Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio. I have bought well over $2000 worth of tubes from him over the years and have NEVER had a bad or mismatched one. I am a VERY satisfied customer!!!
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Wow...interesting. I've had 2 JJ Tesla KT88s from the The Tube Store fail at ~400 hrs and ~700 hrs. When I wrote them about the first failure, they indicated expected life was >1000 hrs and I must have gotten a bad tube. I thought it was just my bad luck.
I also paid extra for matching replacements from The Tube Store only to find the "matched" replacement wasn't "plug 'n play" as advertised. Give that biasing is not a big deal on the 502B JoLida, not a problem BUT something other than advertised.
Holos- Thanks for your post. "You don't know what you don't know"!
Order fulfillment from Doug's Tubes was very fast but I can't yet comment on quality.
FWIW my experience with Tesla tubes, E34L, KT 88's and KT90's has been poor. I've had many failures due to quality control and stopped using them - Got tired of having to replace resistors in the amp when these tubes shorted out. I understand my experience is far from uncommon. I also find their small tubes somewhat unreliable, noise wise and otherwise, but their cheap so I still use them when I want their tonal balance.
This quality issue has nothing to do with The Tube Store, although they could just stop selling them I suppose. Jeeze, just a 1000 hour life! No comment on the matching service - if they fail at this, they are not alone! I've gotten some bummers from others as well. Caveat emptor.
Don't mean to beat up on the Tube Store if it's the manufacturer's quality issue. Also, just to be clear... the expected life/hrs they cited for the power tubes was well over 1000. When writing last night I couldn't remember the exact number so I just wrote >1000. It might have been in the range of 1200 or 1500 hrs. In any case, I expect they were being conservative though, as you can see, 2 JJ Tesla KT88s never made it nearly that far.
I did buy Ei Elite 12AX7s and NOS Mullard 12AT7s from them and those are still working just fine.
The Tube Store order fulfillment service has been great though I was not impressed with their matching service.
I didn't really appreciated that a tube failing suddenly could cause damage beyond a blown fuse. Thanks for the warning.
Brandon at TubeWorld is extremely knowledgeable and stands behind his product with a money back guarantee.
So does Brent Jesse at http://www.audiotubes.com/.
As does Dennis Boyle at Chimera Labs who does not have as wide a stock but can often hook you up with great tubes at lower prices. Great guy to deal with.
With all three guys the knowledge and advice is top notch, product is great and packing and shipping are fast.
Yes, I forgot about Tubemonger. Very reliable dealer. I bought a matched quad of NOS Siemens E84L from him about a year ago and they are still going strong and sounding nice in my 1959 Pilot 402 receiver. I bought a quad of Penta Labs( cherry-picked Shuguang) KT88 tubes from Dougstubes, and not only does he measure and test properly, he labels each tube with the test results, packs them well with free shipping, USPS Priority, and followed up with e-mails to make sure that I was happy with the tubes. Talk about great customer service!
Wow! Thanks for all the replies. There are some great suggestions here that I will try.
I agree that I can't fault a retailer for the bad tubes from a manufacturer knowing that several manufactures of tubes have quality control issues. But I cannot excuse a retailer when you pay them to pretest their tubes only to find that what they delivered is still bad (and probably not actually tested).