EQUIPMENT FORUMS >> SE34I.5 >> SE34.3 Tube Upgrades

Message started by Palomino on 03/19/13 at 14:47:49

Title: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/19/13 at 14:47:49

I recently bought an RCA NOS 5U4G to replace my stock rectifier.  Sounds great and gives me a much more liquid sound.  I am looking to replace all the stock tubes and keep them as backup.

What suggestions does anyone have for power tubes?  I have heard JJ's Wing C's, and Mullard reissues mentioned.  Any power tubes specifically for the SE34.3?

Input tube recommendations?

I am on a budget, but will save for the right tubes.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by busterfree on 03/19/13 at 23:30:04

SED Winged C EL34 cyoed
Voshod 6N1P-EV Super Cryoed

both from cryoset dot com

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by marky on 03/20/13 at 10:45:41

If someone has several sets of EL 34`s it would be interesting to hear what they think about new v nos Palomino.
I have nos and haven`t heard new. They sound just how I would want the SE341 to sound. I wont say what they are because I picked them from the lower end price of nos tubes to suit pocket ( $75 ea ), and as you mentioned you may save for nos if convinced, and the choice would be your own. In other words I`m putting my neck out and saying all nos would sound good, thats why they cost more.
You can allways find good deals on nos ; the manufactures give a new `spec` figure, but nos tubes  allways exceed this by upto 120% of spec. So when this figure creeps down to 100% or lower the price comes down.
I like to see if the tubes appear here a kind of rogues gallery   :)
Some prices are in never never land, so when I see tubes offered at a lot less.....
ps I chose a millitary variety of Tesla.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Lon on 03/20/13 at 11:51:19

When I had the SE34.2 I used the same set as busterfree for a while (except the EL34 were not cryo'd, and with 'sixties RCA 5U4G rectifiers) and the sound was excellent.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/20/13 at 19:15:49

Like you, I find the stock Ruby rectifier (that is if it is still stock) a good starting place. This is where your tube sound starts.

What are the other tubes you are using now? And is the RCA a GB (straight side bottle), and if so short or long, or a ST (coke bottle shape). Do you know what year it is. Hard to recommend tubes without a baseline to go from.

Being so simple and cleanly designed and built, your amp will sound really good with loads of different tubes. ]

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/20/13 at 19:19:29

Also, with what you have, how would you prefer the sound to change?

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/20/13 at 19:19:42

I replaced the stock Ruby with what I think is a 60's RCA, coke bottle shape, black plates.

The power tubes are Tung Sol EL34B.  The input are some non-descript Russion tube, and also stock.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/20/13 at 19:21:26

I suspect the inputs are 6N1Ps then...

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/20/13 at 19:25:31

They are.  Sorry, should have been specific  I do have a set of Russian 6N2Ps as well.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/20/13 at 19:42:18

Oh, and by the way, I am not sure what I am looking for.  I am not unhappy with what I have.  

I just wanted to experiment with something well regarded by the folks here on the forum familiar with Decware gear/sound.  That and having a backup set of tubes were my goals.

Every time I have gone with a suggestion here on the forum for anything - interconnects, power gear, recordings, etc. they have not lead me wrong.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/20/13 at 21:31:34

I like the idea of backup too! And if you think about how you choose that backup set you could potentially mix and match with your current tubes having multiple options that sound good if you enjoy changing things up now and then.

As a general piece of info, the 6N1P I think draws about 600mah compared to the 300 range for 6DJ8 and 6922 making the latter louder and having more headroom at higher volumes. I am not sure where 7DJ8s are in here, but volume-wise, they are also louder than 6N1P and clip much later in my Torii MkIII.

Hard to safely recommend tubes with the taste thing, and since NONE of our system/rooms sound alike...this is why I am interested in the tubes you have ...from there I can try to compare tube to tube in my setting giving a hopefully good reference of what to expect from a tube change.

Between the other input tubes you might like, generally, the 6DJ8 and 7DJ8 will be subtly more soft feeling (good soft) and textural.... and 6922s will be more articulate...more "accurate," having clearer "edges" and often go a bit deeper. Perhaps I would place the 7DJ8s as generally being sort of in between the 6DJ8 and 6922 having good texture and liveliness of the DJ8 integrated with a generally clear/openish sound.

I just put in my cryo'd Tungsol EL34s after quite a long time of not hearing them and am enjoying them. In the next few days I will compare some other power tubes relative to the Tungsol.

One that I and a bunch of others have been liking in the Torii's are the JJ6CA7. Also a lot of Torii folks are liking 7DJ8, as do I. They are really a good value still though they are getting rarer as folks catch onto them. And I think all of them I have sound quite good.

I have a pair of the following and I think they are really good tubes...big, "tubey" sound that has little sense of restriction, slightly warm, open, good depth and extension. I am listening to them with the Tungsol EL34s now and it is a notably solid sound that is atmospheric and live with a nice warmth to sweeten things without detail loss.

These tubes look Russian to me. They are unusual 7DJ8s from my collection, the rest being NOS european shapes and builds. And they have a particular character that is different too... a sort of bigness.

In my 34SE, I recall liking the 62NP, but only after quite a bit of breakin. This was before I became a tube freak though, so I have heard a lot of tubes now that I had not then.

More later.


Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/22/13 at 17:33:42

Thanks everyone for the advice.  I have a couple I definitely want to try out.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/22/13 at 22:56:31

I have been comparing the EL34 power tubes I have in my Torii MkIII. I would think the tube to tube signature comparison should translate well enough to the Rachel, though its sound would be different in this room, and likely more so in yours, our system/rooms being different.

These tubes all sound good. I fell into an interesting issue for analysis and recommendation while listening...Direct comparison can be confusing. Each of them sound like they have a little different power output and combining this with varying signature characteristics, I found I had to test them close together in time (just leaving enough time between listening for them to heat up well), but also I had to listen with more time between tubes in order to hear them more objectively. It is easy to get seduced by the more powerful or obvious expression, but sometimes the mellower one is just the ticket.

Also, all of my tubes except the Winged Cs came from cryoset, and cryoing does change them....some more than others. I think in general it refines the tube's basic characteristics....cleans out the cobwebs a bit without harshness, giving more definition top to bottom along with more spacial info and black.

I prefer cryo, but this choice too could be used for system refinement. For a more refined definition cryo'd tubes are a good tool. For a system/room tending to a little too much definition with a given tube or tube set, non-cryo will likely have more "mush" room...softer edges.

The difference is pretty clear in my system/room, but mine is very revealing. It may be very subtle to unnoticeable in some system/rooms. But then, if you look at structural benefits the cryo is said to provide, even if one can't hear it, it might be good especially when the cryo tubes are similarly priced.

Finally, this is not meant to be an exhaustive evaluation of these tubes, but a chance to look at the basic signature qualities as they present to my ears in my system.

The backup set I have in the Torii are:

5U4G-ST 50s RCA ribbed black plate (this one is slightly on the open side of my RCA STs)
OA3 1960 JAN Marshall
OC2 50s RCA
7DJ8 Zaerix labeled PCC88, looks Russian made to me

The Power tubes:

Tungsol EL34 cryoset:

Very powerful feeling. Forward. Excellent balance top to bottom. Slight warmth. Excellent dynamics and edge definition with an exceptionally tight bass, but still excellent texture. Very Good sound stage saturation. Very Good spacial atmosphere.

To me this sounds like an excellent tube doing everything in an even and powerful way. The amazing definition, power, and resulting forwardness could/would be disconcerting to some, and depending on system and tube balance, the mid-mids could be hardish, but they sound good here/now. The refined edge definition focus is at the expense of some atmospheric information...the way the sound eases off the attack creating close and far ambient decay...spacial info. This is not a big deal to me though as it only shows up by comparison...The tube sounds pretty natural within these characteristics to me. So if the system/room calls for these super-tube qualities, I would call this an excellent tube.

Golden Gate EL34 cryoset:

Though this tube has its own signature characteristics that are good (I have been listening to it for the last 6 weeks or so), this is a lot like a younger brother to the Tungsol. It has great definition and balance, but is a bit softer, warmer, and less forward. Great dynamics. Tight, but a little less tight bass. Similar potential caveats also depending on the rest that makes a tube set and system/room.....With this tube set, roughly speaking, it really is similar, but a little lower key. So for the purpose of having spare tubes to change things up from the Tungsol, I wouldn't think this is the one.

JJ6CA7 cryoset:

Now this is interesting. This tube has excellent definition and balance, very good dynamics, very good bass definition, very good texture, and feels a tad warmer than the Tungsol. It feels more laid back, open and rich, and definitely less forward, with the soundstage placement more typical to others in my system/room. Also, riding off the very good, but slightly softer feeling definition is a very good dose of ambient info (from close to far) giving a spaciousness and atmosphere to the tube...a sense of "big tubey" sound.

The combination of the above makes this tube more relaxed, more atmospheric, more forgiving...easier than the tungsol, but still with really good definition. Is it better? I really can't say...totally a taste thing as far as I can read it, but I feel comfortable calling it a great second power tube for quality variation, for refinement of preferences in a system/room, and for rolling in with other tubes.

This tube did take a looonnng time to burn in.

Winged C (this was the stock tube with my Torii and is not cryo'd):

The Winged C is an interesting tube. It always sounds really good. In the progression of warmth, it is the warmest of the tubes I have, but good warmth, darkish in the low mids, but relatively detailed. It is more dark than the others from the mid-mids down losing some definition, but retaining enough definition down the frequency spectrum to be convincing. So it does it well leaving a good strong bass that is not uncomfortably lacking tightness. To illustrate how little the darkness masks the detail, the soundstage is very good.

For me, this tube never stays in though, I think mostly because I find it off balance by my tastes and in my system/room. I attribute this mostly to the excellent, open and textural midrange and upper midrange of this tube, and to me, the slightly unsettling contrast of the dark enhancement coming a little bit too fast and hard in the lower mids to mid-bass. The very open mids make the slightly dark lower regions sound a little veiled or restricted, or put another way, the darkish lower regions make the upper mids sound a little bit too open and bright. This is subtle, but the way i hear it is disconcerting to me.

This is a really good tube though by most reviews and standards, and if a system/room needs to bring out a bit more texture and upper midrange, while enhancing the system/room low mids down with a darker/bigger sound, this tube could be a great one to have in one's collection.

Ruby EL34BHT cryoset:

Without sounding like the JJ6CA7, this is in many ways like it, but with more emphasis on detail and openness. It is brighter feeling with less darkness in the "warmth" but retains a bigness and some lushness, and overall, still sounds somewhat warm to me. It feels like the bass goes a little less deep and is not as big, but that may be in part the mid-mids and upper-mids being slightly emphasized....probably a bit of both. This tube says excellent detail and spaciousness more than the others. The excellent soundstage reflects this...saturated but with notable spaciousness and air. But all these tubes have a good sound stage in this setup, the main differences being the depth of saturation and how the space between the instruments is filled, which is interrelated...this one has a more spacious feel.

Depending on system/room and tubes, the mid-mids could possibly be on the bright/hard side, but they sound good here/now. Also, depending on conditions they could be a bit lean sounding. So these are the bright/lean ones in my test, but not so much so that I will not leave them in and play around a little with the other tubes. They have very good qualities and a compelling sound that somehow blends transparency with atmosphere in a nice way.

If a system/room/ or tube set feels a bit too dark and bassy, this tube might be just the ticket. Within its characteristic values, it is a really good sounding tube to me. It feels fresh and lively with a sense of transparency, but enough warmth and atmosphere to soften the edges of things with a slightly lush tubey quality.

Rectifiers...I will probably start playing with this tube set (Ruby EL34BHT) by putting in a 50's Raytheon 5U4GB with rectangular getters just down the top side of the plates. These tubes are textural and warm with deeper bass than the STs in this listening test, but without a sense of being too dark to me...the balance of detail carrying the dark very well and helping to create a very nice version of what "warmth" means to me.

This talk about darkness, warmth and bass reminds me. To me, the Rectifier is a great and inexpensive way to change up and refine the sound, especially with the Rachel's single tube. And they can be gotten inexpensively on EBAY. I so far find deeper bass being a characteristic in particular with 5U4GBs...but it may be just the ones I got. Also, texture and spaciousness is often a bit better with the GBs I have. For generally balanced sound and smoothness the older STs seem to excel. Also, since the Rectifier is the beginning of the tube sound, it can have some very real influence on the system sound.  So having a few (or a number of) varied and good sounding rectifiers to tune a system is to me a smart tool.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Lord Soth on 03/23/13 at 02:12:38

Hi Will,

Thanks for great write-up on Cryoset Power tubes!

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 03/23/13 at 13:58:55

+1 on the review.

Based on your descriptions, I may try a set of the Ruby EL34BHT.  You also helped me formulate an opinion on what I am looking for in terms of sound.  At $40 for a pair they are also very reasonably priced.  I find cryoset pricing to be a good deal as well.

For example, I have a local cryo guy that charges $8 per tube, so cryoset is below what I would pay if I bought these off ebay or elsewhere and had them treated.  No additional wait cost for processing as well.

Anyway thanks for the advice.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Lon on 03/23/13 at 14:05:38

Interesting review will. Some matches my own observations when I've heard the same tubes. is a very good vendor. Ron believes in treating customers more than "right," and he makes good tube choices (and is open to suggestions, for example he stocks the Valve Art 274B after I asked him to try the tube out). I also think that his interconnects are an excellent sounding bang for buck tube; I replaced my Decware interconnects with them.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Greg12 on 03/23/13 at 14:07:31

Nice job Will.  I'll be getting my Torii III in about 3wks so will be coming back to this thread down the road when I'm ready to try some tube rolling.


Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/23/13 at 18:36:37

Yeah, I hope this is useful.....

Writing about something so subtle and complex as tube sound is pretty risky. But I remember when I was first looking at tube choices and how hard it could be to discern the qualities of a tube without trying it...many comments being fully personal, like "I like it" without a lot of what actually made the tube likable, and often without any system/room context.

But even with more description and comparison like I like to work toward, and with the context, it is all system/room/taste dependent, still highly personal, and finally influenced by how we interpret wording. Like, How wide a range does slightly have.....a very, very little bit....a little is tricky.

For me, I listen pretty hard and this awakens hyper-mode hearing, and all indicators point to my system being very revealing, so I have a hard time coming up with ways to convey my impressions with I talking about discerning the little bitty stuff or the broader?

Ah, all you can do is try.

In thinking later about what I heard and wrote, I got to wondering if cryo'd Winged Cs might solve the issues I continue to have in my system/room with the "raw" ones I have. Can't say, but it is possible. Cryoing can make for a big refinement (or more subtle) depending on the original tube makeup.

Anyway Palomino, if you want to chill the force of the Tungsol, and lean things a bit, while opening/brightening with more space/air, the Ruby is a really good tube for that job. I am enjoying them now. If you want something that is also a very good sounding, and also of notably different character from the Tungsol, the JJ is a bit safer from being "too bright/open," since its detail articulation is cradled in a deeper, slightly warmer and more atmospheric surrounding.. It is also a great tube. But I am guessing that since my description of the Ruby caught your attention, you are craving some opening up in your setting.

Then what about the other tubes, where we can balance or compound the tonal shifts brought on by changing one of our tube types. This is why I think having perhaps three varied and quality tubes for each position could be a great beginning for serious exploration and refinement of room, system and preferences. Something worth considering and perhaps working toward while adjusting to the variations new tubes bring to the music.

I agree with Lon about Ron Sheldon at Cryoset. He is a real-world and forthright guy with a personal interest in quality, and with discerning perception. To me, this makes him a great person to depend on for quality stuff at good prices.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/23/13 at 19:59:38

I just stuck in some Amperex PQ (orange label) inputs that I had cryo'd. With the Raytheon dual rectangle top/side getter 5U4GBs, Marshall OA3 STs, RCA OC2s, and Ruby!~ music without restriction...beautiful body but with open spaciousness...smooth and a little bit warm without of veils, realistic ambience that is unnoticeable unless noticed, balanced upper mids and highs, clarified but without edge, bass is alive and fresh...deep and full of body, but dynamic and not muddled.

I love this tube play.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Lon on 03/23/13 at 20:57:02

I've wondered the same thing about the Winged C cryo'ing possibility, but ever since I found such joy in the JJ 6CA7 tubes I have just stuck with them and haven't been curious about other output tubes. I'm sticking with these, they do all I want them to.

I have a quad of cryo'd Tungsol reissues. . . they have a brittle treble edge that just doesn't seem to want to soften up. . . they weren't for me.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 03/24/13 at 00:53:13

Yes, since I never "fell" for the Winged Cs, I am not inclined at this point to find out just how resolved the cryo makes them either. I bet it is good though.

You can guess that I did think of you when I said the Tungsols, depending on tastes and conditions could be too forward, or hardish in the mids...I had not heard them in a long time, bringing them out because Palamino had them as a reference...

So it does not surprise me that the Tungsols don't suit you. Their definition and power top to bottom is wild, perhaps extreme. And I suspect it is the same for most of us, that if this definition and edge is too strong in the mid/highs, making a tube sound hard, this is a big problem. But when I listened to tastes, system/room and that particular tube set, they showed their particular attributes well and in a balanced way, making them a great tube for what they do. But who knows...the same setup in your room might suck to me.....makes it hard.

And taste-wise, I really like all aspects detail, but not if it ends in hard mids and highs. But I generally do work toward resolution that approaches hard edges (as long as there is enough body to carry/balance it) then back it off a bit. So I might be placed in the detail club...I don't know...I love smooth and rich and full body too.

It is good you mentioned this edge that just won't go away though, because these tubes are so powerful that they could be too demanding depending on the many things working together that make up a system.

But if one needs a "super tube" ...maybe for a very powerful, defined, expressive, and punchy sound; or perhaps one wants exceptional definition while solving loose bass in a generally dark system/room; or for balancing other stuff that may cause an understated sound; or like me, where my system/room is quite flexible, flexible enough to adjust for edginess or pushiness if it shows up, and they are just plain fun for a change....this is potentially a really good tube for many conditions. But it is true, it could be just too much depending on conditions and tastes.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Lon on 03/24/13 at 01:12:29

I'm very sensitive to treble response, and few of the digital recordings I have seem to have the cleanest and most grain-free examples in these frequencies I guess. I always appreciate a tube that is a bit more forgiving perhaps, or at least is not hard. That said there have been some changes since I last tried the Tung-Sols, but I'd be really surprised if my opinion of them changed.

But still, I've moved more and more into your realm of thinking on these matters: it's helpful for us all to develop a language and lexicon of our impressions and also be able to place them a bit in context to make some comparisons more meaningful. I admire and appreciate your direction and work along these lines.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by PK on 07/12/13 at 19:18:22

How much was the RCA NOS 5U4G?

From what year?

The color of the base and writng on base?

Where did you purchase it from?


Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by will on 07/12/13 at 20:58:46

PK, I think NOS RCA 5U4Gs are mentioned several places in this thread. Which are you interested in? I find that the 50's 5U4G-ST (coke bottle) black plates are all good, though they do vary in sound. All of mine have black bases. I also find that they vary a lot in price. I just wait for a good value on Ebay, making sure the seller tests the tubes, that they test high, and that there is a return policy if they don't work right. In my experience with tube sellers on ebay that I have bought from, the few problems I had, the sellers were eager to replace any tubes that were off in any way. Not sure this is across the board, but it makes sense since they depend on ratings to get comfortable new buyers.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 08/27/13 at 14:56:43

Just as an update, I have not tried any new power tubes yet.  Seems that about mid summer my amp hit a new plateau of really really good sound, so I didn't follow-up on any of the suggestions here other than to find sources for each tube type and price them out.

Forum member Frimpy did just send me some Tesla 7DJ8s to try.  He currently favors the Lorenz 7DJ8s so he said I could try his Teslas rather than them sitting unused.

I got and interesting boost in detail and top end shimmer with the Teslas.  Strings sound more "plucked" now.  Slightly better air.  Bass may be tighter, but not as loud.  

I am new to tubes and it amazes me still how much different you can make the amp sound.  However, I found myself a little fatigued at the end of the session.  These tubes have about 80 hours on them, so mabe they are not fully broken in.  Also, I have them mated with the Tung Sol EL 34s which I've heard could be a bit more forward.

So the search continues.  If I can keep the detail but lose the fatigue, I think that would be a good combo for me.

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by jameskk on 12/23/13 at 12:24:39

Print out a copy of the owners manual and read that . It's more specific than other manuals he has , especially with tubes !!! And listen to Will's recommendation on Rectifiers, he's really done his homework!!!

Title: Re: SE34.3 Tube Upgrades
Post by Palomino on 12/23/13 at 14:16:21

I have three sets of tubes now:

Original: Ruby 5U4G, 6n1Ps, Tung Sol EL34B

Set #2: RCA NOS 5U4G, Lorenz SEL 7DJ8, Cryo'd JJ EL34

Set #3: Cryo TAD 5AR4, Cryo Gold Lion 6922, Cryo TAD KT88s
Set #3 came to me in an amp I bought online.

I mix and match, but right now, my favorite all around set is the RCA NOS rectifier, Gold Lion Inputs and the KT88s.

At first, I thought the KT88s were a toss out, but they filled in nicely and have the best bass definition.  They seem to be more powerful all around.

If I want to go a little more aggressive, I put in the JJs and/or the TAD rectifier.

My desktop rig is basically the original set but I do swap out from time to time.  

I am still playing around with combinations for different kinds of music.  I have a tray that came from an old spice rack that holds tubes right beside my setup for easy swapping out.  

Forums » Powered by YaBB 2.2.2!
YaBB © 2000-2008. All Rights Reserved.