Tube life


Wondering if my tubes or my hearing’s going. Feeling my system should sound better. Bought  Vandersteen Quatros 2 months ago and believe I've got them dialed in fairly well. I include this because I don't have years of listening to them to compare back to. Have to turn my CJ Premier 16 pre to about 43 to get a decent amount of sound. These Quatros replaced Tannoy Kensingtons that only needed a volume setting of 32 for a decent amount of sound.

System is:  

• Pre:   Conrad Johnson Premier 16LS
• Pwr:   Conrad Johnson Premier 12 Mono Blocks
• Pwr Condtnr: Shunyata Hydra
• Speakers: Vandersteen Quatros
• Cabeling: Stealth PGS IC’s, Vandenhull Bi-wire Speaker wiring
• Sources: Conrad Johnson DV-2B CD Player, SOTA Star w/SME arm w/Benz cart, Magnum Dynalab Tube Tun
• Music:   Classic Rock, Easy listening, Female Jazz singers, Classical
• Room:   Big (25 X 30) w/cathedral ceiling. Harwood floors/ceiling and big glass windows. Rugs and furniture

Replaced all unit's tubes 5 years ago and bought them all from Conrad Johnson. Play the system about 10 hours a week so that would be about 2600 hours of play.

Think the tubes have seen their better days? My hearing? I'm 56...

Thank you!

It's a simple difference in sensitivity of the speakers, The Quatros are 87db efficient and Kensingtons 93bd, so you need higher volume to attain the same loudness. On the subject of tubes 5 years is a decent long time you may want to look at retubing or better yet getting your tubes tested if you have a local dealer with a tube tester. Hope that helps!
Thank you jond, yeah quite a difference in efficiency you pointed out. Doubting there's a local dealer with tube testing ability but I'm sure going to look, that'd be great!

Thanks again,
2500 hours is not an excessive amount for the small signal tubes in most pre-amps (there are exceptions) but it's getting up there for power tubes.  At that point, not a bad idea to buy a set, if  you can't find someone to test them.  If there is a big improvement, you have your answer.  If not, you have a spare set for the inevitable day when one or more tubes goes bad. 
Thank you swampwalker, exactly where my thoughts have gone too. $1,500 when I last tubed though....yikes!!
Anyone care to recommend a place to buy tubes that may cost less than what I put forth above? Looking at right now. Is there a place here on Audiogon that I'm not aware of? Bad idea to buy tubes from one other than the unit's manufacturer??

Thank you!
Check out The Tube Store.  I have bought from them many times.
You don't need to get your tubes from the manufacturer of your amp.  Just get them from someone who matches them and a 30 day or so warranty would be nice because you sometimes get a bad tube.

Do a search for tube dealers and you will find many recommendations.
Tube depot is fine.  I have not had any problems with product or service.  
My experience with output tubes is approximately 1600 hours.  Triple that for the input/driver tubes.
The volume setting as others have stated is due to the difference in efficiency.
The problem with tubes is they slowly degrade.     I recently purchased new speakers and they didn't really sound like they did in the showroom.....   At first I attributed it to break in , which I think in all honestly is more of your ears acclimating to a different sonic signature.   But then I thought , how many hours are on these tubes?  So I retubed and what a difference.   Not that it sounded horrible , but it was lacking dynamics and sounded recessed.    Things really opened up with new EL34s.  I would estimate they had about 2500 or more hours.  I listen a lot , music , tv, and movies.   For NOS tubes , Brent Jesse is a good source.   For current production I would suggest Jim Mc Shane for the simple reason that your amps use four tubes each.   He is reputable and will send you 8 matched tubes .    I have monos and I know , you dont really have to have 8 matched but I like to have a matched quad , two in each amp just so both amps are "the same" with regard to tubes.   
Thank you oddiofyl, your experience sounds just like mine! The switch in speakers coinciding with the escalating degrading of tubes really threw a curve in assessing!

I have a local guitar/ amp tech who is also into tube hifi who will test tubes for free.   I went on his recommendation of Mullard repop EL34 and they sound great.   Guys like him sometimes have some really good NOS tubes too.  

For around $320 you can get a 8 matched Tung-sol reproduction 6550's from Upscale Audio. That's where I buy my tubes these days excellent quality and reliability and good service. What brand is c-j offering these days?
My last purchase from CJ was Electro-Harmonix 6550's...
$1500 for an octet of EH 6550's seems excessive to the point of gouging. Even if that includes the smaller signal tubes it's still very excessive. I would buy my tubes from any of the vendors mentioned above before giving c-j another dime for tubes.
Anyone have experience First Sound for Manley power mono ?