I have an interest in this topic as well. Have been thinking of Emission labs for my next 300b tube purchase.
I do have Psvane and Sophia Mesh 300b's and they sound different from one another. The Sophia's create a more three dimentional room filling additctive sound stage and the Psvanes have a bit more control over my speakers creating a tighter more controlled low end. I have had no issues with Sophia Mesh. Since they are mesh they need to be biased conservatively around 60 to 65mA's. After experimenting with them at 70mA I found they sound best in my system at 60mA.
I have never heard the Emission Labs 300B tubes, I have no idea what they sound like however I do own the following: Harmonix 300b EH, Psvane 300B BT, Shuguang Black Treasures 300B-Z, Sophia Electric Royal Princess 300B and the Takalsuki TA 300B which I just reciently purchased directly from Japan. All I'm going to suggest to you is purchase the Takalsuki TA 300B tubes you will be very happy and possibly not be able to better them unless you find some original vintage Western Electric 300B tubes.
Pani I used the Shuguang BT for 2 1/2 years. It's a good tube but I find the EML(XLS) better across the board. It isn't embarrassed by the Takasuki in my amplifier. The Takatsuki is the best sounding 300b tube(sublime) I've ever heard, unfortunately it's also very expensive. I haven't heard the "vintage" type WE but did try the WE reissue version. The Takatsuki and EML were much better sounding in my system. The EML though not inexpensive offers high value for the premium sound quality it provides.
Thanks guys. Takatsuki has been on my radar but I am not in a position to afford it considering I am also looking to invest in some good power cords and conditioners. If EML XLS is a direct replacement for 300B in all/most amplifiers then that looks like a nice mid path at the moment.
Pani, Make sure that your 300b filament transformer can handle the 1.5 amps that the EML 300bXLS draws. That is more more current draw than a standard 300b.
Pani, Make sure the 300b filament transformer in your amp can handle the current demands of the EML XLS. They draw 1.5 amps. The standard 300b draws 1.2amps
I am also getting a KR Audio 300BXLS (2004 model). Is it a better alternative to EML XLS ?
Like Charles. I am a huge fan of the Takatsukis. However, I have also been very happy with the Sophia Royal Princess that can sometimes be found for sale on this site. Both bested the Shuguang Black Treasures by a lot. I have not heard any of the Emission or Psvane 300b although I am intrigued by the Psvane WE replicas.
The only negative thing I've heard about the KR tube is that certain batches/generations had early tube failure issues. Sonically it's said to be a very good sounding 300b. The EML as far as I know has no reliability issue and are priced a bit less than the KR tubes. In terms of sound quality I suspect that you'd like both.
With respect to KR 300's, I would only buy brand new and from an authorized dealer that offers a warrantee.
KR had reliability issues in the past in which KR stopped offering warrantee replacements, therefore, forcing some tube amp manufacture to look for another high quality 300B tubes for their amps. For the asking price of a pair of new KR 300, why bother when you can get a pair of Emission Labs.
For a while the KR 300b was the tube of top choice for Isael Blume's Coincident Frankenstein SET amp. He loved the sound but he didn't receive factory support for early failing tubes and had to discontinue their use. I know there are people who are using the KR 300b without any problems, the problem has likely been addressed is my assumption. Probably many of the earlier year models are fine, the question is which vintage do you avoid.
The problem lies in the fact that there are a lot of NOS KR tubes around today being sold by "unauthorized" KR dealers who are "actively" misrepresenting themselves as USA distributors. If you google KR tubes USA you will get the USA KR distributor but when you go to KR's main website it makes no mention of said USA distributor and directs you to another USA site.
KR has a lot of rogue dealers who offer no warrantee support. My buddy bought a pair of ballon 300b which ended up have some loose internals and was not offered a replacement. He is so worried about a short, the tubes remain in a box.
I wouldn't recommend KR tubes based on my experience and knowledge. If one does decide to go with KR tubes, I would contact KR in the Czech for an authorized reseller. My 2 cents.
If your friend was in US I could test his tubes with my Amplitrex tube tester for free.
Jwm- Pls check your system page.
i have exactly the same dilemma. i currently own the black bottles (2yrs), and wonder if i should continue with them(now the psane's), or buy emission. The emissions themselves present another so called dilemma, their regular 300b, or the xls version.
i have been happy so far with the shuguang-z's, however i dont know if the psvanes will be the same, better, or worse.
Trouble is that, and the emissions are about double the cost.
Audio nirvana is so difficult to reach ;) !
I used the Shuguang BT very happily for 2 1/2 years, supposedly the Psvane Black glass is a bit better. I can tell you that with my amp the EML XLS is the better sounding 300b. It's worth the cost IMO, keep in mind that these are high quality long lasting tubes. You'll get your money's worth.
I am happy with both my Psvane and Sophia Mesh 300b but planning to get the EML300bXLS as a Christmas present for myself :) My Stancor 300b trannies are capable of a 3mA draw which is more than enough to handle the demands of the EML tube.
oops I wrote mA's but actually the EML 300BXLS draw 1.5 amps. My Stancor filament trannies are capable of a 3 amp draw. The standard 300b current draw is 1.2 amps. Anyone who uses the EML 300BXLS needs to make sure their filament transformers can handle 1.5 amps.
You certainly won't have any problem with your transformers . However everything I've read concerning the EML XLS says it's a drop in replacement for any 300b tube. It definitely worked out that way for me.
Charles 1, You are probably right and folks can drop them in with no problems and your experience bares this out. Perhaps the extra .3 amps is not that big a deal for most amplifiers. I am not an expert in electronics but to be safe one should consider consulting their amp builder to make sure the extra draw will be safe for their amp. A filament transformer failure would likely be a very expensive repair with a loss of the tube etc.
Don't forget the EAT 300B.
Just out of curiosity how many hours (usable) would you estimate you obtained with the shuguang's? And do you anticipate a significant increase in usable hours for the EML,s? I once had a pair of JJ's go well over 5000 hours (before they became too finiky to bias, ie not very stable), thats about the best lenght of service i have yet achieved for a (any) 300bs.
The shuguangs i currently have in are still chugging along. Sadly i really dont know how many hours they have. There is a plus facotor in my case, my wife really doesnt keep track of her listening time. :).
It's hard to say, I used the Shuguang BT heavily for 2 1/2 years prior to getting the Takatsuki 1 1/2 years ago. The BTs are still very usable presently. I have the AVVT 32b (300b) which the Manufacturer said is a 40, 000 hour tube! I also have the EML XLS which shares a similar design and pedigree so who really knows?