EL34s -- your picks for best?

I recently replaced my JJ El34's with a set of NOS Siemens. Amazing difference.

To summarize, the differences were clarity in the upper frequencies, also presentation of the upper frequencies, general clarity, mid-range smoothness, bass speed and punch, and many improvements in the soundstage. For example, the depth and width improvements were obvious from the moment I put the Siemens tubes in. Also, timbre and air improved. I guess my conclusion is that everything improved substantially.

I keep the JJ's for casual listening, like when I listen to cd's while doing housework. But when I want to really listen, I put the Siemens tubes in and spin a record.

My system: VPI Mark IV, Alphason HRS-100, Alpha Genesis 1000 (I am saving for having my Koetsu Black re-done), Micromega Stage 3 cd, Fisher 400c or Dynaco Pas-3x (modified), Dynaco ST70 (modified), 1960's Sherwood FM tuner, Kef 102 Reference speakers (I am saving for a pair of Quad ESL-63's), Kimber 4TC bi-wired speaker cables, various interconnects, including 0.5m Krell Silver from amp to pre-amp. The cartridge is wired directly to the pre-amp via Cardas tonearm wire -- I replaced the tonearm wire with it and made it long enough to connect directly to the pre-amp. It is shielded, of course.

I was surprised at how much better the NOS power tubes sounded over the current production ones. Granted, I know that JJ EL34's are cheapies; but this much of a difference?

I am interested in anyone's experiences with EL34's in their system. Either comparing NOS to current production tubes, or with comparing different brands of NOS, or current production tubes amongst each other.

I have been told by a fellow Audiogoner to try the Winged C EL34's because he considers them to be the best sounding current production ones. I trust his judgement; he has a lot of experience, and golden ears, but I would like to also hear about more experiences with EL34's.

I really was (pleasantly) surprised with the differences the Siemens NOS tubes made. I have posted about my observations in the past with the differences between some 12ax7's. I also found the differences startling!

The Winged 'C'(Svetlana, St Petersberg plant) EL34s are the last I had in my modded ST-70. The performed well enough, that when I could no longer afford/find NOS Phillips ECG or GE output tubes(eight matched) for my current monoblocks, I went with a set of their(SED) 6550Cs. No disappointments what-so-ever! I've been a Siemens small signal tube lover for years. I'm using six of their early sixties CCa's in my CD player. Have you tried any early production(pre '69) Siemens ECC83's? If not- You're in for a treat!
Hi Rodman,
Thanks for your input! It was you who had recommended I try the Winged 'C' EL34's. I saw the Siemens/RFT EL34's on Audiogon at an incredibly good price so I jumped on them. I was looking for some Winged 'C' ones at the time. I will certainly try them when I need the next set of EL34's for my amp.

I have the set of 1965 Telefunken 12ax7's that came with my pre-amp. They are great tubes, but I prefer the sound of Bugle Boy or Mullard 10M's to the Telefunken's in my PAS-3x. I have not tried tube-rolling in my Fisher pre-amp.

Are the Siemens ECC83's Telefunkens? Are they synonymous?
For what it's worth, I like the JJ E34L best of current manufacture, and am more than happy with them in my ST70. Surprisingly, though I have far more expensive and highly regarded amplifiers laying around, my Dynaco is providing me the most fun I've had in audio, and in my second system, no less.

I can understand why some would prefer the Winged C, EH, or even the Shuguang EL34B (which I have been told are actually the Sino/Shuguang KT77 that some folks absolutely lust after), as the JJ E34L can be less "even handed" or complete from top to bottom than another, but those stunningly glorious mids of the JJ do it for me. But, as I like to say, that's why they make vanilla AND chocolate.

That being said, a couple of years ago, we did a tube shootout, and across the board, the 1960s Mullard XF1 EL34 could not be equaled by any new production tube.
Hi again Mr B- Siemens and Tele are two different companies, but their presentation is very similar. German manufacture seems to produce a more linear/less colored sound than most others, and some systems will seem too lean/cold with them. That could have something to do with your preference of mixing some warmth(the BBs and 10Ms) with the Siemens outputs you're using.
Hi Rodman,
That's interesting. It could be.

With the JJ's in the amp, I had the same preferences. Although mine are EL34's, and not E34L's. I think they are two different models.

I felt that the bass was cleaner and more palpable with the Siemens. I know that statement should be qualified with stating the fact that the ST70 is poor with bass performance. I also found there was more upper octave detail coming through with them compared to the JJ's. I will pay more attention to the midrange on further comparison. My initial thoughts were that it was smooth.

By the way, my cartridge, which is also considered to be lean is wired directly into a step-up transformer, and not directly into the pre-amp.
Ah, yes- The Source! Then there are the tubes in the Fisher pre-amp. How old/what brand are those? Replacement there with NOS Amperex could transform your system. In fact- A newer phono stage, or upgrading the caps/resistors in your existing one(are you using the Fisher phono input?) could well be in order.
Hi Rodman,
I am using Bugle Boy 12ax7's in the phono stage, a pair of Sylvania 12at7's in what I presume is the line stage, a 7025 the I cleaned off long ago and therefore don't know the brand, and it has a single Bugle Boy 12at7 on th right side in front. The BB's in the phono stage were NOS. The ubes all test well, and are not excessively hissy.

I replaced the original Wima caps with some polystyrenes that I had on hand. The Wimas were dead. I don't know the brand of the polystyrenes; they are new ones that I had left over from engineering school. I probably could gain sound quality by replacing them with higher quality ones.

Apart from the very expensive teflon V-caps and Audio Note caps, what is your preference for signal caps? Have you heard Mundhorfs?
I've never tried Mundorfs. Lots of DynamiCaps, auriCAP and InfiniCAPs, always observing the outer foil to the lower impedence rule. I'm tempted to try the aura Ts as coupling caps in my Cary monoblocks. I've got a lot of silver cabling, anything but warm tubes and so much system transparency now that I'm afraid things will get too lean though(already borderline with some recordings). Most Teflons do have certain sound of their own too. Then again- there's suffering through the burn-in. Teflon dielectrics take SOOO long! I've been a fan of polypropylene and polystyrene/foil for a long time. Old dog/new tricks dynamic at work. I'm an even bigger fan of power supply modding. I've found some of my greatest accuracy and dynamic range enhancements via BlackGate, Sanyo OS-CON cap and FRED rectifier usage in my systems. Most don't acknowledge how IN your signal path the power supply really is.
I didn't know that teflon caps take a long time to burn-in. Makes sense, though.

I replaced the tin can ps cap with SDS Labs' latest Dynaco ps cap board. It also replaces the bias supply caps. The electrolytics it uses are Chemicon. They are bypassed by Wima; I am not sure if they are polystyrene or polypropylene.

I felt that this improved bass authority and tightened it up a considerable. It still has a way to go -- I am thinking of trying Van Alstine's bandwidth limiting input filter mod and upping the value of the coupling caps.

I agree in thinking that the ps is much more in the signal path than is given credit.

Thanks for the reply! I enjoyed it!

Here is a link to an article on capacitors I found interesting. Of course, it is the author's opinion, not mine. I have not tried any of these caps. Never-the-less, I found it to be interesting reading.