Favorite Tube Combinations


OK, I've never been a big believer in "synergy" except maybe as a last resort and never completely bought into the idea that this or that tube sounds different in your system than mine. Well recently I've been rolling 12AX7/ECC83/5751s and 12AU7/7316/5814s and I think I'm on to something.

After many recommendations of the CBS Hytron 5814a, I was able to acquire a nice NOSish pair. In combination with a Raytheon Black Plate it sounded gorgeous as long as I was using a SS CD player. When I hooked up my Cayin CDT17a (which uses Ei 6DJ8EGs) the sound became syrupy and sloppy, dark and really not too pleasant. When I switched to the 7316 / ECC83s (JJ copy of the Telefunken E803s), everything became clearer, focused with much better definition and life. (This combination with SS was just a bit much and a little dry in the mid-range for my liking). The Raytheon Black Plate still sounds beautiful as long as the 7316 pair is in the circuit but the ideal seems to be with the JJ, at least with the Cayin in the path.

I stand a changed man.

What combinations of tubes have you found to synergize?
anacrusis
Have you read Joe's tube lore? I'll email it to you. What a way to spend a year or two...
Elevick, I'd love a copy too!
http://www.anthemav.com/OldSitev1/frames/tubesfr.html
A Taste of Tubes from sonic frontiers. Great reading.
What combinations of tubes have you found to synergize?

I'm a bit perplexed by your question. How well combinations of tubes synergize depends mostly upon the circuit/component you are using them in, as well as on the specific tubes you use, not to mention other components in the chain. Just because 6SL7's work well pushing 300B's in one amp in one system, does not mean that's going to be the case in all amps using those tubes...and the which 6SL7's, and which 300B's. The variables here are staggering. Rolling tubes within a specific component can render huge differences, or very subtle differences or none at all. One interesting detail I've found over the years is that the closer the component is to the source, the greater the potential for impact when rolling within that circuit (rolling tubes in a pre or in a tubed-output digital front-end tends to have a greater impact than rolling tubes in an amp). This, of course is a very broad generalization and there are certainly exceptions. All of this is highly subjective as well, as anything in this hobby. Glad you're having fun with it.
i have a tube preamp, tube amp and tubed cd player.

the tube types i use include, 12au7, 12at7, 67n7, 6922, 12ax7 and 807.

i have varied the brands of tubes in each instance. i have not noticed any synergy between tubes. it is said that each manufacture of tubes exhibits its own sonic signature. if so, slelect thos ebrands which achieve a sound which you like. the resulting combination may not connote a system synergy and there may be disagreemenrs as to what combination of brands achieves a synergy.

if anyone is interested, i believe i have a pair of the cbs 5814 which i will sell.
>>if anyone is interested, i believe i have a pair of the cbs 5814 which i will sell.
Mrtennis<<

Audiogon has classifed sections where your unwanted items can be listed for $6 per ad.

Give it a try.
$4 per ad + a %
Very interesting observations and reactions to the question and they are all appreciated.

There is a direct correlation between circuit design and the way a tube behaves and I realize this to be true. I also realize that most classic circuit design try to utilize any given tube for the same reason and that the tube plays the same role electrically component to component so there will be marked characteristics that remain at least relatively constant. Were this not the case any review of any tube would be so subjective that it would be useless.

There would seem to be a belief that if we can at once claim and yet disclaim that tube characteristics can be identified that more people would buy more tubes and we really shouldn't sell on ignorance anymore. I have found that Joe, VTV, and the Head Fi tube threads, to name a few, to be amazingly accurate accounts of a tubes signature.

When I ask about a synergy, it's a question of what tubes inherent sonic characteristics compliment other tubes inherent or latent sonic characteristics not how they may react or interface electrically with a given transformer or capacitor.

The taste of certain wines compliment the taste of certain foods and this is an immutable fact. Why then is sound so different? Why can't the sonic signature of certain tubes compliment the sonic signature of other tubes. Of course they can! I think if we move in this direction it could add a whole new dimension and stimulus to this hobby.
hi anacrusis:

this hobby is very subjective. therefore, tube a, with tube b and tube c, may be considered synergistic to one audiophile , but not to another.

i don't think there is any synergy between tube manufacturers other than reflect personal taste, which varies among serious listeners.

there is no universal synergy which would be accepted by all, because, practically speaking synergy is a highly ideosyncratic term, aurally speaking.
Agree with Mr Tennis. You are also rolling tubes with different gain factors which at first may give the impression of a dramtic change, but after time passes, that change may not sound as appealing, in fact you may even return to your original configuration because it offered something appealing that's just missing with the new configuration. Tube rolling to different brands is one thing, but to roll out to a differnt type completely is a whole different ballgame. I think that manufacturers do in fact employ complimentary tubes in their individual units. However, your idea begs the question, what do you do when two or three different tubes are excellent compliments with each other, but your piece of equipment can not use them in combination?? Are you suggesting that manufacturers build their equipment with circuitry to accept whichever tube you might have a fancy for trying, which would be very interesting, if it were possible!
This is pretty much exactly what I was responding. It's all rather subjective anyway...one mans ideal combination is another's one-tube-short of a circus. Sure, there's bound to be some general consensus in users, but if you don't fall under that preference it's obviously not a guideline for you to follow. There is no right or wrong.

Are you suggesting that manufacturers build their equipment with circuitry to accept whichever tube you might have a fancy for trying, which would be very interesting, if it were possible!

I use a front end component, the Modwright Transporter, which is VERY versatile to tube choice, and VERY sensitive to tube rolling (changes make a profound difference). Dan (Wright) deliberately designed the analog output circuit to be very versatile in this respect and is a tube-roller's dream in terms of shaping the sound to how you like it. The Audiocircle thread on this subject is currently 53 pages and is a testament to how great an effect tubes can have on a front-end output circuit. The most recent development has been Octal adapters to allow use of other tubes like the 6SN7 in the 8-pin output tube position (the adapters are made available by Wayne at the Boulder Cable Company). I can tell you from my own experience with this impressive front end that just changing the rectifier tube has a profound effect on the sound (5ar4, 5u4g, GZ32, GZ37, etc.). As I indicated in my previous post, I find the closer the tube is to the front end, the more effect it will likely have...changing the rectifier in the MW Transporter has a far more profound effect than changing a rectifier in any tube-rectified amp I've owned.
Regards Mrtennis and all,

Tube rolling is not only about chasing some ideal, it's about discovery. If you accept the idea of there being any value to subject evaluations of individual components then it's only obvious that one component's characteristics can compliment another. Tubes are components with individual characteristics! I can recommend that a Tung Sol 6SL7 compliments a KEN RAD VT-321 and that it sounds good to me and that you should give it a try. I have most of the usual suspect 6SN7s and keep them so that I may change with my mood, with the recording and to achieve a particular spin on the music. Subjective?, yes of course it is.
As I review the previous posts, I would agree that context is essential and that suggestions of tube combinations within a given device would be of most value to the listener.

By the way, the Moscode 401HR and the new 402Au can use quite a variety of driver tubes and will allow as Cyclonicman suggests, to a degree, an opportunity to mix and match not just manufacturers but actual tube types. One of the best pieces of equipment I have ever owned and wish I'd never sold was the 300. Anyone have a second hand 401HR for sale? Only $4 per ad +%.
I have most of the usual suspect 6SN7s and keep them so that I may change with my mood, with the recording and to achieve a particular spin on the music. Subjective?, yes of course it is.

Here's a few for your collection.