Save your money! The manufacture has selected the ideal tube designs for their equipment. The transformers are wound and matched to the particular tube design. Yes, you can tube roll, and yes your system will sound different, but not necessarly better! I fell into the 'rolling trap' a few years ago, and wound up going back to the manufactures recommended tube type.
I second the above. In theory, you can improve upon the stock tubes complement (with tubes sporting closer tolerances, vacuum, etc, to the originals' specs) -- but it would be a very expensive undertaking... sort of like a small, self-financed, PhD research project (far too many 6922's around).
I have to repectfully disagree with the above two posts. As a long time tube head(built my first tube amp from a kit in the 1960s) I think tube rolling is not only fun but most times an improvement in sound reproduction. I changed out the stock 6922 in my Steelhead and added NOS Siemans CCa. I left the stock 7044 in place. In my system, I found the Siemans more detailed and musical than the stock 6922. There was also improved clarity and transparency. Were the changes night and day? No, but obvious improvements.
Tube rolling is the ticket. The manufacturer set the gear up to sound the way they wanted it to, which is not to say it sounds as YOU wish it to. Tube rolling modifies the sonics, to the tastes of the listener, and is easily reversible.
If you can't play with the tubes, what's the point? That's half the fun of having tubes, tailoring the sound to what YOU like, not the mfg.
Would the steelhead mate with a Mcintosh MC402?
The Steelhead is very, very fast and dynamic, so it would probably mate well with this amp.
Tube rolling is just fine for the Steelhead. Most manufactures don't use current production tubes because they are the best sounding. They will stock their products with what is currently available in new production and assume that the knowlegeable audiophile can provide his/her own tweaks. My steelhead sounds much better with NOS amperex 6dj8 and 6922. Current production sovtek 6922's kinna suck, though the older NOS ones are supposed to be better. You don't really need to change the buffer tubes.
Has anyone had experience with tube rolling the 7044's as well as the 6922's? A poster on the Asylum is using TungSol 5687's in place of the 7044's and getting great results.
Just give it a shot and see how it sounds. Personally I'd try GE 5 star. Maybe 20 bucks. You can find 5687's all over that stinking e**y cheap. Just let them run in for a while to give them a fair chance.
I have also tried the GE five stars 5687 but haven't burned them in for a long time yet. They also sound pretty good in the Steelhead, I am a fan of the five stars in general.
So far, though, I like the Tung Sol 5687 D getter (flat side) a little better. The Tung Sol's have better slam and energy, the five stars are smoother but a little less drive. It would be a matter of taste between the two.
Cjfrbw - you are correct. The 5687 is a substitute for the 7044. I tried the TungSol 5687. It is punchier, more forward, yet not as smooth and warm as the 7044, IMHO. I will try some NOS 7044 tubes in place of the stock tubes to see how they sound.
I listed some further impressions on another thread:
I'm now using Mullard CV2492's for the 6922's and GE 7044's.
Not sure yet how much difference the NOS 7044's make but the Mullards sound wonderful.