NOS Tubes make a Huge difference

I got some NOS tubes for the first time today. Nothing extra fancy, some Mullard ECC82 for the pre section of my VTL IT85, and a pair of Telefunken ECC81 (left the other pair of JAN 12AT7s that came with the amp in there).

MAN WHAT A DIFFERENCE!! God, I mean, HUGE difference! totally obvious and significant. I am SO PSYCHED by this new find in audio. NOS TUBES are the BOMB!

OK, so trying to describe the changes...

--bass is much tighter, and better integrated
--better presentation of background instruments, voices
--much better definition
--more liquid/smooth/clear.. hard to describe

there is definitely a greater sense of clarity and purity. i'm totally impressed, and this may lead me to try some other NOS tubes. I definitely am going to replace the other 12AT7s (but not the EL34s, since I'll be getting a VAC 70/70 soon, and will only be using the VTL as a pre).
then there are cryo treated tubes......
there is no end.
Just out of curiousity, how long had the tubes you took out been in service?
the VTL is pretty new; i just got it in June of this year, and bought it new from a dealer. the tubes that came out of the pre section said chinese on them, but nothing else. couldn't tell what the brand was. the 12at7 said JAN.
My experience has been that JAN Phillips 12AT7's have glare. If you replace them with NOS Mullard 6201 Gold Pins, you should get even better sound.
Maybe true for miniatures and especially for 12AX7, 12AU7, 6922, and 6SN7s, but not true for output tubes.
Tbg- you're saying there no diffence going from a 6550 to
a KT-90 or a Svetlana EL-34 to a Mullard EL-34?
My experience has been the same as yours menace. NOS tubes are great and great fun. However, my experience with Mullard ATX tubes hasn't been great. The matched pair I bought are sitting in their boxes. They were smooth, but veiled, even muddy. This may not be apparent in some systems.
No I was not saying tubes don't make a difference at the output level. I meant to say that NOS were less important there, but I must admit I have experience only with 45s, 2A3s, and 300Bs. For all of these directly heated triodes, new production tubes are superior to all NOS tubes, including the old WE 300Bs and the Cunningham globe 45s, and single plate 2A3s. I should add YMMV.
RE: EL34 output tubes, I did get a matched quad of Electro Harmonix EL34s to swap out, and compare to the Svetlana's that came from VTL...

The EH EL34s sounded more detailed, but also constricted and kind of sterile. I just didn't have the same expansion of sound that I get with the Svetlana's. The Svet's may be less detailed, but when I have them in, that's not what I'm thinking... I'm thinking, "Woah, that's nice!"
The Svet EL34''s are nice tubes - stick with them; matched Mullards will be an expensive road. Its hard for me to believe someone can't hear the difference between a WE300B and, say, a Golden Dragon or Sovtek or...Some Mullard tubes sound mushy, rolled, etc., some don't. Any gas leaks don't help. I've liked the Mullard 12AU7 iterations, but thought other Mullard inputs sounded, as some have said, veiled. Go with twl's recommendation on the 12AT7's; he's right about the Phillips (upper mid glare, strident highs). As for your 70/70 purchase, its a push-pull single ended design (hence, your 70 or so watts) tubed on the outputs with Golden Dragon 300B in stock unit. Because VAC is the distributor for Golden Dragon (GD) this is understandable, and, although the unit is designed around the GD deficiencies, you can do much better than the GD in that amp. I can't remember if it has individual tube biasing, but I think it relies on close matching instead. Again, this is understandable given that VAC controls the GD tube, but if you want to do better, the expense of purchasing 8 (four per side?) matched new production WE300B's becomes, at $2000 ($495 per matched pair on audiogon new, assuming you can then match that pair to the others...), um, problematic. So, no WE300B in 70/70 unless you own an oil well. That's a limitation. Do look into other 300B iterations instead of the GD though (does Svet have their act together on one yet, or did they dump that idea?). But, because of expense, ask around with guys like twl before 300B re-tubing. Get a good amp stand or isolation platform also for the 70/70.
Dennis, I'd be interested to read your thoughts on the difference you hear with your new amp, once you get it and have had some time to compare. I think the VTL is quite a good sounding amp, but I've never heard the VAC. (Agree about the superiority of the Svetlana EL-34's).
Believe me, I'm just as interested in you Zaikesman in hearing what the difference will be with the VAC... I'm wondering if I'm going to think it was worth it. I mean, part of the idea of getting the VAC was also so I could then play around with different preamps (ordered a Supratek)... so we'll see. It'll be fun to hear the changes.

Asa... in anticipation of the VAC arrival, I've gone ahead and gotten some tubes to switch out on the VAC. Checking through some threads on AudioAsylum, most VAC 30/30 and 70/70 owners like the JJ 300bs. Some liked the Western. Most agreed that the JJs and the Western were the best sounding 300b in that amp. I found some JJs for $660 for matched octet. And I went ahead and got a couple of NOS 6SN7 (Sylvania VT231, RCA 6SN7GT, GE 6SN7GTB, and the ElectroHarmonix... )... so it should be a fun couple of days coming up! I'll post my impressions...
Sounds great Dennis! Please let us all know what you think when it all comes together.
Got the VAC, and you know what sounds best? not just using my VTL as the preamp, but using the VTL as my preamp AND as the amp for my woofers, and the VAC for the electrostatic panels...

I mean, WOAH! setting it up like this was definitely better than just using the VAC as the only amplifier. The VAC has BIG bass, maybe too big for my apartment. When it's just on the electrostatic panels though, the music is totally magical. Crytal clear, pure and oh so smooth. i thought i'd be ready to just get my supratek preamp, but this is definitely goin to hold me over, and i have a hard time believing it's going to get better. It's the perfect mix of pure mids, with the bass not too overwhelming.

The VAC by itself was really bass heavy.. maybe that would go away after warming up? I also noticed that i have some tubes that need replacing... so, once i get new 300bs, i'll do some comparison again.
I don't know about 'bass-heavy', but wearing-out tubes will tend to roll off both the bass and the highs to some extent, while also letting go of the bass tautness and transient incisiveness - the whole presentation will become softer and slower. I have had the experience of getting too much bass balance with a particular amplifier (a SS Classe) in a small apartment, and preferring instead to use an amp that gave less bass (a tubed C-J) for its better in-room balance (it was also just plain better period). I take it from your comments that the VAC sounds better up top than the VTL. Congrats on your upgrade. BTW, once you get the new tubes, you may want to try running the VAC full-range, and repositioning the speakers to even-out the bass balance. If that works, then drop the VTL back in on the bottom and see if you still think of it as an improvement or not. (But have you checked to see if these amps yield the same gain?)
i must have tubes that are going bad. that's exactly my impression when i first tried the VAC all by itself... SLOW, plump bass, and just not the highs or even mids that i was expecting...

and as I continued to listen to the VTL and VAC combo, with the VTL on the woofer and VAC on the panel, i started feeling like something wasn't right. can't really put my finger on it, but things just don't seem integrated. it's like i'm so very aware of the highs being seperate from the lows....

i'll post more after i listen with new tubes