Tubes choices are a very personal thing. For someone to say what will be best for you is almost impossible. I personally like NOS tubes best. But it is time consuming and expensive to find out what you like best. I can't help much with the 6SN7 but the 12AX7's have some nice tubes to choose from. For NOS I like the German tubes a lot. But that's me. New production tubes I really like the TJ full music tubes. I didn't like the new Tunsol gold pins very much. They lack clarity in my system. If you decide to go after NOS I would suggest you get your tubes from somebody that is trustworthy. Tube rolling can be fun. But be warned once you start! Anyway have fun.
I have a rogue stereo 90 and run ge 6sn7 gta's. Those and ge 12ax7's. I tried mullard and telefunken 12ax7's and didn't care for them (either too forward or too lean compared to the ge's).
Like Detredwings stated above,tube choice is a very personal subject.That being said,in my Tempest II Magnum,I have found that I prefer NOS Amperex 7025 in place of the 12AX7's, NOS Sylvania JAN 6SN7 WGTA's and Gold Lion KT-88 power tubes.Try some different tubes and find some you really like then stock up on them.NOS tubes are getting scarcer and pricier as we speak!!Good luck.
For starters I have some NOS Sylvania 6SN7 GTB (tall) green labels coming soon. These were very reasonably priced and suppossed to be very musical. I might try some TungSol tall which are recommended also.
Hi Sam - I don't have a Tempest, but a pair of M180s, and have been experimenting with the 12AX7 tubes recently. I called Rogue before starting and asked for some tube recommendations, and they were very helpful.
I tried NOS Mullard CV4004 and my impression is that it is warm and laid back. I also tried NOS Sylvania 5751 and prefer it to the Mullard - it is clearer and seems to have more life to it (in my system), and it throws a nice soundstage.
I also tried a new production Tung-Sol for kicks and giggles and actually found it to be better than I'd expected (this is the first new production tube I've tried). It is a different sound than the Mullard and Sylvania - much brighter with crisper bass, overall just more "concise". Not bad for the money though, IMHO.
I've also got some NOS Telefunkens en route - I'm curious to see how they work out.
Jerico I found the NOS GE triple mica black plate that I had stashed to be much more precise and less fuzzy than the stock Sovtek 12ax7LPS so I can relate. Let me know how the Telefunkens workout please!!!
Right on - I believe those GEs are what my amps were supplied with (are they the ones marked with 5 stars?). I prefer them over the Mullard, but prefer the Sylvanias over the GEs (though it's not a drastic difference there, to my ears).
WOW you got some high dollar 5751's with the amp. Those 5-stars are the most expensive GE 5751's.
I used to have some NOS RCA triple mica black plates but preferred the GE's in a CD player I had. The RCA's were a little dry sounding while the GE's were more robust to my ears.
Have you heard the NOS RCA 12AX7 cleartops?
Yeah when I bought the amps the dealer requested NOS tubes with them, I believe.
I have RCA clear top 12AU7s in my amps now and love them (they were a Rogue recommendation) but I haven't heard a 12AX7 (M180s use 2x12AU7 and 1x12AX7 each). Great, another thing to buy!! ;)
I forgot to add the seller gave me a pair of NOS RCA 12ax7 cleartops for my integrated. I have not put them in yet but he said they were a warm sounding tube. It doesn't sound like they are as warm as the Mullards you speak of.
I used some GE 12au7's on a preamp I used to have. They weren't NOS but sounded pretty good and were not very expensive.
In my Rogue Cronus Magnum for the 12 ax 7s I have used the sylvanias 5751, but prefer the little warmer sound of Tungsols 5751s
From what a mainly gather most people seem to like the 5751's better than the 12ax7. The two times I have tried 5751's in place of 12ax7's they sound more musical and focused.
The 5751's work well in my unit too. I like to roll tubes as it's give a very different presentation. I'm currently using Sylvania 3 mica black plates with some Mullard's and it's a very midrange centered presentation. Sometimes I like the GE triple mica black plates together with Valvo tubes and when I want things to sparkle I through in my Siemens combo. All have a very different sound. Each has some advantages and disadvantages. But ultimately it's up to you and what you prefer.
Hey Sam - my Telefunkens 12AX7 arrived today, and I'm liking them a lot.
I've been doing a lot of rolling the past several days (both 12AU7 and 12AX7/5751), but came full circle back to the RCA Clear Top 12AU7As now paired with the Telefunkens - this is a very nice combo. Airy, spacious and more high end sparkle than the Mullards (when paired with the same 12AU7s). I think I still prefer the GE 5 star 5751s to the Telefunkens, and the Telefunkens over the Mullards, but I'm going to stick with this combo for a while.
Hey thats good to hear about the 5751's over the Telefunkens. You might think differently ;) What do you like better about the 5751's? Are they more precise, less fuzzy, and focused or do the Telefunkens have more top end energy, etc....
I got my tall bottle NOS Sylvania 6SN7 GTB in last week and have listened for about 3 hrs or so. They are much better than the stock tube thats for sure. They are very open, airy, strike a nice balance from top to bottom. I don't find any one area where they are out of balance from what I can tell so far. I wonder what I may try next. I saw some rebadged Sylvania's for Baldwin on here for cheap. I think they are black plates made in the early 60's but I have a feeling the ones I have are better.
What are you using for power tubes?
It's hard to pinpoint differences in 5751 vs. 12AX7 for me, since individual tubes in each genre sound different (like the Mullards/TFs). But I think the 5751s image a bit better for me. Like, center images like vocals are more, well, centered, and there seems to be a bit more width. Not drastic differences though.
One thing I can say though, is I tried some variations with new production tubes (JJ Ecc82 gold pin, bare bones TungSol 12AX7) and that was largely disappointing. I wanted to like something new just for $ reasons, but no dice. The Mullards with the JJs turned out "OK" - not great, not terrible - but after a while listening got boring, so I moved on...
My power tubes are stock - EH KT90s. I've never tried changing them (and there don't seem to be many kinds of KT90s out there, and I need 8 of them so that can get pricey!).
Yes I agree the power tubes can get pricy. I'll get there sooner or later and thank goodness I only use 4. It does seem from what I am reading that the 5751's are working better in most systems. I will try some those RCA cleartops before long.
I have a Rogue 99Magnum preamp and M180 monoblocks. Here's briefly my experience, and if someone wants me to expound further, please let me know.
Preamp: Looking at the front of the preamp, the two sockets on the right are the amplification pair, the two on the left are the driver pair. It is most critical to put the quietest tubes in the amplification side.
Preamp: NOS RCA 5692 in amplification sockets, Sylvania 6SN7-GTA in driver sockets. Too much sibilance for me. Moved Sylvanias to amplification sockets, 5692's to driver. Way, way, way too much sibilance for me. Sold Sylvanias to another guy in the shop who has a darker sounding system and he loves them. I went with all RCA 5692s in preamp and am very happy.
M180 monoblocks: Got the amps with Gold Lion KT-88s. Replaced the 12AU7s with RCAs. Put a Telefunken 12AX7 in and wanted to love them - they are rare and last forever! - but the RCA 5751s just sounded more pleasing to me. In terms of quietness, it was like going from ultralinear to triode all over again.
Someday I may try some Mullards in the 12AU7 position.
And please take this in the context of my system: Kimber Select interconnects, Kimber KS3035 speaker cables, Silverline SR17.5 speakers with Mundorf S/G/O capacitors (soon to be replaced with Duelund VSF caps).
I went back and reread your post. And before I add more to this thread, I just want to say that I agree with our Red Wings fan from Detroit: the choice of tubes is very personal.
I was going to follow-up my first post with another saying that I should have asked you what you were trying to achieve, but you did say that, "I want a little more transparency or pop yet retaining overall smoothness and good bass."
I would have said that if you were trying to brighten up a dark sounding system, or add more air and sparkle, go with the Sylvanias in the 6SN7 position. If you were not trying to enhance that effect in your system, try the RCAs - they offer a good balance of smoothness and bass, and you dont have to spend the $$$ on the 5692s to get those qualities. But either way, make sure you get a 6SN7 with low microphonics.
For the 12AX7, the Telefunkens are more dynamic than the 5751s, but I went with the 5751 because I liked their musicality - and they lowered the noise floor on my system even further. But your use of the word pop would tend to make me think Telefunken
but my experience is probably more limited than the others contributing to this thread and I would not discount differing opinions. But in my system, no matter how much I really wanted to like the Telefunkens, I kept coming back to the 5751 and relaxing and listening to music with a smile on my face.
But my system was already very transparent and detailed, so that's why I have been moving away from tubes that are usually described as bringing out "air" and "sparkle"... my system doesn't need help in that regard. So for me, the RCAs have been a really nice balance. And like I said in my first post, the Sylvanias in my system were unacceptable, but for another guy that comes into our local shop and whose system had a darker sound, the Sylvanias worked out really well.
I agree totally about the 5751's. They made quite a difference over the stock 12AX7's. More clarity and focus. I do have some RCA clear tops that I will put in sometime soon for comparison. As far as the 6SN7's I bought the NOS Sylvania GTB tall bottle and things improved more in fact much more. I also ordered from Andy at Vintage Tubes some NOS Sylvania GTA chrome tops so can't wait to get those. These particular tubes are suppossed to be very close to the Bad Boy and 6SN7W's from what I was told.
After reading all the posts about the 5751,I gave them a try.Very nice indeed!!
I bought some used Sylvania 5751 Black Plates.I will definitely try to find some NOS,if they haven't been priced to ridiculous costs.I'm still not sure if I like them better than the NOS Amperex 7025.Time will tell.
If you can try the GE triple mica black plates.
12BZ7 in place of the 12AX7 gives it much more dynamic punch and is safe to use according to Rogue.
The Cryo-treated Gold Lion KT-88 is top tomato for the output tube.
I can give no advice on the 6SN7 driver tubes.