Why Don't Local Audio Dealers Provide Tube Testing Services When They Sell Tube Gear?


For over 40 years I have supported my local audio dealers. I gladly pay more for their expertise and service. Some of my dealers have a store front, and some work out of their home. In either case, I always support them.

I have an "all tube" system, with 19 tubes, including my DAC, Preamp and Amp. Most of my tubes are NOS, and I like to "roll" many tubes. When I need to test a tube, or want ensure that the tubes I've purchased are indeed a "matched pair," I would really love to depend on my local dealer(s) to provide that service. 

For the most part, I have been very fortunate to buy NOS tubes from reputable dealers. Not always though. And when you are buying hard-to-find expensive NOS tubes, you sometimes have to take your chances.

At a minimum, audio equipment dealers should be able to provide "on-site" testing for the tube equipment they sell. Ideally, equipment dealers should be able to do "on site" testing of other tubes as well.

If a local dealer were able to service my audio tube testing requirements, I would seek them out for any new equipment purchases (including non-tube gear). That's part of having a mutually beneficial dealer/customer relationship.
Getting (and maintaining) good testing equipment isn't cheep, but it seems like a good business decision for maintaining and attracting new customers?

7e3552b5 776d 4ae5 bd03 50bb6ec95387labpro
You dont need to spend $ 2K for a good tube tester.

Also I would not assume that an audio dealer that sells tubed electronics knows much about vacuum tubes.


I am lucky my dealer, Deja Vu Audio, has several tube testers and tests tubes for me all the time. If I didn't have that luxury I might seriously invest in a tube tester.
Testing tubes for audiophiles requires much more than simply running them briefly on a tube tester. If it was that simple and people would pay $10 per tube for that it might be a viable business opportunity for existing dealers. Most testers can check for basic functionality of the tubes, but testing and rating them for microphonics, noise levels, and precise matching is much more involved and can require a significant amount of additional gear. That's why the companies that offer such extensive testing are able to and justified in charging a relatively high premium for their most select graded tubes. If you want the best tubes expect to pay for the time and effort that is required to grade, match and select them.
Bill_K, thank you for accurately describing the type of tube testing audiophiles need and the additional equipment needed to perform the various tests.

I wish there were more dealers like Deja Vu Audio that Jond works with.

I'm not seeing any disagreement with the need for good tube testing from local dealers, just road blocks based on cost, time and perhaps lack of demand.

Very sad.
The testing suggested by bill_k would be necessary to sell NOS tubes for big bucks, but I think you're asking for less than that, i.e. to check your used tubes to see if they're still good and reasonably matched.

It would be a nice service and if the dealer is selling tube gear maybe he should offer it.  I think the time involved might be why most dealers don't do it, though.  As you noted the expense for a couple of testers for preamp and power tubes wouldn't be that much compared to monthly rent and equipment to display.

If you can't talk a local dealer into providing the service, I think a tester would be a good accessory for you with the number of tubes you use and your tube rolling habits.