Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??

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schw06

Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« on: 10 Apr 2010, 03:19 pm »
I've been enjoying the Ultravalve amp with the stock tubes but I am curious to hear opinions on tube changes in the amp. More specifically, I'm wondering which of the tubes has the biggest impact on sound when changed, and what changes people have found with swapping tubes (positive or negative).
David

oneinthepipe

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #1 on: 10 Apr 2010, 04:52 pm »
I have an Ultimate 70, and I thought that replacing the rectifier tube made the most difference.  The sound just seemed to open up.  The bass seemed more defined.

Wayner

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #2 on: 10 Apr 2010, 05:08 pm »
Henry,

Which rectifier tube/brand did you like?

Wayner  :D

oneinthepipe

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #3 on: 10 Apr 2010, 08:39 pm »
Henry,

Which rectifier tube/brand did you like?

Wayner  :D

Wayner:

I am using a NOS Philips ECG 5AR4 rectifier tube that Jim McShane recommended.  There was a substantial improvement in sound.

trackball02

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #4 on: 5 Sep 2011, 04:53 pm »
Anyone have any updates on their experience with Ultravalve tube rolling?

trebejo

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #5 on: 5 Sep 2011, 06:32 pm »
Anyone have any updates on their experience with Ultravalve tube rolling?

On the power tube front, I compared a set of the Genalex reissues with the EH and could not say there was much of a difference. Testing conditions were not strictly a/b testing of course, due to having to wait about an hour between listening sessions, re-biasing, etc.

Same problem with testing conditions of rectifiers, so I gave up and kept using the Mullard in there. I even bought a fat-base NOS Mullard from Bill Thomas, and never plugged it in... ended up putting it in the reserve tube cabinet. Had these rectifiers tested along with the Matsushita that the amp shipped with, and the guy testing them (Dr. Cilantro here) was very impressed with all three of them. So I left it at that.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all tubes sound alike--I think I heard an improvement in my Avastar preamp when I switched the 6cg7's from the EH that it ships with to a NOS RCA pair (and, in fact, the first RCA pair had a noise issue, so there the tube rolling was bloody obvious). I'm just saying that the impossibility of balanced test conditions is to be kept in mind. However, if you have two Ultravalves to play with, it may be a different matter...

Lefty052347

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #6 on: 5 Sep 2011, 06:37 pm »
I built my Ultravalve with a Triode power transformer and Magnaquest output transformers.  The triode puts out a few more volts and can stress the rectifier tube.  (The stock setup gets about 35 watts per channel .  My amp measured 40 watts per channel.)  I went through 2 stock rectifiers before buying a nos mullard.  I haven't had any trouble since.

When it became time to buy new output tubes, I sprang for a matched quad of Genelex Gold Lion KT-77s.  I have been very happy with them.  The bias is rock stable between channels and only varies with the line voltage.

I loved the amp before I did any tube rolling and nothing has changed my opinion.  I think the amp is better with these changes but that is my opinion.  My only comparison has been with worn out power tubes versus new power tubes not exactly a fair test.

Tube rolling allows one to optimize his/her amp to their system and ears.  In my opinion the results can be too subjective to claim real sonic improvements.

Regards,
Dean

trackball02

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #7 on: 5 Sep 2011, 08:12 pm »
What change will give the most dramatic difference in sound? A rectifier swap or a power tube swap?  How about the two small signal tubes?

Brett Buck

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #8 on: 6 Sep 2011, 01:57 am »
What change will give the most dramatic difference in sound? A rectifier swap or a power tube swap?  How about the two small signal tubes?

    I did it with the U70. Power tubes made a moderately big difference (EH 6ca7 was the most neutral, Mullards were very "warm" but they were also very old). Small signal tubes made a tiny bit of difference but I couldn't tell which was most accurate. Aside from the frequency of blowing up, I could tell no difference at all with the rectifier tubes, none, zero. I checked the rectified voltage and it changed the voltage a bit depending on which rectifier you used, but it was in the 1-2 volt range so it's essentially negligible compared to the wall power variation.

    That was before I put in the series diodes, but I would expect that it would still make no difference, particularly since with the diodes in there, the rectifier tube is pretty much only there as a soft-start circuit.

      JJ Rectifiers died the quickest, Sovtek close behind. I never got to blowing up a Mullard since it wasn't in there for more than about an afternoon. The Japanese/RCA that was in there when the amp was first built in 1962-3 still works but it well down on output voltage.

    After the diodes went in, there have been no rectifier failures in use, and everybody has managed to remember not to  power cycle it, which I expect would still cause a blown fuse and then failed rectifier, diodes notwithstanding.

     Brett

pelliott321

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #9 on: 6 Sep 2011, 01:13 pm »
Brett:
please explain the "series diodes"

rlee8394

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #10 on: 6 Sep 2011, 01:54 pm »

rcag_ils

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #11 on: 6 Sep 2011, 03:01 pm »
Most people use the term "tube rolling" as a way to identify different sound characteristics from different tube, actually it is simpler than what most people make it.

If tube "A" sound better than tube "B", then tube "B" is not the right tube for the circuit, and it should be thrown in the trash.

I don't do "tube rolling" as a ritual, other word, I don't purposely spend th extra money for different sets of tubes so I can tube roll. The ones than come with the unit from the factory should be good enough.

I occasionally "try" other tubes if I can find them cheap just to see if they are the right one for the circuit.

rockadanny

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #12 on: 6 Sep 2011, 03:12 pm »
Quote
If tube "A" sound better than tube "B", then tube "B" is not the right tube for the circuit, and it should be thrown in the trash.

... ones than come with the unit from the factory should be good enough.

I occasionally "try" other tubes if I can find them cheap just to see if they are the right one for the circuit.


:scratch:

trackball02

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #13 on: 7 Sep 2011, 02:09 am »
Getting back on the topic....Anyone else with first hand experience in trying different tubes in their Ultravalve?

rcag_ils

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #14 on: 7 Sep 2011, 12:18 pm »
Quote
Getting back on the topic....Anyone else with first hand experience in trying different tubes in their Ultravalve?

No, I don't. I don't have a reason to. I only use my tube tester to test the tubes periodically to make sure they have good conductance. In Frank's old catalog, he mentioned that the tubes that he selected sound better than the German made tubes. That's good enough for me.

avahifi

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #15 on: 7 Sep 2011, 05:11 pm »
If my "old catalog" you refered to is really old, the info could be obsolete now.

Tube types, brands, and versions are changing and becoming more available so what I may have recommended as the "best tubes" some time ago is not necessarily correct now.

One interesting thing, as we are finding good tube availability to be increasing, the opposite is true for solid state devices.  One after another, discrete transistors are going obsolete, and even the long standard heat fins for them.  Mainstream solid state is way down the road to integrated circuits and smaller and smaller devices and designs.

And, unfortunately, there seems not to be any vocal group of "transistor lovers" out there demanding for production of new versions of their favorite old semiconductors.  :(

Best regards,

Frank Van Alstine

rcag_ils

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #16 on: 7 Sep 2011, 05:45 pm »
The catalog I was referring to was the 1993 issue. I am assuming the West German original tube mentioned in there were the Telefunken (no specific brand was mentioned), that came with some of the old Dyna units.

Anyway, tube rolling fans tend to use the same tube type but different brands as a tone control. They document and label the sound characteristics of the tubes made by different makers, so they can listen to certain tube on certain date in certain season at certain part of the country. That is crazy. They may call a weak tube sound relaxing.

rcag_ils

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Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #17 on: 7 Sep 2011, 09:12 pm »
Quote
there seems not to be any vocal group of "transistor lovers" out there demanding for production of new versions of their favorite old semiconductors.

Not yet, I have not heard of "transistor rolling", but there certainly are "op amp rolling", just ask that guy at Upscale Audio, a few years back, he imported this CD player from Netherlands with the DAC section that would accept three types of opamp. He called it "changing the flavor of the sound" for crying out loud. We all know that there are "capacitor rolling", swapping out the capacitor and replace them with ultra expensive oil in paper cap with grounding copper foil. Why don't they just put a tone control in their preamps.


http://www.primaluna-usa.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=119&Itemid=44&tmpl=component

Here, all of a sudden tube has become so magical and quiet that they use it in the oscillator of a DAC, I've always thought that tubes are inheritally noisy, unstable and drift.

JerryM

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #18 on: 8 Sep 2011, 12:47 am »
Frank himself offered up op-amp rolling a couple of years ago.

Mighty fine upgrade, indeed.  :thumb:

Have fun,

Jerry

trebejo

Re: Anyone Tube Rolling with the Ultravalve??
« Reply #19 on: 8 Sep 2011, 01:11 am »
Wow, so basically, if your transistor count is under a zillion (and growing), then Silicon Valley will not return your phone calls? Surely the Bay Area audiophools must be able to do something about this?!