I served as an importer and reseller of upper end tubes from China...
I preferred both the Shuguang Black Treasure and Psvane 300B tubes over the Sophia Princess (TJ / Tianjin), with the Psvane sounding best. That said, of the three, the Shuguang Black Treasure offered the most reliability.
BTW, if the sitting on a shelf theory held water, the market for North American and European NOS tubes would obviously not exist
As far as reliability goes, I have used the Shuguang Black Treasures in a VAC Ren 30/30 which pushes the output tubes pretty hard and have had no problems. I really cannot estimate hours reliably, but definitely more than 600 hours and while starting to measure weak, they still auto-bias just fine and sound great.
For sound and so far reliablty, I like the sound of the black treasures and the we300 b replica.
I haven't had much longevity from the Sophia's,300b's,2a3's or there 45's.The sophia's do sound good though.
Best of luck,
I preferred the sound of the Sophia Royal Princess over the sound of the Black Treasures. However, once I bought a pair of Takatsuki 300b, I stopped using the Royal Princess. Charles (charles1dad) likes his EMLs a lot. Others like the KR Balloons. All three - Takatsuki, EML, and KR - have a track record of reliability, but also have different price points. I have never tried the WE Replicas, but am curious about them as well.
In terms of sheer sound quality the best I’ve heard in my amplifier (Coincident Frankenstein MK II SET) in no particular order.
EML XLS, Takatsuki, Elrog and KR XLS.
The Elrog proved to be unreliable in my amplifier (supposedly improved now).
The other 3 are quite reliable.
I used the Shuguang Black Treasure 300b for nearly 3 years and it is a reliable tube. Good sound quality but not the same level as the upper tier tubes mentioned above (not as expensive either). This is a good value/performance choice of 300b.
Psvane makes good quality tubes but I haven’t heard their W.E.Replica 300b.
I have a Set of gold lions and a set of WE replicas and both are good tubes but I find I listen to the gold lions the most they seem to be some what better in the extremes better highs not rolled off like others and stronger and detailed lows. The replicas do have a slightly warmer mid though but not that much different really. I have not tryed the others so can’t say with those.
Ive had no issues with reliability with either tubes. But my Amp runs them conservatively
Thanks to all of you so far with your supportive comments... I think that music-reproduction quality is definitely in the ears of the beholder. No one has said positive things about Sophia's reliability, so I'll keep steering clear of their products. I have tried the Gold Lion's and JJ's and prefer the sound of the Sophia's over those, however will try the Psvanes...
I have nothing to compare my Sophia Royal Princess 300b tubes against for sound quality, because this is the first 300b that I've tried. I have owned them for almost three years without a hiccup, so I thought that was worth mentioning.
One thing I learned in development of the NiWatt amplifier is that you can’t take anyone’s word for it (I actually knew that).
I’m poking the bear here, but my point is that like any architecture, 300B amplifiers are wildly different and one person’s assessment of a tube plugged into their amplifier is very likely to be different from how that person would respond if he plugged those tubes into your amplifier.
A large majority of 300B amplifiers (when driving appropriate speakers) have a big, fat upper bass and lower midrange. This has been the "knock" on 300B amplifiers, but in fact, the original 300B tube design is very flat in its frequency response. Most of a 300B amplifier’s "sound" comes from the power supply and the driver circuit implementation. Needless to say, these design attributes differ greatly in different designs.
With that disclaimer, if you want a good, reliable inexpensive 300B, get a JJ. If you’re cork sniffing (guilty as charged), pick up a set of Emmission Labs from Tubes USA (no affiliation, but he’s great guy): http://www.tubesusa.com/
Thom @ Galibier Design
Here here ! Most 300-B tubes I have tried sound good. The subtle differences are in the Mfg and elements used I believe. As for the amps, yes... the PSU's and other components (ie... transformers) help make up or color the sound. I have a BorderPatrol S20 dual-mono parallel 300-B SET amp and the response is very linear. I prefer the sound of the Sophia Royal Princess tubes and if it weren't for my negative experiences with reliability would still have them. That's why I am looking for a great replacement.
I heard a pair of the Sophia Royal Princess in my amplifier for several weeks courtesy of a generous loan from a fellow audiogon member. It was a very good sounding tube but I felt that the Takatsuki was overall better sounding.
As Thom mentioned above the Emission Labs (EML) is worth serious consideration and similar price range of the Sophia RP. I don’t know if Thom uses the standard EML 300b or the XLS version (that I have). As acknowledged certain tubes will sound better/worse depending on the particular amplifier in use.
Thom I’ve read comments by Lynn Olsen regarding your Niwatt 300b SET amplifier and he is highly impressed.
Thanks for this information. I have heard the Emission-Labs 300-B (not the XLS variant) and they sound good however not as good (in my opinion) as my Sophia Princess mesh-plates tubes. I'm looking for a substitute, as I believe I'm on borrowed time with them.
Part-Time audiophile reviewed Takatsukis in one of the BorderPatrol 300b amplifiers - not sure whether it was the PSET design or the SET or PP design. As I mentioned, I love my Takatsukis; however, you need four of them. Pricey. You might consider the KR balloons.
I have heard the Sophia mesh (actually a perforated plate rather than a true wire woven mesh) in my system and it's quite different sounding than the EML. I can clearly understand why one would prefer one or the other. Numerous variables of the listener and system exert their influence.
Numerous variables of the listener and system exert their influence.
+1 on that statement.
I don't believe one given tube is going to be the best tube in each individuals system and or the best for each individuals Sonic preferences.
I quess we all are lucky that there is so many choices or maybe not depending on how you look at it.
Yes, there are definitely good choices available for the 300b tube. Disadvantage compared with many other output tubes is that the 300b can get pretty expensive. When I was using KT 88, 6550 and el 34 tubes with former amplifiers they were much less expensive.
This is a trade off I willingly and happily made with zero regrets. IMHO the DHT type of tube are generally more organic and just sound better . Again strictly my personal listening experience.
Yes... The Sophia mesh-plates are really as you say, a hole-punched piece of metal rather than a true woven mesh. They do sound good however but also run at about max for a mesh-plate. They lasted fairly well but I don't like that one I got had a hot-spot on the plate ! I had to return it for a new one but since it was out of warranty, I had to pay 1/2 price for a replacement. (I bought them but shelved them till I replaced my original set and it was bad right out of the box.)
Charles that's interesting I went the opposite way with power tubes. After having Cary 300B monos blow a WE 300B reissue tube after about 100 hours and later having a KR Audio amp blow a low hours 842 tube I swore I was done with amps that use expensive tubes. I lucked out and found a great EL34 amp and have been happy ever since. Ironically I could actually much more easily afford expensive tubes these days but I am happy with what I have.
No doubt that we all have our specific experiences and outcomes, exactly why I wrote IMHO. I’d rather have an excellently implemented Pentode push pull type tube amplifier than a mediocre DHT amplifier. If both of them are executed to a high level then I would lean toward the DHT option.
To be clear both of my push pull amplifiers were "really " good sounding. When I put the 300b SET amplifier into my system there was an undeniable improvement. To be truthful all 300b amplifiers aren’t created equally. Jond I don’t doubt that your el 34 triode wired amp sounds wonderful.
I can understand the frustration with tube failures. In addition to superb sound quality the other great attribute of the EML XLS has been exceptional durability and reliability, it’s a terrific tube.
Charles agreed all the way around and also don't sleep on DHT pushpull amps! Two of the best I've heard an integrated pp 2a3 amp from Cary, I loved it but the gf said it was too bright, and a pp 45 amp from Deja Vu. Both wonderful sounding and a great juxtaposition of tubes and topologies! And I am sure all of your amps pushpull and DHT were all great sounding you seem to have excellent ears.
Frequent attendance in live jazz clubs over the years (and a piano in our home) has conditioned the ears to natural sound. At least this is what I’ve come to believe. 😊
Nice speaking of which caught The Gil Evans Project doing the 60th anniversary of Miles Ahead at the Jazz Standard in NYC over Memorial Day weekend a really great show. My first live jazz in sometime I'm embarrassed to say.
@liquidsound heard the Emission-Labs 300-B (not the XLS variant) and they sound good however not as good (in my opinion) as my Sophia Princess mesh-plates tubes.
Sorry I'm not clear, are you referring to to the Emission-Labs 300b solid plates in your comparison and is it the pricier Royal Princess or the similar priced Sophia princess mesh you compared against eachother. I ask because I use the solid plates but I've been curious about the punched metal "mesh" of Sophia mid priced 300b. Thanks
I'm still using the Sophia mesh-plates. I gave up on the Royal Princess a good while ago. I am looking for a good replacement for the Princess mesh-plates. I have heard the Emission-Labs solid plates, not the mesh. The sound is good but notably different than the Sophia mesh plates. If I can find a 300-B tube that sounds like the Sophia mesh-plates or the Royal Princess, that would be great. No more Sophia tubes for me !
I use the Psvane WE300B on good quality SET amps, and I very very very highly recommend them. Nothing to criticize at all; the mids and highs are just the best i have ever heard. The only tubes that may beat them, and I also use them on another system so I know what I am talking about, are the famous and highly expensive Takatsuki TA300B, that output more bass but less glorious mids and highs. It will depend in fact on the nature of your speakers and/or your preferences. For your reference and comparison, the amps using the Psvane WE300B are the Coincident Frankenstein 300B MkII. The tubes you are using are known for being unreliable.
A little late to the game hear, but I was looking more into these Psvane WE300b tubes mentioned on this thread, and interestingly enough, I found that there is a newer, recently updated version of these tubes, now known as the Psvane WE300b-PLUS version. Anyone know anything about these???
I really like my EML 300b-XLS in the Coincident Frank mkIIs, but I would love to have a touch more midrange naturalness and bloom without losing the soundstage, detail, and dynamics of the EML. I really like the Sophia Carbon Princess' midrange, but it really lacks the soundstage depth of the EML. Besides the uber $$ Taks, Elrogs, etc. what other options are there out there, and yes, reliability is important?
Western Electric is supposed to reissue their own 300b "soon."
Given what you’re seeking the New Psvane W.E.300b may be worth a try.
I also have the Frankenstein and would say that the Elrog and the Takatsuki have a"touch" (and only a touch) more organic character than the EML XLS. I must say however that no tube is perfect in all sonic/musical parameters and IMHO the EML is organic enough and just strikes me as very natural with virtually no editorializing.
It conveys warmth, bloom and authentic tonality along with excellent dynamics, authority and very balanced across the frequency range. Listening right now to Harold Land(tenor sax) Hampton Hawes (piano) and Jim Hall (guitar). Full bodied tone and very tactile/ palpable aura.
If you do get the Psvanes I am very interested in your listening impressions. I suspect this is a very good 300b choice. Have you tried the Western Electric reissue 300b? I had a loaned pair a few years ago in the Frankenstein and didn’t care for them. They were too soft, laided back (lacked dynamics and vitality) and rolled off IMO. Maybe just not a good fit with the Frankenstein (or my ears). No doubt YMMV.
The upper tier Psvanes tubes have a very good reputation. I have the Psvane W.E.Replica 101D in my Coincident Line Stage and it is superb. I’ve heard their 845 W.E.in a friend’s amplifier and it was quite good. Do you alternate between the Art Audio and Frankenstein?
@charles1dad I should state that I really like my EML 300b-xls in the Franks as well, and I have no qualms about them whatsoever! But there are those damned OCD audiophile thoughts in my brain wondering if tube x might be just a touch better than tube y, and if so, by how much really! Unfortunately the costs of these upper tier 300bs doesn't allow for a whole lot of experimentation, thus my interest to hear others' opinions of these Psvanes. And to top it off, the new prod true WEs are coming out in fall (no, I haven't heard any of the WEs).
I just have the Franks now, and VERY happy with the music they output for me; The Art Audio amps (I've had three different kinds over the years) have been part of systems that have been retired. All that knowledge from systems past have been put into my current system, and loving every minute of it!
Believe me I know all about buying the upper price 300bs 😊. I bought the Takatsuki, Elrog and EML XLS. The KR XLS, Sophia Electric Royal Princess and Western Electric were loaned to me. I do understand your interest in the Psvane W.E Plus tubes. I do not doubt at all that their sonic character would differ from the EML. Again if you do decide to give them a try please post your thoughts.
Will do @charles1dad ! I may just grab them on the used market if /when they show up... we’ll see! Or maybe I will just be happy with the EML and grab a Canon 24-70 mkII lens that I have been lusting after instead, lol! Oh wait, that’s a different obsession, I mean hobby!
@charles1dad , @hddg and anyone else who is interested.... hope this summary helps. Reach out to me if you have any questions!
I was fortunate enough to be able to pick up a lightly used pair of the Psvane WE300b replica tubes. I don't think they have more than 100 hours on them when I got them, and I prob put another 50 on them? Maybe?
Initial impressions are highly favorable! Keep in mind this is a direct comparison to the EML 300b-xls which are my "go-to" on my Coincident Frank mkIIs.
First the spoiler: Neither the EMLs nor the Psvane are substantially better than the other, just a little different from each other, and this is in the context of my system, fwiw. Both are excellent, both are worth their $$ which are more or less in the same ballpark. For me, at this time, I am now leaning a little more to the Psvane voicing over the EMLs in my amps.
On to the details: The tubes are very similar in terms of speed, soundstage size (in all directions, honestly), transient response / dynamics, noise (or to put it better, lack of noise), and PRAT; I highly doubt I'd be able to pick the tube based on these criteria in a blind test.
The biggest difference I hear is that the Psvane is slightly warmer than the EML, and midrange tones and voices appear to have just a little more of a 3D presence, and fullness to them, with less stridency. @hddg is spot on above with the midrange quality of the Psvane!
The EML wins slightly on detail, though the Psvane is no slouch by any means. The bass on the EML is tighter, more detailed as well, while the Psvane is again, a bit rounder, but still fast and certainly acceptable. The highs are not terribly different either, but maybe the slight edge goes to the EML. Too close to really tell. Both tubes present an airy soundstage and highs, but I think the Psvane layers the soundstage a little better, and little more naturally than the EML.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Both are great tubes, both have great instrumental and vocal tonality, and depending on your system, one can certainly be a slightly better match than the other. I have never heard a true WE 300b tube, but man, they gotta be really, really good based on what I hear from this replica, which I am sure is only what, 80%, 85%, of a true WE? More? Less? I dunno, but I am happy with both tubes, but I am especially pleased with the Psvane WE300b replica, and they have been promoted as my "go-to" power tubes on the Frank mkII monoblocks.
Thanks for the very informative review of these 2 tubes. I've heard nothing but good things about the Psvane W.E. and have been curious regarding them. Based on your descriptions of the W.E. It seems very similar to the Takatsuki. As I mentioned before the W.E. 101D (which I own) and their 845 are excellent so your findings aren't surprising at all.
I agree with your assessment that both are top tier 300b tubes and ultimate choice will be determined by individual taste and desired sound. I'll likely try the Psvane W.E at some point in the future. The EML XLS is an example of the modern European 300b sound and the Psvane representative of the classic vintage Western Electric 300b sound. I suspect that I'd like the Psvane even though I didn't like the reissue Western Electric 300b I tried several years ago.
My system is presently also using the Coincident line stage that uses the 101D's. Is there a dealer here in the U.S. for the Psvane WE 101D replica? My experience with Grant in Canada was very bad. After paying extra for tubes that were supposed to be within 10% tolerance, they sent most of them within 25% and none within ten. All tubes were tested on my Hickok 539A and George Kay small signal tube tester. Some of the small signal tubes were also very microphonic, and one of them actually showed a short in the Hickok.
That order was placed around ten years ago, and if I recall correctly it was dropped shipped from China. Grant did allow me to send the order to them in Canada for credit, because they did not want to replace the order with the in tolerance tubes that I payed for. They did return credit to my card with the stipulation that I did not ever order from them again, so I was only out shipping cost to Canada.
My only other experience with Psvane tubes was directly from China. One of the tubes was DOA, and they said to return it for replacement. Shipping that one tube back to China cost over twenty dollars by US mail and close to ninety dollars by a shipping company. So I sent it US mail but they don't track mail going to China, and likewise the Chinese seller did not acknowledge ever receiving it.
Evidently ten years ago Grant was cutting shipping costs by trusting the Chinese to actually test the tubes being drop shipped to me. It would be nice to know of a US company that sells the WE 101D replica.
Sorry about your bad experience with Grant Fidelity. My encounters with them have been good. I'm unaware of any current American source for Psvane tubes.