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Sonik Wiz

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This is mainly directed to those knowledgeable tube (or valve if you prefer) affeciandos of which there are several here. I was browsing the Pinterest & one of of the pics that popped up was a Western Electric 212E tube. Now all my stuff is solid state but if I was to get serious about collecting something it would be tubes. Especially the cathode ray variety. Anyways I googled the 212E tube & found this eBay shocker:


I mean $2500 for what looks like an ancient dual triode??? And I find other tubes in the hundreds or over a thousand up for bids.

What is either the practical or collectible value in something like this? I mean I'm used to way to high prices on vintage quad gear. But at least then you are (hopefully) buying functioning unit that actually does some thing. I guess it can be argued that a vac tube does something too, but only if you surround it with the right circuitry. I am blown away at the prices on vintage tubes. I had no idea.
 

Soundfield

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This is mianly directed to those knowledgeable tube (or valve if you prefer) affeciandos of which there are several here. I was browsing the Pinterest & one of of the pics that popped up was a Western Electric 2121E tube. Now all my stuff is solid state but if I was to get serious about collecting something it would be tubes. Especially the cathode ray variety. Anyways I googled the 212E tube & found this eBay shocker:


I mean $2500 for what looks like an ancient dual triode??? And I find other tubes in the hundreds or over a thousand up for bids.

What is either the practical or collectible value in something like this? I mean I'm used to way to high prices on vintage quad gear. But at least then you are (hopefully) buying functioning unit that actually does some thing. I guess it can be argued that a vac tube does something too, but only if you surround it with the right circuitry. I am blown away at the prices on vintage tubes. I had no idea.
There are rip off merchants and the gullible they depend upon in all fields of course Sonik. I pretty much only use valve gear, but I think the claims for the different sound qualities of different makes of valve are as non-sensical as those for different types of speaker cable! I also doubt that most vintage valves are any more reliable than any decently made modern ones ( I mostly use Russian made valves and have rarely had a failure in thousands of valve-hours of use over several decades). Needlees to say I won't be purchasing the advertised 212!!
 

gene_stl

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There is nothing that can prevent hydrogen and helium from diffusing through metals and glasses ,let alone metal to glass seals, which can let even larger molecules through. It may take one hundred years but all vacuum devices get gassy and need to be repumped. In the absence of such ability (which requires both high vacuum technologies as well as glass blowing skills) such a tube would be a very poor investment if you were planning on putting it into an ampleflyer.

Although I find tube usage very retardetaire, if you were going to make a statement with tubes, this guy shows how its done;


I have chatted with him and he is extremely knowledgeable. He uses Eimac triodes on this project. But he has lots of others too.

Those tubes are also demanded by collectors and prices have gone beyond all reason. At my local electronics place which just went out of business on account of the pestilence they used to have such tubes for a few dollars , very often. You test em!
 
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Sonik Wiz

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There is nothing that can prevent hydrogen and helium from diffusing through metals and glasses ,let alone metal to glass seals, which can let even larger molecules through. It may take one hundred years but all vacuum devices get gassy and need to be repumped. In the absence of such ability (which requires both high vacuum technologies as well as glass blowing skills) such a tube would be a very poor investment if you were planning on putting it into an ampleflyer.

Although I find tube usage very retardetaire, if you were going to make a statement with tubes, this guy shows how its done;


I have chatted with him and he is extremely knowledgeable. He uses Eimac triodes on this project. But he has lots of others too.

Those tubes are also demanded by collectors and prices have gone beyond all reason. At my local electronics place which just went out of business on account of the pestilence they used to have such tubes for a few dollars , very often. You test em!
Nifty video. I see it's a 4 parter so I will check out the others later. It'll be wild to see if he actually a working 1.3 KW audio amp!

It does touch on a subject I've never seen addressed before or that I know of. And that is: with the wide range & power of tubes available, why do I keep seeing the same 1/2 dozen or so used over & over? I'm fully aware that in olden days AM radio stations ran max of 100 KW that the FCC allowed. Somewhere in between there & the usual consumer audio tube sets there should be a lot of choices that puts out some real tube power. Not just the usual 60 watts. Of course I know it also depends on what class you run it at.

Now in partial answer to my own question, when he says the 4-400 tube has a plate voltage of 3 KV... whew! I wonder how many Xfmr's could handle that? And I guess real higher power tubes are not being made much today. Any other view points on this?
 
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Soundfield

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Somewhere in between there & the usual consumer audio tube sets there should be a lot of choices that puts out some real tube power. Not just the usual 60 watts.
Yes there were, for all kinds of industrial applications as well as for broadcasting. But long out of production and not necessarily suitable for audio. Of those that were, and offered say, a couple of hundred W of anode dissipation, you’d have to build a pretty beefy preamp stage just to drive them, so not commercially viable in the consumer field. The mainstream radio/audio/tv market of the fifties and sixties settled down to using a fairly small number of common valve designs which became self-perpetuating through economies of scale. A small subset of those most popular valves remained in mass production until the eighties and a few of those production lines were ultimately bought up by entrepreneurs in Slovakia, Russia and China. It is that small handful of valves that is really the only option for audio manufactures today. Although having said that the Russians have invested fairly heavily in the market and were responsible for the only new power valve designs in many decades – the KT120 and KT150, which are quite popular now and I can attest to being very fine devices indeed.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Yes there were, for all kinds of industrial applications as well as for broadcasting. But long out of production and not necessarily suitable for audio. Of those that were, and offered say, a couple of hundred W of anode dissipation, you’d have to build a pretty beefy preamp stage just to drive them, so not commercially viable in the consumer field. The mainstream radio/audio/tv market of the fifties and sixties settled down to using a fairly small number of common valve designs which became self-perpetuating through economies of scale. A small subset of those most popular valves remained in mass production until the eighties and a few of those production lines were ultimately bought up by entrepreneurs in Slovakia, Russia and China. It is that small handful of valves that is really the only option for audio manufactures today. Although having said that the Russians have invested fairly heavily in the market and were responsible for the only new power valve designs in many decades – the KT120 and KT150, which are quite popular now and I can attest to being very fine devices indeed.
Thanks that makes sense. Explains a lot.
 

gene_stl

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When I was coming up audio-wise I rejected a bunch of early transistor equipment because I thought it sounded harsh. After a large series of Dyna gear,
I ended up with a pair of McIntosh 75s and a C20. I was very happy with that set up for a long time. But I was always aware that a brand new tube had essentially a time clock built in. This occured to me when I had a fairly new pair of 6550s fail catestrophically in a Dyna Mark III. Even though there were a large number of companies still theoretically in the tube business here in the USA as well as England and Europe. Soon KT88 matched pairs became unavailable or almost so in the midwest. Then 6550 were all you could find through regular channels.

Soon McIntosh stopped giving free replacement tubes at Mac clinics. (circa 1972) I knew the writing was on the wall. Also companies were widely learning how to build good sounding transistor amps. Solid state was an idea whose time had come. And not just for power amps. There were all kind of instrumentation grade dual triodes. With so many companies in the business there were all kinds of experiences that were lost when they closed their tube lines. I don't believe all this knowledge got preserved and I have never been able to "warm-up" to tubes with names like SovTek, and origins in china and slovakia. They just don't inspire the confidence that we had with English GenaLex Gold Lion KT88MPs and Telefunken 12AX7s.

El Paso tube amps is also a Ham Radio operator. They also stayed with tubes for a long time because of the delay in solid state devices that could reach the 1 KW limit for amateur radio. Back in the day the hot set up was a Kewl Kilowatt which really could put out about double that powered by a "pole pig" a power supply with a pole transformer powered backwards. For amplitude modulation (AM) you need a modulator audio amp that is about as powerful as your transmitter. So enthusiastic hams would have some crazy things in their shacks. McIntosh built a 350 watt mono amp that could be used for small AM transmitters which had some of those Eimac type tubes. Everybody dreamed of having a pair of those which would have been a bigga fortuna.


I consider running tube gear to be similar to restoring Model A Fords. The ones you see at car shows have paint jobs, engine details and chrome plating that the originals never had. But they still have 1930s performance. I think Western Electric was one of the great American companies. But technology has blown by them. Tubes reached their peak in the 1950s. Since technology has blown by there is a whole literature and lore that has been forgotten and lost, whether it is the guys that worked the production lines and "knew what they were doing" or engineers that had been designing tubes since Lee deForest invented the first ones. Tubes helped win world war II and places like the MIT radiation lab pushed the state of the art. They all moved on.
 
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Marcsten

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When I was coming up audio-wise I rejected a bunch of early transistor equipment because I thought it sounded harsh. After a large series of Dyna gear,
I ended up with a pair of McIntosh 75s and a C20. I was very happy with that set up for a long time. But I was always aware that a brand new tube had essentially a time clock built in. This occured to me when I had a fairly new pair of 6550s fail catestrophically in a Dyna Mark III. Even though there were a large number of companies still theoretically in the tube business here in the USA as well as England and Europe. Soon KT88 matched pairs became unavailable or almost so in the midwest. Then 6550 were all you could find through regular channels.

Soon McIntosh stopped giving free replacement tubes at Mac clinics. (circa 1972) I knew the writing was on the wall. Also companies were widely learning how to build good sounding transistor amps. Solid state was an idea whose time had come. And not just for power amps. There were all kind of instrumentation grade dual triodes. With so many companies in the business there were all kinds of experiences that were lost when they closed their tube lines. I don't believe all this knowledge got preserved and I have never been able to "warm-up" to tubes with names like SovTek, and origins in china and slovakia. They just don't inspire the confidence that we had with English GenaLex Gold Lion KT88MPs and Telefunken 12AX7s.

El Paso tube amps is also a Ham Radio operator. They also stayed with tubes for a long time because of the delay in solid state devices that could reach the 1 KW limit for amateur radio. Back in the day the hot set up was a Kewl Kilowatt which really could put out about double that powered by a "pole pig" a power supply with a pole transformer powered backwards. For amplitude modulation (AM) you need a modulator audio amp that is about as powerful as your transmitter. So enthusiastic hams would have some crazy things in their shacks. McIntosh built a 350 watt mono amp that could be used for small AM transmitters which had some of those Eimac type tubes. Everybody dreamed of having a pair of those which would have been a bigga fortuna.


I consider running tube gear to be similar to restoring Model A Fords. The ones you see at car shows have paint jobs, engine details and chrome plating that the originals never had. But they still have 1930s performance. I think Western Electric was one of the great American companies. But technology has blown by them. Tubes reached their peak in the 1950s. Since technology has blown by there is a whole literature and lore that has been forgotten and lost, whether it is the guys that worked the production lines and "knew what they were doing" or engineers that had been designing tubes since Lee deForest invented the first ones. Tubes helped win world war II and places like the MIT radiation lab pushed the state of the art. They all moved on.
Well here I am going to diverge from the pack a bit. Don't hate, just offering a different position. Tube technology is very old and its true that advances seem to have been on the whole limited for many years. But that said, although most of society has chosen solid state for its obvious advantages, there are certain things that are good about tubes that solid state cannot match or at least only with outlay of serious money. If you listen to a "modern" tube amp, and by that I mean one made in say the 1990s or newer, it is unfair and I would suggest inaccurate to compare these amps to a Model T. These are not 100 year old equipment, but relatively modern designs in many ways, that happen to be powered by tubes (I am oversimplifying to be sure). And there is a clear difference in the sound of even a decent midrange priced solid state amp and a decent tube amp. Now, you many not like the way a tube amp sounds and many people will tell you that it is less "accurate, or precise" whatever those terms are interpreted to mean, and if your goal is to recreate the sound from the mixer as the recording was produced, you might be right. Or you might not. All applications are a series of compromises that often affect the final sound. And if you are playing, say, a Beatles album, the equipment it was recorded and mixed on likely had lots of tube in the signal path. So which is closest to that stated goal? Is that even a goal to which we should aspire? Or is it more like art, or wine, where you know what you like even if the critics disagree? I think I fall somewhere in between. I am not interested in chasing the sterile pure studio sound. I have compared amplifiers and my ears prefer certain ones over others, and since I cannot say what the engineer was trying to attain, my enjoyment is all I care about. (I am a baby boomer, after all!) So to me, tubes DO sound different and in my price range, I prefer that sound. I make no claims to the utter accuracy of that sound, again, whatever that any mean to an individual.
But if I accept that as true, the next question is whether there is a difference between tubes. There certainly is. But is it old tubes or new Russian or Chinese tubes that are best? If your tube is in good order not leaking, putting out the correct amount etc. then there should be few differences, right? Again, I think there are differences. They are subtle, absolutely. But they are there. Just as there are differences in the design of speakers, so there are differences in tubes, since different manufacturers used different practices and materials to produce them and different applications. So it should come as no surprise that there are differences. This is a problem since the only way to tell which you prefer (vs. which is 'best') is to sit and compare hopefully matched sets under similar application. This is really hard because of all the issues of psychology and memory and so forth since it takes time to switch them over, and bias them even in the most efficient, several minutes. If you could get a couple of identical amps and switch back and forth you might get an idea. I believe there is a difference between the newer tubes, some of which are very good, while some are pretty awful sounding TO ME, just as some older tubes can sound wonderful and others awful. So in the end I ended up with matched sets of GE tubes in my Conrad Johnson amps. I sampled about 4 different brands, some new, some vintage. My GEs are from the 1970s so there's none of that WW 2 German tube stuff. I can't afford them and I doubt I could hear an advantage, although I have never tried, since I can't afford them.
As I have noted elsewhere, I use an Audionics Space and Image Composer for nearly all my analogue source processing. I love this thing and have used it since about 1979. But it is a compromise as all things are. It makes some mids and highs sound a bit brittle, in my opinion, so coupling it with my tube amps reduced that effect, to me. Two wrongs make a 'right'? Perhaps. In the end it just is the combination that appeals to me, and as I said, that's all I care about. Sorry to go on so long. And I hope I have not offended anyone. Although it wouldn't be there first time.
 

Marcsten

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Well here I am going to diverge from the pack a bit. Don't hate, just offering a different position. Tube technology is very old and its true that advances seem to have been on the whole limited for many years. But that said, although most of society has chosen solid state for its obvious advantages, there are certain things that are good about tubes that solid state cannot match or at least only with outlay of serious money. If you listen to a "modern" tube amp, and by that I mean one made in say the 1990s or newer, it is unfair and I would suggest inaccurate to compare these amps to a Model T. These are not 100 year old equipment, but relatively modern designs in many ways, that happen to be powered by tubes (I am oversimplifying to be sure). And there is a clear difference in the sound of even a decent midrange priced solid state amp and a decent tube amp. Now, you many not like the way a tube amp sounds and many people will tell you that it is less "accurate, or precise" whatever those terms are interpreted to mean, and if your goal is to recreate the sound from the mixer as the recording was produced, you might be right. Or you might not. All applications are a series of compromises that often affect the final sound. And if you are playing, say, a Beatles album, the equipment it was recorded and mixed on likely had lots of tube in the signal path. So which is closest to that stated goal? Is that even a goal to which we should aspire? Or is it more like art, or wine, where you know what you like even if the critics disagree? I think I fall somewhere in between. I am not interested in chasing the sterile pure studio sound. I have compared amplifiers and my ears prefer certain ones over others, and since I cannot say what the engineer was trying to attain, my enjoyment is all I care about. (I am a baby boomer, after all!) So to me, tubes DO sound different and in my price range, I prefer that sound. I make no claims to the utter accuracy of that sound, again, whatever that any mean to an individual.
But if I accept that as true, the next question is whether there is a difference between tubes. There certainly is. But is it old tubes or new Russian or Chinese tubes that are best? If your tube is in good order not leaking, putting out the correct amount etc. then there should be few differences, right? Again, I think there are differences. They are subtle, absolutely. But they are there. Just as there are differences in the design of speakers, so there are differences in tubes, since different manufacturers used different practices and materials to produce them and different applications. So it should come as no surprise that there are differences. This is a problem since the only way to tell which you prefer (vs. which is 'best') is to sit and compare hopefully matched sets under similar application. This is really hard because of all the issues of psychology and memory and so forth since it takes time to switch them over, and bias them even in the most efficient, several minutes. If you could get a couple of identical amps and switch back and forth you might get an idea. I believe there is a difference between the newer tubes, some of which are very good, while some are pretty awful sounding TO ME, just as some older tubes can sound wonderful and others awful. So in the end I ended up with matched sets of GE tubes in my Conrad Johnson amps. I sampled about 4 different brands, some new, some vintage. My GEs are from the 1970s so there's none of that WW 2 German tube stuff. I can't afford them and I doubt I could hear an advantage, although I have never tried, since I can't afford them.
As I have noted elsewhere, I use an Audionics Space and Image Composer for nearly all my analogue source processing. I love this thing and have used it since about 1979. But it is a compromise as all things are. It makes some mids and highs sound a bit brittle, in my opinion, so coupling it with my tube amps reduced that effect, to me. Two wrongs make a 'right'? Perhaps. In the end it just is the combination that appeals to me, and as I said, that's all I care about. Sorry to go on so long. And I hope I have not offended anyone. Although it wouldn't be there first time.
Oh and I would not pay $2500 for a tube. Not that I could afford it.
 

gene_stl

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I would not pay $2500 either nor even $50.
I notice on fleabay you can buy phoney Genalex Gold Lion which are made in Russkiestan. The ebay advert replete with incorrect information. I am sure the engineers at Osram Marconi that they claim to be copying , or General Electric of England (Genalex) would turn over in their graves if they saw their trademark stolen and defiled in this way.

I am no spoil sport. If you want to listen to tubes knock yourself out. Just don't try to convince me that they are in any way better than solid state.
There is also a theme in audiophile nonsense that claims that discrete component amplifiers sound better than integrated circuit chips. This is also utter nonsense. Most things that audiophiles prefer based on their non scientific theories never ever pass blind testing. These are nonsensical and it is time to call them out along with the audibility of power cables and speaker cable trestles.

There are enough things to actually do research on such as formats of many types that continuing advocacy of tubes, spensive cabling, supposedly discrete component electronics (almost impossible for digital stuff) should be rejected out of hand. These are all being pushed by manufacturer's and dealers who are too lazy to actually learn and produce that which is important. The end user who does not happen to know much about electronics is the relatively innocent victim.
 
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Marcsten

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I would not pay $2500 either nor even $50.
I notice on fleabay you can buy phoney Genalex Gold Lion which are made in Russkiestan. The ebay advert replete with incorrect information. I am sure the engineers at Osram Marconi that they claim to be copying , or General Electric of England (Genalex) would turn over in their graves if they saw their trademark stolen and defiled in this way.

I am no spoil sport. If you want to listen to tubes knock yourself out. Just don't try to convince me that they are in any way better than solid state.
There is also a theme in audiophile nonsense that claims that discrete component amplifiers sound better than integrated circuit chips. This is also utter nonsense. Most things that audiophiles prefer based on their non scientific theories never ever pass blind testing. These are nonsensical and it is time to call them out along with the audibility of power cables and speaker cable trestles.

There are enough things to actually do research on such as formats of many types that continuing advocacy of tubes, spensive cabling, supposedly discrete component electronics (almost impossible for digital stuff) should be rejected out of hand. These are all being pushed by manufacturer's and dealers who are too lazy to actually learn and produce that which is important. The end user who does not happen to know much about electronics is the relatively innocent victim.
I am not trying to start an argument, nor even an extended discussion on the merits of tubes vs solid state since we really agree on the underlying proposition that people should get what sounds good to them.
And I am not electronics engineer so in no position to argue the various technical merits of one over the other. When I was in high school, in the mid-1970s, a time not too long after tubes were replaced by transistors for all but the most die hard tube fans, several folks I in my electronics engineering high school class who supported solid state did agree that tubes were better at some things, such as the manner (or rate?) that they clipped was more gentle owing, I guess, to a slower design. I realize I am likely mixing the terms incorrectly and apologize for that. The result of this different clipping meant they were less inclined to blow up your tweeters when you pushed your amp a little too hard, and also to distort in a less offensive fashion. They claimed this could be shown scientifically on a scope. Tubes overall seem more durable when overworked, shall we say, which is one reason so many guitarists still demand tubes in their amps. The other being, they sound different. And some o them like that sound. Which brings me back to where I started. I think they have some technical merits, although we could debate whether such things claimed int eh 1970s are still relevant today. But that durability or gentleness when overdriven really are not my point. As I say, I like the way they interact with the rest of my system, specifically the tate. But that's just me.
 

gene_stl

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Everything you mention above is correct or close to it. Some tube amps do clip somewhat more gently and there are also advantages to the presence of an output transformer. Especially if its inside the feedback loop.

The use case of guitarists is completely separate because in that case the amp is part of the instrument and is part of generating a particular type of sound. Although a fellow that I used to work with who designed the entire Orange Krate series of guitar amps used to amuse himself kind of like Bob Carver, by making solid state amps that sound like tubes and I think he even included some of that circuitry in his amps which could be switched on and off or varied.
Some of that harmonic content also may be caused by microphonics in the stages with gain.

Clipping is however clipping and it may be somewhat gentler if the output transformer and power supply are sized to compress around clipping may afford a little bit of protection for tweeters but it actually is the crossover network that routes that energy to the tweeter and when it turns up in large quantities when clippng the crossover is just doing its job. (Another reason why I quad amp and have fuses in series with my unobtanium tweeters. My set up never ever clips.)
The purported gentler clipping of tubes is really a form of gain staging.

As I said I didn't like the sound of early transistor amps. I was retardetaire' in 1971. And I was working in the business and everytime someone shorted a speaker wire they would come back to the store and say "I don't know what happened it just stopped playing." Usually we would repair or swap , one time.
That really no longer applies because of both protection circuitry that keeps the output devices and power supplies safe from open circuit to short circuit as well as output devices extremely rugged that could only have been imagined back in the day. Many amps today can deliver their full power into a short. I consider a 2 ohm load to be almost a short but they test them at that load today.

The most recent good tube gear I have heard is the redo of the dyna stereo 70. This was priced as high as $1100 but I think more recently sells for about $800.
He had it hooked up to some English Spendors. They sounded fine. Of course the amp was virtually new. Lets listen again in ten years.
I also have not looked at the circuit but I suspect that the main resemblance to the ole Dyna is the particular output tubes and the chasis styling.

I have been resetting up my 1977 system. I have met locally a young man who has set up a proper test bench. Before sequestering my gear into racks and wiring it I have been taking things to him and playing together. My 1977 Spec 4 and M22 and Quad 405 all have one or two zeros before any distortion numbers. I was quite surprised and amazed. Usually tube amps(from the seventies) need more rebuilding. A lot of people are redoing their amps unnecessarily I think. Another case of audiphiles buying presents for their systems that may not be necessary. The (ancient)Quad 405 performed so well he wants to buy one. I was just relieved I wont have to rebuild the ones tested so far.

In addition to my complaint about gassiness of vintage tubes, the cathode emitters also have limited life. How limited depends on how good the manufacturer's are and also how good the amp designer is or was. Going for that last watt is harder on the cathodes than more conservative operation.

Although I would never ever pay current prices for them I am sure that from an audio standpoint I could live happily with a pair of Yamaha NS1000 driven by a pair of Mac MC 75s and a C20 or C22 preamp. But I also would not want to be buying the tubes for them. (ie what I actually had in 1970)
 
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Soundfield

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I notice on fleabay you can buy phoney Genalex Gold Lion which are made in Russkiestan. The ebay advert replete with incorrect information. I am sure the engineers at Osram Marconi that they claim to be copying , or General Electric of England (Genalex) would turn over in their graves if they saw their trademark stolen and defiled in this way.
Aren’t all the remaining Russian valve factories actually in American hands? I think they are owned by New Yorker Mike Mathews' Electro Harmonix company through their New Sensor Corporation. IIRC they manufacture valves branded as Electro Harmonix, Sovtek, Tung Sol and Genalex having acquired the rights to do so many years ago. Not aware they stole anything.
I am sure the engineers at Osram Marconi that they claim to be copying , or General Electric of England (Genalex) would turn over in their graves if they saw their trademark stolen and defiled in this way.
Really? I think they’d be rather pleased that so many decades after GEC-Marconi ceased production and ultimately disappeared, their designs were still being made and that the legacy name lives on. Not only that, but the KT88’s coming out of the New Sensor factory are very highly regarded by valve aficionados - some even suggesting they are the best examples ever made. They are certainly very well constructed and highly reliable.
 
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gene_stl

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There are numerous examples of companies, perfectly legally acquiring defunct trademarks and recycling them to sell products to an unsuspecting public.
Because in another life I was a microscope product manager my all time favorite is the fact that a British company(Cambridge Scientific) bought up all the microscopes brands except Nikon Olympus and Zeiss(Which were too big to swallow) and consolidated them. They sell Phillipine made microscopes under the "Leica" name. These are excellent scopes. But they have nothing whatsoever to do with the microscopes made by Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar Germany. Furthermore that company never ever branded a microscope "Leica" which was a German contractionism for "Leitz Camera" the original 35 mm camera invented by their employee Oskar Barnack. However since it was the most recognizable of their many many trademarks when they divied up E. Leitz both the microscope company and the separate surveying instrument company (which was part of Wild in Switzerland) got the "privilege" of using the Leica trademark.


Consequently people think they are buying a German microscope when they are not.

To me this is exactly analogous to someone selling Russian made junk labeled as Genalex Gold Lion. Totally phony. Totally just to mine money from unsuspecting consumers. Perhaps I should not have used the word "stolen" I think the legal term might be "acquired in due course" which could be as little as registering a trademark which has expired. Real Genalex Gold Lion KT88s haven't been made since the seventies. They were made in England. These are nothing more than fakes. For me "ElectroHarmonix" and "SovTek" are reason enough to not use tubes. BTW the same applies to TungSol. LONG gone.

Some New York investor also bought the Neuman microphone name and is doing the same thing.

If you wish to spend your money on stuff like that , the last thing on earth I would want to do is separate someone from the object of their affection.
But I am in favor of people knowing what they are getting for their money. People look at old magazines and see adverts for Genalex and then see these fakes
(and they are fakes) and are unlikely to be clear about what they are getting.

I consider it unlikely that they are the best examples ever made. Vacuum technology has certainly advanced and come down in costs compared to the seventies. (ie Turbopumps vs diffusion pumps) But tubes used to be an industry with countless engineers , research and manufacturing technicians all of whom have retired and gone on to their rewards and large investments in plant and research. Much of which was driven by US Military contracts in the cold war.

Since tubes are mostly not made any more except for an arguably silly niche market I am sure a great deal of deep knowledge was lost compared to what goes on in places like Silicon valley, whether audiophiles want to admit it or not. Go take a look at Neurochrome.com for a nice example of what I am talking about.
 
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Marcsten

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There are numerous examples of companies, perfectly legally acquiring defunct trademarks and recycling them to sell products to an unsuspecting public.
Because in another life I was a microscope product manager my all time favorite is the fact that a British company(Cambridge Scientific) bought up all the microscopes brands except Nikon Olympus and Zeiss(Which were too big to swallow) and consolidated them. They sell Phillipine made microscopes under the "Leica" name. These are excellent scopes. But they have nothing whatsoever to do with the microscopes made by Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar Germany. Furthermore that company never ever branded a microscope "Leica" which was a German contractionism for "Leitz Camera" the original 35 mm camera invented by their employee Oskar Barnack. However since it was the most recognizable of their many many trademarks when they divied up E. Leitz both the microscope company and the separate surveying instrument company (which was part of Wild in Switzerland) got the "privilege" of using the Leica trademark.


Consequently people think they are buying a German microscope when they are not.

To me this is exactly analogous to someone selling Russian made junk labeled as Genalex Gold Lion. Totally phony. Totally just to mine money from unsuspecting consumers. Perhaps I should not have used the word "stolen" I think the legal term might be "acquired in due course" which could be as little as registering a trademark which has expired. Real Genalex Gold Lion KT88s haven't been made since the seventies. They were made in England. These are nothing more than fakes. For me "ElectroHarmonix" and "SovTek" are reason enough to not use tubes. BTW the same applies to TungSol. LONG gone.

Some New York investor also bought the Neuman microphone name and is doing the same thing.

If you wish to spend your money on stuff like that , the last thing on earth I would want to do is separate someone from the object of their affection.
But I am in favor of people knowing what they are getting for their money. People look at old magazines and see adverts for Genalex and then see these fakes
(and they are fakes) and are unlikely to be clear about what they are getting.

I consider it unlikely that they are the best examples ever made. Vacuum technology has certainly advanced and come down in costs compared to the seventies. (ie Turbopumps vs diffusion pumps) But tubes used to be an industry with countless engineers , research and manufacturing technicians all of whom have retired and gone on to their rewards and large investments in plant and research. Much of which was driven by US Military contracts in the cold war.

Since tubes are mostly not made any more except for an arguably silly niche market I am sure a great deal of deep knowledge was lost compared to what goes on in places like Silicon valley, whether audiophiles want to admit it or not. Go take a look at Neurochrome.com for a nice example of what I am talking about.
Well after I got into tube amps once I heard several of them about 15 years ago, I was under the impression that Soviet or Chinese tubes were all you could get, and these are what were supplied from new by manufacturers like my amp manufacturer, Conrad Johnson. Mine came with with Soviet tubes. They sounded pretty good and lead to my purchase in the first place. After doing some research after the purchase, I discovered that old tubes from Europe and the US were still available and there was a cottage industry of suppliers who rounded them up, tested them, matched them and then sold them on at a hefty markup for this service. As I say, I ended up with some of the last US GE tubes in my amps and I do believe that they are smoother and fuller sounding than the soviet counterparts. I have two identical model amps, one for the front channels and one for the rears. This allowed me the ability to do pretty fast A/B comparisons of the sound. My conclusions were what I just indicated. I am the first to recognize the placebo effect or psycho sound, which is why I have mentioned it so many times in my past few posts.
Tubes are undoubtedly a niche market. But so what? What makes it silly? People said the same thing about vinyl only a few years ago and now its doing a lot to prop up the recording industry. And I think vinyl sounds better than rebook. SACD perhaps not, although there are differences. And if I had to choose which format was niche and likely having a bleak future, I would say vinyl has better shot of survival than SACD. But I digress.
Some people are tech-oriented audiophiles who revel in specs and scopes and technical comparisons. While this can be informative, I think its better to use listen to your setup and then pick what you like. If that forces me into a silly niche, then so be it. Anyway, I didn't think this discussion would go on as long as it has, but I am finding the discussion very stimulating. I love this forum!
 

gene_stl

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With all due respect, back when I happily used tubes, I would replace as many of the GE tubes as was possible to do so. GE tubes were the easiest to get because nearby was a local electronics wholesaler who was a regional GE distributor. So if GE made it they had it. But I always tried to get Telefunken or Amperex because i thought they sounded better. I now believe it would have been mainly placebo effect. Those tubes along with real Genalex were much harder to get , usually having to be ordered from Allied Radio or other National Distributor. GE 6550s were why I quit using tube power amps. I had a number of them come from the factory with either gassiness or internal short circuit catastrophic failures. These could be impressive to watch. It also could have been one bad production run but I had three such failures and then I was done. I started building solid state amps. (I had built tube amps too)

One more objective symptom of the possible superiority of Amperex and Telefunken tubes was that you found them inside high quality test gear such as Tektronix or Hewlett Packard scopes and vacuum tube voltmeters. They were reputed to be quieter and have higher vacuum. These brands knew how to built tube amps and preamps. There were also different numbers for selected dual triodes that had low noise or were made to be less microphonic. There were all kinds of variations because they did everything with tubes.

BTW my day job is repairing scientific instruments. When you have a detector of some kind operating at high gain and wanting low noise one never ever sees tubes, nor even discrete component preamps. Only integrated circuits. This includes things that need high frequency response and signal fidelity such as Confocal Laser Scanning microscopes and Optical spectrometers which now have increased their data through put into and past the audio range. If tubes had anything to actually offer they would appear in such places. They don't.

Even in 1970 if someone told me something sounded better I got skeptical. I can remember the specific guy, now that I think of it. I sold him my pair of MC 75s. He still has them. I bought a boatload of JBL gear from him. He didn't like the way it sounded. I don't think he had it set up anything like correctly. He did have the first Pioneer electronic crossover I ever saw. A three way SF 850 I think it was.

I still have quite a vinyl LP setup but I would love to dump it. But there are a lot of LPs I have that either are not available on CDs, or I haven't found them at a price I am willing to pay. I am probably going to look into an A/D converter and digitize as many of them as I can and then maybe pass the LPs on to those who want them more than I do.

I still remember when CDs came out. My stereo buddy and I were licking our chops waiting until the price of CD players dropped from $5K to $3K and then into the high hundreds and finally we found one at Target for $180 and it was the first one we bought. We shuttled it back and forth between our two systems. Early eighties iirc.

If you dig into the literature of the Audio Engineering Society it has been proven (though controversially) That if you play a hi res file and lower the resolution to CD, nobody ever notices. Dr. Mark Waldrep has harped on this a lot and reproven it (it will be presented again soon).

What many people consider smoothness is a result of not much high frequency and peaky high freq response in some gear. I even understand about the preference (now also silly) for discrete component circuitry. The first op amps were as bad as the first transistor amps. I did an op amp roll in the 1970s A friend had a Crown IC 150A preamp and I replaced the pokey LM301 with the hot rod LM318. I turned it on with great trepidation because I was not sure that I had not turned his preamp into an oscillator. But it worked fine. I could not hear a difference. But he didn't want to switch back. Faster slew rate must be "better" right. Even if the LM 301 was actually fast enough to do the job. I was only in my 20s and had not bought an oscilloscope yet.

The reason I am arguing this subject is for the same reasons that Dr. AIX Mark Waldrep argues about the terms hi res. Facts matter. Technology needs to be accurately described. Tubes, and some solid state amp topologies, are not as good as some others. If people like them and want to knowingly pay the premium for them that is fine. But I think that the audio communities deserve to have the facts available and distinguished from fake news. Then, they can make more knowledgeable decisions, whatever those might be. There are class D amps available now (I was slow to embrace those because I didn't know how they might "sound") that are almost free and would give you lots of extra head room or allow you to triamp for a low price. This is a sea change. Powerful power amps for under $200 delivered. With inaudible distortion. Go explore AudioScienceReview.com
 
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Marcsten

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With all due respect, back when I happily used tubes, I would replace as many of the GE tubes as was possible to do so. GE tubes were the easiest to get because nearby was a local electronics wholesaler who was a regional GE distributor. So if GE made it they had it. But I always tried to get Telefunken or Amperex because i thought they sounded better. I now believe it would have been mainly placebo effect. Those tubes along with real Genalex were much harder to get , usually having to be ordered from Allied Radio or other National Distributor. GE 6550s were why I quit using tube power amps. I had a number of them come from the factory with either gassiness or internal short circuit catastrophic failures. These could be impressive to watch. It also could have been one bad production run but I had three such failures and then I was done. I started building solid state amps. (I built tube amps too)
One more objective symptom of the possible superiority of Amperex and Telefunken tubes was that you found them inside high quality test gear such as Tektronix or Hewlett Packard scopes and vacuum tube voltmeters. They were reputed to be quieter and have higher vacuum. These brands knew how to built tube amps and preamps. BTW my day job is repairing scientific instruments. When you have a detector of some kind operating at high gain and wanting low noise one never ever sees tubes, nor even discrete component preamps. Only integrated circuits. This includes things that need high frequency response and signal fidelity such as Confocal Laser Scanning microscopes and Optical spectrometers which now have increased their data through put into and past the audio range.

Even in 1970 if someone told me something sounded better I got skeptical. I can remember the specific guy, now that I think of it. I sold him my pair of MC 75s. He still has them. I bought a boatload of JBL gear from him. He didn't like the way it sounded. I don't think he had it set up anything like correctly. He did have the first Pioneer electronic crossover I ever saw. A three way SF 850 I think it was.

I still have quite a vinyl LP setup but I would love to dump it. But there are a lot of LPs I have that either are not available on CDs, or I haven't found them at a price I am willing to pay. I am probably going to look into an A/D converter and digitize as many of them as I can and then maybe pass the LPs on to those who want them more than I do.

I still remember when CDs came out. My stereo buddy and I were licking our chops waiting until the price of CD players dropped from $5K to $3K and then into the high hundreds and finally we found one at Target for $180 and it was the first one we bought. We shuttled it back and forth between our two systems. Early eighties iirc.

If you dig into the literature of the Audio Engineering Society it has been proven (though controversially) That if you play a hi res file and lower the resolution to CD, nobody ever notices. Dr. Mark Waldrep has harped on this a lot and reproven it (it will be presented again soon).

What many people consider smoothness is a result of not much high frequency and peaky high freq response in some gear.
I have heard about unreliability of GEs straight from the factory as well. It was with great trepidation that I treaded into them when I got mine. The advantage of having someone you trust vetting them was useful here. My GE 6550s have now been laboring along for more than 20 years in my amps. Quality control at a US factory in the 1970s? Who would have thought! But that doesn't write them all off, apparently. As I was replacing my original Soviet tubes with the Gas I looked into Telefunkens and Amperex as well, but quickly abandoned those options due to price. And what was available seemed a lot older and possibly less reliable, although many tube folks I talked to swore a 75 year old telefunken would likely last as long or longer than a (then) 20 year old GE. Well that seemed far fetched to me but what's the difference if I can't afford them? And their rarity made matching sets of four even harder to find!
I recall reading tests asserting that no one could hear the difference between rebook and SACD back when SACDs first came out. I remember thinking I didn't care since I mainly bought them for surround, which was not an option for rebook. If the choice is between vinyl and rebook 2 channel, then I go with vinyl. If there is a surround format available I am likely to go for that, although price is starting to come in with the 'limited editions' because you can pay $30 for a great vinyl remaster or $130 for the surround and additional stuff in the limited edition.
 

gene_stl

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The things you mention above are reasons why I got annoyed with the whole tube renaissance. It was merely about 25 years ago that a physicist friend of mine explained to me about hydrogen and helium diffusion. (Who is also an audio pal and built a beast based on two dyna mark IIIs and a Lafayette radio kit tube preamp with which he drove some altec 604 8gs. He tried to give me that thing when I was still using tubes but the power supply he had built was too scary for me. He laughed about that. He was a ham and was less afraid of high voltage. The 800 volt plate of a mark III was nothing compared to his kewl kilowatts. I have been bitten by Mark IIIs and you remember it well. He had included delay for the plates to let the filaments warm up before the B plus went on. He wanted to give it to me because he had built a 100 watt per channel Class AB using the then newly available complementary symmetry power devices. About 1969. Before any that I saw commercially) There have been schemes to refire the getters and try and lower the gas in "ancient" tubes by exposing them to rf energy.

One trouble with vinyl is just like tubes , as time goes on the LPs acquire snaps and pops. Many of my favs are on vinyl. I am researching click and pop removal software. I really spent a long time at the sugar cube suite at Axpona. Their stuff looked great to me but too expensive. If I could get all my vinyl on a CD or a file I would never touch it again. I have some pretty fancy vinyl playing gear.

About 15 years ago, I repaired a Conrad-Johnson preamp for a friend. It was exactly like working on a Dyna PAS 3.
 
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Sal1950

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If I could get all my vinyl on a CD or a file I would never touch it again. I have some pretty fancy vinyl playing gear.
I sold all my tube and vinyl gear back in 1999 and have never looked back. Beyond that, my 40 year collection of vinyl had been stored in the basement for over another 10 years before that. Unless you have some quad recordings from "back in the day" I can think of no other reason to hold onto the forever technically crippled medium. There's so little recordings that aren't available in Redbook and at the tips of your fingers from streamers to make the torture of listening to rice krispies unimaginable. ;)
 
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