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Partial tear down of Willsenton R8


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I am not an expert on tube amp like many on this forum however writing this blog to help those who are thinking of buying Willsenton R8 or those who owns it and want to know bit more about it. I am no

It came!!     😲😲😲😲😲😲   Ordered November 22nd.  Arrived January 26th, by ocean.  (I was too cheap to pay the airfreight)    Off we go!  

I agree  Here is Ian Dury and The Blockheads playing in Ultralinear mode . . .       

I got real help from this forum for R8.

and ordered Matched pair 6N9S (6SL7GT) old military Russian tube metal base MELZ 1954 NEW from ebay.

 

Expectations are to replace the stock 6sl7 tubes for a big impact.

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1 hour ago, Lam Pham said:

Hi all experts here.image.thumb.png.c4e659857ea512d061dd7efcb425fa71.png

Is anybody try this one and have some word of how it sounds?

 

Thanks.

 

Used a pair when I had my Oldchen K3.  They're a detailed, modern sounding tube.  Melz 6H8C hole plate tubes are far better to my ears.  More transparent and liquid sounding. Better sound stage.

Edited by MattyW
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..........deleted

 

My confusing  tubes being discussed.

 

Sorry, Matt. I thought you were responding to Rali's post.

Edited by muon*
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1 hour ago, muon* said:

I used these in my TL EAR and they sounded liquid smooth, refined and detailed, a very sophisticated sound.

Not what I'd call I'd call a modern sound, personally.

Less character. Less magic to the sound.  Closer to what you expect from solid state. Similar to every other current production tube I've tried basically.

Edited by MattyW
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...............deleted

 

Never mind I'm confusing  the tubes being discussed.

DOH!

Matt is correct.

Edited by muon*
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I have heard from Yong Lee that my R8 has been dispatched and I have a tracking number, locating it currently at the airport in Honk Kong. Estimated delivery is 28 January (by UPS). I ordered the amp on 27 December, so more or less exactly one month between placing order and receiving it, which I think is reasonable. So, much excited anticipation here!

 

Does anyone have any tips or advice for a tube-noob to help me hit the ground running, or do I just let it acclimatise to my room temperature* for an hour or two, then hook it up and start playing some music?

 

* It's freezing cold in the UK right now, so the amp will be similarly cold when it gets here. This may cause condensation inside when it is brought into my warm house, hence my leaving it for an hour or two to 'warm through' before switching it on.

 

One incredibly useful tip I have already picked up is to never, ever power up a tube amp unless speakers are connected. I doubt I would have done that, but it's useful to be reminded.

 

2021-01-23_13-23-17.png.1c19c68899043892e7c2539d3d243d6b.png

Edited by Zed Zed
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Just use it, best to allow it 5 or so minutes after switch on before playing music, need to allow the tubes to reach operating levels in voltages first and stabilize, so that time will allow this to happen.

 

Edit: I'm in Queensland Australia so am not familiar with the cold you are talking about (been 53 years since I lived in England), but the amp will be well packed when you receive it and it will take you some time to unpack and set up anyway.

Edited by muon*
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Also, never! turn the amp off and then straight back on again! Always allow it time to settle before turning it on again after a power down.

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20 minutes ago, muon* said:

Also, never! turn the amp off and then straight back on again! Always allow it time to settle before turning it on again after a power down.

 

25 minutes ago, muon* said:

Just use it, best to allow it 5 or so minutes after switch on before playing music, need to allow the tubes to reach operating levels in voltages first and stabilize, so that time will allow this to happen.

 

Edit: I'm in Queensland Australia so am not familiar with the cold you are talking about (been 53 years since I lived in England), but the amp will be well packed when you receive it and it will take you some time to unpack and set up anyway.

 

 

👍 Thanks. I didn't know not to turn on and off again like that. It isn't something I would generally do anyway, but thanks for the heads-up. 

 

I wish I was unfamiliar with the cold! Green with envy :)🤢

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Still waiting for mine to be dispatched, order was placed on 1 / 6 / 21, according to there site any order's placed before January 15 th should ship by February 5 th. I power up the tube pre amp first, this takes about a minute or so, then the amp, usually another minute, then I give it a few more minutes to settle in before actual use, maybe 20 -30 minutes before releasing any real output.. Just what I do......😎

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Just now, Wisker said:

Still waiting for mine to be dispatched, order was placed on 1 / 6 / 21, according to there site any order's placed before January 15 th should ship by February 5 th. I power up the tube pre amp first, this takes about a minute or so, then the amp, usually another minute, then I give it a few more minutes to settle in before actual use, maybe 20 -30 minutes before releasing any real output.. Just what I do......😎

 

I'm familiar with letting the amp warm up. My current amp, which I've had for about 30 years, is a pure Class A design. Even though it is solid-state, it seems to need a warm-up period. It sounds a bit harsh or rough until it's been on for about 20-30 minutes. I thought SS designs were impervious to this sort of thing, but the difference between cold and warm is easily heard.

 

Good thing to get your R8 sent out before the CNY begins!  I've had a lot of business dealings with China in the past and once CNY starts, everything seems to grind to a halt for about 15 days. If you chose air freight, once shipped it seems to take about a week. Crazy expensive shipping though from PRC to UK - almost half the cost of the amp itself!

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5 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

I wish I was unfamiliar with the cold! Green with envy :)🤢

Experience our summer with days in the high 30's and low 40's with high humidity and no air con and you will envy no more ;)

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You know I was gunna wait to post this until my full rundown of tubes I've tried, but I'll let this out now.

I've used 6F8G in the past as 6sn7 substitutes, but there's also a 6C8G, which is a substitute for 6SL7. I've owned them for a long time, both variants.

 

While I don't recommend using 6F8G (unless you can get them dirt cheap) in place of the 6sn7 for the R8, the 6C8G is a pretty big improvement in the 6SL7 stage.

 

IMG_0492.thumb.jpg.c32e3a9a811ec995696742a7fe4189c7.jpg

 

The tube cage does fit over the adapters, I just have it off for the photo.

 

To me, they're more open, cleaner, and cuts out some of the R8 warmth/thickness, vs standard 6sl7. Treble really opens up!

Not just talking about stock VS Willsenton 6sl7 either, I got a batch of pretty damn good 6sl7 pictured below: (sneak peak before full review)

 

IMG_0493.thumb.jpg.ae8cc120bc556429220658c87cf7ed62.jpg

 

6C8G used to be more plentiful back when I bought them, but you can still find very good pairs cheap... (for now). Here's an example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/203253120380

This is what I would recommend for the adapter https://www.ebay.com/itm/r/283120644345 (please somebody buy that Ken-Rad pair before I do, I really don't need another pair, but it's SOO tempting)

 

Two important notes: 

I own 6x 6C8G. Only two of them are completely quite on the amp. This is because the top cap is the grid connection, makes it much more prone to noise than a regular 6sl7.

I wouldn't recommend buying them for headphone use, unless you want to buy a batch and pick out the quietist ones.

Speakers shouldn't be an issues with even noisier pairs (unless you listen nearfield).

 

 

 

Edited by Comzee
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@Comzee Awesome post! Those are so tempting. I wonder how they would sound with my brighter/detailed speakers. I find myself taming the highs and upper mids of the R8 with my tube choices. What kind of speakers do you have and how are they voiced? That will give me a better idea, I think.

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9 minutes ago, echorec said:

@Comzee Awesome post! Those are so tempting. I wonder how they would sound with my brighter/detailed speakers. I find myself taming the highs and upper mids of the R8 with my tube choices. What kind of speakers do you have and how are they voiced? That will give me a better idea, I think.

Personally I think overall R8 runs a bit warm, and is very thick sounding. Most of my testing is with HD800-SDR / Omega Compact Alnico / Polk LS50 Mini towers

 

Hd800 is a bright headphone, Polk (tv speakers) are very warm, Omega speakers more just let the tonality of the amp thru.

 

6C8G do make things brighter (not sibilant tho), (but also cuts a ton of thickness/syrup). If your chain is already running bright, maybe not the best option.

Although, can be balanced with output tubes. Gold Lion KT88 are warm, the 6L6 I have it in now tilt slightly bright.

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2 hours ago, Comzee said:

I've used 6F8G in the past as 6sn7 substitutes, but there's also a 6C8G, which is a substitute for 6SL7. I've owned them for a long time, both variants.

 

While I don't recommend using 6F8G (unless you can get them dirt cheap) in place of the 6sn7 for the R8, the 6C8G is a pretty big improvement in the 6SL7 stage.

 

IMG_0492.thumb.jpg.c32e3a9a811ec995696742a7fe4189c7.jpg

 

The tube cage does fit over the adapters, I just have it off for the photo.

 

To me, they're more open, cleaner, and cuts out some of the R8 warmth/thickness, vs standard 6sl7. Treble really opens up!

Not just talking about stock VS Willsenton 6sl7 either, I got a batch of pretty damn good 6sl7 pictured below: (sneak peak before full review)

 

IMG_0493.thumb.jpg.ae8cc120bc556429220658c87cf7ed62.jpg

 

6C8G used to be more plentiful back when I bought them, but you can still find very good pairs cheap... (for now). Here's an example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/203253120380

This is what I would recommend for the adapter https://www.ebay.com/itm/r/283120644345 (please somebody buy that Ken-Rad pair before I do, I really don't need another pair, but it's SOO tempting)

 

Two important notes: 

I own 6x 6C8G. Only two of them are completely quite on the amp. This is because the top cap is the grid connection, makes it much more prone to noise than a regular 6sl7.

I wouldn't recommend buying them for headphone use, unless you want to buy a batch and pick out the quietist ones.

 

Great post @Comzee and thanks for sharing your insights into the top grid

cap dual triode octal solutions for the 6F8G's and 6C8G's - sexy looking stuff. 😁

 

One thing that really stands out for me from your post is also the hidden recommendation of purchasing singles and pairing them up nicely. I can see finding relabelled tubes of the exact same internal construction has worked out very well for you. This is great way to also save $$$. 👍👍👍

 

Screenshot_20210124-074719_Samsung Internet.jpg

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7 hours ago, echorec said:

I find myself taming the highs and upper mids of the R8 with my tube choices.


Have you tried the Psvane CV181 MK2? These are a warm and romantic and will give a bright system the much needed wetness and warmth. Still pretty tight on the bass and airy highs. 

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15 hours ago, BrownMagic said:


Have you tried the Psvane CV181 MK2? These are a warm and romantic and will give a bright system the much needed wetness and warmth. Still pretty tight on the bass and airy highs. 

 

I haven't, but would love to try them some day. I have the R8 dialed in perfectly with NOS American tubes at the moment, but the fun/curiosity of what other tubes sound like is always there, so I keep buying them for fun. Every tube purchase from here on out is really just to scratch that itch.

 

For me, the Tung Sol 6SU7GTY BG/Brown base still remain no. 1 with EL34s, and the RCA 5691s are no. 1 with KT88s.

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10 minutes ago, BrownMagic said:

 

6SN7 and CV181 can be replaced. Same pins.

They are an electrical equivalent, so more than same pins.

 

Though 6SN7 and 6SL7 types are not interchangeable as they are different electrically, but have the same pin out..

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That's a different tube, the ones in that quoted post are 6SN7 equivalents and the one you linked is a 6SL7 equivalent. So no relevance to the tubes in the quoted post.

 

Edit: strengthens my view that the 1578 and 1579 designations are not a tube designation, and more likely just a military pass code, so not a big deal and not a reason to pay extra for it.

 

 

 

Edited by muon*
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3 hours ago, muon* said:

That's a different tube, the ones in that quoted post are 6SN7 equivalents and the one you linked is a 6SL7 equivalent. So no relevance to the tubes in the quoted post.

Thanks muon*.

 

Yes. I know that 6SL7 (6N9S MELZ TUBES Metal base) and many users reported that they match well with R8 ( in 6SL7 position) I want to buy them but read something about the fake MELZ so I put the links so that some expert here could consult if they are REAL or FAKE.

 

Have fun.

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58 minutes ago, Lam Pham said:

Thanks muon*.

 

Yes. I know that 6SL7 (6N9S MELZ TUBES Metal base) and many users reported that they match well with R8 ( in 6SL7 position) I want to buy them but read something about the fake MELZ so I put the links so that some expert here could consult if they are REAL or FAKE.

 

Have fun.

The fake arguments are around the MELZ 6H8C/6N8S hole plates with the 1578 stamp/designation, is it a real! 1578 or NOT. That's the controversy.

 

Personally I pay zero attention to the 1578 stamp.

 

MELZ is the factory in Moscow and the insignia is on the glass envelope, but not all MELZ are equal, whether it be a 6H8C or a 6H9C MELZ you want to look for the ones dated in the mid 1950's with the metal base, and the hole plates in the case of the 6H8C.

 

Edit, the ones you linked are unusual and have a short glass evelope and a short plate structure.

First I have seen these ones, but the seller designating them as 1579 is strange as I see no 1579 stamp on these in the pictures, and IMO it means very little even if they did have it.

Although he does state that they are Analogue to 6SL7, 1579.....so he is saying the are the same as those.

There structure attracts me I must confess, he says they are use, but only lightly with no measurements stated so It's a roll of the dice in that regard, but they might sound very nice.

 

Be interesting to hear what @xlr8or thinks on these tubes.

Edited by muon*
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57 minutes ago, muon* said:

First I have seen these ones, but the seller designating them as 1579 is strange as I see no 1579 stamp on these in the pictures, and IMO it means very little even if they did have it.

Although he does state that they are Analogue to 6SL7, 1579.....so he is saying the are the same as those.

So it would be safer to go with this one, any idea?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-METAL-BASE-TESTED-PAIR-6N9S-1579-6H9C-6SL7GT-MELZ-mid-50-s-NOS-OTK/182351131086?_trkparms=aid%3D1110006%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20190920091355%26meid%3D1e2b45c4656f4c0c810ea84a8f68f5e8%26pid%3D100036%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D12%26mehot%3Dag%26sd%3D184509414413%26itm%3D182351131086%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2047675%26algv%3DDefaultOrganic%26brand%3DMelz&_trksid=p2047675.c100036.m2109

 

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11 minutes ago, Lam Pham said:

They are a known good tube and what most refer to when talking about the 50's metal based MELZ 6SL7 equivalent.

 

I used ones same as these in a phono stage I had and they are good, liquid smooth and detailed, very refined sounding.

Edited by muon*
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Please be careful with tube purchases and relabelled and reprinted tubes showing a code which the tube maybe not. What really counts is that the internal construction features of the tube are there that signifies the distinct tube type.

 

Many sellers of the 1578 tube on fleabay often for the sake of it include the '1578' numbering stamped on there without considering anything else to up sell a standard 6H8C tube as a fake 1578 tube.

Edited by xlr8or
Wrong tube type
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Here is an example of something sold onto me as a metal base 1950's MELZ 1578, which clearly it isn't.

 

20210104_002139.jpg

 

20210104_002231.jpg

 

20210104_002241.jpg

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31 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Here is an example of something sold onto me as a metal based 1950's MELZ 1578, which clearly it isn't.

 

20210104_002139.jpg

 

20210104_002231.jpg

 

20210104_002241.jpg

Is that a 6H8C kirk?

 

Just a none hole plate type?

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4 minutes ago, muon* said:

Is that a 6H8C kirk?

 

Just a none hole plate type?

 

Yep - just a regular 6H8C.

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24 minutes ago, Lam Pham said:

 i am SOOOOOOO confused

If you are after the MELZ equivalent of a 6SL7 get the ones in your last link.

 

If you are after the Russian equivalent of the 6SN7 type get the 50's MELZ metal based... hole plate types with the longer bracing plates that hold against the glass at the top

 

Like these below, I wouldn't worry if the 1578 is there or not, as long as the tube is the save otherwise It's good. The ones with 1578 on them tend to be from the 1970's like in the pics below.

 

If they are from the 50's and look the same as these but have no 1578 in them they are still good.

 

1823348125_6H8C1.thumb.JPG.c556b5fd3ddfb7d0e6c5948c13bdd4cb.JPG6H8C.thumb.JPG.da006b77058663b03a258c3847edb02f.JPG

 

 

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7 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

Yep - just a regular 6H8C.

Still apparently a nice sounding tube, maybe not quite as nice as the hole plates but not far off from what I can gather from folk on the net that have compared them.

1 minute ago, xlr8or said:

That's a great price for the MELZ 6H9C :thumb:

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8 minutes ago, muon* said:

If you are after the MELZ equivalent of a 6SL7 get the ones in your last link.

 

If you are after the Russian equivalent of the 6SN7 type get the 50's MELZ metal based... hole plate types with the longer bracing plates that hold against the glass at the top

 

Like these below, I wouldn't worry if the 1578 is there or not, as long as the tube is the save otherwise It's good. The ones with 1578 on them tend to be from the 1970's like in the pics below.

 

If they are from the 50's and look the same as these but have no 1578 in them they are still good.

 

1823348125_6H8C1.thumb.JPG.c556b5fd3ddfb7d0e6c5948c13bdd4cb.JPG6H8C.thumb.JPG.da006b77058663b03a258c3847edb02f.JPG

 

 

 

And just adding the 1579's and 1578's mentioned above also have rectangular shaped as opposed to elliptical shaped mica plates. Have a look at my photo of the claimed 1578 and you can see from the second photo it has elliptical shaped mica plates.

Edited by xlr8or
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11 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

And just adding the 1579's and 1578's mentioned above also have rectangular shaped as opposed to elliptical shaped mica plates. Have a look at my photo of the claimed 1578 and you can see from the second photo it has elliptical shaped mica plates.

You can get early hole plate versions of the 6H8C with oval mica's.

 

Edit: I'm yet to hear a comparison of the early 50's hole plate 6H8C and the 1970's ones.

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7 minutes ago, muon* said:

You can get early hole plate versions of the 6H8C with oval mica's.

 

Like this one:

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1pcs-6N8S-1578-6SN7-MELZ-HOLE-PLATE-TUBES-USSR-SOVIET-VINTAGE-VALVES-NEW-/402597037485

 

@muon* I think the rectangular shaped mica plates came out before the oval (elliptical) shaped mica plates.

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