The Winged "C" is musical and lush, with plenty of liquid. So far all of the offerings I tried from New Sensor seem to lean toward a dry, and almost sterile sound. The last new stock Tungsol still seams to have their (New Sensor) house sound, maybe a little more detail than the SED. Their sound still reminds me of their Sovtek line. The SED (Winged "C") seems to have more problems again. This is my experience.
How about Genelex Gold Lion KT-77's ? I replaced Svetlana EL-34's with a matched quad of these, and the music sounds really, really nice. The KT-77 is a mighty fine tube.
I really like the sound of Electro-Harmonix EL 34 and 6CA7, which I use in both of my Prima Luna amps. Prefer them to the Winged C's. The EHs have good detail and richness in sound.
I second the EH EL34 and recently retubed my CJ amp with these. Great, depth, warmth and richness of sound, very sweet and detailed. I have no desire to change these out for others. And no fireworks. I STONGLY suggest buying from Tube Depot; they have always sold me quality tubes that test well and last a long time. A great company.
Thanks for the responses so far keep them coming. I have tried the Mullard reissues and did not find them as well rounded as the winged "C" tubes. Rich how have you found the EH tubes as far as reliability, I had some problems with those a while back, maybe they have improved? I may just end up trying a few different brands to compare, the JJ KT-77 tubes interest me also. I do realize this is all system dependent but I appreciate all comments.
The secret to tube life ... which I learned 45 plus years ago with my dad in his TV repair shop ... allow enough time for the tubes to warm up. I allow for at least a half hour. Even though the Prima Lunas have circuitry to allow for play after 30 seconds, I find that the tubes last longer and are pretty noise free, when I just let them warm up. I am getting good hours on the EH ... can't say whether it's a 1000 hours or more, but I have not had to replace them in at least a year or so. The EH cost is also very reasonable ... about $20 a tube, so it's not that big a deal.
Rich, I totally agree with the warm up aspect, I too give the amp and preamp 30 minutes of warm up time before playing any music. I'll have to revisit the EH tubes, and Stevecham, I too like the tube depot, thats where I have ordered the Tungsols from.
I hate to say this but forget current production.... If you really want to know what an EL34 is all about get yourself some new old stock (NOS) Mullard xf2's or xf3's. They'll smoke you and last a lifetime.
Interestingly enough, going with NOS power tubes is almost like having mods done on a unit. The cost for a quartet of NOS Mullards can be a 1/3 to a 1/2 of the cost of the amp and it is debatable if the effect on the sound is worth that much. Power tubes do not last a lifetime ... preamp tubes maybe, but I have had NOS preamp tubes crap out after a few years.
I also have 2 quads of EH 6CA7 tubes in my JWN amplifier, and they sound very good. No problems so far. Bought them based on Jim McShane's recommendation. He says they are a close second to the Gold Lion KT-77's, and much cheaper.
I second the (reissue) Genelex KT-77s. Mine replaced "Holy Grail" Mullard xf1 EL34s (I also have xf2 and xf4 Mullards) as driver tubes in a pair of 845 SET monoblocks. Surprised the hell out of me. I've also tried JJ KT-77s but they're not up to the standard of the Genelex, IMO.
Looks like I'll be ordering a set of the EH tubes as well. I agree with Rich here too, there is no way I am going to spend that kind of money on power tubes, they do not last a life time at all. Maybe if I had a mega buck system I would consider it but I don't and I won't. I have spent some coin on the driver tubes, they will last much longer than the power tubes, I am currently using Telefunken NOS 12ax7s there and real happy with the results. Sounds like the genelex KT-77 have a good following too.
There is a guy on eBay (bnsanborn), that sell tubes. I bought a quad set of Seimen EL34's for $190 about a year ago. They are much better than my Winged (C)'s. I just bought a back up quad set from him eventho I have 3 quad sets of the SED,s. Great tubes!
The Shugang Treasure 6CA7 sounds very good for a current production tube. You might also take the low road and try the Soviet 6P3SE, which is a 6L6 equivilent, or even one of the new KT66s.
Viridian, I am going to try the 6P3S-E tubes for sure, at their price it is almost a no brainer. I have seen some people that say they may be the best sounding of all the current EL-34 tubes available.
I settled on Winged Cs after two sets of JJ E34Ls began arcing on me. They have proved reliable and balanced.
If you ever hear true NOS Siemens or Telefunken, or Mullard EL34s, or for that matter NOS GE 6CA7s, you'll understand how woefully disappointing are the current faux "Tung-Sol", "Mullard" and various other iterations of this tube coming out of Russia. There are two excellent commercially-available alternatives:
1/ Shuguang Treasure 6CA7 - this sounds closest to the great vintage EL34s of anything in current production.
2/ Mesa Boogie, the guitar amplifier company, still has robustly-tested NOS Siemens EL34 in matched pairs for sale on their web site (go to the Store link). They are relableled Mesa, are genuine, and aren't going to last in their inventory indefinitely, so don't lollygag if you want them. They're worth it.
The Siemens tubes are excellent and available from Roger Modjeski of RAM Labs/Music Reference = perhaps the best tube tester in the business.
Dwr, the 6P3SE is not an EL-34/6CA7. It is a 6L6 type tube.
Hi Viridian, yes that is true of the 6P3S-E but depending on how high the impedance is in the circuitry of the amp they can be used, they actually draw less filament current than an EL-34 which should make them a little easier on the amp. I've been reading Michael Samra's findings with this tube in EL-34 amps over on AA. If the impedance is on the lower side the tubes may be a mismatch.
I owned a Mesa Baron amp, it is the one piece of equipment that I regret ever selling. It had the tri tube factory upgrade. I had a set of those EL-34 tubes in it and wasn't very impressed with them at all, are you sure those are Siemens tubes? Now I have also heard that the Shuguang Treasure tubes sound real good.
I stand corrected Phil it was not the NOS Siemens tubes I had in that amp, it was the otherEL-34 tubes from Mesa. That is actually a pretty good price on those NOS 34s on their site.
NOS Siemens sold by Roger Modjeski at http://www.tubeaudiostore.com/index.html
sell about $150/pair
I would agree with Rich - I also am currently using the EH EL34's in my PrimaLuna amp, and they sounded better than both the stock tubes and the current issue Mullards that I tried.
Dwr no need to explain; I am the one that suggested the tube 6P3SE. Just don't call it an EL34. That is simply misleading.
Mesa sells more affordable Russian and Chinese tubes. But if you look on their web site you'll see a specific description of STR450 being limited quantity NOS Seimens, and they are, but those tubes are NOT stock in any Mesa amp.
You did the right thing. I have Tungsol EL-34 and I am quite satisfied.
Ok, I have the Tungsol EL-34s in the amp and they really do sound very good. Now for the crazy part, I moved up the Jolida chain to the Music Envoy 200 watt monoblocks, I couldn't pass up the deal I got on them. They use EL-34 tubes in the driver position so I invested in a quad of Gold Lion KT-77 tubes for the new amps and they sound superb. So now to sell the 1000P to offset the cost of the new amps a little. Thanks for all the comments guys.