What makes Telefunken tubes sound better?

I've reached the point in sampling 12AU7 tubes below $100 per tube where I'm having to buy tube crates to keep the pairs I've sampled. I've tried NOS and new, but out of all I end up back with Telefunkens as having the least distortion and fastest transient response. Yet the Telefunken internals are not the best materials/quality; NOS Mullard CV4003 or the new Gold Lions have higher build quality for materials and precision.

Are there links somewhere that talk to what is different for the internal design/construction of a Telefunken tube? I'd like to support newer tube manufacturers based on educated consumerism, and hope that we can get someone to replace Telefunken at an affordable cost before NOS stock is no longer an option.
E414eb2b 1e4c 488f 9983 1654fb65427fdavide256
The Germans have been absolutely anal, with regards to
materials, quality and engineering excellence, for a great
many decades. The notion that someone else's products(new or
old) could exceed their standards is laughable. I've tried a
number of other tubes, and would not consider any nine pin
miniatures, other than either(50's or early 60's) Siemens or
Teles. Right now; my CDP has six Siemens(grey shield) CCa's
in it. The proof is in the listening! Then again; there are
many out there that appreciate the colorations(ie:
warmth/tubiness) of other brands. To each their own.
replace German engineering? Keep dreaming...
Dunno! I've a box of other brands and they are all shadows of the Teles. Just replaced a set of JJ ECC803S (yeah,right) with old Dynaco branded Teles that I've had running for years in another preamp. Bang, bye bye JJ. Don't cryo. Amprex Bugle Boys are good too.
I might mention, as I have elsewhere; the EAT tubes are the
closest anyone has come, in recent years, to the quality of
the earlier products. But then the OP mentioned cost!
My favorite tube for "least distortion and fastest transient response" is a pair of Sylvania 12AU7WA mil spec. This particular pair came in unopened boxes used by the US military back in the 60s.
I've tested quite a few, but must say, never Telefunken.
It's a good question.
I suspect it has to do with the companies size, long history, and demands of the various applications its tubes have been used for over the years.
It was the war, WWII to be exact. That's when all the really good sounding tubes were made. Radar and communications systems.
Regardless of how or how well they're made, what do Telefunkens sound better than? Amperexes? Mullards? Siemenses? Brimars? Valvos? No definitive answer.
looking for technical details.. was there a particular design, materials or construction principle? What would say of a newer tube "they are emulating how telefunken tubes are constructed"? I can see tube manufacturing differences but which mattered?
Actually; some of the best tubes were manufactured for, "Post Germany" in the 1950's -60's. ie: The CCa is a special low noise, low microphonic, long-life E88CC/6922. Philips had similar designations for the Dutch Post, some tubes that were selected had PTT and BP lettering or etched designations, but they were the same as a top specification E88CC. The, "German and Dutch Post" consisted of telephone, telegraph, and telex, tube technologies, which required a very low noise E88CC/6922. A CCa is the same as a 6922 but was tested and certified with high mA, RP, and Mu and lowest-noise audio threshold. Most of the telephone centrals used vacuum tube technology equipment for telephone equipment, requiring a "noise-free" environment. The ECC803S(1950's) was selected for long life(10K hrs), S/N ratio and ultra-low microphonics, for use in avionics/aircraft radios. The letters, "CC" probably equate to, "double triode." For a special low-noise design, in the 6922 family; the frame-grid inner construction, was actually invented by Amperex USA, and appeared everywhere in the 6922/E88CC designs of the day, including Siemens Halske, Telefunken, Amperex, Philips, and many other brands.
I found this in another audio forum and I wanted to share this. There are points made about tube differences.

@Mr J- The author of that article would have made Julian
Hirsch very proud. I'm certain, if he had reviewed tube
equipment; he wouldn't have heard much difference either. The
sonic differences between various iterations and year of
manufacture, within the same
family of tube, and the various brands, are usually anything
BUT subtle or, "tiny." Nor, in my experience, are
the differences dependent on the equipment(usually).
I don't think you'll find anyone emulating the materials or manufacturing practices of Telefunken today. Totally different eras.

Today's manufacturers use computers, modern materials and manufacturing techniques to optimize the sound of their tubes while Telefunken used materials and manufacturing techniques that are no longer feasible.
The German work force was/is the best educated and trained in the world. When they get something right, they get it really right and vice-versa.
Germans have pride because everyone is included in, unlike the US where everyone but the super-rich is included out and you have to fight your way in.
Consequently , in the USA the dominant sentiment is fear, not pride.
Deutschland uber alles, so to speak, no? I guess Sylvania, RCA and Tung Sol are chopped liver.
Schubert, The US is far more inclusive than Germany. We are not divided into the super rich and the poor. America is still the land of opportunity, currently less opportunity than usual because of the policies of our current government, but we will get through this and come back strong. We fear no one and take great pride in all the good we have done and continue to do at home and around the world. Germany does not come close to our accomplishments in this area.

Angela Merkel said that Germany is not a nation of immigrants and doesn't want to be one. That doesn't sound too inclusive to me.

Sorry for going off topic but I can't stand anti-American BS.
Easy Tomcy6---what Shubert means about inclusiveness, about pride vs fear, relates to their workforce and how young tradesmen and women are taken under training early to be included in the tradition of apprentice, journeyman and master levels of craftsmanship. They are then free to take great pride, as they are bound to their trades. Here, there is an accent on competition and on a self-sponsored rise through expensive education and worry about keeping a job.
And as for sharp divisions between rich and poor--that would not be so prevalent in socialist Germany as it is here, where survival of the fittest shapes our social strata into an ever-widening gulf between the rich and poor.
I often enjoy your contributions to the forums, but at times, you say some very strange things that usually involve black and white blanket statements. This was one of them.
Schubert means inclusive by income and trade rather than by immigrant status. He is right in that Americans are fearful for their futures, obsessed with pension funds and healthcare costs, crime and the IRS. The American social model is about individuals in society whereas in the European social democracies, it is individuals in a community.
Schubert lived in Germany for a time and is an astute observer. I would be slow to dismiss his observations.

My experience with Germans is limited to the field of organic chemistry in an industrial setting, and further limited to brief customer/client interactions usually by teleconference.

That said, I get the impression there is a pretty strict hierarchy in Germany, and woe to the soul who speaks out of place. The Germans (with good reason) assume no American can speak German, so occasionally, I caught a chemist getting a bit of a scolding and told to shut up in German, with the assumption that we would be oblivious to the scolding.

In the US, there is a hierarchy of a different sort. There are two levels. Those who got PhDs or did post doctoral work at Harvard, and those who didn't. But even that hierarchy isn't absolute. It is my impression that distinct corporate cultures are common in the US, so that generalizations are difficult.

There was a time when the phrase "old world craftsmanship" had real meaning. I'm not sure that phrase has any relevancy now. What I see, and this has been discussed previously in the context of a loss of characteristic distinctions in orchestras across the world, is a homogenization of everything. Everyone benchmarks and conforms to what the next guy is doing. Once I asked one of the chosen ones, "Did you have to go to Harvard to learn how to copy what your competitors have been doing for the last 3 years? Is that all you got? I wish I had a video of the death glare.

In medicine you have white papers, in music, you have traveling conductors and even traveling orchestras, in industry you have benchmarking to define best practices.

If you stand back and look from a difference, it looks like the second law of thermodynamics has cultural and sociological corollaries. What is the musical equivalent of heat death? One note, played ad infinitum by one instrument, without deviation in tone, timbre, dynamics, etc? Minimalism taken to its logical conclusion.

In industry, I suppose we will see all companies marching in lockstep, doing the same things in the same ways, then trying to figure out why they can't beat their competitors- Wait, the Harvard boys have the answer, you need to work harder than everyone else! I need more bricks, and you can't have any straw. Sure is nice being retired!

Does any of this help explain why Telefunken tubes are so good?
Volkswagons aren't so great.
Though preached, no doubt, American culture does not lend itself well to excellence in many ways in practice.

Very little the average Joe is exposed to has much to do with being good at something or achieving excellence. Not a lot to nurture the spirit either other than that we are all free to find our own way when it comes to most matters.

Socialism has its flaws as well.

Still seeking out that perfect world. Hopefully freedom rings.

I have a favorable impression of TElefunken products based on my limited sample over the years. SO that comapny at least seems to be doing something right. I would not generalize it much further than that though.
Jafreeman, there are those who would argue that the government's interference in survival of the fittest has actually widened the gulf and is additionally adding to the demise of the middle class.

We have more poor people post "great society" than we did before. Motivation to enter the lowest rung of the ladder, from which one can then rise through hard work and discipline, has been moderated by social "safety nets" that have made it attractive to stay out of entry level jobs.

If you pay people not to work, people won't work. The gulf widens. Well intentioned safety nets protect people from their own bad decisions. Survival of the fittest requires that people take an occasional mugging from reality. Removing that pain is compassionate in the short term, but really represents an unwise patronization of a segment of the bell shaped curve.

I have a huge heart. I used to be a liberal. It does't work.
This discussion reminded me of a few telefunken label classical records I have that I have always liked.

WHat are others impressions of music released over teh years on Telefunken? That's a label I think I need to own more of.

ALso I tend to agree with BRownsfan, however my Judeo-christian upbringing makes it difficult for me to see and accept the struggle of others.
Schubert, I am slowly developing a theory that the peculiar characteristics of German culture and worldview, as those of us who grew up and lived in the 20th century came to know it, are due primarily to one historical event. The 30 Years War. Comments?
Here's a List of War Casualities I found that is very interesting.

30 years war ranks.
You can believe it or not, class divisions are MUCH more restrictive in USA than Germany.
A German child born in the working class has 3 times the chance of rising to the middle class than one born in the USA.
As some have pointed out I was referring only to the training system in Germany , nothing more.
But if it makes you happy I will say Germany is a better country because the simple truth is it is. MUCH better.
Telling the simple , objective truth is not anti US BS .

Fan, German historians usually say 30years war, Luther, Bismark and the political divide between the conservative agrarian Catholic south and the less religious workers in the north.
After 2 total economic collapses in a decade Hitler got only 29% of the vote in "Red Berlin" and even less in Hamburg. They have been well researched studies done that estimate he would have got 40% in Milwaukee.
Biggest popular myth is Germany started WW 1, while there is plenty of blame to go around , both France and Russia were more culpable than Germany.
WW II was just round 2 and that would not have occurred without Clavin Coolidge's decision to keep bleeding Germany to death as French pleas to stop fell on deaf ears.
Schubert, Both you and I had humble beginnings and did rather well. That is the exception, not the rule.

Mapman makes a good point above. I have referred to it as a culture of mediocrity. Since I have not lived in Germany, I am going to defer to your judgment. Stipulating that what you say about class distinctions is true, the question becomes to what extent is the distinction in classes in the US actively vs passively supported. Is the distinction one that is actively enforced, or a natural outcome of a culture of mediocrity?

I'm still looking for a good history book on the 30 years war. Double clicking on your comments re Luther, Bismark etc., it could be argued that everything on your list directly or indirectly derived from the Lutheran Reformation.
I suppose what is better is largely a matter of perspective.

I doubt if the the most least privileged children born in the USA were born in Germany their fates would be any better. It's a pretty crowded place already, isn't it?

Anyway, who cares or is even to say what country is better or not and what was done years ago, except to learn and not repeat the same mistakes.

The grass is always greener....,as they say.
Brownsfan, if only there were some good jobs by which the poor could rise into the middle class. After our recent financial collapse (due to criminal activities of the 1%), millions of young people with four-year degrees are living back at home. All is not well because of many variables, but in our system, there will always be winners and losers, there will always be, has always been, that bell curve, with at least 20% on the near slope--and rising. That's why our safety nets were created in the first place--there was a need at that time to keep the elderly out of poverty. We can all knock welfare for the undeserving poor, but don't go after SS. I've worked hard and have been proud to take care of those who took care of me. That's what makes a great society.
I suspect that most things GErmany does is done well, especially when it comes to applications of technology and engineering.

But there are many other things not done in Germany at all.

The US has always been more about opportunity and teh "frontier mentality" that has not existed in Europe for many many years. Lets not get into frontier mentality at whose expense...that's a whole other can or worms.

But with that mentality comes a certain acclimation towards taking risks. That's what drives innovation. US has and remains pretty good at that. But for every innovator, there will also be many slackers. That's just the way it is.
@Geoffkait- It's interesting how broadly a topic can get
off course. Back to your conversation: My comments were
restricted to small signal, nine pin miniatures. All my
favorite octals originate from the 40's and are military
designated, especially the Sylvania 6SN7W(JAN-CHS,
metalbase/tall) and Tung-Sol 6SN7GT(JAN-CTL, round plate).
I'm currently using those as phase splitters and
drivers(respectively), in my monoblock amps. I cherish
them, as the best of the best octals, followed by the
Syvania VT-231 & Ken-Rad 6SN7GT(JAN-CRC), both bottom
gettered. BTW: I love chopped liver, especially on a good
crusty rye.
The USA is a culture of mediocrity. because that is what those who control it want it to be.
As a brilliant Puerto-Rican engineer friend of mine says, " The US in not a country ,its a place where people happen to live in proximity"
The German elites run their country on a lets all pull together basis, American elites on the ancient but ever effective divide and conquer basis.Which is why income inequality is 10X as high in the USA.
In the last month World Bank run a BIG survey whether folks thought their country was on the right path, Germany led the WORLD with 85% saying yes. USA was in the 30's.
F-ing simple as that.

Fan, try a slender volume in the" Problems in European Civilization " series published by D.C Heath and Company
Library of Congress64-21697
" The Thirty years War" Problems of Motive,Extent and Effect
Short essays by about 20 scholars so you get the gamut of views.
IMHO as in 90% of "Religious" wars it was about money and power by those running the show.
Mapman , thats what they tell you in HS, average college for that matter.
Total pack of lies.

There are VERY few humans born as "slackers" they become so by the alienation caused by lack of jobs often leading TO drug and alcohol abuse .
The last stage in the " divide and conquer" war of all against all is when those who have lost destroy themselves.

Take a tour of an Indian reservation or your local ghetto.
"There are VERY few humans born as "slackers" they become so by the alienation caused by lack of jobs often leading TO drug and alcohol abuse ."

Its a very competitive world these days no doubt. An extension of natural selection within humanity in a sense.

That top 1% are likely the most competitive and narcissstic. Some may be self made but many had an advantage down that road to start with. We are all products of our environment to some extent.

Some may also be quite charitable but not at the expense of their own wealth most likely.

Natural selection. It always has been, always will be. Its quite the dilemma with no way out.

Amazing that we are all still around even really. There is definitely some force at work that helps keep this big mess going.

I have a son in college looking at a career in diplomacy. He's studied German and Russian this year. If he ever goes to Germany, I am going to ask him to bring me some good quality TElefunken tubes and recordings back for good 'ol Dad.
Arbeit macht frei

Schubert, Germany is a prosperous and free country due to American generosity and ideals of trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Germany has no such generosity or ideals but only thinks of enriching itself while America provides its security.

America could have let Stalin have Germany and you would be working in a labor camp, you would not have money to spend on audio gear and there would be no German culture. As a matter of fact, you would probably have been worked to death by now. How about those facts?

Your Telefunken tubes are good though.
(WW2) would not have occurred without Calvin Coolidge's decision to keep bleeding Germany to death
This is a very feeble attempt to absolve Germany as the sole cause of the European theater of WW2. WW2 would not have happened in Europe if not for the German expansionist, militaristic foreign policy. BTW, the half of deaths in the war occurred in the Asian/Pacific theater.

Mullard, Mazda, Amperex and RCA all made outstanding tubes. Preferences of one brand over another depends on individual tastes and the exact circuitry utilized.
"Funk" is part of the name so naturally they sound good.
TOmcy6 speaks the truth I suspect.

Of course, protecting Germany was/is in teh US's best interest, so its not like we did it out of the goodness of our hearts.
OK, let's cut the politics, shall we? People are here to learn about tubes.
But the politics help to answer the question. I think.
What do you want to know about tubes Bojack? I'm no expert but I know a little.
Your post is foolish in the extreme.
Onhwy61, you are wrong.
While I've had some wonderful batches of Telefunken-branded tubes of many types, I think the idea of Telefunken being the "best" needs some qualification. I think this may have some validity when looking at a certain period of production in the mid-20th century Noval preamp tubes . . . the "flat-plate" 12AX7 and 12AU7.

But looking more broadly . . . there was an incredible quantity of high-quality tubes produced in this era in Western Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.. For audio power tubes, transmitting tubes, TV-sweep tubes, RF receiving pentodes, rectifier diodes . . . on out to picture tubes, image orthocons, thyratrons, compactrons, nuvistors . . . on and on and on . . . the "Telefunken" brand was a great one, but it could never be considered the singular champion in a broader sense.

Indeed, these were the glory years of all thermionic devices. Lots of investment (Marshall Plan and Cold War defense), skilled people returning from war needing jobs, and huge technical improvements from wartime R&D budgets. It's not simply a matter of somebody now deciding to copy a single device, the whole industry is a tiny little shadow of what it was in those years.
Bojack, if you don't like the politics don't read them.
Roxy54 I am aware I do make black and white statements.
One , this forums doesn't lend itself to nuance
Two, I'm 79 and don't have a lot of energy anyway.
Three, most that know lot a lot about the subject of discussion get what I mean.
Four, I'm well educated.

More importantly God has blessed/cursed me with the desire to pay attention all the 28.961 days I've been here.
I know what I know.

BTW, if I did not have the respect for your opinions I do, I wouldn't have bothered.
Generally speaking; the monetary value that people place on
items, is a pretty fair indicator of how good they
might be(You can fool some of the people, all of the time and
all of the people, some of the time, but- you can't fool all
of the people, all of the time). Yes- there are different
tastes in sonics(ie: clean/liquid/defined and
warm/microphonic/tubey), and a wide variety of brands that
many consider desirable. However; if one checks the prices
that people have consistently(for decades) been willing to pay
for certain offerings, it becomes clear which are largely
considered, "the best," worldwide.