Too many tubes?

I have what may be a less than ideal situation for now, a tubed preamp and a tubed phono pre feeding into the first pre. So I’m wondering how to tube each one so the different sources don’t have totally different sound. Ideally I would like the main preamp to be responsible for setting the sound for the entire system as much as possible.

So how do different tubes "sounds" interact? Would a lush sounding tube in each preamp result in "double lush"? Would a leaner sounding tube in the phono and a more lush tube in the system pre even out the sound somewhat from the two different sources? Or would two leans equal "double lean" or maybe something closer to the lush tube. I guess the best way to put it, is are the different tube types when mixed in different ways additive or subtractive or somewhere in between? Hope that makes sense.

jaybe you are way overthinking this, just find good tubes for each one and experiment around until you fine ones you like. Don't worry to much about synergy between the tubes in the components just get each one sounding its best. It would be helpful to know what the two pieces of gear are to give you anymore substantial advice.

Agreed.  Just start with one piece, maybe the main preamp.  Start trying out different tubes to get an idea.  Then move on to the phono preamp.  Since you are just starting out here, you will probably go through a number of different tubes before you end up where you like.

One thing, yes, if you put two really lush tubes one after the other, the sound may become too lush/slow for your preferences (then again, you might like this).  It really is a synergy thing between your source/preamp/amplifer and also interconnect cables (even power cables).  Each element will influence the sound in some way.

Thanks guys. The two pieces are both Jolida, the Fusion preamp and JD9II phono preamp.
Another question. In the phono pre I've rolled the 12AX7 tubes in the past. The Fusion has 12AX7 and 12 AT7s. Is there a benefit to trying different 12AT7s as well?
Do you also listen to digital sources? If so tune the Fusion to your liking for digital, including the 12 AT7s, then make adjustment to the JD9 as a source to the pre.  
Call Vintage Tube Services for the best tubes and advice.
@mesch, I do listen to digital as the primary source. Makes sense to take care of that first, then adjust the phono side for best sound. Thanks.
jaybe yes try different 12at7's better tubes will make a difference.
If the main source is the phono,  I'd start by making sure the primary tube there is of the highest quality and dead quiet.    

Then I would test all the rest to see how good those are and replace the weaker ones if needed.

For a system with many tubes I'd also want to own a good quality tube tester.    

Get rid of weak links first.  Then go from there if/when needed.  Start with phono, then pre-amp then power amp tubes once all are confirmed in good working order.     Test all tubes periodically over time as needed if the sound quality is suspect.

Since digital is your main source and phono tubes are most sensitive to noise because of their lower level signals, cheaper current production tubes for the phono might make the most sense. They may not have the sweetest sound vs. pricey NOS tubes, but will likely be quiet. Then put your money where you will listen most. Cheers,
Each component in sequence, up to and including your speakers and room adds to the sound. Sometimes you add a negative, but there is no way to really undo something done upstream. That is, if noise gets added, it's there all the way down.

I know this isn't quite what you are asking for, but one thing that gets added too much of is gain. Phono preamps MUST have a lot of gain, and therefore noise, but preamps tend to have too much gain by design, so I really like PrimaLuna's approach to designing preamps with reasonable amounts of gain, and minimizing the noise added.

If you are reasonably happy with your tubes though, I'd suggest looking at having your coupling caps upgraded instead. 


Forget the circuit design...only the music that comes to you
I use Mullard NOS 12AT7s in my Jolida 502p amp after trying a few others…I liked the 4024s enough to put them aside as backups for the 6201s from Upscale, with gold pins and the Mullard Flash! Personally I prefer a tube amp with clarity over what might be considered "warmth," and a good tube amp can have power and accuracy that can reveal the linearity inherent in tube performance, which was what my amp was designed to deliver (according to the people I talked to at Jolida anyway)…I'm currently using Gold Lion reissue KT88s and 12Ax7s after trying other stuff and I really like that particular tube pile.
Hi @jaybe

You know, lots of tube preamps have tube phono stages as well. The 12AU7 is an interesting tube for having a lot less gain. Not sure if that translates into less absolute noise though.


Wolf, I can't keep up with all the changes... Gold Lion KT 88's now? what happened with the KT 150's?
I was curious about the Lions…still have the 150s but I think the GL 88s sound a little better…and the 120s wore out after a couple of years. The 150s are resting up in their boxes…they deserve a break.
'I'm running the J9 with a rebuilt vintage B & O 8002. I recently had the suspension on the MM C2 cartridge go out and tried replacing the tubes in the Jolida with NOS Mullards. Turned out to be the cartridge (the Jolida is modest by standards here but the toggles let you customize to rare cartridges). After running the old MMC2 I found a real NOS MMC1.  The cartridge sounds better but I must admit changing the phono tubes back makes little difference with either set of speakers (that I can hear). Same goes for listening to cans through a Schiit Lyr. Maybe it's our modest taste in phono stages.
i run the system through a tube pre into a tube amp for the study and SS for my main Thiel 2.4 speakers. Trying different tubes in the phono yielded less impressive results than changing the Primaluna tubes in the amp for the study.
ive not tried rolling tubes in the preamp as I read rectifier tubes make little difference. 
One way or the other I guess it comes back to what you hear. I'm older and the Bang & Olusen sounds as good to me as expensive Regas with its lack of a motor drive and "moving mass coil".
maybe my old ears are saving me money, but I can still tell vinyl from digital, even after going to a Schiit Gungnir Multibit for Redbook and Exemplar modified Oppo for SACD.
whatever sounds best to you is your best choice.