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After rolling in tubes for years (painful): I currently love (and yes, it is actual love) the new Gold Lion 12AX7s, the Tung Sol (Russian) KT150s, and NOS Mullard 12AT7s, and am also an idiot. Wait…I mean I'm also NOT an idiot…and all of the above mentioned tubes are not idiotically expensive as far as these things go.
Put the Russian's in and see what you think. It's system synergy that we all search for with all of our equipment/part choices.
What works for you may not be good for someone else.
Consider tubes in audio like spices in cooking. Different tubes will give you a different "flavor".
Is that "flavor" good, better, or bad? That is a subjective choice.
I would suggest, that as your budget allows, buy a replacement set of tubes that you are interested in trying. See if you like them. If so, great. If not you can always sell them and recover most of your original purchase price.
I have a very extensive collection of tubes and can tell you that even within the same family I.E. GE, RCA, ETC, there are many differences in sound.
Depending on what flavor you are searching for will determine your choice.
Most of all, have fun with it and trust YOUR ears.
Many NOS tubes are very good, but the can get pretty pricey. At least you are only looking for a pair, which helps a lot. The NOS market can be scary and dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Pricey, but some shady re-sellers out there.
For new tubes, I have found the Psvane tubes to offer very good quality at reasonable prices. Of course, as always, YMMV.
Thanks for the responses. I’d love to have more suggestions and reputable sources for tubes and thoughts about the quality of the Russian/modern tubes vs NOS tubes. I’ve had the pre for quite awhile (and I still have a couple of others including SS CJ) and have generally used older tubes.
Let me clarify: My plan is to buy some tubes in addition to the spare ones I have. I was hoping to get some feedback from folks about the tubes that they have used (particularly if they have used them in the CJ) so that I could cut my selection down and save money in my process of evaluating a few sets of tubes. The pre-amp actually takes 4 tubes (not 2) so depending upon the tubes selected it can get pricey. Particularly if I follow the "test a bunch of tubes in your system and pick the one that sounds the best to you" approach.
General observation: I think we would all agree that a particular brand and/or set of tubes would sound best in my system and in my room, but I don’t have the time and/or money to try every combination to achieve that goal (I’d be potentially more cost efficient by going out and spending the money on a different pre-amp). If our advice becomes “trust your ears, in your room, with your equipment” although it is an accurate assessment we then lose the benefit of the community and reviews and comments become irrelevant. That’s part of what a forum is designed to do: share experience and wisdom across audiophiles.
Personal experience: I know I can sell the
tubes used. I always intend to sell my old equipment, but I have observed that
I tend to keep it (with the exception of the really pricey stuff and then I
price it to sell before my wife goes insane).
So again – thanks for the advice, more is welcome; after 45 years of tinkering I still have lots to learn.PS
Joe's even more anal than I am and must be single and rich (thanks for the reference)!
Bought my Mullard NOS 4024s (12AT7s) from thetubestore.com, and the gold pin 6201 version (also Mullard NOS) from Upscale Audio, as that's the only place that had these (that I found anyway). I can recommend both of these vendors as easy to deal with and knowledgeable with well designed websites (unlike the confusing sites of some other tube vendors).
Brent Jesse and Jim McShane both reliable vendors. Others swear by Andy at Vintage Tube Services. As far as US brands, just beware that many companies like GE and RCA and Admiral etc., made tubes and also rebranded tubes from other manufacturers. And as far as ebay is concerned, be afraid, be very afraid! No matter how good the feedback, once I got a tube tester, I found that less than 50% were as advertised.
I buy small preamp type tubes, matched and balanced, 12AX7s and 12At7s generally, from familiar dealers (thetubestore, Upscale), but the KT120s and KT150s as "factory" matched quads have served me well from Ebay sellers. If they tested poorly or had to be returned to those sellers, it would result in poor ratings unlike the 100% positive ratings of the dealers I use.
Yes and no. The Amperex have worn out and I wanted opinions on the Russian tubes (especially if someone has experience with the CJ pre). I've heard good things about various tubes (recently, Russian tubes). In the name of saving money and time, I wanted to tap into the collective wisdom of the Audiogon community and see what you guys would recommend testing with this pre-amp. NOS tubes can wind up being a fortune (this CJ takes 4). I'm still open to suggestions and even suggestions on how you guys may systematize the process.
Should have said that the 7dj8 can sound just as good their 6 volt counterpart and they can be had for 1/2 the cost. They worked particuarily well in my P16 and will work in your 17 as well. Never had a russian tube in my unit that even came close. For an additional investment of $30-$40 a tube (x4 tubes) over new russian tubes you'll be very happy.