Siemens and Amperex.
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Second Tpsonic's suggestion. Siemens and Amperex both offer very transparent options. Telefunken does as well. Mullard is slightly more colored in the highs and upper mids.
Since each of us has different systems and preferences, personal experimentation will be required to find the specific brand and model that satisfies you.
Personally, for Amperex I prefer 6922 USA White Label over all other variants. For a "reasonably" priced Siemens tube that has much of the CCa qualities without the price premium, I'd consider either the ECC88 or E88CC.
I love 6922's and have tried many brands. I agree with Tvad and Tpsonic, the Amperex and Siemens are the best I've heard with Amperex being my favorite. You might get lucky and find a trio "reasonably priced" ones. If not, consider the big picture. If you have to pay more, they should last a long time and if you ever sell the Sunfire, you can put the Sovteks back in. I can only see the price of NOS Amperex going up so either keep them in case your next pre can use them or sell them.
Buy from someone reputable. "Sometimes the cheap comes out expensive." That happens alot.
I've been using Siemens CCa's(from the late 50's-early 60's) for a number of years(six in my CDP, lately), because of their transparency, frequency extension, bass accuracy and sound stage abilities. The CCa was a specially selected 6922 family tube, chosen for low noise, long life, low microphonics/transparency for the German telephone, telex, and telegraph services(VERY picky). Many of the German telephone hubs used tube equipment and for telephone equipment you want a "noise/coloration-free" environment. Very much worth the effort to find, and every penny spent, for the sonic rewards that they present.
Telefunken, Lorenz, Valvo and Phillips all had selections for the "German and Dutch Post" also.
I have purchased a few pairs from E-Bay seller "audiotubes_de". His
name is Heinz. I paid anywhere from $200-$300/pair depending on whether
they were used but tested new, or if they were NOS.
Email him directly.
I'm with Dave. I've owned, and sold three pairs of CCa tubes (the real deal, early
60s, grey getter variety). No matter what component I put them into, and I tried
them in about half a dozen components, they were always replaced with
I appreciate what they do, and they are indeed transparent...but they're not for
That's the same seller (http://shop.ebay.com/member/?_frompage=findamember&_adv=1&_userid=audiotubes_de&_tokentext=383655&tokenstring=MqcnIwQAAAA%253D) that I've used for CCa's, 7308's and E188CC's. He's very reliable and scrupulous as a businessman. He used to have an online store, before selling on eBay. I haven't noticed him offering any CCa's lately though. Be certain not to buy any Siemens CCa's from the late 60's/early 70's. They are quite strident.
Much good advice on Amperex and Telefunken.
One great value, the Toyota/Honda analogy fits, is the Tunsgram from Hungary. These are quiet, pretty neutral, with good extension in the highs -- not too bright, but plenty of air. Bass is not as strong as the better Amperexs, but still better than many other tubes. These were a pleasant surprise when I got them as part of a bundled purchase...Cheers,
I've tried quite a few 6922 types in my tape preamplifier (Bottlehead Repro)including the Siemens, Amperexes and Teles. The 6922EH is not a bad tube and Bottlehead and CJ get good sound out of it, to wit the ART and GAT.
One tube that you might want to consider that won't cost an arm and leg and has very good transparency, detail and low end extension and tightness are the Telefunken PCC88/7DJ8s. 7308s and E88CC/miniwatt amperexes have a bit better midrange presence and ambience but the low end is not up to the teles.