I do not think you are better off buying tubes from the OEM. All OEMs buy their tubes new (versus NOS) to ensure availability for production and repalcement. Perhaps they may test to a tighter tolerance, but this certainly does not justify a 3X price increase. There are excellent dealers that can offer the same service, at lower price and even offer professional advice if you want to try different tube types. I highly recommend Kevin Deal of Upscale Audio (www.upscaleaudio.com). Michael
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I know what you mean. Your question is specific to ARC, isn't it? ARC states that they have a record of each and every unit that they have ever produced and match the tubes specifically for that unit by pulling the specific records. I do not know whether it is a marketing ploy, however, ARC does some pretty intense testing and quality control from what I am told. I just do not know if it is worth the huge difference in price. I am also very interested in hearing others thoughts.
My guess is that it isn't worth paying the price. ARC guarantees their tubes like all others for 90 days (except Triode Electronics, 6 months) Certainly their quality control and testing is probably to a higher standard but I certainly could not justify paying the prices they are asking. I recently purchase new Svetlana Output tubes for my D-115 Mk2 and have had no problems. Maybe the ARC tubes are better test wise, but does it really justify paying the additional cost, I don't think so. I also owned an SP-6A for many years. I NEVER purchased replacements through ARC and never had a problem. I did however use vintage tubes with that unit. Still cheaper than going through ARC.
Highend, I've had troubles with "the California guy" also. I'm not sure why so many people mention him. He's a flake and will outright lie to protect his ass. I lost over $500 in repair and shipping charges due to a VERY bad tube failure the first time I installed it. It was supposed to be a "premium" tube (tighter measured tolerances...). He denied that the tube could have caused the problems and then quickly sent a new tube to the mfg "free of charge". Also, my friend bought some NOS Tungsram E88CC's and they were not NOS tubes (nor Tungsrams for that matter). Now that is gall!!! I hope others figure this out.
I called up Audio Research and asked the same question. The technicial responded that I would see slightly diminished performance by buying non-AR tubes. He said that they match the tubes as octets (for a vt100),and that they match more closely than OEM manufacturers. Hard to put a number on it. The cost does not appear to be threefold however. I priced a replacement tube set from thetubestore at around 350 w/shipping, and the AR set is 517 from a local dealer. It appears that people on this board have had good and disastrous experiences. Any suggestions on good tube retailers ?
I second the info on the California guy, he told me that he wouldn't sell 8802's (Mullard gold pins) unless I was a previous customer of equiptment. I ask him if Mullard made 7308's and his answer was"sort of". When I ask him to elaborate he said he didn't have time to give history lessons. I bought some Mullard 8802's from Tubeworld. To the subject of tubes from ARC, Steve Huntley is currently doing some mods on a SP 9 MKIII for me and he needed the tubes to adjust the bias to match the tubes. I could have the terminology incorrect but perhaps ARC does the same thing to each unit since there is an adjustment. Thanks to everyone for participating on this site. Richard
If the California guy you guys are speaking of is Kevin at Upscale, I have had excellent results with him. If he refuses to sell to certain people, it may be because the products he carries are low in supply, high in demand, and he feels like he cannot afford to offer much in the way of telephone advise, unless there is a retail sale to make up for the time. I am only guessing about this, but I have bought over $3000.00 worth of NOS tubes in about four telephone calls, and all the tubes were EXACTLY as described and promised. Granted, I did not need much advise, only what he had in stock and how much money he wanted. I have purchased tubes from Ned at Triode, Antique in Arizona, Svetlana (I have an account, direct), New Sensor (account there as well), and from Bruce Berman in New York, Vintage Tube Service (Andy Bowman), Elmira Electric, Salt Lake Instrument and others. I have had NO bad experiences with any of these suppliers. Maybe I am lucky, or perhaps there are other factors that are not being talked about here?
Albert, If you have an account w/Svetlana, do you know what the deal is with the Svet 300Bs? I can't find them anywhere, and I've heard that Svet is no longer making them. It would be disappointing if this is true.... Svet won't take phone calls from the great unwashed, so I can't get any definitive answers. New Sensor was no help when I asked them either.
I'd like to talk to "highend" to see who he really is, and check your invoice. Please call me at 909-931-9686 or e-mail me at [email protected] and I will call you on our dime. You are promoting another tube dealer. You slam me without specifics complaints, then say in another header "Keep them comming, maybee we can save some others" etc (and by the way...learn to spell) I want to look up your invoice, and I keep every e-mail for YEARS and will happily post info relating to ANY transaction here. If I did anything wrong I will make it right. But you know what? I doubt that will happen. Because you are not being truthful. In absence of your real identification, people should read through the lines on this one.
Your an interesting guy, Greysquirell. It's sad your ARC amp blew. But they don't have plate fuses, so they lose resistors. That's the design of the amp. Any power tube can fail. But we burn them in using ACTUAL ultralinear connected amps for your safety. Then I go in while the lights are off and check for unusual activity in the screens in the dark. Anyone in the area is welcome to see how we do it. Nobody else does that. As to your assertion that the Tungsram E88CC your friend bought were not NOS nor Tungsram, that is a REALLY dumb comment. Why don't you tell me specifically how you came to that conclusion?????????????? I will give him the name and number of a guy that will pay him a lot he bought them from us for. That tube was so hot we took off the market because we got "swarmed".
I think it is very forthright that Upscale Audio has offered to bring this in the open. If any of you guys have really got a complaint, here is your chance to resolve the issue. As I said in an earlier posting, Kevin has given me only EXTREMELY accurate information, and excellent service. He even exchanged a six month old 12AX7 Mazda tube that should have been out of warranty. I told the truth when I said that it was part of such a large group (in the purchase) that I had only been running it for about a week when the failure occurred. I returned it, Kevin checked it out, and replaced it at no charge. He even paid the shipping. I cannot find fault in this type of service. Perhaps if others have had a bad experience, you should state your case and resolve this misunderstanding.
The integrity of a dealer is at stake here by not specifically indicating who it isn't leaves all to assume who it is. There was only one mention of a specific dealer and by reference in later posts ALL were to assume that it was the same dealer. If Kevin of Upscale is the wrong "California Guy" it should be stated and the air cleared. Will
Let's find out who it is that's been "wronged". How 'bout your name? E-mail so we talk man to man? Phone number? __________Or this other "California tube dealer" if it isn't me you are trying to slander. Don't try the "backpeddling" stuff. _________________I think most folks see through this. I went through something similar on Audio Asylum a few years ago. Guy outright lied. I had the records. Posted them on the website. He had to admit he fibbed. _________________Could be another tube dealer. Could be a jerk. Anonymity adds a bit of bravado to people that may not feel to good about themselves otherwise. I sincerely hope you work it out.
I sure am getting pissed at the thought of someone with an earned reputation being slandered by some idiot. Some don't have any idea, care, or concern what it means to "earn a reputation." Takes years and lots of transactions. I would also say I am first in line to shut down a rip off artist, but I say Upscale (who I have never dealt with - I'm still ss) answers in a manner to make me believe he is upfront and honest. Upscale, I can sympathise...as a veterinarian, I have had people tell bold face lies about all kinds of things, and man does it hurt. Highend also jumped on a great and honest dealer I have done mucho business with, (Simply Music,) and he/she was dead wrong on that deal too. Upscale, you can count on my business when I go tubing. There are a lot of nice people within the mix of the increasingly angry ones. (I guess this is why m & m sells so many cd's.) Charlie
I have purchased tubes from Kevin Deal for my GTA SE40, my GTA SEP-1SE, an my SF line 2. In all cases, I have been extremely happy with the tubes. Kevin knows his tubes, how they will sound with a certain model and takes the time to test them thoroghly. No one in this industry can offer this level of service (BTW I live near Buffalo, NY and am not related to Kevin). I plan on contacting him soon to buy more tubes.
I have talked to Kevin on the phone 3 different times.I at first was after some free advice and wasnt really planning on buying from him as I felt I would shop around for the best price.He spent time with me even though I knew he was busy.He answered all my questions and was nice when I didnt make an order.I called him a couple weeks later and he remembered me and answered a couple more questions.I decided to buy some NOS tubes from him based on the fact he was so gracious and made a recommendation I trusted.He gave me a good price on some Tels and Radiotechniques.My Rogue 99 sounds incredible now.Kevin didnt make much money on the sale but still treated me like I was important.He sent exactly what he said he would and these tubes perform how he predicted they would.I wont shop around anymore for the best price again.I got killer tubes at a killer price from Upscale Audio.
Upscale, I didn't come to the conclusion that those E88CC were not NOS Tungsrams (I haven't a clue how to tell the difference). ARC told my friend this after his LS25 began to have troubles. He sent the unit in and was told those tubes were NOT NOS Tungsrams and that they were an imitation made in Eastern Europe, a tube they said was "hot" on the market. ARC admitted that the problem he was having with the LS25 was NOT caused by the tubes. If you say they are and ARC says they aren't, who are we to believe? What does ARC have to gain by telling my friend this?
Go to my website for a picture. Anyone who is well read (go to Tube Asylum at www.audioasylum.com) will tell you a Tungsram will have a metal tab on the side of the plate with numbers embossed, upper and lower spacers that have smooth edges like a Philips Holland tube would (they had a relationship in the old days), and shiny nickel plated pins. Not gold. And for your information....Tungsram is a Hungarian company and last time I check that IS Eastern Europe. At least most folks would call it that, though technically it is "Eastern Central Europe" since we are getting "nit picky". Manufacturers are the worst at tube ID and plaster anything on there that they are told. Not that they mean harm. It's too labor intensive to study and remember the small things that ID a tube. I can site really goofy statments about MOST companies. But then that is not their biz, is it? Just like I would not suppose to design and manufacture an amp. Examples? I have a major high end manufacturer labeled 12AX7 that say "made in Germany" that are Ei Yugoslavia made. "Valvo" E88CC that are made by Tesla in Slovakia. Siemens 6922 that are now showing up as Mullard...neither of which have the proper etched codes.