The 84 and 34 are well known for distortion, normally the EL84 gets VERY hot with normal use. People love it for his tone quality.
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I think Nolitan has captured the generalizations precisely. But do remember that the ciruit can influence those difference quite a bit. I have an EL84 and EL34 amp from the same manufacturer, in his circuit the EL34 sounds more like the typical EL84 sound, as described above, but with 162 watts to drive most any speaker.
Thank you all for your posts. Please keep them coming :)
Its been about 15 years since I owned any EL34 amps (a cj MV50, Music Reference RM9 & AMC CVT3030 int) and probably about 3-4 years since I actually heard an EL34 amp.
Unfortunately, the EL34 amps that I owned at that time were kept for only a few months as I was going thru a transitionary stage and evaluating a lot of different gear at the time.
Ever since I got rid of my Omega Grande 8's about 2 years ago and with this economy, I've been on a hunt for the best sounding speakers I can find for under $200 and have gone thru about a dozen pairs of speakers since then. The idea of getting an EL34 amp and more power is to widen the field of possible speaker choices. From the responses so far, perhaps the EL84 (6bq5) may better suit my tastes, although it limits speaker choices somewhat.
Lou, I have the RM9 Special Edition $9,500) and the RM10MKII ($1950) and can tell you that is 30 watts is enough power the RM10 is about as good as the come and you find them for $1,000 used - you also get 10,000 hours of tube life and they are relatively cheap tubes, and they only use for output tubes. I think both tubes are special, but the difference are what has been described. But you know Roger would never build a warm, euphonic amp!
The el84 and el34 are my two favorite sounding tubes.
What you really need to look at is how their characteristics are going to integrate with your speakers. The speakers are a much larger piece of the puzzle- feeding them properly is critical.
I would choose the speaker first and then consider how to drive it.
One other thing to note is that I don't think it is neccessary to spend the kind of money you are talking about. If you look at what goes into a push pull tube amp, even one that is point to point hand wired it just cant justify $5k in my opinion. These are simple circuits with relatively few critical parts. $.02
The RM10MKII is $1,950 spanking new and since they are incredibly reliable, they are an excellent used buy at $1,000 and with right speakers are as good as any amplifier out there, with the possible exception of OTLs, but that is another kettle of fish. Seriously if 35 watts enough power, you should consider the Music Reference RM10. Also works really well with a passive pre due to its hign input impedance and sensitivity, making for a low cost SOTA amplification system.
I'd definitely prefer something pt to pt wired. Tube rectification is of lesser importance to me. The Cayin's are probably too expensive. The Antique Sound Lab integrateds look nice and I wouldn't rule out a custom amp either. I heard this Cheer EL34 amp (Bewitch integrated) a few years ago and that sounded very nice too.
Currently, I also have this moded Conn 6bg6 amp that needs a repair. It was a beautiful sounding 8 wpc in triode. It was also very powerful sounding too. Dynamically it smoked the 18 wpc 6L6 Dared monoblocks. (The Dareds had more immediacy, but the 6bg6 sounded sweeter). Wonder how this amp would stack up to an EL34 once I get it fixed?