Tube dampeners on ARC gear ... FREE TWEAK


Here's a cheap (free) tweak for owners of ARC gear using the black tube dampeners. If you move both dampeners as far up toward the top of the tube as possible without having the top one fall off, taking care that both dampeners are solidly touching each other, you will get better dynamics, bass, mids, highs and a lower noise floor. Try it ... you'll like it.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128oregonpapa
Those dampers are suppose to be put in that position normally. They do not belong over the plate structure of the tube.
In that case, nevermind...
Something I didn't know, thanks for the info.
On the stock tubes from ARC with dampers, they are placed high up on the tube but not fully on the silver upper end of the tube. Are there any gains to be had by moving them up, say, the distance of 1 1/2 damper widths so that they sit beyond the translucent part of the tube as opposed to beyond the plate structure?
For better tube damping, try the ones by Herbie.
"you will get better dynamics, bass, mids, highs and a lower noise floor. Try it ... you'll like it. "

Are you sure that you didn't just get a good shock when you were fooling around with your amp?
I also previously found that moving the rings to the uppermost top of each 6H30 to be the best position, and have also removed the rings from the power supply tubes (I have Ref 40 which utilizes 10 6H30 tubes, two of which are in the power supply, one for each channel). I tried herbies tube dampers as well, but the rings were better sounding in my system. I also found that two rings as supplied by ARC were better sounding than a single ring on the tubes in my system.
Oregonpapa, you had mentioned this to me in one of the SR threads. I had forgotten to reply in regard to my results. I want to thank you for your reccomendation. You are 100% correct. It’s just "mo betta". The frequency extensions are enhanced, air and speed increases, along with greater transparency- and that sense of being live also improves. The image is much sharper as well. It is NOT subtle at all. It is not unlike a fuse or cable upgrade in its effectiveness. In fact, when you AB compare, the higher position wins VERY easily. It almost brings the performance of the preamp to a whole new level. After going back to the dampers in the lower positions, you can hear the smearing. It just KILLS the sound. I sure as hell ain’t going back. Good stuff man! Everyone should at least experiment, I doubt anyone would disagree.
audiolover ...

I was just thinking about this last night and wondering if you had tried it.

Isn't it amazing how getting rid of certain micro vibrations can improve the sound of audio equipment? I've made a very serious attempt to attack micro vibrations throughout my entire system starting with my turntable, the electronics, extending through the equipment rack ... all the way to the speakers. The tube ring adjustment is just one example of what can be accomplished by paying attention to micro vibrations. There is so much smear to the sound that we don't know is there ... until we remove it. 

So glad you tried it an got good results. Thanks ...

OP
Honestly I would not have thought that the placement would have been so critical on such a small tube, but it is! I also notice that when the rings are low, there is a fattening of the midbass. At first I thought the bass had decreased from pushing the rings up, but then I realized, it wasn't less, but clearer, more tuneful bass, with better extension.  Listening to Bill Evans  live at the village vanguard portrays this well.  You don't realize that all of the bass frequencies are all compressed, and then, once you raise the dampers up higher on the tube, the bass becomes  linear and extended. Same goes for the treble.  This all adds up to seemingly better data retrieval too. And the dynamics- well, they are enough to startle you at low volume.

 Micro vibrations are evil.  I can only imagine just how much my cheap glass and metal rack is hurting my sound. It's not rigid at all. Because of its "avant garde" construction and the weight of the equipment that resides on it, I have 3'4 inch of lateral movement...ugh. I bought it years ago based on looks and it being cheap. 200 bucks out the door.   I was clueless. My equipment looks good on it, but any audiophile in-the-know would shudder at the sight of it. Oh well, a new one will have to wait. Trying to save for a new home. At least for now, I have some butcher blocks and herbies tender feet to help out. The ARC gear remains on stock feet. Thinking about upgrading the tender feet under the CD player. Suggestions? Looking for even more transparency...

Audiolover ...

If you take a look at my avatar, you'll see that I have an all ARC system. I've tried a whole bunch of aftermarket feet under each piece of equipment. Nothing seems to work better than the stock feet. In fact, everything I've tried has detracted from the sound in one way or another. I haven't tried the SR Mig's though. That 30 day return policy is tempting:

http://highend-electronics.com/products/sr-mig

Take a look at my equipment rack. Each shelf is made up of three layers of plywood with a constrained dampening material between each layer. Then the entire rack is spiked to the floor. Going from the rack I used to have ( a cheap one) to this rack was a major improvement. Expensive though. I had it custom made to my specs. 

If you have floor standing speakers, you might want to try putting the unfinished (cheap) Mapleshade platforms under the speakers. Spike the platforms through the carpet, then spike the speakers to the platforms. That was a huge improvement in bass articulation. Improved everything else as well. 

http://mapleshadestore.com/feedback_maplespeakerplinths.php

Another thing that helps is to get your speaker cables off of the floor/carpet. These are the ones I use:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue36/elevators.htm

If you have floor standing speakers, try putting weight on the top of each speaker. I have one 12"x12" x3" finished, very heavy marble platforms on top of each speaker. It in effect adds mass to the speakers. They fit the top of the speaker's exact dimension  so they look good. Again, more clarity throughout the range and more bass articulation. 

There's tons of ways to attack those micro vibrations that rob our system of the music. I've just listed a few. 

Take care ...
I can attest that Marigo Mystery feet will certainly sound better, however the cost is somewhat excessive ($1500 for a set of the current F8). A further consideration is tha even with the removal of the stock feet there is not enough clearance at the front of my REF40 or Ref 2 phono for the feet to sit flat so it does take some finessing, the sound is worth it however. Much cleaner and crisper, less smearing of microdynamics

also do experiment with removing the top plate on your amps, in the case of the Ref40 this sounded better
^^^ folkfreak ...

Thanks for the input. I have the top plates removed from each piece of equipment, except for the CD player of course. No kids or pets in the household. Just a couple of old dudes. :-)

Those Marigo Mystery Feet look really interesting. I've subsequently read some reviews on the product ... and hey ... If Mikey likes them ... *lol*  I'll have to put them on the bucket list. Thanks for the heads up.

OP
thanks  for your input, gents. I do use sand filled mye stands spiked to the floor through the carpet for my Maggie's, as well as cable elevators. The big porcelain ones. Unfortunately, can't do the weights on top of a planar. I'm also interested in magnetic levetation for my source. Of course, my budget is not in the same league as many here. I was considering playing with brass points as well as the migs too.
ARC dampers are ok Herbies Audio Lab Ultra Sonic PX are much better however they are $25.00 ea.Thats your call however.

Agree Re Herbies tube dampers. I find two is even better, one on the glass at the getter and the other on the base. That's with NOS WWII Tung Sol and '52 Sylvania Badboys.
^^^ Wow ... these babies look interesting. Thanks for the heads up. I wasn't aware of them.

http://herbiesaudiolab.net/rx.htm

OP
oregonpapa, i found that aftermkt feet (both audiopoints and HRS nimbus/couplers) provided nice improvements in my ARC gear. guess YMMV. 

(better focus, lower noise floor, bass depth / power and info retrieval).
Hi All, is the tube damper tweak just an "ARC" thing or can other equipment with 6H23nEB twin triodes play too??? I know you suggest, "ARC GEAR", just asking though???  Thank You Kindly, Joe E.
Never liked dampers on tubes.

They affect the thermal flow within the tube, and reduce the "Natural Bloom" of the music IMO!
don_c55
536 posts
05-26-2016 7:34pm
Never liked dampers on tubes.

They affect the thermal flow within the tube, and reduce the "Natural Bloom" of the music IMO!


Hey, me too, never liked tube dampers - until Herbies came along. Finally someone figured out how to make them. Previously I had Pearl coolers, the Swiss Ensemble tube jackets, elastomer rings, ebony discs, and some others. The Herbies are open, dynamic, clean and melodious.

smotojo ..

I have a friend that uses ARC tube dampeners on his "other than" ARC amp. 

don_c55 ...

What kind of measurements have you don't to assess the "thermal flow?"  Can you supply a study or a link?  Thanks ...

OP
Thanks OP.     Joe E.

If going down this path, don't buy "audiophile" ones that rip you a new one with pricing. Just pick your poison from here.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR3.TRC2.A0.H0.Xsilicon+O+rings.TRS0&_nkw=silicon+O+rings&_sacat=0

Cheers George 

 
georgelofi
1,520 posts
06-01-2016 5:40pm
"If going down this path, don't buy "audiophile" ones that rip you a new one with pricing. Just pick your poison from here.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR3.TRC2.A0.H0.Xsilicon+O+r...

Cheers George"

Sure, you can use the inexpensive ones, that is if you're enamored of that rolled off closed in sound. Like everything else in audio and life sometimes you get what you pay for.

Hey it's not voodoo, all they do is to damp the cheap thin glass of todays new tubes from ringing, nothing else. Nothing inside of the metal tube structure itself anodes, cathodes, grids, getters, heaters ect, as that stuff is all bonded to the base material. If you want dead thick glass you have to look at NOS tubes. 

And no, any type of tube damper will not stop a tube from being microphonic. 


Cheers George 

georgelofi
1,525 posts
06-03-2016 5:34am
"Hey it’s not voodoo, all they do is to damp the cheap thin glass of todays new tubes from ringing, nothing else. Nothing inside of the metal tube structure itself anodes, cathodes, grids, getters, heaters ect, as that stuff is all bonded to the base material. If you want dead thick glass you have to look at NOS tubes.

And no, any type of tube damper will not stop a tube from being microphonic."

All tubes are microphonic, even NOS tubes. Even "low-microphonic" NOS tubes. As I said previously even the base suffers vibration. If it was only the glass that vibrated as you say there wouldn’t be an issue since the glass doesn't carry the signal at least the last time I looked. The internal parts must be subject to vibration, too, obviously. Furthermore,  the ideal location for the damper is usually next to the getter, whether it’s a top getter or bottom getter. So it appears your theory probably needs some adjustment.

Tootles
^^^  

Reducing micro vibrations is a major key in obtaining a  highly resolving system.  As a vinyl lover, the only thing I want vibrating is that needle in the record groove. 

So many in the hobby, especially newbies, aren't aware of what can be done to reduce, or eliminate these vibrations.  Tube dampeners are just one small area to attack ... even to the point of location of the tube rings on the tubes. 

Could a new topic be in the offing?  
 
oregonpapa OP
941 posts
06-03-2016 9:43am
^^^
"Reducing micro vibrations is a major key in obtaining a highly resolving system. As a vinyl lover, the only thing I want vibrating is that needle in the record groove. 

So many in the hobby, especially newbies, aren't aware of what can be done to reduce, or eliminate these vibrations. Tube dampeners are just one small area to attack ... even to the point of location of the tube rings on the tubes.

Could a new topic be in the offing?"

Sounds like voodoo to me. I'm down.


^^^^  Well, you know me ... I love "voodoo,"  .... fuses, cables, etc. :-)

Lots of information out there from many credible sources about tube microphonics.

No voodoo there.

Which dampers work best when needed?   The standard ones that came on the tubes in my Arc pre-amp seem pretty simple and effective.   Others might be better or at least produce different results for sure.   YMMV most likely.



mapman
13,366 posts
06-03-2016 12:04pm
"Lots of information out there from many credible sources about tube microphonics.

No voodoo there.

Which dampers work best when needed? The standard ones that came on the tubes in my Arc pre-amp seem pretty simple and effective. Others might be better or at least produce different results for sure. YMMV most likely."

Sorry to be the beare of bad news, but they all suck. Every single one of them, including the pricey Swiss Ensemble tube socks, all those cute little elastomer rings, the ebony hats the, crystals, what have you, all except one. And all those dampers seem like such a good idea, too. See if you can guess which one doesn’t suck.

Yeah, you're right, there's lots of credible info out there.  The trick is to separate the credible from the uh incredible. 

An ordinary man has no means of deliverance.



geoffkait ...

If the stock tube rings from ARC "suck," why is there such an improvement with them in the proper placement, and why the degradation of the sound when they are totally removed from the tubes?  

I don't like to guess. What tube dampeners are you referring to?

Mapman ...

Have you tried moving the tube rings to the position suggested in the opening post in this thread? If so ... what were the results??

OP
OP

I put mine on both close to the top but not touching.  I have heard microphonic effects in the sound from time to time in the past with no dampers on and this seems to solve the problem though I am sure there are other ways as well. 

I think GK mentioned liking the Herbies dampers if I recall correctly.   Don't recall why.
^^^ Mapman ...

Those Herbies dampeners look interesting.  

Warren Gehl at ARC suggested that the two rings be pressed together and placed about 1/8th inch from the top of the tubes. No gap between the rings. It made a big overall improvement in my ARC electronics ... not subtle at all. 
Oregonpapa wrote,

"geoffkait ...

If the stock tube rings from ARC "suck," why is there such an improvement with them in the proper placement, and why the degradation of the sound when they are totally removed from the tubes?"

I was was referring to generic elastomer rings, never tried the ARC tube rings. I guess they're what you call an exception. There's an exception to every rule.  ;-)


OP next time I open that sucker up I will check the dampers and try that.

I last dabbled with them quite a ways back. Its possible they are set up as you describe already but not sure. I know they are at the top not far apart but not sure if actually touching. Could be....

Revisiting this "tweak",
I decided to go back in to my preamp and do some experimentation with dampers and pulled off the ARC elastomer rings, and replaced them with some original herbies teflon halo's that  I had in a baggie, in the audio"junk drawer". I placed them in the same spot, (high up as the stock ARC rings were as suggested by oregonpapa). To my surprise, they did in fact bring a sweeter sound, and brought a greater sense of bloom to the instruments, without adding any muddiness.  

The ARC rings sound constricted by comparison and almost give, dare I say "nervous" kind of presentation. The herbies brought a very relaxed sound, with an added sense of ease and weight to the sound. I believe the rings have something to do with the ARC gear having that solid state kind of presentation.  I also feel like the Highes are cleaner and less bright than before.

 Now mind you, these are the original halos, and not the current top of the line herbies dampers.  I'm impressed so far. I will leave them in for a while and listen to more material to really see what they are doing.  I do like the increase in bloom for sure. I think the rings constrict the bloom IMHO.  
Audiolover718 wrote,

"The ARC rings sound constricted by comparison and almost give, dare I say "nervous" kind of presentation. The herbies brought a very relaxed sound, with an added sense of ease and weight to the sound. I believe the rings have something to do with the ARC gear having that solid state kind of presentation. I also feel like the Highes are cleaner and less bright than before."

That's my experience with all of the elastomer rings I have tried as well as ALL other types of tube dampers with the notable exception of Herbies dampers. I also started with the original Herbies Halo dampers and have had the latest version as well. In fact, removing the elastomer rings and using no tube dampers at provided a more open sound. Could this whole thing be an example of expectation bias?

cheers

^^^
Hmmm ... velly, velly interesting indeed. 

I'm going to have to revisit those Herbie dampeners. 
one observation is that all or almost all other dampers have a lot of contact surface area with the glass whereas Herbies dampers have the extreme minimum contact area due to their very clever construction. As Isoclean the Japanese high end emporium states so succinctly, "be careful of over dumping."
^^^ Agreed.  I've had the experience of over dampening a number of times. It calls to mind an experiment I did with shrink wrap on my Well Tempered tone arm.  First layer - overall improvement. Second layer - no change. Third layer - a dulling of the sound. I settled on one layer and that layer remains on the tone arm to this day. 
Oregonpapa, if you have some herbies that aren’t in use, then I highly suggest that you brush the dust off of them and replace the ARC rings that are at least on the signal tubes of your pre. For me, the difference is not subtle. I do feel at first, you may think you’ve lost some of the highs as compared to the ARC rings, but I think you’ll agree, once you let the herbies settle in, that the ARC rings give a very highly tightly focused sound, but absolutely strangles the bloom of the instruments- Minimizing the full natural fleshiness of them. It may seem at first like a lower Rez, but you will actually realize after a little while, that the sound is actually more true to the real sense of the instrument. Yes, detail is very exciting to me, but it’s not everything. My stereo actually breathes now. I didn’t know just how much of the signature of my preamp was due to the elastomer rings. Yes, with the original herbies halos, the sound is somewhat slower than rings, dynamics are a teeny bit lessened, but the overall presentation is MUCH more tonally correct with more natural timbres, harmonic complexity and image sizes, smoother better defined highs, with better definition, * even if the noise floor seems ever so slightly higher. I’m in love with the new found bass weight. I may need to readjust my subwoofer...I look forward to hearing if you hear what I do. I wonder if the new top of the line herbies would be a worthwhile upgrade from my "old school"halos. The more I listen to different well known material, the more I realize just how the herbies blow the rings away.  I think they sound even better tonight than last night, after settling on the tube.  They are freaking amazing. Wow. Listening to Bon Jovi prayer 94 and it's become a religious experience. It's like a whole new song. In fact I would say. I'm actually hearing MORE resolution! I'm floored. 

I think it's worth mentioning that for larger tubes like 6SN7 and large rectifier tubes such as the coke bottle Tung Sol, a second Herbies damper placed on the base of the tube will further improve upon the first damper (which should be located on the glass portion wherever the getter is located. For bottom getters the damper should be placed on the bottom of the glass.

Very useful information in this thread. I've been contemplating buying Herbies Dampers for my ARC Ref 75SE and Modwright 36.5. It's good to hear the favourable reports.

I have always believed the standard position for a damper is about 1/3 down from the top of the tube, that's any tube. It seems it's more complicated.

I do love the ARC, but it doesn't have a hewn from a billet of Aluminium
 case, the top plate is pretty flimsy. When I contact Herbie for the rings, I was contemplating some Tenderfeet and a couple of Supersonic Stabilisers for the top plate. Has anyone had good or bad experiences with these. I tried HRS top plates and couldn't hear any difference. At least Herbies are reasonably priced.

Audiolover ...

Thanks for the VERY well written report on the Herbie dampeners. Your experience isn't unlike what I've experienced with other tweaks that reduce micro vibrations throughout the system.

What you've described is akin to getting closer to the sound of real instruments playing live in the room. Whenever I listen to live music, I try to compare it to what I hear in my system. This includes live concerts ... and my town's high school marching band at Friday night football games. (yep, I'm totally hooked on high school football.) 

What I notice with the live music is that it is really laid back compared to reproduced music in the home. Very natural sounding. No blare ... or "cringe factor," if you will. You're right about "seeming lower rez." That's what I hear with live music ... even when playing at its loudest, it still has a relaxed sense to it. 

You've got me really curious about the Herbies now.

David 12 ...

I have the ARC Ref-75 SE too. Just as a suggestion, exchange the stock fuse with a Synergistic Research Black fuse. The KT-150 is a great tube and allows for that "low grain" presentation and the good dynamics. BUT, what I thought was a close to a grain-free amp, was transformed with the SR Black fuse. Give it 50-100 hours to break in and you'll be amazed. Here's a link:  http://highend-electronics.com/products/synergistic-research-black-quantum-fuses

Thanks for the information on the Herbies goodies, guys. 

OP


Anyone have experience with tube dampers and Manley Steelhead ?
Update:

I just learned from Steve at Herbies that the original halos may not tolerate the heat from a 6h30, and "may not hold up in the long run" therefore I will remove them and put the rings back on for now.  He did suggest the rx 9.  
There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Use an external fan like the O 2 Cool (get it?) to cool down the offending tubes. Then you can use the Herbies dampers. I used to have the Bada headphone amp, a great hybrid tube amp that runs real hot. I used the O 2 Cool fan to cool the whole thing down so the tubes were only warm to the touch. No way I'm listening to tubes without Herbies dampers. Period.
Geoffkait, thanks for the suggestion!