Whatever you decide to get make sure that it will test the tubes you use and was recently gone over or callibrated. Also make absolutely sure that the instruction manual comes with it. For me I use a BK DynaJet, one of the latest models before they stopped production. Easy to use, portable (as are most), and very accurate (also fully documented with all of the manuals).
Tube testers are an absolute necessity when buying tubes online as some choose to sell their old worn out tubes (using the test specs when the tubes were new) for high prices (I suppose they think that they only used the tubes for a few months) and you ending up paying full price for worn out or shorted tubes. (This happens occasionally - not the usual situation - but it only has to happen once before your out a few hundred dollars! So. . .either buy new production tubes from a reputable dealer, or get a good used tube tester (WITH INSTRUCTION/SERVICE MANUALS!) Happy Listening,
If you're looking seriously at tube testers,
here's a link to a "real" tester:
In any case, good luck with whatever you decide to get!
I own the Amplitrex tester. It is a terrific, idiot-proof machine that has MANY advantages over vintage testers: it does not have to be calibrated; its display provides step-by-step instructions on what to do; it provides results as real measurements instead of proprietary and arbitrary units; it also provides the standard tube operating parameters to compare with the test results; it provides a "subjective" analysis (good, weak, replace, etc.); it even allows a hook up to a computer to do actual tube tracings (i.e., it will test the tube under varying operating conditions and display the results). But, all of this may be overkill for most users, and it is a pricey machine.
It is hard to say what anyone really NEEDS, particularly if they are new to tubes. Even good information and accurate test results takes experience to utilize properly. Certain tubes can read "weak" and still have many years of very good life left in the particular application (e.g., a lot of small signal tubes, when run gently will sound terrific even when they test bad). A cheap tester that will uncover gross problems (dead tubes, shorted tubes) may be all one really needs. If you intend to buy and sell on line a lot, you may need a better tester.
When you say "just getting into tubes" what do you mean? Also, where do you want to go? Do you want to roll tubes? Do you want to experiment with various pieces of tube gear? Do you have a need to match tubes? I have two tubed power amps and two tubed pre amps and I have three testers. But if you just have a tubed pre, buy tubes from a reputable seller. You may pay more but you are buying expertise and have some insurance there. Most people do not actually "need" a tester. But, if you are determined to have one I would suggest a calibrated Hickock 600 or 800 or a solid state B&K that has been calibrated. There are a lot of junk testers floating around ebay. Hamfests are a good place to look or buying from someone like Jesse Brent or S & D tube sales might be adviseable. Some come available here, but rarely at reasonable prices IMHO. Sometimes you luck up on ebay but you have to be very careful there. Don't attempt the ebay route without someone holding your hand. As Larryi suggests a cheaper emmisions tester may be a place to start. Even though these are limited in what they can do you can get your feet wet there.
Thank you for your responses. I recently purchased an Aesthetix Calypso and Quicksilver V-4's to replace my Pass X2.5 and X150 that were mated with a Raysonic 168. My tube list has grown from 6922,6DJ8, to; 12FQ7, 12BH7 or 12FQ7, KT-88 and 12AX7WB !! I thought it might be prudent to learn how to test the tubes in my equipment and what I'm buying to better match them. I'm not ready for a $2500 tester yet but $300-$700 is ok. Is there one unit in this range that will test all the tubes I use for leakage,microphonics and...? I want to roll tubes and it is becoming evident that to achieve the sound I may want will require trial and more trial. My intention isn't to buy and sell( but to buy and buy) so possibly a cheaper tester to start . I got a taste of what can happen when I connected the 168( Amperex US White Label PQ) to the V-4 's(KT-88) I had to put the EH 6922's back in because the sound had become too mushy.
I would like to amend my statement ( "I got a taste of what can happen when I connected the 168( Amperex US White Label PQ) to the V-4 's(KT-88) I had to put the EH 6922's back in because the sound had become too mushy".) The cause turned out to be the power cord to the Calypso plugged into a power conditioner!!
If the Calypso's sound was mushy because it was plugged into a power conditioner (PLC), it is time to 86 that PLC. I have a friend that has several years experience with the Calypso, various tube-rolling efforts and power cords and power conditioners. He used the original Hydra PLC. When it was removed from the system, the clarity and dimensionality took a major nose dive. He has since moved onto the Running Springs Haley PLC which takes the system to a new level of dynamic contrasts. So your observation has nothing to do with the Calypso but rather the PLC you used.
As for tube rolling, it takes many years of trial and error with many tube types, brands, etc., in lots of various components, to get a feel for the contributions made by one tube or another. To simply swap out the stock tubes with a random set and think that is it ..... well, you've only just begun.
As for having to put back the EH 6922, if this is required, something is seriously wrong with your system. This tube has so many problems, I don't even know where to start!
That Amplitrex unit actually tests at full voltage levels, which gives me much more confidence in a diagnostic than partial voltages. I like the digital mutual conductance readout too. The Hickok tube testers have always been highly regarded, and very accurate.
Jafox I made a poor diagnosis of a problem thinking it was tubes and not the combination of power cord and PLC.I never thought or stated that it was the Calypso.I feel the Calypso is the the centerpiece that I am building my system around. The tubes I switched were in the Raysonic 168 which is the weakest (?) piece in this system,I meant to imply that the interaction of multiple tubes in multiple pieces of equipment presents a Pandora's House of posable combinations. I don"t consider this a random choice "Amperex 6922, PQ, white label, US (shield, gold pins) Another very good Amperex tube. Warm yet lively, focused, grainless and transparent. A winner one of the best. Dynamic with punchy bass to boot...." I consider it a good first pick.
Rodman99999 thanks for the imput
Samhar- The Amperex tubes(whatever family) are always a reliable choice. If you enjoy focus, dynamics, ambience retrieval, grainless highs, transparency and extension in both directions w/o bloat or sibilance: try the upper-crust of the Siemens 6922 family(7308/E188CC or CCa's). If the recorded material is warm, they will let it through, but will not add anything of their own. It's hard to exceed their performance(I've tried). They're pricey, but worth every penny if you really love your music. Happy listening!!
Everyone thank you for your suggestions!! I bought a nos B&K 747 from Brent Jessee that I will receive next week. I was looking at a Hickock 6000A but decided the B&K was easier for a beginner, any thoughts or suggestions ?
Let us/me know how it works out. I've been following this thread and am in the same boat.
Can the old tube tester models like B&K or Hickok test the 300B, 211, or 845? I have an amp and pre-amp that use 6SN7, 845, 211, and 300B, so I would like to know if the old models can test these tubes.
I'm thinking of the Amplitrex but it's expensive. For the 845, 300B, and 211, how do we know if the tubes go bad wihout the tube tester?
Tran talk to Brent Jessee he can tell you what you need,I called him and he called me right back. Here is his info. firstname.lastname@example.org 847-496-4546
this looks to be a good place to start:
jtwrace, I felt the B&K 747 was a little underkill, good for quick checks but not the level of accuracy I was looking for so I bought a Hickok 539B it's beautiful but may be a little overkill!!! After playing around with a Hickok 725 I think it is the" happy compromise" between the two, no resetting for second section and more than accurate enough for most purposes, as a novice for a novice, I think it's a great choice.
An excellent choice: (http://cgi.ebay.com/Hickok-KS-15750-L1-Tube-tester-Western-Electric-co_W0QQitemZ280249394273QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item280249394273&_trksid=p3286.m14.l1308)
Thanks for the info. I will start the real search....
Jtwrace that should be 752!!!!
Update! I now have a Roger Kennedy digitally modded Hickok 539b. Pic in my system, click on Hickok then click on the picture to enlarge. The 539b has two power transformers. One to supply all the heater (Filament) current and the other to provide all the test measurement voltage/current. So the Tube Under Test (TUT) load is divided by the heater and test transformers also improving the accuracy of the tests, and reduces the load on the test circuit and its power transformer. They also have another advantage of having a separate AC line set volt meter. This helps by reducing the effects of the line sag (accuracy issue). In addition this models also has more than one test signal level allowing for more accurate test results on a wider range of tubes. The modded unit has a DC plate current mA meter making it a great tester for matching power tubes. One section at a time is checked and resetting is necessary for checking second section. In the picture I'm testing all the #1 sections then resetting and testing all the #2 sections.
Are there any modern alternatives to the Amplitrex that costs less? Thank you?
AQfor life I don't know the answer. You could try asking it on Audio Asylum's Tube Asylum.
>Are there any modern alternatives to the Amplitrex that costs less?
If you find something as good but lower priced PLZ let us know!
I'm not sure what 'Discontinued-New Product Under Development' means but I'm interested if anyone has any feedback on the Transcendent Sound Tube Analyzer.
From Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent:
"The new tube tester is shown in my new book Tubes and Circuits. A kit should be be available by years end."