Best Source for ‘Matched’ Tubes?

Discussion in 'The Workbench' started by PDC1, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. PDC1

    PDC1 Member

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    Hello all - I’m seeking some experience and input as to which tube supplier has the best / most closely matched tubes?

    I just went through 2 different allegedly ‘matched’ quads of EL34s from 2 different suppliers. In each quad, I had a pair that was very closely matched and one way lower and one way higher (?) For example, once I had bias settled in at 30 and 31 for the closely matched pair, the other two tubes were 25 and 37 mA respectively.

    After hours of tube rolling and amp warming and cooling, I finally found a pair from each quad that settled in within 2-3 mA across the board - but it took forever. And now I have 4 mis-matched EL34s left over. I ‘might’ be able to narrow down the closest pairs From what’s left - but they could never function as a matched quad.

    Hoping to avoid this frustration going forward and wondering where to source reliably matched glass in the future..

    Thank You!
     
  2. Bloodrock

    Bloodrock Well-Known Member

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    Just test them and send them back if not matched. I’ve been screwed by both “tube depot” and “thetubestore” ordering matched tubes. It’s been a 50/50 experience for me. I just exchange them if they’re out of specs. Yes it sucks but that’s the reality of the current tube market. They really don’t care what they’re selling you. Just trying to make money.
     
  3. jeffb

    jeffb Well-Known Member

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    I used to have no issues with Tube Depot, but I've ordered lately through Amazon from them, and they re not matched as well as the stuff I have ordered direct- even though they are supposed to be matched. I guess they don't give a $hit if you order form their Amazon storefront.

    I got a super tight set of Mullards from Doug's Tubes. He's pretty low on stock right now, but he seems to sweat the details.
     
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  4. RLW59

    RLW59 Well-Known Member

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    Is ordering through Amazon cheaper than ordering direct?
     
  5. jeffb

    jeffb Well-Known Member

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    Yep, even tax considered through Amazon and the higher price that TD charge for shipping/handling direct I generally save about 5-7 bucks. But I usually do the Amazon thing cos I'm ordering a variety of stuff through Amazon, not for the savings. Points on the credit card, amazon smile donation $ for the Wounded Warrior Project, etc.
     
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  6. william vogel

    william vogel Active Member

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    I’ve had similar results from multiple retailers. The numbers on the tube bases or on the boxes are nice but when they don’t bias “even” it sucks. I always run the amps on my scope with the signal generator and dummy load under full RMS output and full power. I’ll swap holes to get the best symmetrical output. Then the idle bias current doesn’t matter. The balanced RMS output gets me the best sound. I’m kinda spoiled because I have test equipment. What their doing at idle isn’t always a good indication of how they perform dynamically. Once they’re working with a signal they usually get a better balance. Just FYI
     
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  7. Sg-ocaster

    Sg-ocaster Active Member

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    Only get power tubes from someone who burns them in first. The most drift happens in the first 24hrs so get from someone who burns them in at least 24hrs and then matchs them....just pulling them outta the boxes/bulk pack and matching them there is a good chance they will not be closely matched after a few long sessions in your amp.
    Also try a few sets your amp itself may have a slight mismatch itself....i have a dean markley cd60 from the 80s all matched sets are 10ma apart in that amp.....i bias so the hotter side is 75% and other 65% sounds great.
     
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  8. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    All my amplifiers need ( 100w ) two matched pairs, but each amp needs a pair matching to the difference in the OT, so they are never a quad that are equally matched, those quads are for matched stereo OT's in Hifi.

    Have you measured the difference in your OT sides?
     
  9. PDC1

    PDC1 Member

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    I ran into this page on Eurotubes site which suggests they have equipment that will more accurately measure / test tubes under more consistent voltages than the traditional Hickok or Mixi-Matcher:

    https://www.eurotubes.com/store/pc/testing and miscellaneous info.htm

    On Eurotobes’ listings on Reverb and the Bay, they state: No up-charge for ‘premium’ matched tubes - all matched sets within one mA.

    I may grab a set from them and see how they do.
     
  10. avspecialist

    avspecialist Member

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    Surprising, I have always had great luck with The Tube Store. Recently I had a microphonic Preferred Series 7025, I called them and they replaced it even though I bought the tube 7 months ago. Also, all the power tubes I have ever purchased from them have always been very closely matched. A lot of times I call and speak to them first, explain what I want and they have been very good and getting me what I asked for. Also, I understand that KCA tubes is also a very good supplier.
     
  11. KSD

    KSD New Member

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    I always wanted a Dean Markley amp, especially a CD-60....how do you like it?
    I been purchasing tubes from Doug's tubes for several years. Pretty cool guy and never had a problem. I stay away from JJ tubes and I've been fixing amps for a few decades now...atm there are only 2 companies in the world rolling tubes for guitar amps...one in China and the other one in Russia. So irregardless of what brand you're purchasing, it's made in one of those two plants. My personal amps, a Hylight Hiwatt Dr-504, a Marshall 4140 and a Musicman RD-100, I use the original Sventalana Winged C power tubes in those for years and never once had a problem with them.
     

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