I beleive they offer some sort of trial period for these with money back policy. They are inexpensive even compared to some other less effective tweaks. I use them on all of the 6922 tubes in my ARC LS-15 pre and like the results. What they did in my system(at least that's what I heard) was the improvement in the separation of instruments in the soundstage. Making things a little more distinct and easier to identify. But as always, your system is your system and you may or may not hear an improvement. I think it also depends on the type of tubes used, so your results may vary. Try'em out and if not to your liking, I am sure they can be sent back. Search the web also you may find a review or 2. Good luck.
19 responses Add your response
I use the Hal-O tube dampers and would not be without them. My experience is in line with the remarks made by Audphile1.
For the modest cost, I would not choose to be without them, however, I have found more significant benefit on my tube gear with isolation, specifically Townshend Seismic Sinks. Others have found similar results. Yes, the results can be a bit system and gear dependent, in my experience with some components showing only minor improvements and others showing dramatic improvement.
For a more thorough discussion of the Hal-O dampers, see the thread http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?aamps&1107063556
Jea48 speaks in detail about his experiences and the variations he found in terms of positioning.
Hi Perfecto man,
I just received four of Herbie's tube dampers a couple weeks ago. This is the first of the four products I have tried that were a step forward. The others gave me little or no improvement and the Mapleshade brass dampers were horrible. You will be happy I think. Overall they just add one more layer of naturalness.
You Calypso folks are quite the helpful friendly bunch.
Last week I ordered up a bunch of these. I will report my findings in the Io and Callisto as I have to believe the improvements (if any) should be similar.
JD, that's promising info as a buddie of mine just told me he always felt they made the sound more closed in. But, I wanted to try them for myself. Should I just slap on all four, or do either the gain or output stage first? Any recommendation on that? Or positioning the dampner on the tube? Supposedly, even that can make a difference.
Jafox, why you no go with Herbie's?
I have used Herbies Halos for quite some time. On EL-34s, 6SN7s, and multiple types of mini pins. In every instance there was an improvement in sound, but that is not to say some experimentation was not involved. Steve counseled me that the use of the Halos are not an exact science. You will get different results depending on how they are used. On my preamp, I started with the gain stage, then the buffer stage (Cary SLP-98). First on the middle of the tube, then moving it up gradually. I finally settled on just below the top mica. As for the amp, same method, but they seemed to work best above the top mica on the EL-34s. Now on my Joule Electra preamp and Hagerman Trumpet phono stage, they are used in the middle of the tube, as closer to the top seemed to take some of the naturalness out of the sound. I learned a lot depends on how well the designer has dampened the area where the tube sockets are mounted, as well as how microphonic the tube is to begin with.
Mr. man of no mistakes; I think the feeling of closed in may be an illusion created through a rounder more human image to the edge of instruments and voices on the soundstage. With the dampers there is a slight lessening of the "cut out" appearance of the soundstage. I simply put on all four at once, and spent no time trying to decide if one set of tubes was better than the other. I did try moving them on the tube and per the instructions you will receive, I found them best at the top 1/3 and actually just below the silver cap line.
Perfectionist: A few issues to answer your question as to why I tried this other tube ring instead of the Herbie. The Io and Callisto each with one PS totals a whopping 40 tubes. Looking at the cost of the Herbie rings, that's a lot of pizzas. These other rings are very inexpensive to try before going to the next "level".
Another issue is that the Io has 4 pairs of 12ax7 tubes that are only about 1/8" apart. The Herbie rings here would just not fit. And the set of 6 12ax7's in the PS's are placed just as close. These other rings just barely fit if I strategically position the rings on these adjacent tubes. All other tubes in the Io and Callisto would handle the Herbie rings with no problem.
If I had 4 or 6 or so tubes total, I would be very willing to put forth the effort to try all sorts of positions of the rings on the tubes. But with this many tubes, it would be insane. I'm still recovering from all the cable auditioning over the last 2-3 months!
I simply put a pair of rings on the tubes last night that were the most microphonic. This is easily determined by lightly tapping each tube with a pencil....and let the ringing begin. Even with a couple tubes, there was some ringing in the system while adjusting the Callisto's volume pots. But with these rings placed last night, that is now entirely gone. This was great news alone.
With the Dominus cables now in my system, I have so much more low-end extension and dynamics that when the volume has become quite loud, I can hear some of the tubes start to ring.....specifically in the Io. This made be partly due to the Io's cover being off but also surely because I have very poor isolation under these components. Hopefully tonight I can crank up the volume and determine if these rings have alleviated (or at least greatly reduced) this issue.
John, I don't think tapping on tubes is such a good idea. It's very unlikely that this is a proper way of finding the most microphonic tubes. You can probably end up damaging the tubes like that. Here is a pretty cool article about NOS tubes that I enjoyed reading - http://www.soundstage.com/tubeor/tube.htm
Audphile1: No problem....your comment was right on. I just wanted to assure you that with a very light touch with the eraser end of a pencil, I found the two culprits immediately. I can now crank up the music and not hear the one tube in the Io singing on its own. And now I can't believe how quiet things are when I adjust the volume on the Callisto. Just about ready for JD and Lucinda to come back for more fun.
That's cool John. By the way, back to Herbie's hal-O damping instruments. I experimented with them in my pre-amp and found them to work best(improvement is most noticable) when they are installed at the very top of the tube. Installing them in the middle of the tube and things start sounding sterile. Towards the bottom of the tube the pre-amp sounds a little better than with hal-o rings in the middle of the tube but still not as good as it sounds when the Hal-O rings are installed at the top of the tube. How was your experience?
Unfortunately, I just haven't had much time to sit down for critical listening under what I consider "proper" conditions. That's not to say that I haven't done any listening. With that being said, I haven't noticed any detrimental effects of the Hal-O's that have made me want to pull them off the pre. I installed them all the way at the top of the tubes and perhaps I will play with placement a bit in the coming weeks. I don't listen to music during the week, so hopefully I will get plenty of hi-fi time this coming weekend...
I have to agree with Jafox on this one, it's worth trying the inexpensive solution first. I got 50 industrial grade silicone o-rings from here:
for $10 plus shipping. I have a preamp with all octal tubes, so the S1000-216 o-rings were the perfect size. I use 2 per tube, and they make a noticeable difference in microphonics and smoothing out the bass, which is a little woolly without them. Would Herbie's or one of the other far more expensive dampers be better? Maybe, but I'm not sure my rig has enough resolution to prove it. I'm happy with my cheap o-rings.
Plus, you can get them in about 10 different colors to match your decor. :-)