Favorite 300B: Sophia vs KR

Which do you prefer; S.E.T. Princess 300B Carbon Plate or KR 300B WE Clone?

I've only experienced NOS 40's/50's WE so my expectations are pretty high. Which do you think captures the essence of the WE most closely? I'm trying to keep the cost down as much as possible so EAT is not an option, as much as I was blown away by their KT88. I considered current WE but they're not in production until Spring 2011.



What about this Genalex Gold Lion PX300B tube?
6 moons did a very detailed review of the Full Music SE and the Shuguang Treasure series with many comparisons to other 300b tubes. To my knowledge the KR tubes have had some reliability issues.
Hi Sakahara,
I've owned the KR's and found the sound wonderful.They made my system sound fantastic. The problem was that they are not reliable. One of mine failed with less than 100 hours on it. The manufacturer did not stand behind them, and wouldn't replace it claiming I was responsible!?You can check out the archives on this tube as my experience was not unique.
I have tried a number of 300b's. I had Sophia, TJ carbons plates and a few I seem to have forgotton. The best I have heard is the Shunguag Black Bottle (Treasures)that I have settled on. They sound as good if not better than the KR's, and are reliable. I must have 1500+ hours on them.
I do wish to hear NOS WE's one day.


I think most of these current productions have reliability issues; KR. EAT,... even Sophia from personal experience. I also have a hard time believing those reviews that praise the much cheaper versions as much as those who can't accept the gushing over NOS WE. One can only audition for themselves, in their system, to know for sure. Its very subjective. I just didn't want to do that at this time. Difficult decision. I may go with Sophia. KR's handling of customers worries me.
Hi Sakahara, I'm shopping for 300bs too. Did you give any consideration to Emission Labs?
My KR broke at the base and they want me to send the tube back Czek prolly will say 'damaged in shipment'. Next tube will be anEmL
I have used EML 45 (solid plate) and 2a3 and Shungang Black Treasure 300b with no reliability problems. Not sure how the EML 45/2a3 experience would translate into a 300b (especially a mesh plate 300b), however. I am very happy with the Black Treasure 300b from the standpoint of reliability and sound; in fact, these were the tubes recommended by my amplifier designer.
I forgot about Emission Labs. I recall good things. I'm skeptical of the Shunguag(?) and most others in the $100-$200 range. It's not much to spend but can quickly add up from disappointing trials. One prerequisite is the tube be made to WE 300B specs. Not all 300B's are direct replacements and each 300B amp design varies. This could be the cause of failure for some customers 300B's.
You are apparently confusing the Shuguang lower cost/quaility 300b with the more expensive(600.00 USD) ultra quality Shuguang Treasure Series(black glass). I use the black glass 300b and it`s sound is superb, I have about 1700 hours of use with absolutely no reliability issues. As I stated in an earlier post 6 moons has done numerous reviews and comparisions between the premium chinese,high end european and the most recent WE 300b. It would be worth your time to read those in my opinion.
Cheap Chinees, such as TJ's or other's have problems to keep bias at the level, they just don't, so, if I were you, I would buy from trusty source and the high quality only. I have read a lot about 300B's and many of them just dont have the quality level, however they may sound pretty good, but like many already said, if they will be dead in a short time, why bother?
Go for EML's or KR's, but tubular, earlier production type. I own a pair and they are very good.
Very happy with the EML 300b solid plate. Would love to try their mesh.
The problem with EML's Mesh, they cant be used on any 300B amp, bad, very bad, cos I am very interested in them. My amp is Cary CAD 300B SEI.
I ment, ON EVERY 300B amp, sorry guys...

Charles1dad: No disrespect intended. I was only generally commenting on cheaper 300B production. I may in deed enjoy the sound of the Shuguang Treasure Series 300B. I just have a predilection for the original; NOS WE. And I haven't heard any other 300B either. I would have liked to, but once I had those vintage beauties in place there was no reason to disturb the sound. Maybe it was $$$ bias since they cost so much. But the overall system sound was glorious. Now I'm only trying to narrow down my choices and hopefully come away with one that satisfies both my senses and budget.

I'll always be very skeptical when it comes to the cheap vacuum tube versions, or when manufacturers insist you use theirs, compared to NOS.

I won't be buying the KR WE Clone because of the reliability/warranty issues, even though it technically should be a perfect match for my SET monos and thus warrantied. That's unfortunate, although their position of denying warranty to some customers is understandable. It's designed to certain specs (matched to their amps) and other amp designs may not be compatible, hence the premature failure. Tube makers don't like to mention this fact because they want you to use their tubes, but you need to check specs before rolling ahead, especially with NOS, and making sure it is a proper variant. I haven't run into any issues so far but I've had a few NOS and current production tubes fail before their time. Not bad though when compared to how many tubes I've had and hrs used.

Sakahara, you did`nt offend me at all. I was just trying to be helpful and let you know they`re significant differences between the low cost vs high cost chinese tubes these days and that they compete with the higher quaility europeans. By the way your system must sound fantastic with that Tron amp and Horning speakers. I really like my Coincident speakers but would also love to hear your speaker and the Tonian Lab Classic 12.1 with that PHY-HP 12inch driver.
Best of luck

Who sells the Shuguang Treasure Series? Is there a manufacturer website? And what about the Genelax Gold Lion PX300B?

Is Shuguang Treasure Grade B ok? Reading the description they sound defective. $395 from Grant Fidelity. $510 for Grade A.

My interest in this tube is growing as I'm not feeling Sophia at the moment (failed 274B) and would like to give another brand a try.

EAT is too expensive. KR WE Clone is available for just over $500, but I don't want to be disappointed if it fails and lose $$. And the EML 300B is $493. I'm not paying any more then that for these tubes. I'd rather pick up half used NOS WE.
I purchased the grade A versions from Grant Fidelity
The Grade B Shuguang tubes aren't defective. They're just a lower quality tube. Shuguang matches each pair, and the tolerance differences determine which tubes will be Grade A, B, etc. I also use the Shuguang Black Bottle 300B Treasure tubes, and have had no issues with them, and they sound very good. Very clean and clear, with pretty decent bass for a 300B.

I know Grant Fidelity has the Treasure tubes. I think others do, too. The only exclusivity Grant has with tube distribution, I believe, is with the Shuguang Psvane 845.

You can find them cheaper than 600/pr, but beware. You may not be getting Grade A. If you go with Shuguang, buy from a North American retailer. Shuguang routinely exports their best tubes, and keep the lesser quality ones in China/Asia. So, if you go looking on ebay or something like that, and find a pair for 200 bucks, don't think for a second that you're getting a great deal from the guy in Shanghai.
Sometimes Grant Fidelity has sales on the Treasure tubes, even type A.

Afc: Don't take offense. I was being facetious about the Shuguang Treasure Grade B being defective. I realize they're not. But the way the description is worded it comes off that way.
What other 300B's ave you listened to? Have you heard vintage NOS WE? And thanks for the buying tips.

At this point I'm leaning toward either EML or Shuguang Treasure.


300B comments from tube gear designer;

"I supply my new amps with basic/standard 300B's (Chinese/Russian) as I know customers will want to change them in the future. I only offer Emission Labs tubes as a priced option. On the top end gear I use Emission Labs - they might not be the best sounding but they are very robust, are extremely reliable, also sound very good and they look good too..... I have not heard the carbon plate or Shuguang Treasure as they do not look like a 300B and are only clones - These should really be called by a new name and not a 300B because they are not a 300B. Also I don't like using anything from China. "
Sakahara, no worries, none taken. Haven't heard NOS Western Electrics. Very expensive, and a lot of people are trying to pass off the newer WE 300B's as NOS. Saw a pair the other day- made in 1998- for 4000 bucks. Ridiculous.
Afc: That is a ridiculous. I paid about half that for NOS/NIB '49/'50 matched pair. I would buy used, even current production.
The statement from the tube amp designer sure makes him seem misinformed and ignorant, Such strong opinions on tubes he has`nt heard and sweeping stereotypes regarding chinese products, so everything produced in china is bad? I hope his amps are better thoughout than his foolish conclusions regarding 300b tubes. There are numerous posts on this site by 300b amp owners of many different brands who have been very pleased with the better quaility chinese tubes from Shuguang, TJ Full Music Sophia etc.

Who has the best price for EML 300B?
Sakahara, which EML 300b are you looking at?
There is a huge difference in quality control between cheap TJ's or others and say Sophia's. Even they both comming from out of TJ factory doesnt mean they are the same quality or even construction.
I have had Sophia's Mesh Princess and my expirience with them is nothing but good. Sound sig is something else and thats where your own ears must tell you what ever you like them or not, but technicaly they were good, kept the bias at the level, every time I checked.
As far as my 300B tubes rolling goes, got the feeling that there are no perfect tubes around, otherwise who would buy others. Another thing is, what they call Mesh, all Chinees makers include Sophia's, arent real Mesh and the only real thing are EML's, but like I wrote, damn thing about them is that they can not be used on every 300B amp ( cos of plates voltage differences, I believe ), so, before you do that, just check with official dealer about your amp specifications. I own Cary CAD 300B SEI and, according to the EML, cant use them and thats my huge freaking frustration, cos I think, possible, they are the best Mesh's around.
Another option could be EAT, which are slightly expensiver than EML's and much more expensiver than Sophia's, but from a very good source I understood that they are very, very good.

Phaelon: I'm looking at the EML 300B.

I want 300B tubes that are as close to the original - WE. None of this Super Sized Globe Mesh XLS...... This is why so many 300B tubes fail - they're not compatible contrary to manufactures claims.

I'm well aware what my SET monoblocks need. I had NOS WE and they were sweeeeet. But I'm on a tight budget now. I'd gladly pick up used NOS WE, or even used or new current production but there's none to be found. I'm not paying $2K for latest WE production.
I've decided to buy EML 300B ($495). I've only found two dealers in US (East and West Coast). Is that it?
That's the solid plate EML 300B, not the mesh plate.
I hope the EML's are everything you want them to be Sakahara. I would really like to hear your impressions once they break in, especially given your experience with the Western Electrics. Now that I've rolled my small tubes, the 300b's are next.

Rgurney: Correct. The mesh plate wouldn't match amp design/circuitry. That's most likely why so many 300B's fail - not matched for amps.

Phaelon: Hopefully I can recall what the NOS WE sounded like. It's been a few months, plus I'll have new speakers. I think the EML 300B will be satisfying enough based on feedback. It looks good too (resembles WE more then others). In the end all that matters is whether or not I enjoy the sound from my system.
I would have tried the Shuguang Treasure but timing and shipping from Canada.... plus they didn't have Grade A in stock. Considered Grade B ($375). That's how much I'd like to pay for these 300B knock-offs. I almost bought current WE production but the asking prices are ridiculous. I'd rather buy used NOS.

What's going on with Tube Audio Store/RAM Labs? Has anyone ordered from them lately? Placed order online for EML 300B and received invoice, but no reply to email (one address undeliverable) and no one answer phone (msg only about moving....?). Wonderful.
Sakahara - Consider this source:

TubesUSA is a primary supplier of EML tubes.

Thanks for the Shuguang Treasure source. Much lower prices. Grade B?

TubesUSA is East Coast and PayPal only, but I may end up having to order from them.

Ordering imported tubes always seems to be an issue.
Sakahara, you stated in an earlier post that you`re replacing your current speakers. I`d imagine the Tron/Horning pairing sound very good. What are replacing your Horning agathons with?
You can try jacmusic.com, Jac is the man to deal with, however not sure if he going to sell outside of EU, but you can try.
From things I read/heard EML's are not WE's, but thats doesnt mean a bad thing, however depends on amp / set up you use. So far, I am pretty settled with KR's tubular type and AVVT's 32B CL, which I believe would be close to EML's, but not 100% sure about it.
From things I read about the WE's, they are sweet, but modern production tubes, except TJ Globe Mesh and Sophia's Mesh, arent sweet. They are punchy, articulate/tight, with more nutral ( some call flat ) mids, extended with great 3d image and great deep bass. If thats what WE's are, well, you got the winning ticket:-)

I own Cary CAD 300SEI and use full house of ECC33 Mullards Brown base as driver and input and the results are very good. But when I use some other tubes, such as RCA Grey coated, Sylvania Bad Boys or TS Mouse Ears the mids are showing some "weakness", at least in my system. By the way, I use ECC82 Mullards in my CDP as well, all NOS 50's production, so, no muddy stuff here.

One of my hobby mates using EAT 300B's and he is very impressed, but these are like EUR800 a pair here in EU, not particular cheap, but if you are looking for WE replacement you may not going to find any, however most CARY 300SEI users, include me, thinks that Sophia's Mesh are way to go if you are looking for close replica, but than again, in your amp it may be differ sounding.
Sakahara - I've read online that the 'grading' system is hype designed to inflate and justify the higher prices of the "A" tubes. Do a search in the AudioAsylum. If I am not mistaken, Michael Samra has gotten some tubes from GoodComponent and wrote that he thinks they are very good. You don't need a fancy box to listen to the tubes.
12-17-10: Rgurney
Sakahara - I've read online that the 'grading' system is hype designed to inflate and justify the higher prices of the "A" tubes.
I've read that, too, but authored from Chinese tube sellers.

From what I've read on their website, Grant Fidelity tests and matches their Shuguang Treasure tubes to much tighter tolerances than does the Shuguang factory, and thus far I have no reason to doubt them. This may not be a factor in most tube amps, but in some amps like Audio Note parallel SET amps, tight matching is essential. You can read here about the necessity of careful tube matching in Audio Note Kegon and Nero amplifiers.
I just checked with my buddy and he wrote that EAT would be very close to my AVVT's, so, not sweet baby either.
"Thanks for the Shuguang Treasure source. Much lower prices"

Much lower is right. It makes me wonder if the tubes they're selling are intended for export. I've read that Chinese export tubes are held to much more stringent standards.
EML 300B vs Shuguang Treasure 300B.

Comments from those who've compared these two in their system?

Charles1dad: The TRON/Horning combo was incredible. My favorite and best I've heard in 20 yrs of high-end audio. I'm not trying to replace the Horning speakers (that would be extremely difficult). I am simply downgrading due to financial woes. Considering a few options. I'll let you know (check out my other thread).
Sorry to hear that, these are very tough times for many right now. I surely hope your situation improves soon.
12-17-10: Charles1dad
Sorry to hear that, these are very tough times for many right now.
Let's keep our perspective.

Anyone shopping for vacuum tubes priced at $510/pair (Shuguang 300B-Z Grant Audio Grade A) or $650/pair (EML 300B XLS) cannot complain of tough times.
Tvad: I'm sorry. I'll buy the cheaper 300B tubes.

Fyi, I wasn't looking at the $650 EML 300B XLS.
Only you know your current financial status relative to your previous standards (thus the need to sell your current speakers). This economy has affected many in a variety of ways, obviously some more than others. You certainly don`t need to apologize to Tvad or anyone else.
Just buy these: ( http://cgi.ebay.com/new-old-stock-tubes-Western-Electric-300B-match-pair_W0QQitemZ290512896436QQcategoryZ64629QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp4340.m8QQ_trkparmsZalgo%3DMW%26its%3DC%26itu%3DUCC%26otn%3D5%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D5749337515894018069 )

Well, I've come full circle and purchasing the Sophia SET Princess Carbon Plate. I had placed an order for the EML 300B but Tube Audio Store didn't have stock. So reluctantly (explanation coming...), I tried ordering from the only other US dealer; George Lenz at TubesUSA. I soon gave up on that. He has these extra fees/charges (PayPal higher then 3%, packing material costs,..) and he's very evasive with any questions. It's no wonder he has stock - no one buys from him. Arrogant, rude. Don't buy from TubesUSA. That forced me to rethink which tube to use, but after speaking with my amps dealer, who felt the Sophia was better then the EML, I took his advice.

Charles1dad: I was being sarcastic with Tvad.

Rodman99999: Too much.