TUBE NOOB: WHAT BRAND


I am looking for a really unusual tube. In one of my previous posts I had a couple of audiogon members point out a few good sites and I was able to locate some for sale. My initial problem was not finding any, now I have too many to chose from.

The tube: 6CL8A/6CL8

Brands available: RCA, GE, Sylvania, Tung Sol..etc.. quite a few.

I know nothing about this other than I want the best one possible. I would like one that minimizes microphonics and that sounds like tube heaven, help me out. Thanks a million guys.
dfelkai
What you will get by asking which is the "best one possible" is what other people like.Only you can decide which is the "best one possible" for you.Try out a few of the ones you listed and find out for yourself what you like.
It's good to ask questions, but sometimes one has to try things on their own without the help or input from others.
Out of the four brands you mention, New Old Stock (NOS) Sylvania would be the better choice in my opinion.
What are you guys talking about? Some general advice for someone who knows nothing about tubes would be helpful. This is very unusual for audiogon.

1) I know some brands will be junk, a warning would be nice.

2) Do you have to match these tubes the way you do power tubes?

3) What specification will illustrate how a tube handles microphonics?

4) How can I test them electronically to make sure I am getting what I pay for.

This information would be helpful. Yes, I will experiment, but some guidelines would help make things easier for me. I would like to benefit from other peoples experience in this hobby, instead of spinning my wheels needlessly. That along with my reciprocation of knowledge is what this forum is all about. Besides what do I do, buy 30 sets of tubes and spend 3 weeks trying them all. That is just foolish!

Again, some help and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to those who decide to contribute positively to this discussion.
Try to identify what your trying to improve sonically before purchasing that special tube.

Do you want extended highs with much details and an even smoother midrange, or looking for a wider soundstage that you can almost swim in.
My choice, (in order) would be:

1. Tung Sol
2. Sylvania
3. RCA
4. GE
" 17-09: Lapierre
Try to identify what your trying to improve sonically before purchasing that special tube.

Do you want extended highs with much details and an even smoother midrange, or looking for a wider soundstage that you can almost swim in. "

YES: Wider Sound stage, will I need swimming lessons? So, which one will make me want to practice my breast stroke?

Do you expect me to say no to the other 2 things you mentioned, yeah I want extended highs( not as much as stage). and I would also like a smooth mid range, though I am quite happy with the mid range at present. The tubes I have are approximately 12 years old, were moderately used, have become a little noisey over the past little while and I have a balance issue.....Hence the replacement! Yeah I want to replace them with the best tubes I can get my hands on.
It's called tube rolling & you may be doing a lot of it to find the tubes you like. I enjoyed it when I had tube amps.
What are you guys talking about? Some general advice for someone who knows nothing about tubes would be helpful

This is what the forums are for....do some reading and then you would have a better understanding of what members are referring to. Why did you get into tube equipment if you know nothing about it then ?

I would like to benefit from other peoples experience in this hobby, instead of spinning my wheels needlessly.

So members of this forum with their experience do the homework for you so that you never fail . Sometimes failure is good. So what if you buy some tubes that you dont particular care for, turn around and resell them. Do you think that every piece of gear has always worked with every member here ?

Besides what do I do, buy 30 sets of tubes and spend 3 weeks trying them all. That is just foolish!


Who said anything about buying 30 sets of tubes ? You have to use a little common sense ....
All of your forum threads demand answers that will expound ONE particular item or product over all others. There are no instant answers or solutions. All choices are subjective and in the final analysis you may disagree with the collective opinion of Audiogon Members. Yes, you will need to experiment with a variety of components and component parts to find the right combination.

Since the audio equipment was originally your fathers why not replace tubes and cartridges with the same make/model that he used. Apparently, he was willing to go through the learning process to discover what worked well in the system.
One tip for lower microphonics: choose tubes whose internal plate structure appears robust.

Some tubes have tall, thin vertical plates that look like a gentle breeze would tobble them over. Such tubes TEND to sound bloated, rosy or microphonic.

Other tubes have short, folded or even doubled plates that look sturdy enough to support an elephant. These tubes TEND to sound tighter, more neutral and less microphonic.

The above demonstrates the universal importance of controlling/reducing vibration and resonances in audio equipment of all kinds. In that regard, Herbie's Tube Dampeners are also effective IME for reducing microphonics/bloat with nearly any tube.

Matching of small signal tubes is usually unnecessary (perhaps depending on the circuit they're being used in). I buy matched sets because it only costs a few bucks and it can't hurt, but its probably overkill - even in a $12K preamp.

As for the sound of one tube vs. another, that's too dependent on the equipment and the whole system for me to offer any opinion. I can describe what different tubes do in my preamp. I have little idea what they'd do in yours.

I do suggest you try new production tubes from the likes of JJ or Electro-Harmonix, assuming they make the types you need. Their performance can be strikingly good for far less money than many highly sought after NOS rarities. Don't buy into the snob appeal without trying the everyday stuff first - it may surprise you.
IME New production output power tubes are better for certain models, but for signal tubes (ie, 12AX7 or 6SN7) NOS is always better, and they make a very big difference, different flavors and its tough to know what you will like, it is like asking which is the best cartridge...
Now, since tube rolling is not a new thing, usually higher priced tubes are better (no wonder)...

I would agree with Mofimadness start with Tung-sol and Sylvania
"What are you guys talking about?" Tubes are like every other component in the chain-except more so. Virtually every person you ask will have their own opinions, so it's ridiculous to demand to know 'the best'. Do some research, buy a set of tubes, listen to them for weeks, attempt to isolate what you do/don't like about them, do some more research, try another set. Etc. Yes, this process can take a long time. Years even. Fortunately, it's not torture-unlike, say, a crappy, ear-bleed cartridge, tube differences are generally subtle enough that, unless something's horribly wrong, any set will be listenable. It's all about nuance.

And one other piece of advice-drop the dickhead attitude. People are giving their time to try and help you, whether you know it or not.

vaya con dios
Amen!!!!
>>""What are you guys talking about?" Tubes are like every >>other component in the chain-except more so. Virtually >>every person you ask will have their own opinions, so >>it's ridiculous to demand to know 'the best'. Do some >>research, buy a set of tubes, listen to them for weeks, >>attempt to isolate what you do/don't like about them, do >>some more research, try another set. Etc. Yes, this >>process can take a long time. Years even. Fortunately, >>it's not torture-unlike, say, a crappy, ear-bleed >>cartridge, tube differences are generally subtle enough >>that, unless something's horribly wrong, any set will be >>listenable. It's all about nuance.

>>And one other piece of advice-drop the dickhead attitude. >>People are giving their time to try and help you, whether >>you know it or not."

I am tired of being berated about this. I contribute to this forum as well, where I can. You can see my post where I had long discussion about home made cables, where i spoke with a cable manufacturer and he made a video for us. The "dickhead attitude" is what I got when I asked a simple question for tube advice. The initial response I got was " buy all the tubes you can and try them". Do I have to point out again how counter productive this is. It only makes sense to ask an expert, so you don't have to torture yourself and wallet. Again this forum is supposed to for sharing knowledge. My homework will be shared when I have more experience, and my questions, that get answered will be viewed by others who have similar questions. Now that we understand how a forum works, we can continue the discussion.

There is a little science behind this. The tube dampers seem like a great idea for isolation of microphonics, though I still think that there is an abundance of vibration that travels through the pins from-> socketsfrom ->Pc board etc.... I have seen a solution to this problem, gel filled sockets do help eliminate this problem. As well, it would seem like the "thick plate" solution would be a good one. Only when viewing the tubes online it is hard to tell. Is there a statistic that explains which tube might better reduce microphonics?
>>Riley804: Why did you get into tube equipment if you know >>nothing about it then ?

Well Riley, because tube equipment is incredible and I like how it sounds. Is that okay with you?

>>Riley804: Who said anything about buying 30 sets of tubes ? You have to use a little common sense ....

Well I have 30 sets of tubes in front of me, and if I follow your advice I would be buying all them and trying them all; the lack of common sense was pointed out by me when I was criticizing you unhelpful response.

>>Riley804: So members of this forum with their experience do the homework for you so that you never fail .

No I should just buy all the tubes in the world and not ask for advice.

Thanks Again for your advice Riley804, I think you have contributed more then you should to this post.
WTF?!!?? What's with all the attitude, people? The poster asked a reasonable question,and everyone's jumping on him like he has a bad attitude!! I don't get it. He's got a bit of an oddball tube type, maybe there's not much info out there. Even if there is, since when does that ever stop anyone from asking, and having lots of other people state or restate their opinions? He says he's new to this, cut him some slack. Maybe he's excited about trying something new,and wanted to expereince some camaraderie over joining the tube rolling ranks. Unfortunately, I have zero experience with this tube type.
I am tired of being berated about this

Cry a little more why dont you.

The "dickhead attitude" is what I got when I asked a simple question for tube advice.

All the members that have replied ( including me ) have given you suggestions, advice, whatever you want to call it, and its almost as if you dont like the answers that you are getting ?

What one member might like in his system may not work or sound right in yours, as there are to many variable to look at ( room size, equipment being used , music type , and the list goes on and on ). But as I have said before, trial and error is sometimes needed before you find what you like and dislike .

It only makes sense to ask an expert, so you don't have to torture yourself and wallet.

So, what stopped you from doing that in the first place ?

Now that we understand how a forum works, we can continue the discussion.

Thank you for your permission.

Well Riley, because tube equipment is incredible and I like how it sounds. Is that okay with you?

I have had tube equipment in the past and yes it is nice, but finding the perfect tube is not easy and sometimes cost can be a factor. My question as to why you had tube equipment, was just that.....a question.

No I should just buy all the tubes in the world and not ask for advice

That choice is yours, but just as one of the other members suggested , is that you buy a set of tubes, listen to them for a while, make notes and see if you can "maybe" improve on that sound . Sometimes it can be done, but not always. Maybe then you have to look at other pieces of the audio chain for improvement ?

Thanks Again for your advice Riley804, I think you have contributed more then you should to this post

And when did you become a moderator on this site ?

According to my search, the 6cl8 is cheap enough to buy several brands and try them. If you don't have access to a reliable tube tester, I suggest you buy and take advise from a reputable seller (Jim McShane, Andy @ Vintage Tube services, and others). Buying tubes on the internet is otherwise a crapshoot, with bad tubes being sold as new, and good tubes also being had at reasonable prices. Fortunately for you, the 6cl8 is VERY affordable, so buying 2 different brands and assessing their sonic signatures over a month or two each (take notes), may be a good way to go. Clean the pins with some emory cloth before you plug them in. Happy Listening.
'Honestl'-the OP received three fair and reasonable responses to his query, and then immediately jumped on his soapbox to decry the 'type' of response he was getting. Granted, the first three answers did not direct him to an exact model, type or year, but they were legitimate, well intentioned, and perhaps all the advice that the respondents *could* give. But the OP chose to, basically, berate them.

So to answer your question-that's where and why he's getting "...all the attitude". I don't expect ass kissing, but a degree of respect towards people taking their time to help seems like a fair trade.

Right?
Riley804; Thanks again, you have really outdone yourself LOL. Yet, another unhelpful post. Why do you try so hard? I get it you don't want to help and you would like it if people didn't post in the forum and just bought all the equipment in the world and experimented without consulting anyone for advice and help.
To everyone else, thanks a million. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Please keep posting!
Johnbrown: I don't expect ass kissing, but a degree of respect towards people taking their time to help seems like a fair trade.

>> Yes, the operative phrase being "taking their time to HELP". Unfortunately that condition was hardly by the initial posters who decided to handwave at the question.
You're a piece of work-good luck with that. Bye.
Dfelkai - "Will someone please do my research for me and tell me what to do?"

Audiogoners- "You really need to do your own research for yourself because we do not have your gear, your music, your ears, or your perceptions."

Defelkai - "You guys are not helpful and mean, too"

It is hard to get a specific answer to general questions.

With regard to your questions:

1) I know some brands will be junk, a warning would be nice.
One man's junk is another's prize possession.

2) Do you have to match these tubes the way you do power tubes?
Not neccessarily but it could help marginally or a great deal depending.

3) What specification will illustrate how a tube handles microphonics?
Microphonics are a mechanical abberation that will not be revealed by the specs

4) How can I test them electronically to make sure I am getting what I pay for?
Buy a tube tester & shop for price being sure to compare tubes that are equal in manufacture, that is one was not made in the USA in 1954 and the other in China in 1998 though they say they are the same brand and type.

Does that help any or will I be added to the "no-nothings" that have already tried?
Dfelkai-

Like my replies or not, but it seems that some of the other members are pretty much saying the same thing that I am...

Dfelkai - "Will someone please do my research for me and tell me what to do?"

Which is what I said in the beginning, didnt I ? But I am the bad person for saying it according to you. Why have the internet if you arent going to use it for what it was intended for ????

Seems that you still have a lot to learn in this hobby, and maybe someday you will have a better understanding of things.
Dfelkai,may I ask what was wrong with my post.I made a statement and a suggestion.Neither was made to belittle you or marginalize your question.I believe I made valid points on both statements.In case you misunderstood my intensions I will try again.First,the term you used "I want the best one possible" is wide open to debate from everyone who uses those tubes,each person will think their favorite is "the best one possible".Second,you listed some brands and I sugguested you try some out to see if you like them or not.If this is "handwaving" I guess I'm guilty.
This is really getting out of hand. No one is supporting you, aside from people that gave a non-response to begin with. Look at Honest1's post. The best you tube experts could come up with after all these years of experience is just try them all, a very impractical solution to people here on planet earth!

>>Why have the internet if you arent going to use it for what it was intended for ????

As I understood it, the internet was meant as a medium of exchange of information. What you are suggesting is that I stick my head in the sand and just buy them all without asking questions. Clever.

Yes the question is general what tubes will give me the best sound. Perhaps a newbie needs to schooled on some details. All I was told is buy them all ans try them.

Now I don't appreciate being misquoted. In the above posts you literally put words in my mouth.

Finally the tube experts have spoken and decided to answer some of the questions I posted. {I am only speaking about the three users have been not only unhelpful but pompous as well. Everyone else great job, and it is appreciated.}

Well now you have answered 4 questions, rudely, and added insult with your help. I guess you can be proud of yourself. It was like pulling teeth and hardly worth it Tpreaves.

No you don't have my gear, but there is plenty of junk, scams to avoid, and details regarding NOS etc.. and someone with experience might be able to offer a newbie, kind of like that thing the internet was made for! Instead you tell me to buy them all, congratulation good job. I sincerely hope your not an investment adviser.

>>07-17-09: Johnbrown
>>You're a piece of work-good luck with that. Bye.

I am saddened to hear that your leaving this thread. Thanks for all the help.
What was rude and insulting about either of my posts?
Dfelkai-

As I understood it, the internet was meant as a medium of exchange of information. What you are suggesting is that I stick my head in the sand and just buy them all without asking questions

Not suggesting you do that at all, you are the one saying that. I simply suggested that you do some research and to try things on your own first ( my first reply ).

Yes the question is general what tubes will give me the best sound. Perhaps a newbie needs to schooled on some details. All I was told is buy them all ans try them

The answer that the member gave probably wasnt meant to be taken serious....but obviously you did. So who's fault is that ?

Now I don't appreciate being misquoted. In the above posts you literally put words in my mouth.

And how did I do that....please explain.???

No you don't have my gear, but there is plenty of junk, scams to avoid, and details regarding NOS etc.. and someone with experience might be able to offer a newbie, kind of like that thing the internet was made for!

You are right, I dont have your gear, and yes there are things that one needs to look out for and the members on this site will gladly offer their opinions to help another member out, but for some reason, you think that some of us are against you and this is not the case.

You reply that I dont try and offer help, but yet if you go back to your thread here :

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?eanlg&1245534383

I believe that I sent you an email with a little bit of input that might have been useful, but did you take the time and reply ?
What email?

I don't care to argue anymore. I thought you left this thread?
You probably dont have it now, but when you posted that thread about the cartridge ( see the link in my last reply ), I sent you a email....

You probably deleted it ( no big deal ), but to sit and comment that I wont offer help is not correct at all, when in fact I did then and offered now.

I think that there is the possibility that you are taking my replies the wrong way.....and if you go back and read my first reply, it says :

It's good to ask questions, but sometimes one has to try things on their own without the help or input from others


Which I was also adding to what the first member in the thread had said.

What one person likes in his system , another person wont.....there is no perfect amp, speaker, cable, tube etc....its all a matter of what sounds good in ones system.
I suggest that you call Andy at "Vintage Tube Services", he has the equipment to properly test tubes and can sell you tubes that are not micro-phonic. He can also tell you which brands hold up the best and the differences between them. After all tubes are his business. Good Luck!
Yeah anyways. I get it but your taking up a lot of forum space. We all get it, we know your opinion is that there is nothing to know about tubes just try them all and don't ask questions. Lets leave some space for others to answer the question so that people in the future who run into this dilemma will be able to use this thread without having to sift through pages of you defending yourself.
Racamuti:

Excellent reference I can't wait to speak to them. They look like true professionals, possibly the final authority on tubes. For those still into this thread, please have a look at this their site. There is a very interesting history of tube companies section on the site.
Oh and there is also a section on the art of tube selection
http://vintagetubeservices.com/page4.html

Yes have a look!
Most of us that have been in the hobby and have tried tubes before already know about Andy at Vintage Tube Service.

This is what I am referring to when I say to do some research by using the internet.

Here is another tube site for you ( right now they are closed ):

https://www.tubeworld.com/index_high.htm