Check out this thread here on Audiogon: MODWRIGHT SWL9.0 SE TUBE ROLLING. I too have this pre and, in general, the experience and advice was/is spot on.
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Thanks for the link. If I were to summarise that thread, it would be something like:
Philips JAN 5687: stock.
TungSol 5687: better than stock(?) but dry/lean.
GE JAN 7044: good mids, less grain and less bass impact.
Sylvania GB 5687: tube sound, laid back, sweet highs.
Philips 7119/E182CC: good inner detail, laid back, full mids.
Bendix 6900: ultimate 5687, but too expensive and no one's heard it(?).
Actually the thing I like about the ModWright is that its very transparent and true to the music. In fact I feel it has a very slight midrange sweetness, bass impact and dynamics are great. I've already rolled the rectifier tube to a Mullard GZ30 (brown base) - subjectively slightly sweeter, but the stock Sovtek is good as it is. I'm powering it through the PS Audio P300 which levels the playing field, but is very hot and almost reaches its 300watt limit with everything switched on.
Has anyone tried to listen to the ModWright leaving the screws for the top cover out? This may sound crazy, but I thought it "opened" up the sound.
If you are going to audition a 7119 then an Amperex (made in Holland) would be the tube to get. I would not characterize the sound as "laid back." However, it is not as aggressive or forward as the Tung-Sol 5687.
I would recommend that you purchase a fist full of the various tubes mentioned and let your ears/taste choose.
I completely agree with Tvad.
Don't choose your tubes base on some one's recomendaciones but base on your needs. Tube "A" may work for Joe Blow but in your system tube "B" could be the one you need.
Evaluate your setup first and then go in direction you feel will benefit your system the most.
(some tubes have speed, some are sweeter then the others, some have wonderful soundstage, same are laid back etc. pick the one that will address your needs).
Thanks for the inputs. I'm curious as to would you all consider all these alternatives as definite upgrades against the stock Philips, or just "alternative points of view"?
Why do you prefer the Holland Amperex over the Philips 7119? Aren't they the same tube from Holland (Philips) just rebadged?
I'll be having my fair share of fun with powercords - already have an Audio Magic Illusion 4D (pure silver) on order. It'll be interesting to hear how it sounds.
If you can't decide, call this guy, his name is Andy and he is owner of vintagetubeservices.com - I have his number if you would like to call him. The only place I would get my tubes from. He is very trusted and has knowledge that few others can match. Describe your system, your music preferences and desire effect you are trying to achieve with your new replacement tubes. I am sure he will be able to help you. Service is first class, tubes are tested, match and broken in for a few hours so they are ready to be enjoy out of the box. You may wait for your tubes a little longer then usual but it is well worth it.
I purchase NOS 6922 Amperex from early 1970's & Tung-Sol 5687 from 1968 - I'm very satisfied from my purchase.
Number- 616 454 3467
Today I received and tried out Raytheons and Sylvannia GB 5687 and was terribly disappointed.
The Raytheons sounded worst than the stock Philips JAN5687, too mushy and one side was particularly microphonic.
Sylvannia had air around the instruments, but everything appeared to shrink in size compared to the Amperex 7119s.
Note that my basis for comparison is:
>Benchmark DAC1 XLR outputs straight into the Sanders
>Benchmark DAC1 RCA output via SWLP9.0SE into Sanders
i.e. one completely by-passes the preamp which some consider to be more transparent, compared to with the ModWright in the chain. Cables were the same brand pure silver Slinkylinks so that should not be a factor.
The Amperex are more quiet in the background, have more body (presence) and throw and much bigger soundstage than all tubes. In comparison to without the preamp in the chain, the Amperex fitted SWLP had more body and imparted a bigger soundstage, without removing any of the detail present when going direct.
Caveat: this is my personal opinion on what I heard with the tubes I had. It could be that the samples of Raytheons/Sylvannias were lemons, nevertheless, they were not as neutral and extended as the Amperex, IMO, YMMV, yada, yada, yada.
Here's an update on the Amperex 7119s: this may not be news to some of you, but they are microphonic, so be careful when using them.
I found that whenever I turned up the volume, floor shaking type bass, the tubes turned microphonic and produced a loud "angry" hum.
I sought ways and means to get ride of the vibrations and my final solution was:
1) Feet of silence footers - on the chasis and one below the input selector
2) Removed the screws on the top cover and placed special composite/polyurethane pieces at strategic locations along the edge to separate the cover from the main chasis
3) One Unicone (sand-filled wooden cone) inside the preamp with a rubber piece just touching the circuit board holding the 7119
These turned out to work very well. I experienced enhanced resolution of low level detail and images have an uncanny stability when you turn up the volume. You will know what I mean when you hear really good systems which are unwavering when playing very dynamic music.