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    SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

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    jfine

    Posts : 164
    Join date : 2017-06-19

    SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by jfine on Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:44 am

    I know this has been discussed a few times here, but this will be the latest opinions, how's that?

    I've read some like to mix n match, in other words, 2 different pairs, like maybe a set of RCA GT's in the input with a Tung Sol in the buffer, etc.,

    Also are there any hard cores who just don't like new production tubes, and would rather settle for old (50's-70's) tubes, and vice versa?
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    Dave_in_Va

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    Join date : 2013-04-02

    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by Dave_in_Va on Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:32 am

    I put 1950's GE tubes where they matter and Russian tubes in the non critical buffer slots.

    I'm 65 and have wanted a nice stereo since I was 16. I finally got it with my VTA ST 70, SP 14 and PH 14. I use the best tubes I can find. This is my last shot.

    Remember, no matter how many different logos they print on new tubes you're basically getting Russian, Chinese or Slovak tubes. There's no way that anyone can convince me that these three factories are producing crap sounding...okay sounding...good sounding... great sounding tubes on different production lines with each line costing millions of dollars to set up and research.

    (And for the SP 14...there's still about a zillion NOS 6SN7's out there. Shop around, avoid the hype. You can get the real thing for cheap.)
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    deepee99

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:39 pm

    jfine wrote:I know this has been discussed a few times here, but this will be the latest opinions, how's that?

    I've read some like to mix n match, in other words, 2 different pairs, like maybe a set of RCA GT's in the input with a Tung Sol in the buffer, etc.,

    Also are there any hard cores who just don't like new production tubes, and would rather settle for old (50's-70's) tubes, and vice versa?
    Jeff, with few exceptions I don't believe NOS is any better than the new stuff out there, esp. given the counterfeit racket in NOS tubes on Fleabay nowadays. I've become quite a fan of the PSVane/ShuGuang livery myself for preamps, outputs and drivers. (CV-181z and KT-88z). For outputs, the Russian Gold Lion KT-88s are quite robust as well.
    Comes down to quality control. QC in new tubes is definitely not as good as with the old Sylvanias, Mullards, RCAs GEs & etc., but if you get a good rack of the remakes, you're in like Flynn. So what if they last "only" 3-5 years as opposed to the 10 years claimed for NOS. You're still money (and sound) ahead. I've had a boat-load of Sylvania's best NOS 6Sn7s and can honestly say IMHO the best Chinese CV-181s will trump them. The only NOS U.S.-made tube I'm running is the Bendix rectifier in the SP-14, highly recommended. I've got Gold Lions for output tube back-ups, but the focus really should be on the "front end" where the sound is most flavoured.
    I run my VTA/Sachs/Mottram rack pretty much 12 hours a day or longer and have had no grief whatsoever. Whether at background levels or some kick-a** R&R when you want to get a body massage, they haven't let me down.


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    Kentley

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by Kentley on Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:52 pm

    I concur with deepee here. In the interests of completeness, it might be noted that the buffers (the right pair) seem to function perfectly well with just about anything. Therefore I use a pair of the new TungSol 6SN7s there. Not a bad tube, at any rate.
    Also note that the Shuguang/Psvane CV-181s are large-bottles, as large as KT-88s. They actually graze the top cover. On the other hand, they never get very hot.
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    jfine

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by jfine on Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:13 am

    deepee99 wrote:
    Jeff, with few exceptions I don't believe NOS is any better than the new stuff out there, esp. given the counterfeit racket in NOS tubes on Fleabay nowadays. I've become quite a fan of the PSVane/ShuGuang livery myself for preamps, outputs and drivers. (CV-181z and KT-88z). For outputs, the Russian Gold Lion KT-88s are quite robust as well.
    Comes down to quality control. QC in new tubes is definitely not as good as with the old Sylvanias, Mullards, RCAs GEs & etc., but if you get a good rack of the remakes, you're in like Flynn. So what if they last "only" 3-5 years as opposed to the 10 years claimed for NOS. You're still money (and sound) ahead. I've had a boat-load of Sylvania's best NOS 6Sn7s and can honestly say IMHO the best Chinese CV-181s will trump them. The only NOS U.S.-made tube I'm running is the Bendix rectifier in the SP-14, highly recommended. I've got Gold Lions for output tube back-ups, but the focus really should be on the "front end" where the sound is most flavoured.
    I run my VTA/Sachs/Mottram rack pretty much 12 hours a day or longer and have had no grief whatsoever. Whether at background levels or some kick-a** R&R when you want to get a body massage, they haven't let me down.


    Yes there is a growing fanbase for the chinese tubes, but at the same time, there is about the same amount of folks it seems that are not.

    I have had 2 problems with the Chinese CV-181 in the last, what, 4-5 months? I don't even use my system all that much, certainly not 12 hours a day. But I did have some recent dud RCA'a too, well, didn't buy from a good source was the problem there. Not too keen on the sylvanias so far, but I'm far from trying them all.

    Depends what you mean by trump them, maybe in imaging, airiness, I might agree, but I have found that at least running a quad of the CV-181Z in the SP14, something is also lost. Things become a bit vague, less bass for certain. Stick something else in the either the buffer or input using the CV-181Z, bass comes back, focus returns.
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    jfine

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by jfine on Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:21 am

    Kentley wrote:I concur with deepee here. In the interests of completeness, it might be noted that the buffers (the right pair) seem to function perfectly well with just about anything. Therefore I use a pair of the new TungSol 6SN7s there. Not a bad tube, at any rate.
    Also note that the Shuguang/Psvane CV-181s are large-bottles, as large as KT-88s. They actually graze the top cover. On the other hand, they never get very hot.

    I have noticed that if I change the buffers, while they may not affect the sound as much as the input, they can alter the overall effect a lot. For example, I ran a quad of CV-181Z's, changed the buffer tubes to a lowly GE side getter from '61, and the sound changed *a lot*. Now that GE might be a bottom feeder, but one thing is for sure, it has way more bass, quiet as a mouse, doesn't get any hotter than the CV-181Z, and doesn't sound half bad. Prefer an RCA there for now, but well there it is. For what it's worth, I have not liked the sound of any new EH, Tungsol, sovtek, chinese, etc., signal tubes in the 12AX7, 12AT7, 6922 family, have not tried any 6SN7's yet.
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    deepee99

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by deepee99 on Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:23 pm

    jfine wrote:
    deepee99 wrote:
    Jeff, with few exceptions I don't believe NOS is any better than the new stuff out there, esp. given the counterfeit racket in NOS tubes on Fleabay nowadays. I've become quite a fan of the PSVane/ShuGuang livery myself for preamps, outputs and drivers. (CV-181z and KT-88z). For outputs, the Russian Gold Lion KT-88s are quite robust as well.
    Comes down to quality control. QC in new tubes is definitely not as good as with the old Sylvanias, Mullards, RCAs GEs & etc., but if you get a good rack of the remakes, you're in like Flynn. So what if they last "only" 3-5 years as opposed to the 10 years claimed for NOS. You're still money (and sound) ahead. I've had a boat-load of Sylvania's best NOS 6Sn7s and can honestly say IMHO the best Chinese CV-181s will trump them. The only NOS U.S.-made tube I'm running is the Bendix rectifier in the SP-14, highly recommended. I've got Gold Lions for output tube back-ups, but the focus really should be on the "front end" where the sound is most flavoured.
    I run my VTA/Sachs/Mottram rack pretty much 12 hours a day or longer and have had no grief whatsoever. Whether at background levels or some kick-a** R&R when you want to get a body massage, they haven't let me down.


    Yes there is a growing fanbase for the chinese tubes, but at the same time, there is about the same amount of folks it seems that are not.

    I have had 2 problems with the Chinese CV-181 in the last, what, 4-5 months? I don't even use my system all that much, certainly not 12 hours a day. But I did have some recent dud RCA'a too, well, didn't buy from a good source was the problem there. Not too keen on the sylvanias so far, but I'm far from trying them all.

    Depends what you mean by trump them, maybe in imaging, airiness, I might agree, but I have found that at least running a quad of the CV-181Z in the SP14, something is also lost. Things become a bit vague, less bass for certain. Stick something else in the either the buffer or input using the CV-181Z, bass comes back, focus returns.
    I'll have to give that a try.... BTW, methinks you and Kently may be talking apples and oranges. Kently's talking about the driver tubes in his S-120, and you're talking about the 4-tube SP-14 array. At any rate, you've got me scrounging around the place for a couple of RCA or Sylvania 6SN7s to put in the buffer holes of my DS-2/SP-14.
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    Fitero

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by Fitero on Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:44 pm

    Like others, I have gone through all of the renowned tubes. Last October I bought a couple pair of the Shuguang Treasure CV181Z's. I now run one pair on the input, and a pair of 60's Russian generics on the buffer.

    On the down side, I bought the tubes from a company that offered them cheap with guarantee....5 months later, 2 of them have become microphonic and useless and the company has disappeared. That's what I get for being too frugal at times.

    They are still my favorite though.

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    jfine

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by jfine on Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:11 pm

    Fitero wrote:Like others, I have gone through all of the renowned tubes.  Last October I bought a couple pair of the Shuguang Treasure CV181Z's.  I now run one pair on the input, and a pair of 60's Russian generics on the buffer.  

    On the down side, I bought the tubes from a company that offered them cheap with guarantee....5 months later, 2 of them have become microphonic and useless and the company has disappeared.  That's what I get for being too frugal at times.

    They are still my favorite though.


    The CV181Z not lasting very long seems to be a common complaint. A little too expensive for that kind of reliability, IMO.

    I'm still finding old american 6SN7's sound best to me.
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    deepee99

    Posts : 2005
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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by deepee99 on Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:31 pm

    jfine wrote:
    Fitero wrote:Like others, I have gone through all of the renowned tubes.  Last October I bought a couple pair of the Shuguang Treasure CV181Z's.  I now run one pair on the input, and a pair of 60's Russian generics on the buffer.  

    On the down side, I bought the tubes from a company that offered them cheap with guarantee....5 months later, 2 of them have become microphonic and useless and the company has disappeared.  That's what I get for being too frugal at times.

    They are still my favorite though.


    The CV181Z not lasting very long seems to be a common complaint. A little too expensive for that kind of reliability, IMO.

    I'm still finding old american 6SN7's sound best to me.
    Haven't had any grief with my CV181-zs, but you know the deal, it's a crap-shoot.
    Sylvania chrome-domes 1950s vintage are prolly the best of the whole lot.
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    Fitero

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by Fitero on Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:03 pm

    I chatted with Don Sachs regarding the Shuguang Treasures, and what he does is buy a bunch of them and then sell them at an affordable price. He knows that a certain percentage are going to be duds, and that he will have to replace them under warranty. In the end though, he finds it worth it for the superior sound that they offer.

    I am looking at the NOS Sylvania, chrome-domes again.
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    jfine

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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by jfine on Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:35 pm

    Fitero wrote:In the end though, he finds it worth it for the superior sound that they offer.

    Well superior is certainly subjective, it may also have *a lot* to do with the rest of the chain, especially the speakers.
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    tubes4hifi
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    Re: SP14 Favorite Tubes and Tube Combinations

    Post by tubes4hifi on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:16 pm

    I see Fitero has already made the point I was going to make. You can't beat the CV181s on the input side, but they are VERY expensive, and they do have some QC problems.
    You might get great ones, or not. I haven't heard from anybody that has them that doesn't think they sound amazing.
    About 90% of them are good, so if you want to take a chance, better pay up for a spare or two. And I agree with Kentley, you don't need them
    and likely get better sound with something different on the output buffers. For my limited budget, like it or not, I still like old Sylvania chrome domes. Some think they are bright,
    but if you might think they are, mix them with something else on the output end. I can buy a dozen used chrome domes for the price of one CV181.
    Preamp tubes are gonna last 5-10 years anyway, so I don't care if the used ones only test at 90% of new.

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