Tube rolling Cary SLP-05
I recently purchased a used black cary slp-05 to replace a nice classe audio dr-6 that has served me well for the last 6 years. I decided that I wanted tubes in my system again and since I have Maggie 3.7's the thought of tube amps were out of the question.The rest of the system consists of a Oppo BDP-95, mogami balanced xlr's to the Cary pre, audioquest rca's to the innersound esl-300 amp (sanders), and Dave's 14 gauge speaker cables to the Maggie 3.7's The system also serves as a 2 channel av system and for computer audio.
The amp came with some nos ge 6sn7's and stock eh 6sn7's also. The power supply had the stock cheap Russian 5ar4.
It sounded great right out of the box but I had read on this forum and also some others that you are not hearing what this SLP-05 can do without swapping to high quality nos tubes..... so the budget busting quest began. What I have found out over the past 3 months is very surprising to me.
I read as much as I could about the typical sound of the higher rated nos tubes and ended up with the following..
1 matched quad of rca grey glass
3 matched pairs of tung-sol bgrp
3 matched pairs of nos nib vt-231 Sylvania
2 matched pairs of 72 vintage 6h8c Russian tubes
2 matched pairs of cryoed standard EH 6sn7
2 matched pairs of cryoed tung-sol 6sn7 reissues
2 matched pairs of cryoed gold pin EH 6sn7
2 matched pairs of ge 6sn7's '62 vintage (came with the pre)
4 standard EH 6sn7 ( came with the pre)
2 matched pairs of Sylvania chrome top 6sn7gt's (green label)
All of the tubes that were new were ran in for a minimum of 150 hours to allow for proper burn in before I made a judgement on their sound quality.
The standard EH tubes were WAY too bright with the ribbon tweeters in my maggies and it felt like someone was drilling your ears which became unbearable with any volume at all.
I tried the nos Sylvania vt-231's next and they sound good but are VERY bass shy.... not good with already bass challenged maggies ( I do have a pair of velodyne optimum 8 subs that blend seamlessly with the 3.7's).
Next up was the rca grey glass.... WHOA these things produce bass in spades.. so much so that I could listen with the subs turned off. But at the expense of high end extension... just too rolled off.
O.K time to bite the bullet and get some real quality nos (at least everyone claims) so in goes 3 matched pairs of Tung-Sol black glass round plates... WOW this is the best yet! Full bass extension, big soundstage, 3d lifelike midrange, and sparkling highs that don't drill your ears. But these tubes require a second mortgage to buy nowadays and to stock enough to last for many years will be more than the pre cost!
So what else is there to try that is more affordable?
I read about the cryoset tubes and there are 2 groups polarized on these. Those that say they are great and those that say they are total B.S. Well at MUCH cheaper prices for matched pairs than any quality NOS tube I had to try them, so I order 2 matched pairs of standard EH 6sn7.
I popped them in slots 1-2,4-5 and had a listen. I left the Tung-Sol bgrp's in 3,6. Very good all around tube with full deep bass, great midrange and extended highs.... uh oh.... too extended highs. Not nearly as bad as the stock EH 6sn7's
and very listenable at low to slightly moderate volume but at higher volume it is still too harsh at higher volume on my ribbon tweeters. On to something different.
I recently ordered 2 sets of cryoed gold pin EH 6sn7's since people who have tried both the standard EH and the gold pin version claim that the gold pin fixes the high end "drilling" I wanted to see for myself. This is what surprised me. I left the TS bgrp's in slots 3,6 and lit up the new gold pin cryoed quad in 1,2,4,5. It did sound better than the 150-200 hour stock cryoed EH's out of the box. So I started the burn in on them. When I came in from work yesterday I noticed something different about the audio from the T.V. feed that I had left on. It filled the room from wall to wall and had a super deep 3d quality I had NEVER heard in my system. So I fired up the oppo and put in one of my favorite discs and I could not believe how holographic, lifelike, and wide the soundstage was! Something changed at around 60-70 hours of burn in on these cryoed gold pin EH's that made them incredible. In my system these current production tubes trump every expensive NOS tube I tried with the exception of the TS bgrp BUT the gold pin EH's throw a bigger deeper more 3d image than the NOS TS's.... they are like TS bgrp's on steroids, with tighter bass that is not slightly "tubby" like the T.S's
What is weird is the only way that the magic happens is with the NOS T.S bgrp's in slot 3,6..... any other tube set and I tried them all do not sound as good.
I am very happy to have a new production 6sn7 that is this good in my system. It is just a shame that it still needs the expensive NOS Tung-Sols in the balanced input slots to make my oppo cd player shine, but it is better to only need 2 expensive NOS tubes than 6 and I have 2 spare sets already.
I am not affiliated in any way with cryoset but after hearing non cryoed tubes and cryoed tubes of the same type I will NEVER buy non cryoed tubes again.I don't know what the process changes but it makes a big difference in sound for the better.... at least in my system in my room. YMMV
If you own a Cary SLP-05 you owe it to yourself to try a quad of these cryoed gold pin EH 6sn7's You MUST let them burn in for 60-80 hours before they open up but for me they are better than anything I have tried.