Your experiences with NOS tubes

Discussion in 'The Workbench' started by What?, May 17, 2020.

  1. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    I just got my Ken-Rads that way. The guy had gotten an old organ. It had over 50 of the 1948 12AX7 Ken-Rads. And they are in real nice shape. And they were cheap. Cheaper than some new stock tubes. Ken-Rad tubes are tough as hell. And I have 2 PI slots awaiting their arrival. Monday!
     
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  2. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    Tung sol' never been out of the amp........yum.
    50 years on and still sounding like nothing else.
    IMG_3421.jpg
     
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  3. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    If you really don't want to navigate Ebay and want real NOS tubes that ARE tested for microphonics go to Upcale Audio out of CA. That guy has some nice stuff and its the real deal. When he gets tubes he buys them in huge lots. Hundreds of brand new tubes factory sealed usually. Your gonna pay for them, but like I said you won't get a bad tube from him. The best tube I have I got from him. The Pope 6V6 he has are THE best 6V6 ever. They are nuts amazing. Just incredible.
     
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  4. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    Niiiice, Metal base too. Thems are real purdy. I am jealous.
     
  5. tallcoolone

    tallcoolone Well-Known Member

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    They last longer, and some preamp tubes can make a noticeable difference...but at current prices they aren't close to being worth the money.
     
  6. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    Ken-Rad.jpg
    I got some of these at a killer price. 12AX7's. Out of an old church organ. Even at 72 years old they still look decent.
     
  7. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    They are really nice yes, Everette Hull wouldn't put anything lesser into an amplifier, Mullards in the pre and Tungsol in the power, I can't think of a manufacturer that did this for so long either.
     
  8. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    That's one thing I don't have yet is Tung-Sol in the power section. I should try that. I've tried about everything else. I wish the EL34's were as plentiful as the 6V6 are. El34's are just nuts expensive and really hard to find a good deal on. I have one set of 4 Mullards in a box that I got for 100$ each. I am going to try that. If I can find any. Are those KT88's?
     
  9. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    Yes they are, but they are the original 6550, it's only us Europeans that renamed them KT88. GEC made the KT88 and actually they are astonishing valves.
    I have some GEC KT77 and these in a Marshall are incredible, but finding these in good condition is near impossible.
     
  10. Nik Henville

    Nik Henville Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Mmm... KT77's... delicious...
    Like EL34's in a fir coat, suspenders, silk-stockings and nothing else.

    :hippie::pirate::uk:
     
  11. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    I see New Sensor is making them in new production with metal bases again. I wonder how decent they are? Labeling them 6550 too.
     
  12. jeffb

    jeffb Well-Known Member

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    In the Orange OR15 (PI), it lasted about 3 weeks, IIRC.

    In the VSL (CF), about 2 months, IIRC.

    EDIT_ of course than I did some research online and saw people saying to avoid new Tung Sol in the CF.
     
  13. jeffb

    jeffb Well-Known Member

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    One piece of advice I would add.

    Buy your tubes, new or NOS from a reputable online dealer. Ebay sellers from questionable parts of the world who are giving you a deal are not the places to spend your money.
     
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  14. bradley Thomas Wilson

    bradley Thomas Wilson Active Member

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    I have a old glass Tung Sol I could sacrifice. I'll try it in one of mine in the PI just for fun. Or are you talking about the new production stuff?
     
  15. tmingle

    tmingle Well-Known Member

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    I have a bunch of old 12AX7 tubes I bought at a yard sale a couple years ago. With the exception of 1 Mullard F61, I cannot hear a noticeable difference from CP tubes. I sometimes wonder if the design of the DSL40C is a limiting factor here though. I've thought of selling them off but haven't yet. I have tested all of them with my BK747 for functionality & have also in V1 of my 40C and some of them add a touch of noise when the gain is up. I sold the Mullard so I wouldn't fall into the trap you describe in your last point.
     
  16. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Certified B.S. Launcher Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Here's my take on old and NOS tubes:

    Until governments regulated certain materials out of the equation, tubes were physically more robust, more consistent and generally longer-lasting. In many cases they produced more sonically pleasing results as well. Trial and error, along with reading everything I could find about these tubes, helped me hone in on what to look for and what I liked. If you only get one thing from my reply, let it be this: Learn to read etched and embossed codes and to identify differences in physical features like getters, plates and so on. When in doubt about a tube, ask for close up detailed pictures so you can study all the above.

    When I can, I try to buy from the few reputable dealers out there. Sometimes I've rolled the dice on an unknown, and I have been rewarded many times and, unfortunately, bitten on the ass a few times. Wrestle with alligators, expect to get bit now and again I suppose.

    After some early successes trying NOS tubes I went into full-blown collecting mode for a few years. I gathered gobs of Amperex, Telefunken, Mullard, RFT, RCA, GE and several other types of 12ax7, 12au7, AT7 etc.

    Also collected some power tubes although I didn't go full throttle on them the way I did with preamp tubes.

    Some of my best scores have come quite by accident. I have found some extraordinary tubes in old sound movie projectors, old organs and old stereo equipment. Keep your eyes open for stuff like this and you might find the motherlode.

    I will leave out the specifics of which tubes work best in what, since that is getting into subjective territory. You might not like what I like. But I can assure you that you will find some good tubes out there that were worth the trouble it takes to get them.

    (Edited for several hundred typos)
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
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  17. What?

    What? Well-Known Member

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    I have read something about that in passing, but I never saw any specifics about it. Do you know what materials got regulated away? I have also read old radio guys talking about how radio sounded sweeter when they were kids, chalking it up to the tubes in the radios back then.
     
  18. Seanxk

    Seanxk Well-Known Member

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    It's the materials they used in manufacturing, a bit like the Lead in solder, (which I always felt was adding a smoothness/depth). Plus material costs like Platinum etc and even the omission of Copper grid posts. Chromates, gases and all the other carcinogens too, we didn't get this far really by using sub standard materials, (aircraft still only use the best), but those were the days when everything waste wise went in the river at the back of the factory.
     
  19. solarburnDSL50

    solarburnDSL50 Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    Some will pay off.

    Circuit changes and speakers pay off more.

    And at the supply demand stage we are on NOS? No. Dont. It's more fluff than application.

    My money goes elsewhere. My playing I'm always stuck with. I sound the same on SS amps.
     
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  20. RobS

    RobS Well-Known Member

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    The only NOS tubes I have are some RFT's and a bunch of Phillips Miniwatts, all 12ax7

    The RFT's are slightly darker than the Phillips and sound really good in both my amps when I use them

    The Philliips Miniwatts win though, they just have a warmth & clarity to them that to my ear sound much better than the RFT's
    They have a very musical sound to them and I was lucky to find them at an antique radio shop over 10 years ago in original packaging and appeared unused. A few of them have the Phillips logo on one side and Mullard on the other
     

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