Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience

WillyP and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 387 times.

Gumby

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 31
  • HiFi slows aging
Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« on: 7 Mar 2019, 03:29 pm »
Curious to know the experience of people who’ve lived, or continue to, with tube gear.   What does it give you that solid state didn’t, or vice versa?

The short exposure I’ve had at dealers and shows didn’t tell me much, which is why feedback from long term users would be informative. 


witchdoctor

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #1 on: 7 Mar 2019, 03:33 pm »
Curious to know the experience of people who’ve lived, or continue to, with tube gear.   What does it give you that solid state didn’t, or vice versa?

The short exposure I’ve had at dealers and shows didn’t tell me much, which is why feedback from long term users would be informative.

That is a loaded question, IMO better to just go to a dealer, get a 30 day return policy and compare at home.

veloceleste

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #2 on: 7 Mar 2019, 10:22 pm »
That is a loaded question, IMO better to just go to a dealer, get a 30 day return policy and compare at home.
Good answer.
You could also ask in the Tube-O-Phile or All Solid State circles.

Elizabeth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2116
  • Love is all there is....
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #3 on: 7 Mar 2019, 10:41 pm »
I can partially answer this question. I own Bryston gear, and a couple of additional tube preamps.
The main feature of tubes is second harmonic distortion.
2nd harmonic is good, folks like it. Anytime you think your sound is a little 'dry, plopping in some 2nd harmonic can cure it.
The thing is, as the years since tubes were invented,  and solid state gear arose.. Tube gear has been working to be more like solid state, and SS has become more 'liquid'.
So at this point in time, whatever you are looking for can be had with either one. It is pretty easy to warm up sound with SS gear anyway. If you work at it a little. The cubed Bryston are already nice and liquid. not tubes needed.
As an aside, I would add the more conditioning and AC work you have going the more liquid your SS gear can become.
The main downside for me in particular of tubes is tube life. Since I am now retired, and l play music at home at least ten hours a day, every day,.. Take a new Audio Research Reference 6 preamp. recommended 2000 hours on 6550WE tube, and 4000 hours on the (7) 6H30P. For me, that is less then six months to 2000, and under 13 months to 4000hrs listening.
I have been retired nine years now. that is at LEAST 15 of the one tube, and another 7 SETS of the rest... In the same time my Bryston B-26 had needed... nothing. sounds WONDERFUL.
& Seven times 7 cheapest $40 tubes is two grand for CHEAP versions of the tubes. Expensive top of the line? $14,000 for tubes...
Naturally tube folks will say nahhh you don't need to replace them every 4000 hours....
True for  12AX7/12AU7 tube based preamp tubes..
Then you got Amplifier tubes... which have shorter lives...

Added: a lot of tube hype is romance. They glow, they are 'interesting'. You can search high and low for old, 'special' tubes. Nostalgia... Romance. what is not to like.

Added tubes also help with some mediocre digital sound. Tubes can alter the HF enough to hide digital glare.
« Last Edit: 8 Mar 2019, 12:03 am by Elizabeth »

FullRangeMan

  • Volunteer
  • Posts: 11580
  • All Tweeters look like a target, then shoot them!
    • Never go to a psychiatrist, adopt a straycat or dog. On the street they live only two years average.
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #4 on: 7 Mar 2019, 11:14 pm »
The only prob with tubes are the short life of current production.
Wifes like romance, they even say sound is good and dinner goes smooth :wink:

Freo-1

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #5 on: 7 Mar 2019, 11:51 pm »

What tubes provide that solid state does not is a complex question.  For me, at the core, tube gear can provide more of a three dimensional soundstage, a midrange that no solid state gear can replicate, and an illusion that the recording is live with the right setup and recording.


This document provides some details regarding the differences between tubes and solid state:


https://spectrum.ieee.org/ns/pdfs/08_98_tubes.pdf


I currently have solid state gear from McIntosh and Devialet, both of which are among the best available from solid state.  While they both sound very satisfying, the tube gear I have provides even more enjoyment with a lot of music from the collection on hand.  In order to get the "best bang for the buck" with tube gear, decided to go the DIY route.  This provides a whole host of advantages:


1) Point to point wiring vs. PCB
2) High quality parts selection (caps, resistors, connectors, etc.)
3) Use New Old Stock (NOS) tubes still readily available at a reasonable cost.


There are some great resources available which allows selection of circuit topologies which allow for the creation of great sound.  There are multiple choices for tube amps, be it Single Ended low power, or higher power push/pull in triode, ultra-linear, or pentode.  The preamp design I used is a low gain from Thomas Mayer, which I would put up against any commercial offering.  The power amps that I came up with use the octal 6BL7 tube for driver and phase splitter, and the 1625 tube for one set of amps, and the 6883B/8552 tube for the other set of amps.  These power tubes are very rugged, readily available as NOS tubes, and are very reasonable cost. 


Getting the best sound from tube amps is definitely more challenging than solid state, but to me, can be worth the extra effort if done with care.


Gumby

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 31
  • HiFi slows aging
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #6 on: 8 Mar 2019, 12:06 am »
Thanks Elizabeth,

More “Liquid” is what I’m after.  Sounds like upgrading to the Cubed series may be the way to go.  I have an older B60.   

The AC conditioning makes sense too.  You’ve outlined your recommendations towards that in a past post, which I’m working on. 

The shocker though is your tube cost projections. A fact that is a changer for me.  I will not be going down that path. 

Congratulations on being able to listen to music ten hours a day.  Sounds like a dream. 






Elizabeth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2116
  • Love is all there is....
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #7 on: 8 Mar 2019, 12:08 am »
[quote author=Freo-1 link=topic=162869.msg1732414#msg1732414 date=1552002. 
Getting the best sound from tube amps is definitely more challenging than solid state, but to me, can be worth the extra effort if done with care.
[/quote]
I would say getting the best from solid state can be challenging too! But ti me, can certainly be worth the effort.
This past year, I upgraded to Magnepan 20.7 from 3.6
That started me on a spree of upgrading the digital. The AC power from all duplex, power cords and some noise harvesters. Just to mention still using my Bryston BP-26 and Bryston 4B-SST² amp. Amazing sound. the Bryston gear just let all the improvements shine.   :thumb:

FullRangeMan

  • Volunteer
  • Posts: 11580
  • All Tweeters look like a target, then shoot them!
    • Never go to a psychiatrist, adopt a straycat or dog. On the street they live only two years average.
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #8 on: 8 Mar 2019, 12:11 am »
The 1625 is a great tube similar to 807, very hi sound value for the price $5 each.
http://www.gstube.com/catalog/?key=1625&submit=Find
Thanks for the PDF link, very good info.

Gumby

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 31
  • HiFi slows aging
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #9 on: 8 Mar 2019, 12:43 am »
Freo,

Thanks for the feedback and information.   

Does your diy tube gear greatly surpass the solid states you have, which are up there as well.  Is it really worth all the added effort and future tube failures?


Elizabeth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2116
  • Love is all there is....
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #10 on: 8 Mar 2019, 12:46 am »
The 1625 is a great tube similar to 807, very hi sound value for the price $5 each.
http://www.gstube.com/catalog/?key=1625&submit=Find
Thanks for the PDF link, very good info.

The problem is, for new to tube folks, they have no idea what that tube can be used in. Usually folks buy a tube preamp, and accept whatever tubes it uses. Sometimes seeking out preamps that use a particular tube, is  a bit more for folks with knowledge of tubes.
For the newbie one needs to be aware of tube costs. And YES I chose the preamp i would want.. if only the tubes did not cost an arm and a leg.. The ARC Ref 6 is getting to be famous for being so good sounding. but the tube cost would kill me.
If you also told WHAT PREAMPS use that tube... That would have been more useful to a newbie. Or is it a build the preamp yourself tube?
I have owned tube based preamps using 12AX7/12AU7 combos. 6922 sets, and 6H30P. Sad the original Russiam Military 6H30P are now selling for $700 EACH. Have to settle for $40 copies..

((and sorry to be writing about TUBES in a Bryston Circle thread.. ))

FullRangeMan

  • Volunteer
  • Posts: 11580
  • All Tweeters look like a target, then shoot them!
    • Never go to a psychiatrist, adopt a straycat or dog. On the street they live only two years average.
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #11 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:01 am »
The 1625 is a Pentode for power output position, about 5W in Triode, not used in preamps.

Elizabeth

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2116
  • Love is all there is....
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #12 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:03 am »
Does your diy tube gear greatly surpass the solid states you have, which are up there as well.  Is it really worth all the added effort and future tube failures?
I own a Conrad Johnson ACT2 ($13000 new) uses 4 6H30P (used paid way less, way way less)
I own a Audible Illusions Modulus 3A (about $2300 new) uses 4 6922 (refurbished paid less)
I own a VAC Standard ($5000 new) uses 2 12AX7 and 2 12AU7 (used paid way less)
A hybid unit, Audio Research Sp-15 with solid state gain, and three tube phono only 6Dj8 section. ($6000 list ) (used paid way way less and actually with trade of SP-10, got this one FREE) all are in my system.
If anyone says there $500  or even $1500 home made tube box BEATS the above... well LOL.
Though if they are looking for only the warm tubey lush big midrange sound.. yeah that is not what these preamps have.

The are all about equal in sound quality with tradeoffs here or there the solid state preamps I own beat them all. SLIGHTLY. Any of the preamps I own are great preamps.

Then I own Bryston BP-26 (I use the BP-26 as my main preamp)
I own Threshold FET TEN line and phono boxes
solid state. again close.. Lucky find on the Threshold rebuilt in 2015 by Jon Soderberg and new beefier power supply for both the HF and phono boxes.
Again sorry for posting about tubes on Brsyton Circle.
The one shining glory is the BP-26 RULES THEM ALL. 100%

Freo-1

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #13 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:20 am »
This preamp is among the best sounding tube unit available, regardless of price:


https://vinylsavor.blogspot.com/2012/06/making-of-6ah4-line-stage-circuit.html


I followed this circuit with the exception of using a stepped attenuator vice a transformer coupled volume control.  The parts alone cost a fair bit of coin, and yes, it can and does sound better than many big priced items. 


The key to the sound of this preamp is all the iron as part of the design. 

PierreB

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #14 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:36 am »
I sold my Sonic Frontiers Line1 and SFS-80 14 years ago because the SFS-80 eat 4 KT-88 each 6 months.
So for me it’s only a question of $$$. The sound was great but each time I push the power button, It scares me.  :thumbdown:
So I go for the peace of mind and I buy a BP25 and a 2B SST. No problem since then.
Will I buy another tube gear?? Why not  :green:

Freo-1

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #15 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:40 am »
Freo,

Thanks for the feedback and information.   

Does your diy tube gear greatly surpass the solid states you have, which are up there as well.  Is it really worth all the added effort and future tube failures?




Greatly surpass, no.  The Devialet/Dynaudio setup is reference quality sound, and the specs easily surpass just about everything currently available. 


Still, the tube setup with either the Dynaudio or the German T+A speakers can sound more lifelike than the Devialet or McIntosh with most recordings.  A friend who is a rock/blues musician has listened to both the tube and solid state setup, and he prefers the tubes.  It just sounds more like a live concert to him.


The point I was trying to make is that while you can spend lots of cash for big ticket tube gear,  there is other options available for good tube sound.

Freo-1

Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #16 on: 8 Mar 2019, 01:49 am »

BTW,  the power tubes in the 1625 amp need to be replaced every three years or so, at a cost of 40.00 total. 


The 8552 amp can go three to four years between replacements, at a cost of roughly 50.00 total. 


These tubes were made to industrial standards, and were made to work in mobile applications.  The 6BL7 was a TV tube, as the 6AH4, and was designed to go many years without failure. 


If interested, check out DIY audio for some good information and ideas.

Pappakap

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 3
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #17 on: 17 Mar 2019, 05:03 pm »
I’m totally in the minority for my age group (under 30 crowd) in that I went tube right from the get go. As my listening tends towards singer/songwriter acoustic I find the warmth and presence of the music is nothing short of ethereal at times. For me it depends on your tastes, I’ve noticed missing the lunch solid state provides  when trying to push things more in the classic rock genre that my 2 watt tube just can’t keep up with.

Mag

  • Volunteer
  • Posts: 1901
  • My baby called me when she wanted tail.
Re: Tube Hi Fi....what’s your experience
« Reply #18 on: 17 Mar 2019, 09:00 pm »
I became an audiophile back in the '70's with a tube amplifier. At that time dad was in an Old Time Country band and I used his speaker amp along with two DIY 12" speakers and cabinet TT for source. Didn't know anything about solid state amps.

Now at the Dealer several years back the Dealer had an impressive tube system with Dali floorstanders IIRC. He played Oxygen by Jean Michel Jarre, a album I was familiar with. It sounded very pleasant, but then he switched it over to solid state paired with Snell speakers, and I heard the difference in an instant. IMO solid state had vitality (life to the music), quickness, that the tube system was lacking. I knew right there and then I was a solid state guy. 8)