Need tube help with tube buffer 6SN7 tubes

Hey guys,

I just got a Yaqin CD3 tube buffer. It came with a pair of chrome top (I believe) NOS tubes that were labeled as follows:


Philips ECG 8626

34167 USA ADC

I'm not going to comment on the effects of the tube buffer yet, except to say that I have heard a difference. I would like to get another set of tubes and was considering a pair of Sylvania Bad Boy tubes. I'm considering these tubes for no reasons other than that I've read good things about them and they are reasonably priced at under $100 for a matched pair.

I'd appreciate any comments regarding the tubes that I have and those that I am considering getting. I'd also appreciate comments or recommendations regarding alternatives. What I'm looking for is a good "all around" tube.

For what it's worth, I'm running an NAD C162 pre, Aragon 2004 amp, Emotiva XDA-1 DAC, Squeezebox Touch (fed by NAS), Paradigm Studio 10 speakers and a small REL sub.

The only ones that you listed that I have heard are the JAN 6SN7WGTA, mine were Sylvania with black bases, and sounded pretty damn good. I don't think you can do much better for less than $100 for a MP.
Matched pair of Sylvania Bad Boys for under $100? Shirley you jest.
Jmcgrogan, am I to understand that the Philips that I have are similar to the Sylvanias that you have and like?

Geoffkait, I assure you that I do not jest....and don't call me Shirley.

Ok, seriously, I take it that the Bad Boys are indeed good and worth $100 for a matched pair. I suppose a more direct way of putting my question would be...are the Bad Boys a worthwhile upgrade over the WGTAs that I have?
05-20-13: Tonyangel
Jmcgrogan, am I to understand that the Philips that I have are similar to the Sylvanias that you have and like?

I have not heard the Philips version, but I have been told that they sound very similar to the Sylvania's that I own.
They don't call them Bad Boys for nothing. Expect to pay $200 MP for real Bad Boys.
I have been watching 6SN7 prices as I am in the market for a pair.
And yes, they DO get very pricey!
I fully agree with Geoff and he was even being conservative as he is a nice guy and hates to hurt anyone's feelings :)
I'd have to question whether it's worth that kind of money for tubes in a buffer stage. My Cary SLP-98 uses (4) 6SN7 tubes, two in the gain stage and two in the buffer stage. I have found that the two in the gain stage make quite a bit more difference sonically than the two in the buffer stage. As always, YMMV.
Jmcgrogan2, what you said is the reason why I'm asking about less expensive tubes. I'm pretty sure that any changes brought about by the tubes would be subtle.

Geoffkait, I don't know what to tell you. I've found at least a couple of vendors that have been mentioned here on the gon that have Bad Boys for right at $100 a pair. There's even a guy on here selling some for $120.
Tony, that's a nice-looking pair of NOS Bad Boys on A-gon for $120! Even though they have two-hole plates I'm sure they're great tubes.
In my experience, tubes used as buffers have much less impact on the sound when compared to tubes used in gain stages.

BTW, the Bad Boys listed for $120/pr are not real Bad Boys. True Bad Boys have Three (3) rivet holes, the ones pictured only have two rivet holes.
Brf, are you sure about that? I did some reading up (which is all that I can do) and at least one source ( I believe) say that there is no difference in sound quality.
Yes...true Sylvania Bad Boy can be identified by:

1) 3 hole black T plates
2)1/3 Bottom getter flashing
3) Copper grid posts
4) Silver top and bottom rectangular mica.
5) Date code of 1xx, 2xx or 3xx were 1, 2 or 3 represent 1951, 1952 or 1953 and xx represents the week. Date code is printed vertically on the tube base.
6) Full black bottom base with Sylvania or JAN-CHS-6SN7GT in green letters with the green sylvania triangle.

As for the quality of the sound when compared to other Sylvania tubes, that is very subjective, but I prefer the Bad Boys.
Yes, Brf and other posters are correct... The pairs you see listed on Audiogon right now are NOT true "bad boys". They are standard 2-hole Sylvanias, worth far less than his asking price.
I have spent countless years listening to different brands and versions of 6SN7s in various components, and have found the older Sylvania 6SN7GTA, WGTA, and GTB's sound a bit more forward and less refined than the "bad boy" versions, which have more warmth with a richer and sweeter sound. The older green label GTB's have good dynamics and bass punch, and the tall bottle green label GTB's (hard to find), are quite good. Sylvania also made some short bottle, top gettered, "slanted" chrome dome 6SN7's back in the 1950's that had shiny, black, 3-hole plates. These true "chrome domes" sounded excellent, and very similar to the "bad boy" versions. The sonic differences are quite easy to hear and appreciate.
Geoffkait, yeah, I saw those for $120 a pair and has 'em for $80 and $99 a matched pair.

I did confirm that it was on's site where I read that there is no sonic difference between the two and three hole tubes.

In any case, I'm not willing to spend more than $100 on a pair of tubes for a buffer, so I suppose I'll just try a pair of the tubes from audiotubes.
Gee, I wonder why they would say there's no difference between 2 hole and 3 hole Sylvanias...hmmmmm. :-)
Geoffkait, yeah, I thought that too. On the other hand, the converse could be true too. If I happened to have a line on the three hole version as a retailer, I might imply that there is a difference between the two and three hole versions too.

That's why I asked if any could actually hear a difference.