A sure-fire tube upgrade

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jb26

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A sure-fire tube upgrade
« on: 25 Dec 2011, 01:19 pm »
Hi All,

I'm looking to tinker with my system, which has a M901 with Dodd buffer as it's heart & soul.  Batteries are one thing I'm looking at (in another thread), but I also have questions about the tube supplied with the Dodd buffer.

At the moment I'm sporting the standard issue from-factory tube.  Is anyone aware of a sure-fire, this-will-sound-better tube to upgrade to?  I'm not interested in getting into a tube-rolling situation as my family life doesn't support extended critical/comparative listening (unfortunately...well actually no, my wife & son are way more awesome than my stereo.  Well, more awesome at least).

But, if anyone can give me a definitive improvement - that matches improvement to bucks ideally - then I'd be interested in a recommendation.

Merry Christmas,

James

tabrink

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #1 on: 25 Dec 2011, 04:07 pm »
Merry Christmas James!   :xmas: :xmas:

I have done extensive "time" (spelled $$$) rolling tubes in my M901 and always always come back to the Sylvania GB-5751 Gold pin.
It is my favorite tube for what I would call moderate to low level critical listening.
I also had used a couple of the Psvane AU and AX series tubes with had very nice qualities as well as a JAN 5751 garden variety.
However the one tube which has found a permanent spot in my system is the Sylvania Gold Brand 5751 .
Have a wonderful day of faith, family anf fun.
Tom

wsturner

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #2 on: 25 Dec 2011, 08:57 pm »
As mentioned, the Sylvania GB-5751 Gold pin.

I am running the Create Audio 12AX7, and have been VERY pleased.

Good luck!

Scott

jb26

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #3 on: 27 Dec 2011, 10:30 am »
Seems like 2 votes for the Sylvania, 1 for the Create Audio.

Anybody else?

When it comes time to switch out the existing tube, is it as simple as changing a light bulb?  Any tricks I need to know?

OzarkTom

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #4 on: 27 Dec 2011, 05:35 pm »
Make that three for the Sylvania GB-5751 Gold pin. I tried a lot of them also.

brother love

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #5 on: 27 Dec 2011, 06:02 pm »
Seems like 2 votes for the Sylvania, 1 for the Create Audio.

Anybody else?

When it comes time to switch out the existing tube, is it as simple as changing a light bulb?  Any tricks I need to know?

Vote #4 for the Sylvania GB- 5751 Gold Pin, but w/ a caveat...  If your Sensation knob generates the "leaf rustling sound" when turned & that irritates you, then the Psvane 12AU7 is a very nice "new" tube w/ "no leaf rustling" (&  reasonably priced: (2) tubes thru Grant Fidelity is approx. $70).

As far as taking buffer tube out or putting new one in:

Gently wiggle tube as you are pulling up & out.  Use a flashlight & align pins then gently wiggle in to place. I also like to use a small section of paper towel between oily fingers & tube.

Edit: if you haven't already, OzarkTom's Virtue Audio thread is a must for great tube rolling info: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=82364.0

Trismos

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #6 on: 27 Dec 2011, 08:19 pm »
Merry Christmas James!   

I have done extensive "time" (spelled $$$) rolling tubes in my M901 and always always come back to the Sylvania GB-5751 Gold pin.
It is my favorite tube for what I would call moderate to low level critical listening.
 ....

Tom

What might be your favorite tube for moderate to hi level critical listening then Tom? I suppose it's rather subjective, and we do have 4 votes for the Sylvania, but is there a tube out there that is 'just to die for'?

Regards
Dave

Trismos

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #7 on: 27 Dec 2011, 08:41 pm »
Vote #4 for the Sylvania GB- 5751 Gold Pin, but w/ a caveat...  If your Sensation knob generates the "leaf rustling sound" when turned & that irritates you, then the Psvane 12AU7 is a very nice "new" tube w/ "no leaf rustling" (&  reasonably priced: (2) tubes thru Grant Fidelity is approx. $70).

Gently wiggle tube as you are pulling up & out.  Use a flashlight & align pins then gently wiggle in to place. I also like to use a small section of paper towel between oily fingers & tube.


Would that be the Psvane 12AU7-T as seen here: http://psvanetube.com/wordpress/products-page/psvane-vacuum-tubes/12au7-t-pair/ ?

Regards
Dave

tabrink

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #8 on: 27 Dec 2011, 11:32 pm »
 :lol:
I am not sure after nearly 40+ years of high end audio that my old "hifi" ears are capable of high level critical listening.   :icon_lol: I agree the Psvanes are very good, very close but may lack just a smidgeon of warmth. Tubes generally are somewhat system specific and differ from listening room to listening room with various equipment.
For example I thought the Sensation sounded a bit cleaner with the Psvanes tube when I used Brimars or Mullards in my tube amps in lieu of stock JJ.
To me, the Sensation used on its own as an integrated with the GB-5751 tube throws a satisfying full and mesmerizing sound.
All the best,
Tom

brother love

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #9 on: 27 Dec 2011, 11:54 pm »
Would that be the Psvane 12AU7-T as seen here: http://psvanetube.com/wordpress/products-page/psvane-vacuum-tubes/12au7-t-pair/ ?

Yes. Grant Fidelity periodically has them on sale.  Also, since they are sold only as pairs, folks who only use one often put the other up for sale.


jb26

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #10 on: 28 Dec 2011, 12:57 am »
Hi All,

I've been digging around the interweb about the Sylvania GB 5751, and there seem to be a couple of models.  Can you clarify which of the below you mean (and do they all fit in the sensation?):

1. Sylvania blackplate TRIPLE MICA Gold Labelled, Gold Brand or military 5751, Premium 12AX7 (this doesn't seem to have gold pins) - (at audiotubes: http://tinyurl.com/ygu4ccx)

2. Sylvania greyplate TRIPLE MICA Gold Labelled, Gold Brand or military 5751 GOLD PIN, Premium 12AX7 - (at audiotubes: http://tinyurl.com/ygu4ccx) (at upscale audio: http://tinyurl.com/7lte97h)

Thanks in advance,

James

jtsnead

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #11 on: 28 Dec 2011, 01:29 am »
Hi James,

Thanks for the purchase of the Sylvania. I had a 901 briefly but changed my direction from an integrated to seperates. I bought the GB 5751 to use in that unit but never did because of "upgradius" :duh:, you will see when you get it the tube still has the test scores on a sticker on the tube. From what I remember talking to the guy I bought the tube off of he said some people feel that the black plates have a slightly better sound but not by much. The prices can be very high on these tubes and do not think spending over a $100 on a single tube is worth it if it only makes a little difference. The one you got should sound better than the stock tube for a reasonable price so Enjoy! the 901 is a great sounding unit.

JT

Robb_G

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #12 on: 29 Dec 2011, 03:38 am »
I have five tubes in my current arsenal: the stock JJ, a Create 12AX7, two vintage tubes (but not the Sylvania everyone recommends), and a Sovtek 12AX7 LPS.

I switch them around often.  It seems crazy, but I keep finding myself going back to the Sovtek.  It just has the right balance of everything in my setup.

Squeezebox Touch > Audio-gd DAC-19 > Sensation 901 w/buffer > Monitor Audio Silver RS6

abernardi

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #13 on: 29 Dec 2011, 05:14 am »
Wow Robb,
   That's almost my system exactly!  Different speakers though.  I'll have to seek out that tube.

Jason T

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #14 on: 31 Dec 2011, 03:37 pm »
Hi All,

I'm looking to tinker with my system, which has a M901 with Dodd buffer as it's heart & soul.  Batteries are one thing I'm looking at (in another thread), but I also have questions about the tube supplied with the Dodd buffer.

At the moment I'm sporting the standard issue from-factory tube.  Is anyone aware of a sure-fire, this-will-sound-better tube to upgrade to?  I'm not interested in getting into a tube-rolling situation as my family life doesn't support extended critical/comparative listening (unfortunately...well actually no, my wife & son are way more awesome than my stereo.  Well, more awesome at least).

But, if anyone can give me a definitive improvement - that matches improvement to bucks ideally - then I'd be interested in a recommendation.

Merry Christmas,

James


James
the batteries are a no brainer, you'll love them :)
as far as other possible upgrades go how about some Nirvana interconnects ? speaker cables ?
ClarityCap mod (SA, ESA, MR)

jb26

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #15 on: 31 Dec 2011, 11:40 pm »
Jason, thanks for the hints.  Batteries are definitely on the list.  I'm running your Nirvana cables already.  Upgrading caps sound like a good idea, but I live outside the US so shipping to upgrade makes it prohibitively expensive.

Might have to upgrade to the new Virtue DAC instead!  Out of interest, will you be developing optical/toslink Nirvana cables too so we can use that input and keep the whole system Nirvana?

Jason T

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #16 on: 1 Jan 2012, 04:50 pm »
Might have to upgrade to the new Virtue DAC instead!  Out of interest, will you be developing optical/toslink Nirvana cables too so we can use that input and keep the whole system Nirvana?

sorry but fiber optic cables aren't in the plan.

abernardi

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #17 on: 9 Jan 2012, 08:46 am »
Hey jb26, how are you liking your GB 5751? 

  I just recently picked up a Sylvania GB 5751 triple mica black plate, but it doesn't have the gold pins.  I don't think the black plates were ever made with gold pins, that's the grey plate GB 5751.  So now I have tried three tubes in my 901 with Dodd Buffer and battery:

The stock JJ ECC-803S
Sylvania JHS 12AX7
and the GB Sylvania above.

   I think my hopes were too high for the GB 5751.  I'm also realizing just how many other factors go into finding the right tube for each system, what works for one won't for another.

   I started with the JJ tube and loved it and used it for the first 3 months or so that I had the amp.
   
   Then a couple of weeks ago I put in the JHS 12AX7 and I noticed less leaf rustle on the volume pot and a fuller, warmer, very engrossing bass.  Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat was awesome!  Not only was the bass hard hitting, deep and totally satisfying, it also had texture that I hadn't heard before, a growl that was really cool.
   But the vocals weren't sounding as natural, they sounded more processed and I lost the feeling that they were in the room.  The dynamics seemed to increase and the vocals seemed a little farther back in the soundstage.

   A couple of nights ago I put in the GB 5751 and it was weird.  I'm finding that it does some things better than the other tubes and some things worse.
   Much more leaf rustling in the volume pot then either of the others.
   Instruments are more natural sounding, particularly in the high end, cymbals are outstanding.  They were more separated and identifiable.
   There's a longer room decay, yet it's tighter or faster, so hard cut outs and attacks are more noticeable.
   There's no edginess in the mid highs that I've been getting from the other tubes. 
   I was playing a cut from the West Side Story movie soundtrack which sounded better than I've ever heard it, and I heard a cello behind the vocals that I hadn't heard before.
   In an Aimee Mann song there's a strange aural illusion for a few bars in the backing vocals, they seemed to come directly from the sides of the room, I mean the space directly to my right and left... very cool.  But with the other two tubes the illusion seemed to happen only on the right side.
   While the vocals sounded a little more natural than the JHS, they seemed to be a little veiled and rounded off.  Diana Krall doesn't have the same growl in her voice that is so engrossing.
   The low end is very...polite... i.e. not much there.  On some cuts it seems really tight and on some others pretty messy.  That seems weird...
   The dynamics seem even a little wider, yet there seems to be dips or holes at certain frequencies. 

   The other tubes seemed to have a more consistent character than this one, this one is confusing me.  I'll have to listen some more to fully understand what I'm hearing. 

   I think so far I'm leaning back towards the JJ tube mainly because it feels a little more evenly balanced and the vocals totally draw me in, they're more realistic and believable to my ears.  However, all I can definitely say at this point... is that more research is needed  :green:

   I think I'll try to track down one of those Sovteks and I heard good things about the Raytheon.

jb26

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Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #18 on: 9 Jan 2012, 11:01 pm »
Hi abernardi,

Thanks for the review of the different tubes.  I'm still tracking down my update, the sale above fell through (just a mis-communication, no issue).  I find the rustling changing with different tubes an odd one, it doesn't seem to make sense to me.  It also doesn't worry me as I'm not frequently changing volumes while listening.

Looks like I've another tube to add to the contender list too.

James

Trismos

Re: A sure-fire tube upgrade
« Reply #19 on: 20 Jan 2012, 08:44 pm »
One thing that certainly impresses me about Grant Fidelity, they sure no how to present an order. Whether it's cables or DACs or what have you, they come nicely packaged. Perhaps I'm easily impressed but it shows some class.






These pretty pieces are the Psvane 12AU7-T for my Dodd buffer in my M-901.