Tube dampener questions


I bought some tube dampeners and on when I put them on the tubes on the amp and DAC it seemed to suck the life out of the sound so I removed them.

Doing some tube rolling and while the new tubes sounded good the vocals were disconnected somehow.  They seemed to distort during dynamics so I put a dampener on the input tube and it seemed to help at the cost of a little bit of life.

What is the correct way to use tube dampeners?
As vibration control are they like a guitar string and where they rest on the tube changes the frequency of the vibration?

Several burns later I think I got it right but I'm sure someone out there knows how to do this correctly.
danager
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Tube dampeners work best if the amp has good vibration control itself. That requires an effective combination of feet and tube sockets. In my experience EAT on small signal tubes and Duende Critura on everything else work best and their contribution is not negligible.
The best are not at all. I've tried those thing 10 times AT least. Buddies bring them over and it just KILLS the valve. For ME..

We used every material we could think of from BR, silicone, teflon backed, a silicone bead. I went through every O-Ring box on 5 service trucks, Thousands of O-Rings from different manufactures. 

Big ZERO for me..

I use a lot of Telefunken small valves It just kills that valve. Where I use a Mullard type valve same thing.. NO dampeners..

They aren't getting close to the power valves, 6V6, 6L6, EL34s, 6550s or KT88. It's like taking a shower with a rain coat on..

Regards
What you heard is what they do, suck the life out of the music. Some people, their system is so harsh and grainy and fatiguing this over-correction may actually be slightly better. But that's about it.

Ideally the best way to use them is return for refund. Second best is keep in a drawer with all your other mistakes (we all have em) and old gear. You know like my power cords. Keep them around for when you get tired of talking when it is so much more effective to show.

So someone asks what you mean by how can something soft suck the life out? Instead of explaining you show them the tube dampers, slide em on, and let them hear for themselves. 

My experience with tube dampers mirrors what most here are reporting. I tried them years ago and they deaden the sound and the natural vibrancy was suppressed. Yep, took the life out of the sound/ music reproduction. Some listeners swear by them.  I got rid of mine.
Charles 
well, like most things..sometimes a firmly held belief often developed w a small sample read experience  size, should now and then be revisited.

 The 6H30 tube does benefit imo. Albert has never heard this amplifier, nor the caliber of gear you would run with it.  Zoom in on the tube damper that serves another function as well. Some parameters, very audible are a function of temperature, so why not kill two birds….w one damping block ?

The ARC Ref series preamps using the 6H30 tube , using an elastomeric damper benefit also. Let me know when Albert creates anything better than  an ARC preamp…..

Notice the entire amp hangs from an HRS isolation truss. HRS like ARC and Vandersteen are measure and listen companies.

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/3803#&gid=1&pid=5

none of my more mundane preamps benefit, well except for the CJ which…wait for it..dampens the entire board.

carry on, but think and listen…
Agree with the others. I find all forms of damping to um, damp the music. 
Brian - The Croft of mine does not benefit, el cheapo  chassis..and all…

but i tried

It benefits from an HRS damper tho….. greatly
and Stillpoints.
I've tried several types also,but only had good results once with some 12AU7 tubes in a pre amp with Herbies. Much better results to be had with footers and platforms under tubed equipment.
also tubes like Tele that you cast aside as thin……well, maybe listen again…..
When you say "new tubes sounded good..."
why not give them a few hundred hours to break in,
before you start evaluating dampers seriously?
sgordon1 

I couldn't stand it.  I'll defiantly keep that in mind and remove the dampener after a couple of hundred and give it listen.  I really hope beyond hope it's just a burn in issue because everything except voice was spot on but I'm a vocals guy and it was really irritating.
I'm listening now with the dampener about 1/3 way down the tube and I can live with it so I'll give it some time.
Thanks
@tomic601,
I don’t question your outcome using tube dampers in the least. My experience with their use years ago was different and is not a blanket condemnation covering all manner of tubes in any number of situations. It sure appears to be an individual case by case scenario influenced by numerous variables.

Here’s another example of outcome variance. My use of upgraded fuses has been positive. No doubt that this is not the case for everyone who’s tried them.
Charles
My experience with tube dampers echoes many others here.  They snuffed the life out of the system.  I spent a couple of weeks bemoaning why the system didn't sound right.  Then I remembered those darn dampers and tossed them.  Life is good again!
@charles1dad - there you go acting rational vs a blanket condemnation… I believe the fuse community loves to say and i paraphrase: If you haven’t listened you don’t have a valid input. 

My reaction after listening twelve hours strait yesterday could have been summed up - keep trying and listening….

i don’t have dampers on the 4 tubes in my Aesthetix DAC or my Herron or Croft phono preamps because in that circuit of Jim Whites / Keith Herron / Glen Croft, they don’t help, even prove detrimental.. But as described they do benefit other components in the chain..

Although, i need to back and put the ADC damper on just the Mullard Neon in the regulator circuit…..

Best to those w open ears, minds…
Dumped them on my X200 and you can not fit one on KT170’s
Dampeners should not be applied to power tubes. They will reduce the tube's ability to get rid of heat, shortening the life of the tube.

For small signal tubes like the 6SN7, 12Aseries and the like, dampers can be helpful. They do not detract from the sound of the tube; they will help reduce some microphonic signature. If you find you don't like the sound of the result ('deadens the sound') its possible that the additional distortion that is removed by reducing microphonics (which adds brightness) is part of your system sound. Before making a pronouncement, I would live with the results for a while!


If you have a tube that is unacceptably microphonic, a tube damper will not help (it will be a drop in the bucket)! IMO/IME there's no point in using tube dampers unless you start with good tubes to begin with.
And I do and I unloaded them. Simply did not work for me. I am a frim believer in vibration control across the system and have springs, suspension under my entire system.

Gave these dampeners 60 days on the system and found the sound better with out.
Tone Killers not to mention snake oil
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danager

Tube dampener questions

The tubes that give the most microphonic are the higher gain tubes, input tubes and driver tube, then the output tubes.

To reduce microphonics in all tubes, and that have thin glass that rings like a bell when you flick them, use these high temperature silicon "O" rings as a good cheap alternative to "audio brand " $$$$$ ones.
As they works just as good. I used to use 2 or 3 per tube.

Don’t get them too tight a fit as they can slightly dent the glass after a long period when very hot.
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2334524.m570.l1313&_nkw=high+temperature+...

Cheers George
Thank you everybody.  In my mind adjusting the silicon ring up and down the tube made me feel like I heard less distortion on the vocals as they transitioned from soft to loud and finally ended up with a thinner ring on the top quarter of the tube and it sounded pretty good to my ears.
I then purchased a 1960s d getter tube input/driver tube and the tube dampener became a moot point.  The new tube sounded better and I don't feel the need to apply a dampener.  Was I really hearing microphonics?  I don't know but that tube is back in the drawer.
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Do you know why tubes are called valves? A plate on one side has a whole lot of electrons that are attracted to a plate on the other side. The signal we want to amplify is used to control another element in between that controls the flow of electrons. This is the "valve", and the small controlling signal compared to the large amount of current it controls is what produces the amplification.

Real basic stuff, which if you keep it all in mind then it is easy to understand what why vibration control affects tubes and why tube dampers suck the life out of the music.  

In the process of electrons flowing across the tube all the different elements of the tube are vibrating. Always. Everything is. Not just the glass on the outside but the plates and pins and the amp or whatever the tube is plugged into. 

All these parts, the glass, metal, all of it, each and every one has its own individual harmonic resonances. Just like a cantilever, speaker driver, anything you care to name. When they vibrate this changes the physical distance between tube elements, which has the effect of changing timing and frequency.

Think of Doppler. The car horn that is higher pitch moving towards you shifts lower when it is going away. Tube plates vibrating are sometimes moving towards each other shifting the sound higher, sometimes moving apart shifting it lower. This can happen randomly, in which case the tube will probably sound pretty good. Or the two sides can have resonant modes where the resonance of one aggravates or accentuates the other. This whole process is dynamic and can change with the frequency of the music signal. Or this same process might happen in a way that actually sounds pretty good. There is a lot of black magic going on in a tube.

What happens when you move the damper up and down the tube, you are putting mass and damping in different locations and this is changing the harmonic resonance characteristics of the whole tube system- not just the glass but all the stuff inside. Also since the tube is connected to the amp you are to an extent damping that as well. But just in the same way Pods under a component have more effect than under the rack, dampers on the tube affect the tube itself more than the amp. But make no mistake, it all goes together.

Dampers are known to suck life and dynamics, which is why hardly anyone uses them with anything any more. Springs and isolation are by far more effective, just hard to implement with tubes. Sometimes though a particular tube may have a really glaring hot spot resonance so bad it is worth the hit to everything else to tame it with a damper. This all perfectly explains what you did and heard.

Also explains why some find dampers worthwhile. It all depends on the situation and the listener. By and large though you will be better off to treat the problem at the source by isolating the whole component on springs. 
I've been through much tube equipment over the years, in probably 90% of cases no damper preferred. The other 10%, only Herbie's high temp dampers, the ones with metal ring and tiny little o rings wrapped around a white colored plastic piece, work for me. The small contact area of these sometimes provides just the right amount control over a bit of sibilance or glare.

For once I find myself disagreeing with @Millercarbon: on small signal and rectifier tubes, rather than 'sucking out the life' good tube dampeners stop tubes from ringing and thereby creating a zing or liveliness that is patently false. A corrolary effect of the dampeners is a 'thinning' of upper bass, contributing to a more transparent image. At least this applies to my Svetlana Winged-C 6L6GC and WE435a tubes in the Wavac EC300b; that said I'll be the first to agree that it all depends on individual circumstances.

I agree with @atmashere's comments on output tubes.

I then purchased a 1960s d getter tube input/driver tube and the tube dampener became a moot point.  The new tube sounded better and I don't feel the need to apply a dampener.  Was I really hearing microphonics?  I don't know but that tube is back in the drawer.

@danager Did you try the damper on the new tube? And yes, you were really hearing microphonics- that's a property of all tubes. Some are inherently more microphonic than others, for example 6DJ8s (and 6922s) are more microphonic than 12AT7s, even though the latter have more gain. This is simply becuase the 12A** series is designed for audio, while the 6DJ8 is designed for instrumentation and video service.