to its output tubes...
I bought a used pair of Quicksilver Mid Monos a few months ago. The previous owner changed out the EL34 tube with 6L6g Tung Sols. I thought they sounded very good.

I previously owned a VTL 50 watt amp that used 5881/6L6 tubes, it was a nice sounding amp but it died and I replaced it with an Anthem Amp 1 which was a 40 watt EL34 design. I had that amp for a while and preferred the EL34 sound.

Recently one of my Mid Monos had a 6l6 that died, I replaced the tubes with the original type the amp was voiced with, EL34 and am really loving the sound. Quicksilver OEMs are Chinese EL34, but I was anxious to get the amp up and running again so I picked up a matched quad of EH EL34 for $65....

The great thing about the Mid Monos is that they can use many different output tubes so I'm sure I'll try something else but for now these EH tubes sound great.
Joe ;
" and (too muddy) EH tubes." Now that kind of rings a bell here . I really liked the EH EL34's warmth when I was looking for that . But now that I hear the clarity and delicacy of these 6L6's ...ding ding ding !

On the Shugang's...from what I have been told , these Ruby's & Mesa's were rebadged for guitar amp sellers so as to have an 'exclusive' brand for their store . I have read that some of the tubes , for guitar amps , were of lesser specifications due to the desirability of some distortion .
Opinions anyone ?

The more that I listen to these 6L6's the more that I am enjoying them ! Tommy James & the Shondells just came into my room and are playing Crimson & Clover !
Man I love this stuff !!!
Happy Tunes
David, no matter what anyone claims, everyone gets the same tubes from the Shuguang factory. They do not release better or worse versions. When they pass QC, they're good tubes. Again, in my experience, Shuguang produces the most rugged and reliable tubes currently. As you noted, once they go off into the world, various entities screen their own names/logos on them.

If you decide you like the 6L6 sound best, go with it!

I'd still give the Shuguang EL34s a try, just to see how you like them. Normally, I need to listen to 2 or 3 variants before passing judgement on a tube type. EL34 should normally provide good detail.

By the way, I presume you own the Shuguang EL34B variant? You can tell by the fact that they have a reddish brown base. Their original, EL34 (EL34A) have a black base, and do not sound nearly as good.
I really like the Shuguang EL34B. That surprised me. I liked them better in my Coincident Dynamo 34SE than some NOS that shall remain nameless. I am really enjoying the Shuguang Black Treasure 6CA7 even more so.
Joe ;
No , unfortunately the EL34's are Ruby EL34LCZ with what appears to be a black base !
The JJ's are EL 34L's with a Tube Depot paper bias label on each base . I have 2 tubes packaged together with a sticker identifying them as a matched pair .

The Mesa Engineering are 6L6 GC and under the Mesa logo is STR 430 . These are listed on the base as 'handtested in amplifiers and computer matched' . I have 3 box's of matched pairs and 3 individually boxed tubes .

Mikirob ;
Glad to here that you are still enjoying the Dynamo .
Have you tried any other 6CA7's ? If so , which ones ?

Thanks
As I said above they shall remain nameless.
I've owned the Psvane TII KT88 and 6CA7 tubes but only listened to the KT88s in the CAD 120S MkII. They sounded more dynamic but the midrange is not as sweet and pronounced as the Svetlana/SED Winged C EL34s which are biased at only 100mA with the pot maxed out. Cary Audio stated in the manual that it supports EL34 with 140mA bias but owners could not get that high.

Anyway the Psvane TII tubes are more expensive than the Shuguang black treasure and supposed to sound better. I also owned and listened to the new Tungsol KT120s in the same CAD 120S and they have bigger sound overall. I've also owned and listened to the Svetlana Winged C 6550s and they sound not much better than the KT88s. I've got the EH GP in the driver and TJ Full Music gold pin in the front end. The CAD 120S MkII is driven by the SLP-98P with Telefunken in the phono stage and two Sylvania JAN WGTA in the front end and the TJ Full Music gold pin as driver. I've not tried the acquired JAN CHS V231 Sylvania GTBs yet but for only a few listening hours with the more expensive MELZ 6SN7 in the CAD 120S, these cool looking ones sounded really wonderful.

The CAD 120S MkII is only a few months old with the Clarity factory upgrade but the Vcap CuTF have replaced them. The SLP-98P had the Mundorf S-G-O cap upgrade with better resistors. I also installed bypass capacitors in both.

Both are driving the new Maggies 3.7i speakers with AQ speaker cable and Columbia interconnects.

The REL sub is fast enough to keep up with the very fast ribbon drivers.

The result is breathtaking! The musical instrument clarity is just outstanding. So are the soundstage and image with better accuracy. For example the saxophone notes sounded so lively vibrant that they slightly annoyed my ears (you know that happened when getting near to a real saxophone playing).
Thanks for the info Musicrazy .

Just an update while listening to the Mesa 6L6 GC 430 ...
I called Mesa today and they are claiming Sodek In Russia as the manufacturer of these particular tubes . It seems that each iteration of the 4x0 designation , 430 in my case , denotes a different manufacturer .
These tested out near the top of the scale so I am thinking that they are unused . They did open up a little after about 6 hours of initial use . The Mesa's seem to do everything , extension , detail and separation a little bit better than the EH's but are lacking in enjoyment/musicality .
As my wife puts it "they don't have any sparkle or make you want to get up and dance like the EH 6L6's did ! These Mesa's are for sitting back and relaxing." I have noticed that on the CD Clapton & JJ Cale I can hear two distinct voices singing , something that I have not heard with the EH 6L6's or the EH EL34's .
I will give these Mesa's some more burn in time and then try the Ruby EL34L's (Shuguang).

Happy Tunes.
Just an update to this thread .
After having tried some more variants ie. the reddish/brown
based Shuguang EL34's and the Black Treasure 6CA7's , the BT 6CA7's are the winner ! They embody most of the traits that I was seeking . Air when it is present , defined bass , really nice midrange with just enough warmth and the best definition that I have heard from any power tube . Referencing the above definition of the voice separation , not only do I get the best delineation between the voices but now I can also hear JJ Cale missing his que and coming in late ! This is with the stock Shuguang input and driver tubes !
The only thing that I am missing is some sparkle and top end extension . I am hoping to find these with some small tube rolling .
Thank you all for your help with my quest .
What small tubes does t use?
Ryriken66 ;
It uses 12AU7's .
Hi Saki, I'm not sure this will help but I'll go ahead and share.

I've been in this hobby for decades and owned many different amps, both tube and SS. My first stereo was a Dynakit ST-70 with EL-34s and later I had a Marantz 8B, followed by a MR RM-9. So I had many hours enjoying the midrange of EL-34s.

About six months ago I decided to try tubes again with some new (Janszen) speakers and found a clean pair of Manley Snapper amps. The chassis for these identifies EL-34 output tubes but my pair came with EH 6CA7s. When I contacted Manley about the tubes I was told the Snappers were introduced with EL-34s but then reliability issues popped up. So they switched production to the EH 6CA7s. Currently they found the EH EL34 reliability to be good so are again using them for production.

My EH 6CA7s test strong so I decided to continue with them and only roll in other types when it comes time for replacement. But I will say I delighted with the Manleys/6CA7. They provide everything I remember from the midrange magic with EL-34s. But they add low end extension and control, along with great detail and clarity (accurate instrumental tonalities) and surprising attack and dynamics.

But my point is from my own considerations and reading all the replies here I think we cannot simply judge a given tube in isolation. It must be considered in the context of the amp it drives (as others suggested here), the complementary tubes in that given amp, the characteristics of the speakers being driven, and of course personal taste. So with that hopefully the comments here can help to provide guidelines. But like every component in our respective systems, ultimately we must find out for ourselves.

PS - I also read warnings about reliability with JJ EL-34s so I hope latest production corrects that.
You may find that the small (voltage amplifier and driver) tubes in the amp make a bigger difference than the power tubes, assuming that the power tubes are good when compared.
I agree Atmasphere .
But I really found a pleasing and significant difference with the 6Ca7's . With these I am most of the way there and hopefully don't have to spend a bunch for NOS tubes to make bigger changes .
For instance...I have been working with some KT-120's that I find quite pleasing in the extremes but quite lacking in the all important midrange . Rolling all of the usual small tubes has shown me that I preferred the Amperex sound . Now I will try the better Amperex trying to get the little bit that was missing with the lesser grade Amperex's that I was experimenting with .
With these 6CA7's , I may be able to get to the same place with some much less expensive Cifte or some Spanish 12AU7 variants to get the sparkle and top end increase that I am looking for .
It's all about the infinite possibilities available and trying to find that right combination . And maybe pick up a little education along the way !
Cifte is a good tube very much a tube with very good highs. Do you use this tube? Are you looking for a pair?
I use PL mono amps in one system. There are definitely a lot of shadings possible when tube rolling the PL amps, so I understand the desire to find that optimal trade-off. I'm not sure that it's possible, but I ended up settling on Tung-sol KT-66 tubes in my system. Not quite as warm as EL 34, but the bass is tightened up a bit. The sound struck me as slightly warmer than the kt-88, so I felt that this was the best trade-off for my taste.

FWIW
Ryriken66 ;
I just ordered a pair yesterday .

Martykl ;
What are you using for a preamp ? If it has tubes , what are they ?
I have two tube pre amps, a VTL 5.5 and a custom TomCat Audio, that uses all 12au7 5816 or 7316. My VTL uses only 12ax7 and 12at7. I have plenty old good tested tubes. Use a B&K 700 tube tester.
For 12au7 using Westinghouse 1959 BP , Amperex 12au7 1956 foil D getter, a Sylvania 5814a from 1955, have you tryed 5814? I have some 5 star I think GE or RCA. This is with my TC pre, I use Mullard too.
No . 5814 is a new one for me . How do they compare to the others ?
I tried some Spanish 12AU7's , they are not what I'm looking for . Will now try some of the better Amperex and 7316's .
We've gotten the best feedback from our customers on the Amperex Bugle Boy 7316. One of the best 12AU7 types out there.
Thanks Ralph , very much appreciated !
I own 3 7316 tubes that test very good. Be prepared to spend it money for one but they are nice
I wanted to update this tube rolling adventure .
What started out as a power tube rolling experiment mushroomed into a full blown power , input and driver roll .
Quite educational and grueling !
I tried the Cifte's as input tubes , thinking that I wanted to only increase the top end characteristics of the BT 6CA7's , they did not work out . They did what they were purported to do but at the expense of some other characteristics .
I tried the Amperex longplate 12Au7 with foil 'D' getter and found them to be a bit flat and unexciting ! I am a little puzzled and disappointed by these results . They did all of the other things quite well . This was with the PL 12AU7 as drivers , which I find to be a nice neutral tube . These PL's are the only drivers that did not seem to add or subtract from what the input tubes brought to the table.
I then switched out the four PL drivers for 7316's . Things were much better but still a little muffled with a slight loss of air .
In went the 7316's as inputs and here is what I was looking for ! Air , detail , separation , delineation of voices , sparkle and the all important musicality . I then put a pair of 7316's as drivers with the previous PL 12AU7's and this gave me just enough additional warmth to complete the mixture !
So the final mix in my Primaluna Dialogue Premium integrated amp playing through my Reference 3a Di Capo I speakers is Black Treasure 6CA7 power tubes , 7316's in the input section and two 7316's combined with two PL 12AU7's in the driver section .
I would like to give a big THANK YOU to my tube monger and friend Bigshutterbug . He loaned me a myriad of small tubes to experiment with . Very generous with his time and inventory . Others here have also offered their expertise that is very much appreciated as well . Thanks to all !
So as not to duplicate things , the first part of my small tube adventure can be found here

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?aamps&1430370680&&&/Primaluna-Rolling-pre-tubes-question- .

If anyone can make the jump to this thread easier , please do so .

I provide this as a helpful 'starting' point for others . This is my equipment , my ears , my tastes and my room . Others , young & old , have heard this set up and liked it but still others may not .
Good luck
I bet those Amperex 7316 cost a bundle. Where did you get them? I have 3 very good tested ones.