Genalex Gold Lion
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Forget the KT88's and go with Electro Harmonix KT90 these are great tubes with plenty of bass at the bottom and have a very strong midrange punch, also they do not grate on your nerves at the top end.I took out my EL34 tubes that came in my PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP Integrated and everything just opened up, it now sounds like I wish it did when it came from PrimaLuna.
I have settled on the Shuguang KT88-T tubes in my KT88 tube amp (Don Sachs ~74 watts). I also like the Shuguang Treasure KT88-Z tubes but they are a bit muddled on the top end compared to the -T tubes. These are noticeably better than any PSVANE or Gold Lion tubes I tried. I am using a tube preamp as well.
I went to Genalex Gold Lions on my CJ Premier 11a and a friend went to the same manufacturer's KT77s in his Quicksilver monos. We are both happy with the improvements.
If there are significant additional improvements to be had from original vintage NOS Gold Lions I don't really want to hear about it, given the relatively huge prices asked for those tubes!
I just picked up a Sachs Kootenay amp on the used market. It has Shuguang Golden Voice KT-88's which were Don's tube of choice on previous versions. He now recommends and supplies his amp standard with the Shuguang KT-88-T's which he feels are the best current choice. Did your amp come with the T's or did you purchase them separately? If purchased after the fact may I ask from which source?
Apparently a number of sources are backordered on the Shuguang KT-88-T so Don is going to try these out;
Should be interesting to see how they work out.
Will your amp support KT-120’s ? I prefer them over the tubes listed above when I’m seeking bass from less efficient speakers . On the NOS side I have GEC Gold Lion KT-88’s and 3 hole Tung Sol 6550’s . The NOS Genelax are sweet , but definitely overpriced . The tube that I appreciate the most regardless of price , is the SED Winged C 6550’s . Ive tried everything mentioned here except the KR’s . All in a SEP amp and all except the Tung Sol KT-120’s in a push pull amp . I usually run NOS Telefunkens in the gain stage . I’ve also run the EL34’s and KT-77’s . If I could only have 2 tubes , it would be the Winged C’s 6550, and the new production KT-120’s. For you EL-34 guys, I’d say NOS Mullard, then SED , then new GL KT-77’s . BTW, the NOS GEC KT-66’s smoked glass are really sweet for fluffy music . Contact Quicksilver before trying the KT-120’s to see if they’re compatible. Cheers , Mike .
I currently prefer a Had single ended tube amp with a massive 12wpc (efficient speakers) and the thing is very revealing of tube differences, and since there are only 2 power tubes it's relatively inexpensive to mess around with. I've enjoyed KT150s, 120s, 88s (including Gold Lions and others), and 6550s...the Lions were my fave for a while (came with the amp). I then tried a pair of JJ KT77s and they sounded pretty bad and ruined the KT77 experience for me (poor, poor me, but the JJs are cheap)..until I bought a pair of Gold Lion KT77s and raved about those...a great tube...replaced by my current fave new version Tung Sol 7581A tubes...amazingly coherent and "perfect for my tastes with this amp." These tubes aren't expensive and have a nice blue fluorescence I enjoy at night, possibly indicating a low threshold of tube glow enjoyment...in any case the 7581A is currently on the top of the power tube heap around here.
Out of all of the KT88s I have tried, The Sophia Electric Blue Coke Bottles beats everything handily. I have not tried the WEKT88 Plus but I did buy some WE6SN7 Plus and after 70 hours of use, they spank the CV181; more transparent, deeper/wider sound stage, much lower floor noise and very good sound quality which was a pleasant surprise...
I would use the Sophia Blue’s or KRs. They are the two best KT88s on the market IMO. Pricey but spectacular tubes.
I have been so surprised with the SQ of the new Shuguang WE6SN7 Plus that I decided to order their WE KT88 Plus; their 6SN7 is so much cheaper than my Sophia Electric Blue 6SN7 but is very close across the board in performance. The seller on this site, Joe, has been stellar with fast shipping and excellent communication.
Those KR looks like an awesome tube as well but it’s the price...
I have owned the Shuguang WE KT88 Plus for nearly a month now and in my Don Sachs Kootenay 120 Amp, the WE Plus take the top spot! As with anything it comes down to preference and for me I lean toward neutrality.
The Sophia Blues are very open and dynamic sounding with a touch of warmth that can tame forward sounding systems but this warmth in my system doesn't allow the sound to detach from the speakers boundaries.
Adding the Shuguang WE KT88 Plus to the mix changes the whole sonic perspective, the speakers disappear and you are left with an expansive sound stage that takes you so much farther into the recording and this is probably due to this tubes astonishingly lower floor noise.
The WE are very neutral and doesn't seem to have a sonic signature, they just capture the essence of the venues acoustics with an uncanny and believable presentation; you feel as if you are physically there...
No doubt that the Shuguang WE Plus and Sophia Blues are the best sounding KT88 I have owned.
Here's a link for the 6SN7, just send Joe a PM. He typically have several ads for the KT88 but they sell quick; https://www.audiogon.com/listings/lis9g8j6-shuguang-we6sn7-plus-vacuum-tube-marched-pair-all-new-tub...