Author Topic: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production  (Read 22362 times)

Offline stevenvalve

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 I only usually deal with, and use the supposed vintage elite valves, so i will only comment on these, others can voice their thoughts on these and any other brand, especially do the new production valves come close, Why do vintage valves in general sound better than their modern counterparts. Why do vintage valves last a lot longer than the modern production valves . Do you know of any new production valves that can compete sound wise with the stuff of yesteryear. I will start with the sound of the usual EL34 vintage suspects I will list them in order of what is supposed to be the best. If i miss any, speak up

Mullard - Amperex- Telefunken, manufacturing dates 1950s  Metal base.

Amperex double D getter 1960s +

Mullard double 00 getter FX2 1960s +

Mullard single 0 getter FX4

  

 I have been listening to these EL34 valves in my second system a Radford STA15 amp with Quad 57s speakers

Remember Quads 57s are good but have limitations, as with all speakers
More on the sound of these EL34s soon.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 03:17:52 PM by stevenvalve »

Offline stevenvalve

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2012, 07:25:23 PM »
I will start with 50 type tubes. These are usually ST shape 1940s. The in demand 1930 Globe types have the numbers, 150/Arcturus. UX250/RCA. UX350/Cunningham. 450/Deforest.

These are in my opinion the best sounding tube ever made of American design. The most naturally real sounding tube i have ever heard. You don't hear a tube, you hear music. So good, as to be on a planet of there own, old school design (like pre 1935) tubes.  These tubes where made for the expensive elite amps and radios of the day.  Some are just brilliant, others just great so you need to get the right ones. I have about 50 of these tubes.

They have a 7.5 filament voltage and will take 450V. Output is about 4.6 watts

I do not run them hard, 300v or less (around 3 watt). With this voltage they will last longer and sound better (and a big plus) will sound more relaxed. Rule is, run them only as hard as the watts needed.

Back in the 1930s there where many RCAs manufacturing plants and you can tell them by the getter type and its placement.

 

RCA 250 Globe hat getter. This tube type is sweet and airy,  the biggest sound-stage in the RCA range, can be a little brighter than the other RCAs with a little less timbre, good on classical.


 
RCA 250 Globe side foil getter. This tube type is a good all round performer

 

RCA 250 Globe small foil getter. This tube type is very good, it has it all in moderation, good timbre, good sound-stage and is not white or bright, great on classical

 


RCA 250 Globe large foil getter. This tube type is darker sounding, has tremendous timbre, so real, solid flesh on bone, but a smaller sound-stage than the others, Great on male vocals, guitar piano,  most important it is not white or bright at all. Maybe the best RCA 250 ever made,  rarer than most.

 

Cunningham UX350 Globe , This tube is exactly the same to look at as the RCAs, but is not as quite as good as the best RCA versions. More romantic less detail.

 

Deforest 450 Globe, This tube lush very romantic, A huge sound stage.  Some will say less accurate than the RCAs.


Most later 1940 ST 50  shape tubes are very good, more on these and others later.

Below is a pair of the large foil getter RCA UX 250. And the best sounding 250 ever made.  A new made in Holland Phillips PH250 globe 1920-30s
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 08:38:04 PM by stevenvalve »

Offline stevenvalve

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2012, 08:56:32 PM »
45 type tubes. These are usually ST shape 1940s. The more in demand 1930 Globe types have the numbers, 145/Arcturus. UX245 /RCA. UX345/ Cunningham. 445/Deforest.

These are in my opinion the next best sounding tube ever made of American design.  A Great Naturally real sounding tube. The best timbre of any tube worldwide. These tubes where made for the bread and butter radios of the day.

They have a 2.5 filament voltage and will take 275V. Output is about 2 watts

I do run them hard, 200-250v  (around 2 watts).

There are 2 that stand out.

 Rogers 245 long plate globe 1930s. Made in Canada. This valve is a very pretty sounding tube, clean clear and so sweet, smooth upper frequencies, can be bright if not carefull with tuning the System, does not have the timbre of the RCAs, they sound more like some 250 globes than a 45, very opposed (sound wise) to the 245 RCA version below. Great on classical.

RCA 245 Globe, This tube type is dark sounding. Can be a little rough and ragged in the upper frequencies, and is also not the cleanest 45 tube around, but it has the best timbre you will hear out of any tube, so real, so solid, real flesh on bone,  Great on male vocals, guitar,  not white or bright at all. . There are many 45 varieties, and you must get the right one. The black charcoal plate, circle plate globe (1930s) they have the inch long glass piece hanging from the filament support rods . The best 45 ever made along with the Rogers 45 long plate.  You can see in the picture, these are the right ones, The blacker the charcoal plate the better, like the one on the left, only buy RCA 245s that have this identical construction.


 Most later 1940 ST 45 shape tubes are very good, and cheap more on these and others later
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 06:23:57 PM by stevenvalve »

Offline stevenvalve

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2012, 06:40:22 PM »
2A3s. The supposed best in the 2A3s range are the monoplates. These 2a3s where made in the 1930-to 1933 as a elite audio or radio tube. Some say they stopped making them because of the cost of manufacture.

They use 2.5 filament voltage  and will take 250 Volts

Be careful, many RCA 2a3 monoplates are branded RCA but where made by Sylvania. these usually have a number under the base between the pins, like J39

I find 2A3s monoplates to be overrated sound-wise, very clean clear, big soundstage,  To me they sound somewhat sterile and harmonically threadbare. They sound more like a modern tube design, (Mid 1930s on) they are not as musical or involving as the 50 tubes.

Another good 2A3 monoplate is the FIVRE made in ITALY. Very nice tube, better that the genuine RCA monoplate. I have had many of these, including two that where the sort after earlier model with the side support rods (new in box).

The best ones i have ever heard are the Radiotron 2A3 mono plates, These tubes are very very good but imposable to find, i did have two mint ones a few years ago.

I like the National union 2A3 monoplates, they sound more like a 245 valve. Rich darker full, but a little ragged.

Of the 2a3 dual plates, the best is the black plate, 1940s with spring filament support.

Next is the RCA dual black plate without spring supports.

2A3s dual plates (grey or even black) generally are industrial or military, not really intended for audio use.

An exception to the rule, some people say the FIVRE dual plate is the best 2a3, (i have not heard these)









Pictured are 2 RCA 2A3 Monoplates.

 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 04:23:36 PM by stevenvalve »

Offline vitavoxdude

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2012, 08:05:10 PM »
Fantastic Steve, just the sort of thing that makes this site worth being a member of.  :)
Can't wait for the next installment. :-*
V
We all like different things so lets all agree to disagree and if any common ground is found then worship it.  Mine is the KD hence being present on this forum.

Offline kajak12

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2012, 09:21:04 PM »
Part of my stock of 1930 globe 250s (type 50) There is Sylvania, Rca, Sparton, Ratheon, ect. Stevenvalve.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 12:30:51 AM by stevenvalve »
still discovering the link between electronics and audio reproduction.so much to learn and so little time

crazikid

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2012, 09:24:03 PM »
holy crap

Offline Jehuty

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #27 on: December 18, 2012, 09:42:01 PM »


Hmm, I can't see my favourite large foil getter there, where are they Steve?  ;D
Not all that matters can be measured, not all that can be measured matters.

Offline MrRogers

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As an aside, the most linear (lowest distortion) tube measurement I have ever seen was actually a 12AX7 recently. The guy posted a measurement and
dared everyone to try and guess what tube it was. No one got it. Surprised me too. This was at just a few volts OP - I digress.




Do you know which brand and model 12AX7 that was?
Audio Origami PU7 "the world's most musical pick-up arm"
Australian Distributer

Offline Erik van Voorst

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 09:55:40 AM »
Last sunday I fell in love with a for me new type of tube (new in my pre that is) the OA2.
It replaced two zeners and an elco.....man that was a no brainer....the musicality in spades  :o

i wanted to know more about it and brand characteristics...I use an RCA....mr. The Cat does not think much of them but he is just an opinion...as the endresult is my judgement...but not much to be read unfortunately.

I see that the Philips Amperex is the most expensive meaning often the one to get... :-X :-X

Any experience with OA2......would be appreciated :D

tuyen

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Re: Valves. The best sounding varieties of all time, vintage and new production
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2013, 10:09:31 AM »
Hi Erik,

I have some experience with OA2 gas tubes on one of my old preamps.

Ones I liked best were the Valvo OA2 mesh plate tubes. They synergised best with the rest of the preamp and system to give a more 'delicate' sound.  Plus they look the coolest too!

Offline stevenvalve

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Worlds best sounding rectifier. That is a tough question (is there even a best)  In the last 40 years i have had, and heard almost all the rectifier tubes on this planet, here is a short list and they are all the best vintage makes, 5V4 5U4 5U4G GZ32 GZ34 5AR4 5R4GY GZ37 etc, including some in the metal base versions, and for you Western Electric fanatics the ridiculously expensive 1930s engraved base  274A- 274B rectifiers, $1800+ each NIB NOS.  Well in my opinion, there is a best, and here it is. The Genelex gold lion u52, They are a higher voltage 5U4G class tube, and will fit straight into the 5U4G slot, all the pieces i have where made in England in 1960. They have been manufactured for Audio and come with an included data test sheet, and only obtained from America. Why they where only sent to the USA in 1960, i do not know. They are amazing valves they can sound clean and clear, but also rich, and full with beautiful timbre, smooth and sophisticated, not whitish at all like the Mullards, not course like the RCAs. Price if you can find them, about $600 give or take. They are very similar to the GEC Osram U52s and have that house sound, only better. The best rectifier on the planet.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 02:19:43 AM by stevenvalve »

Offline onthebeach

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Nice one.

Hopefully I can snag one of these babies one fine day and hear how it sounds in my system.

Offline hedalfa

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Nice one.

Hopefully I can snag one of these babies one fine day and hear how it sounds in my system.

Once you snag one, you cant go back.  Ordinary valves just wont cut it any more...  :D

Offline matt200sr

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How Does the Brimair U52 I acquired from William compare to the Genelex ???

Offline stevenvalve

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How Does the Brimair U52 I acquired from William compare to the Genelex ???
Your tube is not a brimar U52, it was made by GEC and branded brimar. GEC are also Genalex, Osram, and Marconi. There is a lot of rebranding out there in vintage valve land.

Offline Jehuty

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How Does the Brimair U52 I acquired from William compare to the Genelex ???

Hi Matt,

I did compare both as I had both of them in my possession before I sold you my Brimar. The Brimar was almost 90% good compared to the Gold Lion and for the money I sold to you, it's a bargain. I wouldn't have sold it if I had a job and income coming in.

I remember our senior member here who educated me about the law of diminishing returns discussed in the cable section and I quote:
Yup, it's the laws of diminishing returns at play again.  Trying to get the last 10 or so % of performance unfortuneatley costs a lot.  There is no arguement from me regarding the price / performance of cat 5 /6 it delivers an OK sound for low bucks, but if you want the high resoloution 'musical' repro then CAT 5 will simply not do.  Mains cables are mostly about low resistance so plenty of CAT 5 cores will give this to you.  So I throw down the challenge, make up some CAT 5 interconnects and swap them for your shop bought 'dedicated interconects' and see which one's get consigned to the bin. ( Answers on the back of a 50 dollar bill to  xxxxxxxxx chez Vitavoxdude  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D).
This is the same case with the U52 comparison. If you want to go for the ultimate/cost no object, the Gold Lion is the answer...bear in mind the additional cost of approximately $500, Steve was very lucky to get one sealed like that for $600. The previous one before that was sold for $700 if I recall correctly and it was USED!!

Cheers,
William
Not all that matters can be measured, not all that can be measured matters.

Offline matt200sr

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How Does the Brimair U52 I acquired from William compare to the Genelex ???
Your tube is not a brimar U52, it was made by GEC and branded brimar. GEC are also Genalex, Osram, and Marconi. There is a lot of rebranding out there in vintage valve land.

Thanks for the clarification Steve

Offline matt200sr

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How Does the Brimair U52 I acquired from William compare to the Genelex ???

Hi Matt,

I did compare both as I had both of them in my possession before I sold you my Brimar. The Brimar was almost 90% good compared to the Gold Lion and for the money I sold to you, it's a bargain. I wouldn't have sold it if I had a job and income coming in.

I remember our senior member here who educated me about the law of diminishing returns discussed in the cable section and I quote:
Yup, it's the laws of diminishing returns at play again.  Trying to get the last 10 or so % of performance unfortuneatley costs a lot.  There is no arguement from me regarding the price / performance of cat 5 /6 it delivers an OK sound for low bucks, but if you want the high resoloution 'musical' repro then CAT 5 will simply not do.  Mains cables are mostly about low resistance so plenty of CAT 5 cores will give this to you.  So I throw down the challenge, make up some CAT 5 interconnects and swap them for your shop bought 'dedicated interconects' and see which one's get consigned to the bin. ( Answers on the back of a 50 dollar bill to  xxxxxxxxx chez Vitavoxdude  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D).
This is the same case with the U52 comparison. If you want to go for the ultimate/cost no object, the Gold Lion is the answer...bear in mind the additional cost of approximately $500, Steve was very lucky to get one sealed like that for $600. The previous one before that was sold for $700 if I recall correctly and it was USED!!

Cheers,
William

Hi William

Thanks for your comments William they are much appreciated.

Craig has sent me the kdac and it's currently awaiting me at home  ;D ;D ;D however I'm currently away at work  :( :( :(

On the upside I am going home Wednesday and I'm changing employers and have about 6 weeks straight at home in which to spend with Kdac ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

My wife being 20 weeks pregnant will require some of the attention of course  ::) ::) ::) Priorities and all.

I am looking forward to inserting the GEC and firing it all up.

Cheers
Matt


Offline kajak12

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[/quote]


On the upside I am going home Wednesday and I'm changing employers and have about 6 weeks straight at home in which to spend with Kdac ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D


Cheers
Matt


[/quote]

What!!!!   no more Rio Tinto
still discovering the link between electronics and audio reproduction.so much to learn and so little time