Mullard EL34 XF2 from Blackburn plant. I've made the comparison you ask about in Wolcott Presence amps and exactly what you describe is one of the main differences.
With Mullard, also add punch, better dynamics and lower distortion. Downside is they have not been manufactured in many years and good samples continue to go up in value.
You mention KT77. The ultimate EL34 - KT77 is the Gold Lion Genelex. I have a quad of them in original packing with test data. The price today of those is obscene, go for Mullard. They are not nearly so far apart as price would suggest, I've tested.
I don't disagree with Albert, but a nice quad of Mullard EL34 XF2 could run $700. That might not be what you had in mind. BTW, he wasn't referring to the modern Gold Lion reissues. The Siemens EL34 has the qualities you seek, at about half that price, noticeably better air and space and imaging than the Russian tubes. Just about anything might sound better than the Shuguangs.
Another departure from Mullard EL34 and Siemens (which Lloydc correctly called) is the Telefunken AEG.
Tele AEG are more lively than the Mullard, more akin to the tonal balance of the Siemens. The only reason I did not suggest that route is I've had the Dodd amps in my own system and for my taste the Mullard is a warmer, more dynamic balance.
Agree too with Lloydc that Shuguang is not a great tube sonically for the Dodd. If I had to pick from only current manufactured stocks of EL34 tubes it would be the SED Wing C.
Still prefer used Mullard at Ebay. I just checked and several auctions closed with perfect Mullard EL34 at $68.00 to $75.00 each. Considering the life of these tubes that's not crazy money.
Gentlemen, Albert & Lloyd, - A sincere, "Thank You" for your input. First. I'm encouraged that the Shuguang tubes can be bettered!
I've read many good things about NOS Mullards (sonics and longevity) and did understand the GoldLion KT77s referenced were also NOS product. While the Mullard Ebay prices cited don't appear to be out of reach, I'm just not that confident about buying individual, non-matched tubes (the H-1 does auto-bias) and from Ebay, specifically. My short list of candidates has been the current production Gold Lion KT77s and the SED Winged C EL34s. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on those two. I'll definitely add the Siemens and Telefunken AEG to my list. I look forward to any additional input you care to provide. (just fyi, I'm not running Dodd amps...didn't want that to be a "red herring"). Again, "Thank you".
I don't use EL34s but since they were mentioned above - Upscale Audio has Siemens NOS ELs for $55 per tube - including matching - might want to take a look
Thanks, Facten -
Yup, been checking out Kevin Deal's site a good bit lately. Saw the Siemens there. A little unsure about their fit in my system based on the customer mini-review at the bottom of the page.
I don't see that anyone has suggested current production tubes for you. The joy of tube rolling is that for less than $100 a quad you can have some very distinct differances. I tried Groove Tubes EL34M, supposedly a Mullard clone. They're OK, but not great. I found great satisfaction with the Electro Harmonix EL34EH which cost, if memory serves, something like $8 - 10 each in a matched quad. I quit looking for better after that. They were great in the areas you're looking form. YMMV, of course.
Joe - Thanks for the input. Albert did mention SED Winged Cs as the best of current production EL34s. I'd also seen many positive comments on these. I do appreciate your input on the EH and the GT Mullard clone in particular. The concept behind the GT xf2 Mullard sounds like a winner (but I'm gathering execution falls short?). With the possible exception of the Siemens, I probably won't go NOS. Still bouncing around mainly between Winged C, Mullard re-issue, and Gold Lion KT77.
I have the SED Winged C's in my VAC Avatar. They are many strides ahead of the Shuguang tubes imo. I would like to try some of the NOS tubes I read about but they would burn too big a hole in my wallet if you know what I mean.
I haven't tried any of the other EL's mentioned but the SED's seem to have concensus on this and other sites. That helped me with my decision and I have not thought about changing.
I also changed out the 12ax7's and 12au7's with NOS Bugle Boy tubes. Thay made a remarkable difference as well.
Thanks, Bj...I can say for sure, votes for current production EL34 favor Winged SED heavily. I'm with you on $ expenditure for NOS. The Siemens are within reach but even here I'm a bit confused and seeing pricing that seems to vary from $225 - $300+ for a quad. Seems like Siemens mftd. for different brands as well. Plus I always think about needing spares or another quad in the future when maybe the supply picture has changed and availability is even worse than today. Good current production (if there is such a thing) appeals to the pragmatist in me.
To all who replied...Thanks for your input. For various reasons (not just cost)...I decided to go with SED Winged C EL34s. If these don't get the job done, I'll give further consideration to the Siemens NOS option. What I've leared that complicated that choice is the range of "Siemens" NOS tubes out there.
I found this link, enlightening:
Right now I´m listening to a Harma EL34 quad in my Leben 660P amp and they are fantastic and they are cheap. You can find them in Watford Valves from UK.
I second the Electro Harmonixes are very good too.
BTW, I´ve been trying other Harma tubes (KT-66, E34L, 5881) and they are great.
Greetings from Spain.
The Harma E34L appears to be a house brand of Watford Valves, likely a JJ Tesla E34L based on construction and shape. The price at Watford Valves is 14.77 pounds (about $23.50 each US Dollar).
For those of us in the USA this tube is available from dealers here for $17.50 or less. I'm not challenging your choice of tubes, just offering choices for Audiogon members in the USA.
I used Tesla E34L tubes in my Wolcott amps back when I owned them. It is indeed a great tube, better than many discussed here but in my opinion not as good as Wing C.
As I mentioned already, the best choice is used or new old stock Mullard, Siemens or Telefunken.
Ghosthouse, that site in Germany is the property of Karsten Schmidt. I've been dealing with him for many years. His tubes are exactly as represented and he stands behind his product.
Jesus - Thanks for your input...it may help others considering EL34 tube changes.
Albert - The Classic Tubes site helped me further appreciate the ways in which "not all NOS is created equal". After reviewing the info there, I felt more confident simply getting current production tubes. From your comments and those of many others, the Winged Cs seemed like the way to go for current production.
They arrived yesterday and I have about 20 hours on them (over and above Doug's burn in hours). They've made a big difference in my system. There is much more air and 3-dimensionality. Plenty of power and impact. Bass is deep, and well-defined. Couldn't be happier. Thanks to everyone for their advice.
Ghosthouse, your comment "Couldn't be happier" is what really matters.
I have 160 Wing C 6550 on order right now. I think that speaks volumes about how much I respect Wing C.
Then again, 160 authentic NOS KT88 Genelex are unaffordable and probably would take forever to locate. EL 34 Mullard are not that rare and expensive but will be someday.
In other words, enjoy 'em while you can :^).
Oh my gosh!! I don't do a lot of tube rolling. My hearing is just not that detailed I guess. But I did recently try a couple things in my Cayin TA-30 (mods by Paul G.). Other than the standard tubes he provides in the unit, I tried SED Winged C and just the other day put in Siemen's NOS EL34's. Honest to God, these Siemen's tubes are blowing my socks off. Previously the unit really lacked punch at lower volume levels. These Siemen's tubes have turned the Cayin into a whole new amplifier. Really.
Exactly which Siemens EL34 did you get? There appear to be various "NOS Siemens EL34s" out there depending on (if nothing else) year of manufacture.
Glad they are working for you.
These were apparently made in the 70's. Not sure how I would verify that. For all I know they are chinese fakes (but I hope not!). I do know they really seem to have changed the sound--even over the SED Winged C's.
Mike - wasn't trying to plant any seeds of doubt! If you don't mind, who did you buy them from? Thanks.
No, no Ghosthouse, you didn't do that. I was really just referring to my own naivety. Got them on eBay (of course) from a guy in England. He has an eBay store -- search for Langrex. If you can tell me more about the tubes, that would be great.
RAM Labs (Roger Modjeski) sells Siemens EL34s as well. Use them in my Music Reference RM9SE.
Mike - OK. That's great. Let your ears be your guide!
I'm a total novice on this NOS tube thing. I wanted to do the Siemens but started to get confused when I saw the differential in pricing between NOS Siemens offerings: e.g., Upscale Audio vs The Tube Store vs The Tube Depot (I think I'm right on remembering Tube Depot). As I kept searching around to try and understand what was behind the difference in price I stumbled on this "Tube Classics" site. He has some great pictures and info but what really threw me was the statement on the site, "EL34 tubes made by Telefunken in West Germany are pretty rare and Siemens and Lorenz never made any EL34 tube." I guess tubes marketed by Siemens were made by others? (Phillips and Ei)?? Anyway, it all started to seem way too complicated (especially given the pricing, the existence of fakes and me not having a clue what I was doing). So I went with current production. If you got something that sounds good to you, great...that's all that really matters.
If you are interested, the Tube Classics site can be found here:
Pubul57 - thanks for the input. I'll check out RAMLabs.
As you no doubt know, input tubes make a bigger improvement in sound quality. First things first.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. If I understand things correctly, given that the H-1 is a a different sort of hybrid design (transistor-based pre) I don't have a small tube upgrade option. I did upgrade them on the JoLida I had been running, however.