Tube myths

Many have asked me the same question, "How does the tube sound?" Well, the sound of the tube, is affected by numerous factors, such as circuit interaction, voltage applied to the tube, system setup, use of the tube, etc. All these things, combine, to make the sonics that one's hears, in his system. A bright sounding tube, in a mellow system, will appear to sound neutral. A tube that accentuates, the presence region, in a room with a dip, in that same region, will sound neutral. A neutral sounding tube, in a etched sounding system, will pass the etched sound along, and appear to sound etched. See what I am getting at? It's very hard, to know how a tube will sound, to the end user, in his/her room, and his/her system, based on how it sounds, in yours.
Different tube manufacturers, had a "house sound", whereas the tubes, they manufactured, tended to follow. But to what degree, the end user, will hear this sound, is solely influenced, by the various factors.
Another question frequently asked, "Is the tube NOS?" Manufacturers published a "spec sheet", that listed a set of parameters, that determined, a NOS(New Old Stock) tube. In order to determine if a tube meets this specification, one must determine, the test conditions, and invariably, test for voltage gain(emission). The voltage applied to the tube, must meet the manufacturers specs, to determine, if the emissions, are what the manufacturers specified. The NOS spec, is 99% of the time, lower, than the actual emissions, of a true NOS tube. A true NOS, unused tube, tested, according to the manufacturers spec, will almost always exceed the NOS spec, by approx 10%. A tube with an emission reading of 100%, tested accordingly, usually indicates, some use. However small, it is still used. Not knowing the history, of the tube, it takes, a true emission tester, that the applied voltage, can be varied, and a working knowledge(experience) to determine, to any truthful degree, that a tube is NOS. Mutual conductance testing, is a great way to match tubes(except power tubes), but is very unreliable, in ascertaining, whether a tube is NOS. The cosmetic condition(the way a tube looks) means nothing, as far as to whether it is NOS.
I will periodically, post more info, on the various, tube myths, that are floating around the web. My best advice, is to find a tube dealer, who is willing to stand 100%, behind his products, and knowledgeable, about the product, they are offering.
Fletchj, I agree with your 1st para re the intrinsic sound of a tube and its actual sound being determined by its use. Here's a thought - instead of spending a fortune on equipment and cabling to compensate for problems in each other, have all tube equipment in the first place and just tune your room to your expectations using different tubes in each unit. I'd bet with good ears you could do this using current production tubes and not even have to resort to using high priced NOS tubes.

Good ears can fool ya no matter how golden they are. If a tube is blown after short period of time than you know NOS or not.

The lower quality tubes are the more complicated the integration of circuit should be in terms of protection.
Marakanetz, One of my points is that new production tubes can sound great and can be rugged as well. You just have to be able to have options regarding their placement. Trying to tune one piece of equipment alone could well send you into NOS to get the quality you are looking for. Obviously the choices are greater. But, for example, a lot of folks spend big bucks for Tele's when some of the new production EI's are,arguably, as good in anything but the most demanding application. Why spend your money if you don't have to. My second point was that i smelled an undisclosed sales pitch by someone specializing in the sale of expensive tested and matched NOS tubes. Perhaps I was wrong.
"My best advice, is to find a tube dealer, who is willing to stand 100%, behind his products, and knowledgeable, about the product, they are offering."

Could that dealer be, Oh, I don't know, perhaps YOU!

Come on, if you want to promote yourself then take out an ad and pay for it. The discussion forum is not the place to do it.
Yes, this is all very self serving on the part of the poster.

Herman is right; if you want to advertize then spend the dime.

Yes, it would be nice if the "private" tube dealers would @ least register themselves as "industry" pro's.

Another one that does not comply (in regard to this) is Fatbottle @ Audio Asylum.
Newbee "Why spend your money if you don't have to". Are you kidding? The whole point of high-end audio is to filter the sound through one's pocketbook. The sound is obviously dollar dependant. Most of the time you don't even have to read between the lines, the posters will gladly opine that more money means better sound, the exceptions being few and far between. Among the sacred cows: NOS tubes. How many tubes were produced and not sold to have still have stock on hand. Unless "NOS" should not be taken literally.
Pbb, I tend to look at mosts things cynically, sort of like being an agnostic. There are a lot of things that I believe may well be nothing more than an illusion, but until I have personally experienced it I reserve judgment. I think a lot of the reverence for NOS tubes is hype by financially interested sellers, HOWEVER there really is better NOS stuff that can't be duplicated in current production and demand determines the price. If you can afford it why not spend your money on it or would you rather have, say a better watch, car, etc? One of my favorite observations is "you may not get what you pay for, but you will never get more than what you pay for". Some people who can afford it appreciate the difference and are willing to buy it. Good for them, they are enjoying their lives.
Marankanetz"Good ears can fool you, no matter how golden they are. If a tube is blown after a short period of time... Ears do not fool you. What you hear, you either like, or you do not like. Trust your ears, as to what you like, not what someone says, you should like. A dealer who stands behind his product 100%, will take into account, that some tubes will fail, early in their use, like all electronics, and allow for some compensation, such as a replacement warranty. No amount of testing, can guarentee, that a tube, will not fail.
Herman, This is why I stated, that it is important, to find a dealer, that is willing to stand behind his product. The reason, you need one with knowledge, of tubes, is because manufacturers routinely bought other manufacturers tubes, and sold them, under their own brand. A knowledgeable dealer, will know exactly what he is selling, not what is printed on the tube. Also, certain tubes, have a propensity, to be microphonic, this should also be mentioned, to potential purchasers. There are a lot of new tube users, and they surf the web, for comments, about tubes. A lot of applications, paying a premium price, for premium tubes, is not neccessary. Why pay, for some difference, you will not hear? A dealer interested in providing you with the best sonics, and value, will disclose this information to you. The purpose of the posting, was to answer the most frequently asked questions, that I receive. There are a lot of tube dealers, that put the purchasers interests, first, as it should be. What I stated, is that it is worthwhile, to seek them out.
As far as NOS vs current production, there is nothing wrong with either. Tubes are not priced, according to quality, or sonics. They are priced according to availability, rarity. A tube that costs $200, is not neccessarily 100 times better, than one priced at $20. It's just much harder to find, and therefore, by the laws of supply and demand, priced accordingly. A rare tube, carries a high price, regardless, of it's perceived sonics. I myself do not hear vast differences, between the revered tubes, and the later vintages, of the same manufacturers. But small differences, mean a great deal, to others, and they should be the final arbiters, of the tubes relative value. You must understand, if these things I state, are obvious to you, then this post, was not meant for you. It was meant for those just starting in our wonderful hobby, of using tubes, and needed some straight info.
This is a discussion forum, not a place to advertise.

I do not disagree with the information you have provided regarding tubes and dealers. What I take exception to is your stance that you are doing this as service to your fellow hobbyist. When you initiate a post promoting yourself as a knowledgeable, caring provider of NOS tubes, you are advertising.
Herman, there was no reference to myself, as anything. I did not even state, what my experience, with tubes are, nor for that matter, what experience I have. I only stated, what one should look for. Everything else, you have assumed, is based on what is going on, in your mind, what you inferred, not what was stated. If you agree, that a knowledgeable, and dependable dealer is important, then we are in agreement. I am not advertising myself, I am simply stating, what I think, about tube myths. That is what this forum, is for.
OK, let's examine the facts, no inferences or assumptions.

1. Fletchj is a dealer in NOS tubes
2. Fletchj posts detailed information on NOS tubes setting himself up as being knowledgeable about these tubes
3. Fletchj advises us to buy only from knowlegeable dealers defines advertise as "To make public announcement of, especially to proclaim the qualities or advantages of (a product or business) so as to increase sales" says it is "to present (a product or idea) in a favorable light to win public patronage, support, or approval."

I have no way of discerning your intentions, so I will accept that you did not intend this as an advertisment. However, whether intentional or not, you placed an ad.
When one offers information, one should be knowledgeable about the information, one is offering. Think aboutit, if a doctor told someone, that they should visit a doctor, for an ailment, they were suffering from, is he advertising himself, or offering, what he thinks, is pertinent information?
Your analogy is flawed.

How will a doctor know someone is ill unless that person contacts the doctor for advice?

If that same doctor goes onto some public forum and proclaims that they are an expert in some field of medicine, then they are advertising by any definition of the word you choose to use. Just, like, you, did.

Evidently you are unwilling or unable to grasp this simple concept so I am wasting my time. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor to sell NOS tubes. If you wish to continue to use this forum to advertise your expertise and solicit new business, and Audiogon is willing to allow it, then I suppose that is between you and them and I will butt out.

I've bought from fletchj here on audiogon and would not classify him as an 'opportunity' salesman. His post was to show that every tube has a system dependency associated with it and that buying on tube sound generalizations without further knowledge and component matching can lead one astray.

I found fletch thru some old posts on the archives and he was very helpful at my request to recommend various tubes. He gave me quite a bit of valuable info and never a strong sales pitch. Others did plenty of that. He also recommended best bang for the buck sonic options for a ten tube preamp when others were thinking goldmine. So a month or so later, when I was ready to buy I bought from him and was very satisfied.

Buying NOS tubes can be a very risky business, but it's nice to be able to buy from someone who is very knowledgeable, has very reputable stock and testing, will try to best match your components and sonic desires and stands behind his product. I'm glad Audiogon allows us such a forum to meet prospective suppliers.

I'm willing to shell out a little bit more to know what I am getting than to play russian roulette with online tube sales.

I appreciate Fletch educating others on tube matching on this forum. Should we scare away a knowledgable contributer just because they also happen to sell in their specialty? Frankly, I enjoy the various perspectivess here, and believe that most dealers are a helpful asset, and not hell bent on the next sale. I have appreciated the contacts and sales I have made on various audio gear here.

If Audiogon needs a 'forum sales' police, they could spend their time better elsewhere.
Audiotomb, it is great that Fletchj is a great guy and a knowledgable person on all things tube. No one questioned his business dealings, the quality of his products or his copious information on the glass bottles. This, however, does not excuse his "advertorial" and its attendent self-promotion. When I have seen vendors post into these forums before it regularly starts off with something to the effect "I just want to say that I am a dealer who carries brand "x", but I feel...". I don't know if that is appropriate for these forums either but, at least it alerts those reading to the vested financial interest and related bias in the poster. Nowhere do I see anything of this nature here and perhaps this is what is most worrysome about the post.
What about Rives?
I see his effort is only helpfull here even despite regulatory.
Marakanez, I'm not Marty, but I've nothing better to do at the moment - I think the difference, if there is one, is that Rives has openly declared himself to be a dealer and has placed ads in audiogon. When he gives advise to someone seeking it to try his products he has probably gone beyond the bounds - HOWEVER, i have not seen him post spontaneously to the effect that you need to consult with an expert to tune your room. This is precisely what Fletchj has done. The problem is, lets say you want to follow his advise, whom would you call - I don't know of a directory for NOS dealers which lists dealers with whom Fletchj competes and I'd bet that if you believed his disertations on tubes and were not experienced yourself you'd contact him. He is trying to create a demand for his business so he can then step in and fill the demand. And you will note that dispite all of the posts saying he is a dealer he has not declared, at least I have not seen it, that he is a NOS dealer and I believe that he has purposefully avoided it. Another thing that bothers me about his comments re tube expertise, he makes it sound like if I call him and describe my equipment he can recommend the correct tube for my application, the one that will sound best. As "sounding best" is always subjective and subect to the equipments synergy with other equipment as well as the room, are we to believe that he really has the extensive knowledge required to determine which tube is going to sound best in our system/room, that is he know how all equipment sounds and rooms sound. He implies that he can. Maybe I'm a cynic, but frankly I doubt it. Oh well, at least everyone who reads these post now know that he is a tube seller. Caveat emptor!
The vast majority of members do look-up on the other members' profiles and no member can "hide" the product one's selling.

It's just simply a matter of placing the right words(which I would do on Fletchj's place) at the end of his post sort-of business e-mail, name, phone or any applicable contact information - in general and in this particular case thus letting know members of ones capability to give advice and help to acquire product if neccessary. Dealing with the mass media is a tricky task and maybe after these truthfull words at the end of each post with business contact information(heck not suppose to be any home property, renting some smallest will suffice) there will be members who will ignore and for sure there will be members who will not but the bottom-line fact will be that the truthfull information is present(want to mention Rives again) to anyone who looks-up or doesn't onto the members' profiles.

By simply looking at his or anyone's PAID adds it's tough to establish a decision for the casual tube hunter exatly identically to the one's trying to stuff the room with acoustic treatments with poor or no knowlege jumping from one dealer(or seller) to another and spending one's valuable time realy turning a hobby onto the hell or insanity.

It's then all up to the member to make a decision based on feedback from the others.

The moderation guideline specifically points out about direct attempt to sell the item i.e.

--Oh! I have one for sale drop me an e-mail!--

That is not the case everybody seing with Fletchj in any of his posts.

In case with Rives I'd tell you the truth: I was firstly ingnoring his posts simply because I saw the same mentioned truthful words at the and and thought that he's just selling his product and no more but later-on I'm more and more and more learn from his posts and recommendations.

In the future if you will mention your contact information at the end of EACH post you will only earn more of member's attention IF and only IF you stand and proven to stand for your product 100% or even more.
You know, I have taken a lot of criticism, for offering infomation, that many thought, new tube users, might find useful. Although noone seems to disagree, with the validity of the comments, they seem wholly distrustful, of my intentions. As a knowledgeable tube person, who has dealt with tubes, for over 30 years, I thought I'd pass on some simple info. Do not worry, this will not happen again. I have no need to drum up business, that is what my adversements, on Audiogon, are for. So you may thank Herman, Newbie, Viridian et al, for censoring information, that may have been pertinent, for a tube novice. Maybe they can answer some tube questions, since they seem to be so intuitive, as to ones motives. So fellow Agonners, I have been gagged, by the self righteous few, who have decided, who, and how, information, should be proffered.
To confuse criticism with censorship is truly playing the martyr. You are the straw the man. Audiogon has not censored you. Perhaps tube use makes one have thin skin.
Gagged by the self-righteous few! How about revealed by experienced consumers. No one censored any information Fletchj wanted to convey, and frankly no one directly said he was wrong, even when some thought he was, including myself. For myself, I only questioned his dubious method of conducting his business by not clearly identifying himself as a person seling NOS tubes. The last post by Fletchi sez far more about him than has ever been said about him by others or his own posts. Sounds to me like a little kid who wants to pick up his marbles and go home because others won't play by his rules. He even had to resort to name calling. Too bad for him.