You hit the nail on the head, Mprime. To draw conclusions about a $4000 amp with stock $20 tubes is unwittingly biased, IMO. It shortchanges the listener from what a particular component is truly capable of doing. Just read all of the reviews here about the Jolida JD-100A and you will see what a difference tube rolling can make. The same could be said regarding interconnects, power cords, isolation devices, etc.
For me, there is no dabbling in NOS tubes. The sonic variations and performance capabilities one finds there are absolutely addictive.
All the best,
How about you kick it off with this thread?
I'd be really interested to hear what tubes you've tried in your (I'm assuming) AES AE-3 DJH. I've got one, but haven't done any seious rollin'.
You don't also happen to have a pair of Sixpacs that you've been rollin'?
It is interesting that many really great amps come with poor tubes. My McIntosh 2102 came with some cheap Chinese tubes, and yes it also came with some excellant Svetlana KT88 tubes; and my Audio Capitole amp came with JJs and Sovtec tubes..
I changed out the JJs with Svetlana, the Sovtec tubes with with electro harmonix on the audio Aero and I replaced the Chinese stuff with NOS Mullards and Sylvania tubes. My wife came home and asked me what I did to make the music sound so good......
Yes, there is Audio-wedded bliss,,,,,,,
No kidding, Unclejeff. We put a Siemens 6922 in our Audio Aero Prima hybrid amp, and my wife asked what happened that it sounds so good. We swapped the stock Edicron 6922's for NOS Siemens in our Audion amp, and the Siemens lent an immediacy and liveliness to the sound that gives me the chills.
You see, we don't have kids, so my Siemens has to serve an alterate role in the reproduction process.
What bothers me about this situation is that some of the best NOS tubes are now stratospherically priced and will soon, I expect, be unavailable. It doesn't do me a lot of good to hear how well a matched pair of Tung-Sol round plate 6SN7s worked and then see a pair would cost me over $250 if I could even find them.
A review of a tube amp with such tubes wouldn't seem very fair to me.
A hobbyist new to tubes has a lot of learning to do. Sure, there is now info available on the Net where before you had to find an actual person with experience who was willing to share. But I'm guessing that the guys who know most keep quiet about the best tubes, just like the old fisherman keeps his best pool a secret. That leaves the rest of us with severely lightened wallets after a long series of trials.
And much gratitude for the kind of tip we can get here !
Some modern tubes get very good press, though--Valve Art, some Flying C, and others. My hope and prayer is that before the best NOS is completely used up, these manufacturers will reach quality standards high enough that in years to come we won't see a bunch of tube amp owners standing around glumly at shows and muttering about what music used to be.
Nrenter: I have some NOS KenRad black glass in my DJH now. A whole different world from those Chinese tubes (yuk). No, I do not have the sixpacks. BTW, your review and email were insturmental in my getting the DJH; thanks, I am quite happy.
Tobais: Yes, the price and finite supply of the NOS tubes is alarming (my concern is that I will find a tube I am in love with only to find supply dry up). Then again, I do have faith in the market - a supply will always exist (for a price) and as prices rise, it is not unreasonable for new manufacturers to enter with premium tubes. As for the old fisherman with his secret pond, well, I guess I won't be posting any more about tubes....
Nah, this hobby is too fun to keep to myself (part of the joy of Audiogon) and I can get a fulfilling performance from many types of tubes.
You're a generous sort, Mprime. Very cool.
I have a pal with the same preamp as yours and he's looking for NOS tubes for it now. He has tried Ken-Rad black glass but found the sound congested ; maybe they were not the staggered plate version.
I have a pair of Brimars for him to try when he gets a chance.
Thanks for the kind words. And I'm glad you're enjoying the pre-amp. Every day I seem to appreciate and enjoy the AES AE-3 DJH even more. I've currently got some EH 6SN7s in mine that shipped stock with a friend's Rogue 99 Magnum pre. While they are better than the stock Chinese, I wouldn't call them "magical". After the 1st of the year I'll be calling Kevin for something new to play with. I was hoping to get some tube suggestions from this thread.
My pal has consigned his AE-3 to a local dealer for sale :-( This means I won't get to hear it with the Brimars.
He did like it with NOS Raytheons, and the 60's flavour, not even the premium support rod kind. He thought 60's GE side getters sounded a bit thin. His final pick was a JAN Philips pair, which gave him the openness he wanted and a bit more bass than the Raytheons. These are the tubes which cost a bomb from AES / Cary, but which you can find more cheaply on eBay.
Hey, look! Eric Idle joined us!!