Hmm, I posted a reply last eve but it never showed up. Anyway, stick with Western Electric. I've read a lot of post that state this is a case where the WE label is better. Stick with a reliable source. Tubesandmore.com has them for ~$28/each. They are out of stock at vacuumtube.com but they differentiate the older NOS 396a (more expensive) than '70s production.
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I received my MHDT Laboratory Paradisea DAC today from Taiwan...four USPS business days to LA. Pretty darned good service. I was immediately surprised at the unexpectedly heavy weight of the unit. Considering it's in a plastic case, the unit is a hefty little bugger. It came with one tube installed. I don't know what brand the tube is since I haven't taken off the cover for a close look. Connected it to my dinosaur (but trusty) 1992 Sony ES CD changer via a $20 glass toslink cable. Plugged it in. Powered it up, and the blue light signalled systems go. Hit play on the changer, and the blue light turned to green indicating signal lock...and music began to play. Yes! Fleshy, wonderful music. My Sony changer is the only piece of gear remaining from my early 1990s rig. I love the darned thing. I've always felt it had a very nice, relaxed quality to it, but compared to running it straight and running it with the Paradisea, the music turns from grey and a little bland to bright tropical colors with lots of swing. The mids are emphasized. The top end extension is not quite at the level of my reference digital players, but I don't care! That's the beautiful thing about the Paradisea. Since it's built to be excellent, but not "The Best", I don't obsess about it's performance as it compares with other digital players. The Paradisea allows me to relax and listen to the music.
I'm presently on the hunt for a WE396a tube...
Pretty nice value for $535 delivered!