Tell me about "tubey" tubes.

I own pair of Quicksilver mini monos driven by Quicksilver's phono and linestage (A23 transformer and Zu DL103 or Grado Sonora1 mono if you want to swim that far upstream) and a pair of Prologue Sevens driven by a Three and mostly digital sources. Stray speakers follow me home, so I do not voice either for a single pair-- I like rolling loudspeakers. To keep this from becoming a manifesto on that aspect of my illness, I have about "fifteen or so" (I purposely do NOT count them) pair of classic american speakers ranging from various 1970's JBLs, Ohm 3s and 4s, Snell Es and Js, all the Spicas, Klipsch Chorus IIs to the some late-production Maggie 1.6s and Druid mk4s. I do have a few classic japanese high-wattage solid-state systems for those times when current is required, but have fairly sensitive hearing and do not generally need high power to appreciate any of my boxes.

I also run several old 1950's five-tube AM radios and a few Zenith AM/FMs. For radio, I enjoy the tube euphony. I really, really enjoy the euphony.

I'm currently listening to a lot of small-ensemble female vocal, avant-garde jazz, and space age exotica, if that matters.

Both the minis and the Sevens allow rolling of all the usual suspects, and I am aware of the basic sonic differences of power tube types. Both rigs currently utilize stock-spec tubes (2 Shuguang EL 34s and 4 KT88s, respectively), and until now I have not deviated from that. I already know what I need to get fairly accurate sound from both amps.

I don't enjoy tweaking and perfectionism as much as occasionally being whacked in the head by change, which is why I bought self-biasing amps in the first place, and now I'm a gonna use 'em. I want some simple advice: What specific varieties of EL34, KT88, 6550, or equivalents, in your actual experience, would give me the most euphonic, fat, Midrange Uber Alles, tube-colored sound? Feel free to suggest front-end drivers (12AU7/12AX7) as well, if that would make a noticeable difference. Price matters, so current production is a plus. Stick to my two amps. I'll get around to SET one day after I find some K-horns. Experience only, please. I'm not interested in second-hand speculation.
El34 SED, Cryo'd Version-Black Sable ...Sweet warm,dynamic..........I prefer the regular but if you need more wamrth those will do it for you..sold @
Morgenholz will put to rest the fact that tubes in fact color the music.
Thorman/Hifihvn: This may have been all too easy. My passive websurfing has also suggested the SED EL34. Every datapoint helps, however, so I don't mind being advised the same repeatedly.

Buconero117, I sure hope that they are capable of it. Some recordings that I own and love were not recorded all too well. I am hoping a set of power tubes dedicated to this end will do for them what my 1950 Zenith AM/FM does for overcompressed FM broadcasts.
I think coloring is long as you stay within the lines :-)
The old Tesla EL34's would be my choice and for small front end driver it would be hard to beat the old RCA 1950's era blackplate D getter 12au7's. Also the black glass Tungsol 12au7 has the smokey night club feel.
I assume you know about Joe's Tube Lore on Audio Asylum?

If not, it is a great resource for one man's, (albeit a very informed man's), opinion on the sound of different tubes.

Joe's Tube Lore on Audio Asylum

And if you already know about it, well, just disregard this post, (and Good Luck in your search!) ;-)
Morgenholz will put to rest the fact that tubes in fact color the music.
And how are tubes different than any other active or passive component in an audio product's internal-component lineup? Just read about the various Nelson Pass designs where a number of different solid state devices are chosen for one kind of sound vs. another. And the debate of BJT vs. JFET vs. MOSFET.

The beauty of tube gear is that many products can be configured by the owner with many different brands and tube types to dial in various changes to tonality, dynamics contrasts, portrayal of space. Can you do this with a solid state device? Obviously no. For this reason and simply that many tube preamps and amps quite handily destroy their solid state peers, in the areas of portrayal of space, I will stay with tubes any time.

Morgenholz: Try the RCA 12BH7 in your 12AU7 socket. You will be pleasantly surprised....perhaps more than the power tube debate. And these are dirt cheap on ebay. Even if a used pair, they will last a long time.
OK! I got some pretty definitive power tube advice, then some input opinions. I had visited Joe's post years ago when all I knew about tubes was sticking them in my Fender guitar amps and running them hot. Thanks for the link-- Wasn't Kurt Tank a mid-century engineer or airplane designer? I associate that name with the development of the Fw190...
I loved the sound of Penta Labs KT88SC when I had a pair of Mid Monos. They fattened up the bottom end without compromising the midrange. It was a beautiful warm sound. Changing input tubes didn't offer as significant of a difference.
I own only a few tubed products, (VAC Standard, Audio Research Sp-15, Singlepower headphone amp) but the references are great. thanks.
I would start with the QS phono preamp (I have one)replace the 12ax7 with Sylvania or Ge 12at7. They have less gain but vocals will knock your socks off !
I have rolled quite a few EL34 tubes in the past few years. I find the Shuguang EL34 tube to be fairly sterile. A tube I like that is very cheap and excellent is the 6P3S-E Russian NOS tube (6l6 variant). You would need to check with Mike to make sure it would be acceptable to use in you Quicksilver Amps. You can read up on it on audioasylum.

As far as 12AX7, I have found the Mullard variants to increase the richness of the human voice. Also for less money the GE or Sylvania 5751 tubes will spotlight the midrange.

As always tubes will sound change sound depending on the circuit the tube is installed in.

Good Luck.
Tubey or not Tubey, that is the question.
(I made that up after too much wine...)
Rgs92, No you didn't. There is actually a book with that title from long ago.
Oh well, I should have googled it before I claimed I was the first one to think of it.
Of course, maybe someone beat Shakespeare to it also :]
As far as I could research, tuby sound was never the one to go after, because, in general, it doesnt have the high end part that many, who owns tube gear, include me, are seaking after. From my expirience, tubes can sound delicate, lovely, lots of air and detail, glorious midrange, but at the same time, and pretty often, without tighten, deep bass and real focus or structure. And this is what I am trying to combine in every new set up I build, which means lots of tube rolling, especially Input and Driver section, however depends on amplifier you are using, because not every tube amp have the same basics, where the caps, or even IC, are playing a huge part as well. Most of the time, its a combination all together, but back to the tubes part...

I would suggest to try some Mullards in your input and driver sections first and, of course, if you use an preamp, in your pre section to. The best results in the preamp section you may get from Telefunkens, which are known for their neutrality. Input and driver sections would benefit at most from very earlier, 1950-70's production years, Mullards, but I wouldnt go later than say 1968-69, however earlier are better.

For your output section I would try NOS GEC KT88. After I upgraded to them in my PrimaLuna Prologue Two, I just stop rolling output section. I dont believe you can find a better tubes than these. They are combining the power and delicacy, but the most are their ability to reproduce the music at the most natural way.

The only EL34 I tried were NOS TESLA's and they were very good, not as good as GEC, but probably one of the best EL34 up there. To me, they sounded bit laid back compared to KT88, KT88 are very powerfull and, if you get the right one, very musical tube and the same time.
Thanks all for even more focused advice and literary allegory. Yogiboy, I don't mind less gain as the Druids and Chorus IIs are screaming with KT88s by nine o'clock on the attenuator dial...

Speaking of KT88s, I also appreciate the advice I have found here and on other threads regarding them-- I have discovered that these power tubes in the ProLogue Seven make even modest speakers such as a mint old pair of kg2s sound absolutely glorious and alive. I will probably devote the ProLogue system to KT88s and the Quicksilver to midrange (the Spicas are inherently limited at the top and bottom, so I shouldn't lose too much there and I can play my female jazz vocals through them.

Maxmad, I will end up with a neutral, extended range set of tubes, and a tubular set-- to me, this is the inherent advantage of a self-biasing tube amp.
Wow that much gain. You can try a 12au7 also.
Morgenholz, I'm curious if you ran the Quickies with your Snell E's? I'm using the Quicksilver V4's with them and I really think it's quite a nice match. BTW, am using JJ KT88's in the V4's. Thanks.
For the money and what you are looking for Genalex Reissues KT 88 might fill the bill!! I used them in Quicksilver V-4's and was extremely happy, are they as good as NOS? No! They are very good and at 1/3 the cost a great deal!!! Tube Depot matched pairs @ $109.95!!!
To quote Maxmad above:
"From my expirience, tubes can sound delicate, lovely, lots of air and detail, glorious midrange..."

Who could give that up unless there is some other fatal flaw?
I have a Ray Samuels B52 tubed headphone amp/preamp and
that's exactly what I hear and I can't stop listening.
Just IMHO of course.
I do have to give honorable mention to Dartzeel solid state amps though, which I have heard at shows and really liked.
Tonyjack, I do indeed plan to run the Snells with the Quicksilver setup, especially when my wife complains about the Angeluses (Angeli?) in the living room. She doesn't mind showing them to people when they are in the basement, but prefers stand-mounted monitors because they don't look so... The Snell Js and Es are both Series II, Peter Snell's final two revisions of his own designs. I have until now been powering them with a restored Kenwood KA8100, but I know that they will bloom with the minis.

The Genalex reissues will definitely replace the original Shuguang KT88s in the ProLogues eventually-- And I can break them in four at a time in the mini monos.

I was always a "put most of your money into the speakers and phono cartridge" person until lately. Now that I have what I consider to be my semi-final speaker collection, including three years of replacing all of the foam surrounds and tweeter diaphragms in those that needed it, I am discovering what differences the signal chain makes. The kg2s were on their way to Goodwill until I heard them with the ProLogue Sevens, now they stay-- They sound better on KT88s than the Chorus IIs sound on 200W of solid-state.
Thanks for the reply. I have the Kevin Voecks E-III Snell. I have never heard the Peter Snell designs but I've heard they are different and excellent. That's what the Audio Note design's are based on. I know there a has been quite a debate over the two designers philosophies. I do like my Snells regardless and the Quicksilver combination is quite pleasing to my ears.

Today I heard the Quicksilver V4's with the KT 120's on Vandersteen Quatros at Audio Connection in Verona N.J and it was also very nice indeed. I hope to get a set and run them in my amps. I'd be interested in hearing about your opinions on the Quickie/Snell combo in your system. Thanks again.
Forgot to mention earlier that I also have the Maggie 1.6's in another system but the tubes are further upstream in an Audibile Illusions Mod 3A with the ARC 150.2 for a power amp. The Maggies are indeed special. I've never put the Quickies on them because what I have with them is perfect for me. Maybe one day though!
Tonyjack, I will return to this thread when I run the Snells with KT88s in the minis.

I really respect Kevin Voecks designs, especially the B and B Minor.

I had not originally intended the ProLogue system for the 1.6QRs as I bought a Vincent SP331 specifically to run them, however, that will be another experiment when I have the time to sit down (jump up and down) getting the Maggies placed in that room/system. Althought they are famous for requiring power, the Sevens have 2 Ohm taps and I can't imagine 70W of KT88 power being inadequate.
For the small tubes Mullards are pretty warm. For the large tubes, the KT90s that I have heard seemed a bit warmer to me than the Gold Lion KT88s.