KT88 tubes for Monos

I have a set of Ayon Audio mono's that use KT88 tubes.  Over time I've purchased their importers version of the KT88's that are 200 bucks a pop.  Can I use a different tube?  I think I'm paying premium cash for the Ayon name on the tube.

The Genalex Gold Lion KT88 is a great tube. Kevin at Upscale Audio tests and matches pairs and quartets, and sells them at a great price.
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You should have no problem using other tubes. Cable Company sells Ayon and they have a very big selection of tubes, both nos and current production. They'll give you good advice as to what will work best for your amp.
mgreen27, actually I am in the market for tubes, took a look at the Cable Co. selection of tubes, and thought they were fairly limited compared to other tube sellers.  I think op should in addition to the Cable Co look up the name of other quality tube vendors here on Agon and check out their websites.
Thanks Jetter,
Ended up buying a match pair from the TubeStore So will see if there's any change once I need to add a tube to my system. 

Thanks again to all who responded.
I agree with bdp24 regarding Gold Lion KT88's.  I've been using them in my PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium integrated for the past couple of years, and I really like them.  I've also used the stock EL34's that came with the PrimaLuna and some Russian KT120's that came with my Rogue Cronus Magnum.  For my tastes, I prefer the Gold Lion's.

Go them from Kevin at Upscale Audio.  He's always great to deal with.
Contact Jim McShane:  http://www.mcshanedesign.net/

Very knowledgeable, great inventory, good prices and very responsive.  I've purchased several tubes from him (including a quad matched set of Gold Lion KT88s).
Jim McShane can provided matched tested KT88's. The GL reissue are great take about 100 to start sounding there best.
Psvane TII are also very fine sounding tubes very musical.

So next question,

If my amps have auto bias, in the manual it says that matching tubes is not necessary. 
I would like to spread the word about these tubes from a company called Canada Fuller found here, Quad matched Canada Fuller KT88G Gold Pin Vacuum tube ( KT88 ) | eBay.  They're designed by that company and the key components come from Canada (I believe) and the U.K., but they are manufactured in China by ShuGuang.  In my Music Reference RM-200 I've tried several tubes such as the RAM's that came with the amp, Sovtek, and have gone through a couple of sets of Gold Lion.  Someone on A'gon mentioned these tubes so I gave them a try and I've never looked back.  If you don't mind using a Chinese brand or buying on Ebay, I don't think you'll be sorry.  In fact, I know you won't.  They're that good.   
I had issues with some sloppily made Psvanes (albeit 12AX7s, not 88s) so I won't be trying those again, but having rolled Tung Sol 6550s, KT120s, Sovtek 88s, and KT150s through my amp I wound up becoming curious about the (new version, not NOS) Russian Gold Lion KT88s and stuck 'em in last year…they sound great, maybe the best match with my Jolida 502p amp than all of the above, and since they're relatively inexpensive they're kind of a bargain. Highly recommended.
Wow skipping, $489 for a quartet of the Fuller KT88, about twice the price of the Gold Lion. They'd better be good!
I'very been using Psvane black bottles since Nov-13 and have had no issues. In fact I purchased 5 in case one failed and I rotate them every 2 months and they have been perfect. Plus the sound is much, much better than the stock McIntosh tubes I had before.

I don't care if the blue glass JJs sound good or not, but NOW I just want a set of them because they look so cool (I think Jedinite used those when he was using the same amp I have and liked them)…I've used JJs in guitar amps and they're a great tube, but I have to wait until my GLs wear out before trying the Blue Tubes…which sounds like a medical condition…sorry...
I've used them in both a Marshall Major and a Citation 2 and they sound great.
That blue DOES look mighty cool. By the way, I just started playing with a couple of guys (guitar and bass) who, though not audiophiles, know all about Telefunken and Bugle Boys, using them in their Fender amps, both vintage and new. They even know about smooth plate versus ribbed!
I just put a pair of Gold Lion  KT88 reissues in each of my Quicksilver Mid Monos ......  I was using KT66 but they had some hours on them,  great tube but I wanted to try KT88s.  

Stock they came with EL34 which even in stock form they sound great.   In past I had amps that were only EL34 or 6L6 , never an amp that could take a number of different tubes...   

The GL KT88s make my Revel M106 sound huge, with great top to bottom balance.   The bass is tight with excellent definition,  awesome midrange and smooth extended highs.   Bias is rock solid since install. Expensive but worth the dividends in those amps.    
I would second all positive comments about Jim McShane and the Gold Lion KT-88s. There are some dandy Chinese tubes (top-grade PSVanes & ShuGuangs) that may have a better sound but longevity remains an issue with Asian issues.
The Chinese Treasure’s are clearly a step above the very good Gold Lions. I have replace all my fine NOS KT88’s, 6SN7’s, and EL84’s with Treasures and found enhancement with all my gear, decidedly so. I am having no longevity issues personally. I forget the price difference between the GL’s and Treasures, but if the coin of the realm is a limitation, the GL’s are fantastic and durable.
If it takes KT150s get the Tungsols from Upscale. I have used KT88, KT120, KT77, 6550, and EL34s in my PL Dialogue Premium and the 150s are great. Balanced and the midrange is sweet, no zingy top end and no bloated bass. 

Never trust musicians who know about tubes…trust me…I've been a pro musician for around 5 decades and I'm utterly untrustworthy, a fact you can trust. Also, why doesn't a musician amp company (like Mesa) make a KT150 based bass amp? WHY NOT? What the hell is WRONG with those guys? (rhetorical question…I like Mesa)
Wolf, I'll bet Ry Cooder knows all about tubes! As for the KT150, high-powered amps are completely out-of-fashion with the best guitar players. Low-powered combo amps using EL34's or 6150's is all that anyone plays. To get the tube saturation and over-drive guitarists want, a KT150 amp would be way too loud. Now, a bass amp might be a good use for the 150, 'cause bass players want clean high power.
Here's too much information: bdp24…You’re correct sir, exactly why I said "make a KT150 based BASS amp?" After around 5 decades of pro guitar playing, I currently mostly use a rare Reverend Goblin 5/15 watt 6V6 push pull all tube combo amp with a Jensen Neo 10 (actually 2 of those Jensens as I also have a single 10 extension cab that makes the Reverend even better sounding), and a Burriss Royal Bluesman tube rectified 18 watt class A single ended EL84 head with a Mesa 12 cab. Mesa currently makes great tube bass amps, and I was around for their early 80s beautiful 400 watt bass amp (a GREAT amp) but, again, no 150s yet. WHY WHY? My bass amps are a 150 watt little Eden Nemesis 12 thing that sounds amazingly good, and a retro Ampeg class D PF series 15" rig that’s sort of adorable (amp flips over into the speaker box like the old ones…cool). I’m doing a gig with Jim Campilongo soon and he’s made the classic Fender Princeton Reverb his thing…12 watts maybe? Small guitar amps rule man…oh yeah…uh huh...
Why- simple. You play guitar or bass- maybe you go on tour. A tube dies. If its a KT-88 its a simple matter to nip down to Guitar Center or the local guitar guru and fetch one up. If a KT150 you are so out in the cold...

Ah yes Wolf, I did indeed miss the "bass" in your post. I should have also mentioned the 6L6, used in a lot of Fender amps (including the 1967 Single Showman I use to have), A lot of guys I’ve played with have had the classic Ampeg SVT (as did Rick Danko of The Band), which used a bunch of 6550’s (eight?) to create 300 watts. Great bass amp! The studio I was in just this past Sunday had the Ampeg Fliptop you mentioned. I believe it was the modern reissue, not an original. The bassist on the session was playing the modern reissue of the Fender '54 P-Bass, and it sounded fantastic!

Yeah…if you tour (although most bass players don't) you better take extra tubes along, especially in that KT150 amp I now am certain somebody will build due to the popularity of this thread (!). The SVT has to get the award for longevity as they're STILL used all over the place, although the full size 8X10 cab is a real pain to haul around. We use a 4X10 "half stack" at some of my mixing gigs and that thing is way more reasonable and sounds fine.  My PF series "flip top" rig got a LOT better after the 15 loosened up, and the thing is a conversation piece for sure…and inexpensive…6L6 tubes in my '61 Bandmaster were my first tube experience and I'm not sure I EVER changed those…for years…and I hauled Twins Reverbs around…too damn heavy...

Oy, the Twin Reverb. God I hate that amp---so bright, piercing, and loud. I lost some of my hearing due to that damn amp. I haven't seen an SVT half stack, but that's a great idea. With micing, who needs 8-10" drivers? The two worst things I had to help move in a traveling band were a Hammond B3 with Leslie, and a full-size acoustic upright piano (not a spinet). I was in my 20's, and my back could take it back then. Now, no way. But it's no longer necessary anyway, electronic keyboards have gotten so good.

The only heavy part of my drum gear is the hardware case, and it has wheels. Thankfully, lightweight cymbal and hi-hat stands are again in style, though I never switched from my original 60's "Ringo" flat-base ones, which I still use. The big stadium players still use the ridiculously-overbuilt heavy hardware, but they have roadies.


What areas did you find the Fuller tubes better than the RAM KT88s? The Fullers are over $200+ more and I wonder how reliable they are especially how Roger matches his tubes.

Wonder how they stack up to the Sophia's new Coke Bottle KT88s or TJ Full Music?


I've never done a direct comparison between the RAM's and the Fuller's. When I bought the Music Reference RM-200 in 2001, they came  with the RAM KT-88.   A couple of years later I got the tube rolling bug and tried the Sovtek's, which were alright, but not better.  Read about the Gold Lion's and tried them and loved them.  Used those for quite a few years (two sets) until I read, here on this forum, of a gentleman who spoke of the Canada Fuller's. Because they were pricey, I hesitated for a while. But eventually I bit the bullet and tried a set.  Never regretted it.  Sound wise, compared to the RAM's and the Gold Lion's?  It does it all better, from top to bottom is the best way I can describe them without the long winded wording that reviews use, which I am not good at anyway.  I only know what I hear, and the difference was immediate.  I can't comment on reliability.  Only that I play my system nearly every day and I've had these tubes for at least 3 or 4 years, if not longer.  Never had a problem.  In fact, I bought another set. Not that I needed it, but just to have them on hand.  Besides the prices were creeping up for some reason.  I wish I could tell you more about them, but all the info I could find, I already mentioned in my previous post above.  

I can't shed any light on the Coke Bottle's or the TJ's, because I have never tried them.  And the rolling tube bus stopped when I heard the Canada Fuller, which is where I happily got off.

Since switching to a single ended pentode Dennis Had amp I've found it to be FAR more revealing of tube types, including the rectifier tubes…it came with a set of Gold Lion KT88s but recently I swapped 'em out for some old but barely used Sovteks, and damn…the Sovteks (no longer made it seems) sound beautiful, and they were inexpensive.
@skipping & wolf_garcia

Thanks for your reply! Since I've had good success with Sophia, I may just get those since they have been around and Canada Fuller is quite new to me; It will be no time soon really since I have Psvane TII and Shuguang Gold Voice.

I was always a JJ KT88 fan, and felt they produced the best sounding current production variant.

However, when Shuguang introduced their Black Treasure, they raised the bar much higher than the JJ, which produce a hard, glassy sound in comparison. The Black Treasure put forth better transparency along with the liquidity and musicality. Over time, like most Shuguang tubes, they’ve also proven rugged as well, and easily best the JJ and the other European tubes in that area, as well.

The Psvane KT88 then came along, and sounded better still than the Shuguang Black Treasure. But after their initial launch into the market, they supposedly moved from the Shuguang to Guiguang factories, and longevity nosedived. Presumably, they’ve corrected that, but I’ve not gotten near them in a while, as I don’t run KT88. When people ask me, all things considered, I recommend the Shuguang Black Treasure.

Regarding the blue and red glass JJ tubes, back around Y2K, someone told me the blue glass run 2 degree C cooler than the clear glass. The red glass run 2 degree C hotter than the clear glass. Over time, I heard others repeat that.  As I once imported JJ tubes, the factory told me that was hogwash, so it was purely an urban legend. I always loved the blue glass, and personally run their E34L. But after it’s become ubiquitous, I sort of like the uniqueness of the red glass, which you don't really see in North America for whatever reason. The previous Tesla / Teslovak tubes that evolved into JJ had a much superior color on the tubes

I'll see how the Psvane TII hold up and have found a source for Valve Art Cryo Shuguang KT88 T which is a GEC copy and quite reliable from users. I'm finding that Shuguang appears to be the standard when it comes to reliability and others may have the edge in SQ but you never know how long they will last...