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Do Valves Of The Same Type Sound The Same


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Moving on from the the not so great power cable debate...I have had some one tell me recently that all valves of the same type sound the same...

That is...all 300B valves sound the same & I guess technically they should being all made to meet the same spec...

However...having heard exactly the opposite I was more than a little surprised but this...

So...if all valves of the same type sound the same...why does a NOS WE 300B sell for north of $2000 US each & a TJ 300B for $130...

Please leave the supply/demand debate aside for this discussion...it is only the reproduction of the music I am interested in...

 

Just so the SS guys/gals don't feel left out...changes valves for fets...as in mosfets...vfets...bipoplars...

 

 

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I strongly disagree that all valves (of a type) sound the same. For instance, I have tried about 20 different 6SN7 tubes over the last couple of years. And although a few shared sonic similaritie

Fairly dependent on the implementation but in general valves of the same type do not sound the same.

Having spent quite a bit of time and money rolling valves in my Supratek preamp I can assure you they do sound different.  It is also very easy to demonstrate and you don't need "golden ears".

5 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

Moving on from the the not so great power cable debate...I have had some one tell me recently that all valves of the same type sound the same...

That is...all 300B valves sound the same & I guess technically they should being all made to meet the same spec...

However...having heard exactly the opposite I was more than a little surprised but this...

So...if all valves of the same type sound the same...why does a NOS WE 300B sell for north of $2000 US each & a TJ 300B for $130...

Please leave the supply/demand debate aside for this discussion...it is only the reproduction of the music I am interested in...

 

Just so the SS guys/gals don't feel left out...changes valves for fets...as in mosfets...vfets...bipoplars...

 

 

 

As someone who is about to embark on my first tube rolling exercise I'm very interested in the responses to your question

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I strongly disagree that all valves (of a type) sound the same.

For instance, I have tried about 20 different 6SN7 tubes over the last couple of years. And although a few shared sonic similarities, it is easy to distinguish the different signatures they offer. It's been a while since I've run 300b tubes, but again, quite easy to hear the differences. Well it was when I tried 3 or 4 brands.

 

But I doubt the NOS WE 300B tubes sound nearly 20 times better than the TJ 300B tubes. But would I buy them if I had the disposal income and was looking for the best 300B tube? Absolutely. :D

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I went from a pair of Shuguang 845s to a pair of Elrog 845s.

Vast difference, the Elrogs had so much more colour and life to their sound.

The Shuguangs were also a little harsh compared as well.

 

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Short answer is no.....driver, input valves have more impact than power valves when it comes to tube rolling.

 

I've 'wasted' quite lot of dosh chasing exotic valves.....however, they are all system dependent and specially what other valves in the food chain....as they interact quite differently.

 

@Sir Sanders Zingmore , if you want to experiment I've got some NOS valves...you could borrow.

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2 hours ago, Rob181 said:

 

That is...all 300B valves sound the same & I guess technically they should being all made to meet the same spec...

 

 

Same broad spec yes...same exact materials and construction no.  

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NOS WE do sound better, mellower, fuller, more articulate in the top end than, say, low-end Shuguang.  I'd be hard pressed to choose between WE and Takatsuki, though.  And so-called NOS could really be anything in an original box. Or not, even.  Much as I love 300Bs, there's a lot of madness associated with them.  Earle's use of (relative) cheapies in even his top line amps suggests that topology and other parts (like transformers) may be more important than the choice of bulbs.

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Yes, sound of same type of valves in the same circuit can Sound different, vary the sound.

Differences to expect can include- resolution more or less, dynamics more or less, bass weight more or less, extended highs more ore less to name the most common things I have heard. Some are subtle change some more obvious.

 

Matching rectifier tubes to signal and output/ driver tubes also can make a difference.

 

It is possible to fine tune the sound you desire with tube rolling (but beware it can be costly, not so much by individual tube cost but rather how many you need to try).

 

Good sounding tubes need not be too costly, by way of example I recently purchase a quad of Russian 6L6 for ~$55 Aud and they are amongst the best I have tried in my set up (they drive 300B's).

 

Caps, opt and wire can also change sound.

 

What will work on one amp may not work on another as it is circuit dependant.

 

Btw..... I have performed no DBT or taken any measurements and hell yeah I am joking...:D

 

Hope this is useful...

 

:thumb:

 

 

 

 

Edited by BobbyD
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21 hours ago, k-k-k-kenny said:

Earle's use of (relative) cheapies in even his top line amps suggests that topology and other parts (like transformers) may be more important than the choice of bulbs.

23 hours ago, Rob181 said:

Moving on from the the not so great power cable debate...I have had some one tell me recently that all valves of the same type sound the same...

That is...all 300B valves sound the same & I guess technically they should being all made to meet the same spec...

 

One of the reasons why valves of the same type may not sound the same, as the specs of the valves are slightly different... some of this can be adjusted for using the typical bias controls found in an amp, but not all.

 

 

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On 2/15/2017 at 8:04 PM, Sir Sanders Zingmore said:

As someone who is about to embark on my first tube rolling exercise I'm very interested in the responses to your question

 

Really looking forward to reading your experiences...

 

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On 2/15/2017 at 8:08 PM, soundfan said:

I strongly disagree that all valves (of a type) sound the same.

For instance, I have tried about 20 different 6SN7 tubes over the last couple of years. And although a few shared sonic similarities, it is easy to distinguish the different signatures they offer. It's been a while since I've run 300b tubes, but again, quite easy to hear the differences. Well it was when I tried 3 or 4 brands.

 

But I doubt the NOS WE 300B tubes sound nearly 20 times better than the TJ 300B tubes. But would I buy them if I had the disposal income and was looking for the best 300B tube? Absolutely. :D

 

I used the 300 B as an example...

 

My most eye popping experience was with EL 34 tubes...a very good friend has a cheap & cheerful..but highly modified...Minda Integrated...

As an experiment I bought some Russian Tesla brown base tubes...they leave the winged svetlana for dead...

They are the single most beautiful tube I have ever heard & I own NOS WE 205D's...

Nough said...

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15 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

One of the reasons why valves of the same type may not sound the same, as the specs of the valves are slightly different... some of this can be adjusted for using the typical bias controls found in an amp, but not all.

 

For clarification... is what you are saying that by making sure a valve is correctly biased its inherent sound should be the same as another valve of the same type...

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1 hour ago, Rob181 said:

For clarification... is what you are saying that by making sure a valve is correctly biased its inherent sound should be the same as another valve of the same type...

 

I'm saying that the bias may help in a coarse way (which is of course why it is there), but other differences between the tubes may take slight adjustments (components values) in other areas of the amplifier.

 

If a batch of transistors came with the same variations as tubes do - then the same type of issue would exist with solid state amplifiers.

 

It's like saying that if you put different mixtures of fuel in an engine .... you will get differing performance.    Does this inherently mean certain fuels are better than the others - perhaps not.   They are better suited to that engine ..... but if we build a custom engine for each fuel type - then the results may be different (and could perhaps be much closer).

 

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7 hours ago, KenTripp said:

Fairly dependent on the implementation but in general valves of the same type do not sound the same.

 

The question I have is why...

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8 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

I'm saying that the bias may help in a coarse way (which is of course why it is there), but other differences between the tubes may take slight adjustments (components values) in other areas of the amplifier.

 

My understanding of a bias adjustment is to have a valve operating in its optimum level of current for its spec...get that right & (assuming the rest of the amp is in good working order) the amp will operate at its optimum...

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I cannot comment on two things - 300B and fixed bias - mine is cathode bias - no need to touch it.

 

What I can say is that a lot depends on the amp - what class is it?  Is it SET or pushpull?  Triode or other configuration?  Mine is an Earle creation.

Others have alluded to things I say.  Now, all things being equal, which they never are, I do find swapping around 6SN7 GTs to be kinda fun.  NOS are super, and all have their nuances and merits.  I mix things up a bit, which is OK for 6SN7s.  

Not for the EL34s - they must be the same.  I actually use new production KT77s (Eric Clapton's choice I think), and they are perfectly fine - about >7 years old now.  Might be getting a bit tired.

New production 6SN7s are good, if the specs are up to scratch.  I think that they are GTBs.  Some have been well known to have reliability issues and go snuff - the old dudes were made much more robust.  Yes, Earle ships with new, but I think he tests them, and likewise has found reliability issues.

The Shuguang people posted something on SNA a few years ago with 6SN7s, and their specs were way below acceptable which is 9 and 2.9.  Minimum - anything less is OK, but you may be disappointed.

I forget what those numbers mean - current and tranconductance??  Don't bite me if I am wrong on that - so anyway, getting specs right is a good start.  Insist on testing.

 

My best are Sylvania 6SN7 bad boys - genuine 3 hole ones, which were only made briefly in 1952, but the quality deteriorated after about June of that year.

Also have a single 6SL7 up front - I find that it makes a lot of difference to the SQ.  Best I think are 6SU7 - kinda rare, and I have a dozen of the babes just in case I live to be 200 - they are splendid, and made tough.

I always let the amp warm up for at least 5 minutes, often more, on zero volume before switching on any input.

Anecdote - I read an old timers experience of being on a military ship.  When new communications technology arrived, they chucked hundreds of boxes of valves overboard into the sea.  Enough to make a grown man cry.
 

Edited by Lloyd
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On 2/16/2017 at 7:52 PM, davewantsmoore said:

 

One of the reasons why valves of the same type may not sound the same, as the specs of the valves are slightly different... some of this can be adjusted for using the typical bias controls found in an amp, but not all.

 

 

 

Not quite, Dave. It is important to realise several things:

 

* Valve amplifiers, in general, use very small amounts of global NFB. Global NFB (and, to a lesser degree, local NFB) reduces the audible (AND measurable) differences between active devices (valves or transistors). 

* The manufacture of valves is hardly a precision operation. The differences between valves from the same production line can be quite different, let alone the valves from different production lines and different eras. 

* Valves with the same type number, can be constructed differently.This can lead to different audible qualities and measurements.

* Let's not forget the changes that occur over time either. As the cathode sheds it's coating, emission levels fall and measurable and audible changes occur. 

Edited by Zaphod Beeblebrox
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21 minutes ago, Zaphod Beeblebrox said:

 

Not quite, Dave. It is important to realise several things:

 

* Valve amplifiers, in general, use very small amounts of global NFB. Global NFB (and, to a lesser degree, local NFB) reduces the audible (AND measurable) differences between active devices (valves or transistors). 

* The manufacture of valves is hardly a precision operation. The differences between valves from the same production line can be quite different, let alone the valves from different production lines and different eras. 

* Valves with the same type number, can be constructed differently.This can lead to different audible qualities and measurements.

* Let's not forget the changes that occur over time either. As the cathode sheds it's coating, emission levels fall and measurable and audible changes occur. 

 

IMO, (I agree) ....  what you've written there are the "reasons" behind what I posted.

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Has anyone viewed a You Tube (or similar) video as to how a valve is manufactured? I have. It's a very mechanical, as opposed to an electrical, process. I would imagine that valve quality relies considerably upon the expertise of the person or persons involved in the building process. These things are not made by a robot. They are built by hand. How precisely that process is undertaken must affect the end product. That being said... my experience is that quality is elusive.... and not worth a huge amount of one's hard earned $$$$. Most quality valves can be purchased for under $40. Don't get fooled by rip-off merchants.

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2 hours ago, Beacon said:

Has anyone viewed a You Tube (or similar) video as to how a valve is manufactured? I have. It's a very mechanical, as opposed to an electrical, process. I would imagine that valve quality relies considerably upon the expertise of the person or persons involved in the building process. These things are not made by a robot. They are built by hand. How precisely that process is undertaken must affect the end product. That being said... my experience is that quality is elusive.... and not worth a huge amount of one's hard earned $$$$. Most quality valves can be purchased for under $40. Don't get fooled by rip-off merchants.


Yes, I have seen both yootoob clips and general presentations by a few very select type of person who were invited into factories and took pictures if they were allowed to.  Outside of the machines, of course, yes, very labour intensive, and very tedious.

There have been forums devoted to problems with new production - like, they didn't get the pin size right and stupid stuff like that, but thought stuff it, we'll put them out to the market anyway.  If they cannot get such basic things right, that $40 is a waste of dosh, and may even break your amp sockets.

That is false economy by the manufacturer - reputation suffers.

I don't think this happened in the 40s and 50s, as they were designed to military standards.  Reliability was utmost, as was quality.

The other thing I failed to mention is that many of the engineering aspects and chemical properties (secrets) went to the graves of the folk who designed them - we all know about reverse engineering, but but but - expose a can of genuine Coke a Cola to air and no chemist can analyse its true composition - many have tried, and as most know we can get generic Cola in supermarkets, but it is not Coke.

To this day, nobody quite knows why 1952 Sylvania 3 hole plate 6SN7s are superior to their predecessor with 2 hole plates.  Some super clever dude obviously had a trick, which cannot be reverse engineered by breaking them to have a look.  I have my suspicions about the chemicals used.  In those days, with military contracts, there was no expense spared.

 

Edited by Lloyd
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The early days of space travel relied on valve operated equipment...hence the need for valves the would be reliable & consistent in performance...

It is that kind of production standards for hand built equipment that generally ensure NOS valves of earlier times almost always exceeded specs...those that didn't were scrapped...

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1 hour ago, Rob181 said:

The early days of space travel relied on valve operated equipment...hence the need for valves the would be reliable & consistent in performance...

It is that kind of production standards for hand built equipment that generally ensure NOS valves of earlier times almost always exceeded specs...those that didn't were scrapped...

 

I didn't think of that aspect, space travel - of course they must have.  I'll ponder on that for a while.

I don't know if this is true, but valves were preferred as they could withstand nuclear radiation and extreme heat - unlike SS.  Not the physical force, of course, as they can be delicate flowers..

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that if it's possible that 2 tubes of the same type from the same run might have a tiny difference in sound. If you look at any serious tube seller's website you'll see the measures they go to to match identical tubes from the same manufacturer when they sell them in sets. I think this all adds to the fun of tubes rather than detracting from it. As you go higher and higher up the price scale these minor differences become lessened. Indeed in some cases the difference between one price point and another in identical tube  types may be as a result of higher standards of QC. So you are effectively paying more because the manufacturer rejects more of their products to ensure a closer spec! 

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Having spent quite a bit of time and money rolling valves in my Supratek preamp I can assure you they do sound different.  It is also very easy to demonstrate and you don't need "golden ears".

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21 hours ago, Lloyd said:

 

I didn't think of that aspect, space travel - of course they must have.  I'll ponder on that for a while.

I don't know if this is true, but valves were preferred as they could withstand nuclear radiation and extreme heat - unlike SS.  Not the physical force, of course, as they can be delicate flowers..

Apparently the tubes could withstand an emr pulse but everything else around them burnt to a crisp. The Russians no longer use tubes in planes as they are too large and consume too much power. And they didn't offer any overall advantage in the event of a nuclear strike 

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11 hours ago, Bilbo said:

Having spent quite a bit of time and money rolling valves in my Supratek preamp I can assure you they do sound different.  It is also very easy to demonstrate and you don't need "golden ears".

A preamp is a perfect vehicle to demonstrate and amplify (literally) any minor differences. I have heard many comments that tube amps can have their power stage tubes changed to lesser effects and that the preamp section of a tube amp is where the big changes occur when tube rolling. And hence where the most money is wisely spent. 

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40 minutes ago, scumbag said:

A preamp is a perfect vehicle to demonstrate and amplify (literally) any minor differences. I have heard many comments that tube amps can have their power stage tubes changed to lesser effects and that the preamp section of a tube amp is where the big changes occur when tube rolling. And hence where the most money is wisely spent. 

 

Without consulting guru Earle, I think that the single 6SL7 is the preamp in my Trinity.  I agree - hence my previous comment about getting the best - in my case, 6SU7.  Deadly smooth.

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13 hours ago, Bilbo said:

Having spent quite a bit of time and money rolling valves in my Supratek preamp I can assure you they do sound different.  It is also very easy to demonstrate and you don't need "golden ears".

 

Arhhh...but can it be measured...if not...then the naysayers will say it isn't real & is the result of psycho-acoustics... 

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8 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

 

Arhhh...but can it be measured...if not...then the naysayers will say it isn't real & is the result of psycho-acoustics... 

 

Indeed.  I can plonk highly regarded valves into my amp and they sound like a bad porno movie.  Why?

Coz they test below specs.  Used, have massive spots on top, whatever.

So it is real.

 

Edited by Lloyd
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Actually, who cares what the nay-sayers, say? And if someone really thinks that I am hearing something that's not real, why can't they just leave me alone to my delusions? Why do people feel it is their prerogative to route out any semblance of subjective evaluation of gear? 

 

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41 minutes ago, Lloyd said:

 

Indeed.  I can plonk highly regarded valves into my amp and they sound like a bad porno movie.  Why?
Coz they test below specs.  Used, have massive spots on top, whatever.
So it is real.

 

 

OK I'll bite...thanks for stating the obvious...

Please explain the difference sound between a  Siemens Cca Gray Shield 63 E88CC & a JJ E88CC tubes when both measure at new spec or better (as most NOS tubes do)

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55 minutes ago, Lloyd said:

 

Indeed.  I can plonk highly regarded valves into my amp and they sound like a bad porno movie.  Why?

Coz they test below specs.  Used, have massive spots on top, whatever.

So it is real.

 

And here we go. Assuming this is going the way I think it is, I'm outta here now.

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3 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

 

OK I'll bite...thanks for stating the obvious...

Please explain the difference sound between a  Siemens Cca Gray Shield 63 E88CC & a JJ E88CC tubes when both measure at new spec or better (as most NOS tubes do)

 

I have no freaking idea about those little valves.  I do have a SET amp in storage which uses about 6 of them - I haven't flicked it on in maybe 10 years.  Needs either selling for a couple hundred bucks or landfill.  Big mistake of mine - we live and learn.

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22 hours ago, Lloyd said:

I have no freaking idea about those little valves.  I do have a SET amp in storage which uses about 6 of them - I haven't flicked it on in maybe 10 years.  Needs either selling for a couple hundred bucks or landfill.  Big mistake of mine - we live and learn.

 

The tubes were used as an example...apply the analogy to any NOS tube Vs current production...another I know is EL 34's for example...

I bought from Russia some NOS Tesla EL 34's & they sound significantly better than ANY other EL 34 that I have heard...

Yet that should not be the case...

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14 minutes ago, Rob181 said:

 

The tubes were used as an example...apply the analogy to any NOS tube Vs current production...another I know is EL 34's for example...

I bought from Russia some NOS Tesla EL 34's & they sound significantly better than ANY other EL 34 that I have heard...

Yet that should not be the case...

Where can I get those from.

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On 2/25/2017 at 2:18 PM, Rob181 said:

 

Arhhh...but can it be measured...if not...then the naysayers will say it isn't real & is the result of psycho-acoustics... 

 

I don't think ANYONE has disputed that valves sound different to each other. Such differences are readily measurable. 

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On 2/25/2017 at 3:16 PM, Rob181 said:

 

OK I'll bite...thanks for stating the obvious...

Please explain the difference sound between a  Siemens Cca Gray Shield 63 E88CC & a JJ E88CC tubes when both measure at new spec or better (as most NOS tubes do)

 

No problems. Present the measurements of the two different valves and I will explain why they sound different. Measurements should include:

 

* A complete set of amplification curves, over the expected operating range.

* Noise figures.

* Microphonic figures.

* Distortion curves and the spectral distribution of that distortion, over the expected range of operation.

 

Those data will tell us a great deal about how valves sound different. 

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