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New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube (Read 16769 times)
busterfree
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New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
08/30/17 at 01:03:58
 
Has any one tried the new Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube in their Decware gear?

From their website, “Sophia Electric came out with a newly designed Aqua 274B rectifier tube to raise the limitation from 8uf to 47uf. This Aqua 274B can directly replace 5U4G in most amplifiers with great sonic improvement.”

It is still an expensive tube to try at $199, but I am curious to hear any feedback. I read the review below. My interest is peaked but not enough to spend $ yet.

https://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/sexy-blue-tubes-the-sophia-electri...

Anyone try their KT88 or EL34-ST in a Rachel?
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #1 - 08/30/17 at 02:11:31
 
I have always been intrigued by these tubes.
But like many I wont be able to justify the price at least not in the near future but I will probably try them eventually.
I had also asked quite some time ago if anyone had tried them in there Decware gear.
I hope someone here will try them and give us there opinion.
I sure wish I had his toys to listen with.
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busterfree
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #2 - 08/30/17 at 23:53:04
 
The Sophia Electric Aqua 274B seems to be a brand new tube design and not the same as their other 274Bs for what's it worth.

I often wondered about their other 274Bs and the Emission Labs 274B, but I did not try because of high cost and shortened tube life in Decware gear.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #3 - 08/31/17 at 03:07:03
 

Sophia Electric Aqua 274B is compatible with all Decware gear.  

It was designed like the 274B we use by Valve Art  which is to say it will handle a 47uf capacitor.

The original vintage 274s were restricted to between 4 and 8 uf.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #4 - 09/01/17 at 04:52:42
 
Handsome enough, that's for sure, but too rich for my blood.
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busterfree
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #5 - 11/04/17 at 18:19:30
 
I am giving the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube a try.

I was concerned about ordering because Sophia Electric site did not have a traditional webstore or shopping cart. I am not a fan of phone orders. No worries. It was a smooth PayPal transaction after my initial email.

I am keeping my receipt, but I fully expect to get a year out of this tube (if not several). I was happy with how the system sounded with the Valve Art 274B that ships with the SE84UFO. I am still happy with my system’s sound after installing the Aqua. I think I have about 100 hours on this tube so far....I think the bass is a little better with this new tube.

A $200 rectifier is certainly not needed to get good sound. I sold some gear and used the proceeds to try a tube I was curious about. A win win.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #6 - 11/04/17 at 18:21:47
 
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #7 - 11/04/17 at 18:22:51
 
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #8 - 11/04/17 at 20:48:21
 
Beautiful looking tube.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #9 - 11/09/17 at 10:41:05
 
Curiosity has got the better of me again and I just ordered the Aqua 274B.  Managed to get one for $140.00.  Once I try this tube my rectifier “journey” will end.  I was tempted to try the Mullard U52 but figured that money was better spent on a Z-Rock2.

So far of all the rectifiers I have tried in my system the Mullard GZ32/CV593, AWV 5AS4 and one of the Type 80’s (nice tube) will remain, the others will go and some already have.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #10 - 05/10/18 at 15:18:24
 
Well, I decided to try a pair of these. I have tried two fistfuls of rectifiers in my new Monoblocks. . . pairs of RCA short and bottle type Type 80s, a great pair of Tung-Sol Type 80s, various 5U4G including the Valve Art Steve supplies, RCA and Sylvania, and the one that seems to work best for me is the trusty pair of old 5V4GB RCAs that I have from the 'fifties. With 6N5P in the ZTPRE and the Monoblocks and with an OB3 regulator this works best for me. These Monoblocks show me everything a tube brings to the table. . . .

The acclaim for these rectifiers though calls to me. . . I am going to try them out. Should have them Monday. If it works out better than my other options GREAT! We'll see.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #11 - 05/12/18 at 17:07:11
 
Lon- Please excuse this left turn on this thread, but what and where are you getting your adapters to allow you to us the 80 tube? Seem kinda interesting? Happy listening, Chris.
P.S. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Sophia 274B when you get them.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #12 - 05/12/18 at 17:31:25
 
The Type 80 are really interesting tubes. . . I've had three brands and two versions so far and each has their flavor to add.

I got the adaptors from ebay. . I have tried both bakelite/plastic black ones and porcelain and brass ones that are more expensive. To be honest I think there's no real sonic difference between them, but the latter look really cool especially in place in the amp.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1PC-4Pin-to-8Pin-Vacuum-Tube-Socket-Adapter-Converter-5...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2PC-Tube-Adapters-4pin-to-8pin-5Z3-80-5U4G-Vintage-Gold...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/WE274A-80-5Z3-TO-5U4G-5Z4P-WE27-HIFI-Tube-Convert-Socke...

The Sophia Electric Aqua are due to arrive today but I probably won't get to listen with any attention til Monday afternoon. My wife has been home sick most of last week and is going to the doctor on Monday morning and I hope to work after that. I love her and want her to be well. . . I don't get much listening to the system except via headphones when she's home.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #13 - 05/12/18 at 18:15:48
 
I bought two of the plastic version from a China seller for under $7 delivered.  They can be had very reasonably.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #14 - 05/12/18 at 18:49:12
 
Absolutely. Do an ebay search.

Well, I'm listening to one of the Aqua 274B right now in the Taboo Mk IV. Dang. I can already tell, twenty minutes into listening, that these are exceptional rectifiers. The sound is more 3D, more layered, more open, very addictive. Shoot. I know I'll need to get anther one in time for the Taboo, and the CSP3 on the build list with my name on it.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #15 - 05/13/18 at 15:57:22
 
Does anyone know if this tube http://www.sophiaelectric.com/pages/se/274b.htm is compatible or the same specs as the aqua? Or any of the options listed?

I really don't like the blue color and do realize that is superficial, but still...
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #16 - 05/13/18 at 16:17:43
 
Lon- Am I seeing correctly that the Aqua 274B is a four pin tube? is that a direct plug in for the Decware Amps and pre-amp (and of Steve's gear using 5U4 regulators). Seems pretty interesting. It would be pretty sexy looking to see the 274B and two of the Sophia EL34's in our Rachael....but a fair amount os $$$. Keep us posted after you get some time on them. Thanks and happy listening, Chris.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #17 - 05/13/18 at 17:28:28
 
That's correct it is a 4-pin tube, but it has a guide pin and inserting it with that guide pin it fist right into our rectifier sockets and works perfectly. I've managed to listen to it briefly in the Monoblocks and yes they sound very good but my wife is still ill and will be home at least tomorrow if not longer and as eager as i am to realy spend a lot of time with them. . . I don't see it happening soon. . . more's the pity!
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #18 - 05/13/18 at 17:33:46
 
The answer you are looking for is on this page:

http://sophiaelectric.com/pages/se/Aqua_274B.htm

Sophia Electric Princess mesh plate 274B and rigid plate 274B tubes have been widely praised as the best sounding rectifier tubes ever made. However there is a catch - the first capacitor after the rectifier tube needs to be small. The max value allowed for the Princess 274B mesh plate is 4uf, or 8uf for the Princess 274B rigid plate.

The amps we use have a 47uf capacitor in use and though these tubes will work. . . Steve has advised against using them, and they won't last long if you do.

The Aqua 274B seems to have been developed to solve this problem and thus allow its use in our amps and many others.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #19 - 05/14/18 at 01:29:27
 
I've snuck a little bit of time in on the speakers and with the new Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tubes in the Monoblocks.

I have to say these are impressive tubes. There are many good choices for the Monoblocks. These are right up there even this early on as favorites rivaling the RCA 5V4GB that I have been using. They are very balanced top to bottom, very "quiet" in that there is a really black background, and the bass is probably the deepest I've heard from the amps so far, tight, but deep and with presence (a sort of rare combination). The RCA has a fuller bass, but not as deep. . . different source material would lead me to choose one over the other. Treble is also tight and not at all tart--it's controlled but it's not compessed or brittle sounding. The midrange is very open and this contributes a very natural dynamic contrast within the music.

Soundstage has narrowed a bit but gone deeper. And that's more than fine with me.

Quite impressed, as I should be for this costly a tube. I may have to get another one for my CSP3 when it comes so that I can see whether I would prefer it or another in the CSP3 as both those things seem to happen in user experience. If I choose another for the CSP3 the third one will go into the Taboo Mk IV as I already know I like it a lot in that component. . . .

It feels "burned in" already, so if it improves that's icing on the cake. More impressions next week.

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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #20 - 07/05/18 at 20:57:09
 
I've now the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifiers in both 25th Anniversary Monoblocks and the CSP3-25, well-settled in. I have built excellent complements of tubes around these and am enjoying wonderful sound. I've rolled a few rectifiers since but for the first time I've really wanted to put the former rectifier back in quickly. The Sophias just seem so "right." Very quiet, very dynamic, very "precise." I've put a box full of rectifiers away into a closet. . . I'll be using these for a long while. . . . They really bring out all the new and exalted 25th Anniversary characteristics in these components.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #21 - 07/23/18 at 02:37:20
 
Hi, i am new in this forum and happened to browse this topic.

I am considering to get Z-Rock2 next year as it is said to enhance the bass and it lead me to believe this might save users on tube rolling.  

My question is for those with ZR2, do you still need to tube roll the rectifier like the Sophia Aqua 274B? Is ZR2 not capable to deliver the attributes of this premium Aqua 274B.

Thanks
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #22 - 07/23/18 at 23:01:12
 
The ZR2 ‘plays’ (no pun intended) a completely different roll from the rectifier.  It will ‘reveal’ what it is fed to it by the associated components, the tube sets being a part of those components.  It’s not just about bass.  It has an impact on the entire frequency spectrum.  Without it much of the information that the associated components send will be diminished or ‘masked’.  I have the Sophia 274B Aqua in the UFO25 and had it in the UFO2.  Like Lon, I have rolled a number of rectifiers and the Sophie is my choice.  

If your going to spend the money on a pricey rectifier then it would be a shame not to be able to hear all of it’s attributes.  That’s where the ZR2 comes in.  It doesn’t add or subtract, it simply let’s you hear it all.  

Without getting into all of the details, yes you need both.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #23 - 07/24/18 at 00:21:16
 
Thanks Joman for providing insight on both and i am more convince to get them.  Am glad to drop by and get the info I needed.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #24 - 07/24/18 at 00:52:29
 
I have to agree, the rectifiers and the ZROCK2 serve different functions. The Sophia Electric 274B may not be for everyone but I find it's neutral stance and clear presentation lets you get the best out of your sources and also the ZROCK2. I am using this rectifier in my amps and preamp.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #25 - 12/17/18 at 19:05:46
 
Any thoughts on how the “Preferred Series” 274B from the tubestore would compare?

Best,
Scott
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #26 - 01/21/19 at 03:18:33
 
After having read this thread as well as doing some tube rolling, I highly recommend the Aqua. Each driver tube I listened with the Aqua sounded better than with the other rectifier tubes I tried. The bass had a greater solidity, the highs are airy without grain artifacts. The sound stage is larger and dimensional. I can hear deeper into the music.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #27 - 02/18/19 at 23:59:57
 
I now have a Sophia Electric 274B Aqua Rectifier Tube with several hundred hours run-in in my CSP3 and a brand new one in my my Torii Jr.  Man-O-Man!!!  So smooth!  So musical!  Instruments and voices sound more real and extremely present!  More than pleased!  The 274B Aqua that I juts bought has a very small piece of loose glass in the bottle, which made the discounted price $100.  I think he still has a few of these “flawed” tubes.  It’s a good time to try one!

My previous experience with Sophia Electric tubes includes both 2a3 mesh plates and 300B mesh plates that I used in my Cary mono blocks.  So I already knew how musical Richard’s vacuum tubes were.  I’m now saving for a quad of his beautiful blue el34’s!
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #28 - 02/19/19 at 02:56:06
 
Smiley Great tubes, for sure. Expensive, but great. My Aqua is still performing well.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #29 - 03/15/19 at 23:18:56
 
For those of you that mentioned having done some tube rolling and tested many rectifiers- have you ever used an NOS Phillips 5R4GYS?

These are the rectifiers I am currently using in my SE84UFO2 monoblocks. I do like them and prefer them over the Valve Art 274B that came with the amps. To me, the Phillips are not as bright as the Valve Art’s and I prefer their tone.

Looking for any ideas about how these Sophia Aqua 274B’s would compare to the Phillips 5R4GYS’s...
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #30 - 03/16/19 at 18:10:32
 
Also, I am interested to hear if Steve thinks the Shuguang WE274B will be ok in his amps the way the Sophia Aqua 274B’s are? I have some of the Shuguang WE replica tubes in my phono and line preamps and absolutely love how they perform...
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #31 - 03/24/19 at 22:03:33
 
Can anyone confirm that the Sophia Electric 274B's will fit into a Torii MKIV along with running a quad of Sophia EL-34ST's, they look, because of the "Coke Bottle" shape they'd be very close to touching with them all in place at the same time. Thanks to anyone who might know.

Scott
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #32 - 03/31/19 at 18:32:13
 
Scott, I can't say for sure not having had a Torii Mk IV, but I did run a Torii Mk III for a spell with Sophia Electric Aqua 274Bs and TAD KT66, which are pretty big ass wide tubes, and there was no issue with tube touching.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #33 - 04/01/19 at 04:44:16
 
Just noticed your question regarding the Philips 5R4GYS rectifier in the SE84UFO2.  I had a SE84UFO2 and tried many different rectifiers including the Philips 5R4GYS.  The Mullard GZ32/CV593 easily bested the Philips and the Sophia Aqua bested it.

I also feel that the Type 80 Globe and the type 80 St rectifiers are contenders if your on a budget, I preferred the type 80’s to the Philips.

Of the 5U4G rectifiers that I tried, the Australian made AWV 5AS4 Superradiotron was my choice.  In fact I’m still using it in my CSP3 with the Sophia Aqua 274B in my UFO25.  In that combo, CSP3 and UFO25 I prefer the AWV 5AS4 in the CSP3 over the Sophia... go figure!

Hope this helps in some way...
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #34 - 05/12/19 at 05:13:06
 
Well the first Sophia 274B Aqua that I was using just bit the dust after a year and 5 months and took out a couple of fuses in the process.  If that wasn’t bad enough what happened next is even more...perplexing...

It went through two fuses in my UFO25 and then I remembered that my CSP-3 has an extra fuse.  So I put that one in and before putting my spare Sophia 274B Aqua in I thought I should start with one of my much, much less expensive rectifiers just in case.  So I started with one of my AWV SuperRadiotron Type 80’s and held my breath... and... it worked, hooray!  

But... wait a minute... am I actually hearing more detail??? Bigger sound stage??? More dynamics???... with this type 80.  Is my face starting to turn red???  When I tried out the various type 80’s I did not give this particular type 80 much time.

Well now that I was sure that it was the rectifier that took out the fuses I put in my spare Sophia 274B Aqua... and yes indeed the type 80 has more detail, bigger and deeper sound stage and was more dynamic.  To tell the truth for a while I was in denial but you can’t argue with your ears.

I am not saying that the AWV Type 80 is a better tube just that it is obviously different.  Both tubes have very nice musical flow.  In this respect I’d say they’re equal.  The attack that the Aqua 274B produces has rounder leading ‘edges’ making it easier to listen to in some respects.  It has a ‘gentler and smoother’ all round presentation with good sound stage and scale but this comes at the expense of detail.  It may be a better choice for untreated rooms.

So what to do????  Before I order another 274B I’m going to spend some time with the type AWV 80 then with the Sophia and then compare the two.  Another factor is that I got less than a year and half out of the Sophia.  If that happens again theres not much chance that I’ll get another.

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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #35 - 05/12/19 at 11:09:33
 
It is unfortunate to lose any tube let alone an expensive tube. Hang in there. I have had a good experience with my Aqua. I only have one, and it will not come out of my CSP3-25.

I have not had good luck finding great 80 tubes. They did not last long, and I have given up on them (for now).

Enjoy the music!

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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #36 - 05/12/19 at 11:37:13
 
Sorry about the Aqua dying. From what I've read about Aquas throughout the web that's an unnaturally short life. Here's hoping your other (and all of ours) have longer lives.

I have Type 80s that sound very good, but I've preferred the Aquas, and even  from the description of the 80 you're using I would prefer the Aqua (and I do have an untreated room). Keep us posted and I hope you encounter no new problems. . . .
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #37 - 05/12/19 at 12:07:03
 
Thanks guys,  I’m going to talk to Steve to make sure than nothing else could be contributing to the failure of the Sophia.  In the meantime, got to get more fuses.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #38 - 08/17/19 at 17:25:05
 
Does Sophia make its own tubes, specifically the 274B? I ask because on another forum (Lampi related), others recall that Sophia tubes were at least in the past rebranded versions of others’ tubes.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #39 - 08/18/19 at 17:09:57
 
I got the answer to the question: Sophia designs and others make it to spec.

Another question: Between the Aquas, is there a preference for the mesh plate vs. rigid plate?
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #40 - 08/18/19 at 17:15:30
 
The mesh plate are not designed to have a long life in the Decware amps--they are for 300B, 45 etc. amp circuits. The Aqua version is designed to work with the resistor values in the Decware amps. The mesh may sound a bit better (there are some reports to that effect) but it will not last long.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #41 - 08/18/19 at 17:35:02
 
Thanks. With a dac (Lampi), do you know if the value of the trailing capacitor would come into play in terms of tube wear, as it does with amps?
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #42 - 08/18/19 at 18:02:54
 
I can't say for certain, but I imagine it would. . . .
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #43 - 08/18/19 at 18:21:46
 
What piece of equipment are you using?

HK
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #44 - 08/18/19 at 18:33:26
 
Lampizator Atlantic 2 TRP (TRP = tube rollers paradise), with tube rectification. It comes with a KR 5U4G for recti. The photo attached is of someone else's, while mine is in the process of being converted (upgraded). I'm looking at possibilities for both that and output, and came across this thread about the Sophia Aqua.

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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #45 - 08/18/19 at 20:37:30
 
I would suggest not using the mesh plate to replace a 5U4G. The Aqua would be the right choice.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #46 - 08/18/19 at 21:20:33
 
Aqua.
HK
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #47 - 09/30/19 at 12:49:12
 
Well,  after ~6 months of solid daily use.  Probably in the neighborhood of 1800-2000 hours of use.  My Aqua 274B  is giving up the ghost.   Arch's/sparks every time on startup now.  Tried in my 25th-Anniv amp and ZP3.    I have pulled it and marked as bad.  No reason waiting for it to blow a fuse or fry a resistor when it really goes.

 Kinda bummed that I only got 6 months out of it considering it was ~$160.    Did sound good but as I have rolled in a few other rect's over the last few days I don't really feel like I'm missing it all that much.   Currently using a Russian 5c3s with hanging filaments and it sounds excellent,  and only $10 to boot!!

Just figured I'd post my findings here for anyone else considering the Aqua 274B.   I will say that if you do plan on purchasing one, I would def. incur the expense of the 'Warranty'  for an extra $50 I think.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #48 - 09/30/19 at 13:55:46
 
I agree J.  I think that for the money - and performance - you just cannot beat the 5C3S.  About the best bass I’ve heard out of a rectifier.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #49 - 09/30/19 at 14:19:58
 
Man, sorry to hear that Johnny. I have four Aquas in use, considerably longer than six months, for seventeen months actually in my Monoblocks and counting and about a year in Taboo Mk IV and CSP3--and not a sign of a hiccup or problem. And I use them all a lot. And whenever I roll a dozen or so different rectifiers I always end up back with the Aquas, just the right rectifiers for me.

Hope my luck continues! Sorry for those that have had failures.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #50 - 09/30/19 at 19:36:58
 
So it goes,..  I guess it just goes to show that it can be hit or miss with these, thus my endorsement of the 'warranty', knowing that other have had issues too.   That's great that your are holding up so well Lon.  I know they see extended use like mine do!  Just wish they had a bit tighter control on the reliability.

 Geno,  I have been very impressed with the 5c3s I picked up from a Russian seller.  A fellow I've actually bought a number of other (6p15-ev / 6n1p / 6n5p, etc..) tubes from.   For the price and favorable comparison to other US brand NOS 5u4g's,  I'm  going to go ahead pick up another 5 or 6  just have in the drawer!
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #51 - 09/30/19 at 20:51:42
 
All of the Russian tubes you mentioned are 'Forever tubes' in my Zen.  The combo is good to the point that I don't feel any urge to roll any of them anymore. I do go back and forth between the 6N1P and 6N5P, although the 5 has been in for the last 2 months.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #52 - 09/30/19 at 21:26:19
 
If bass is what you want try the Mullard GZ34/5AR4 Fat Base, Smooth Plate, F31 Code.  This one is as close as you’re going to get to the Metal Base for a lot less than the Metal base, the mids and highs are among the best.  It’s not as “cool” and doesn’t have the decay of the Metal Base but no other rectifier I’ve tried comes close.  

Probably can pick up a NOS for $50.00 more than the Sophia and IMO it’s money better spent than on the warrantee for the Aqua, based on my experience.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #53 - 10/01/19 at 01:47:56
 
I don't find myself rolling much anymore either.  I'm currently using a E288cc and everything is just right,  but funny thing with this amp,  I generally find that whatever I put in to try sounds just right (albeit maybe a little different).

Joman,  I've read your previous comments on the 5ar4's over the last few months and have been watching them on ebay.  A metal base just went for ~$250.   I have found some fat/smooth plates but non specifically called out for F31 though I have been watching.  Def. not as many smooth plates out there as the notched versions.  I'll keep my eyes open specifically for a F31 though .  Thanks!
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #54 - 10/01/19 at 02:58:01
 
The F31, F32 refers to the date of manufacture.  The F31 production is from 1958 - 1962.  Many of these were branded for companies that made amps ie. IECO, but clearly and unmistakably Mullard/Blackburn.  They are supposed to be very long lasting. The F31’s were the immediate successors to the Metal Base.  I picked up A 1958 IECO branded GZ34 and that’s what started the whole process.  

I sure hope the Metal Base that I have last a very, very long time.  Reportedly they can last upwards of 40 years or longer, we’ll see.  If they last 20 they’ll be a steal and I’ll probably be partially deaf at that point.

The F32 were made between 1963 - 1975, usually with 4 notches on the plate edges and I believe, later ones with eight notches.  Stick to the F31 if  at all possible.  Not sure if I would go for the later ones.


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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #55 - 10/01/19 at 10:52:01
 
One other thing....
The F31 or F32 is etched in the glass bottle close to the base along with the Blackburn Factory Code
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #56 - 10/01/19 at 11:14:26
 
I just had a quick look on E Bay and it appears that eventually even the F31 Fat Base production went to 4 notched plates.  I suspect that the Smooth Plate version of the F31 was 1958- 1959 production years, possibly 1960 also.

So it is a rare tube now days, unfortunately.  However given their reputed longevity, may be well worth looking for.


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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #57 - 10/01/19 at 14:36:07
 
jslateiv wrote on 10/01/19 at 01:47:56:
I don't find myself rolling much anymore either.  I'm currently using a E288cc and everything is just right,  but funny thing with this amp,  I generally find that whatever I put in to try sounds just right (albeit maybe a little different).

I agree with this Johnny. As I've had no issues with my Aquas I've used these and Steve's carefully matched and tested output tubes as my "anchors" and find that I can roll voltage regulation tubes and input tubes around them and get great sound from a number of combinations, in effect having a number of different excellent amplifiers. At the moment I'm using a pair of Arcturus 0B3 that have just the right tonal qualities to allow me to use an all Amperex signal chain otherwise: 7308s in the ZTPRE, and 6085 in the ROCK2 and Monoblocks. The 6085 work fabulously in my Mononblocks whether they should or not. They allow me to pump a little more gain into the amps and I am getting a full, rich, textured sound.

I haven't been that impressed with Mullard rectifiers I've used in my amps so am not tempted to explore these expensive options. I'm sure I could roll a number of tube combinations and find better fits than I have before, but I'm just inclined to stay with what I have and am familiar with rolling around.

Regarding the E288CC I have three Valvos with gold pins that are fascinating tubes. I have used them to great effect in my CSP3-25 preamp. I love tall input tubes, they seem to have a complementary magic to tall rectifiers.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #58 - 10/01/19 at 15:27:09
 
That's interesting on the 6085 in your Mono's,  I'll have to try that out.   I have not found it to be overly favorable in the ZR2.  Seems to want to clip/distort to quickly for me in that position.  I figure it's the very low operating point at which the ZR2 drives the tube from.   The 25th should be operating it at a much closer to 'wanted' point though with higher plate voltage and bias then the ZR2.  

Joman,  do you have any experience with the Matsushita (Japanese Mullard) GZ34 smooth plate?   Supposedly same tooling and material.  Def. alot cheaper then English made.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #59 - 10/01/19 at 16:24:25
 
No I do not have any experience with the Matsushita GZ34.  If you try one of these make sure it’s not a re branded soviet rectifier, look at the plate structure.  Evidently that’s what some of the Japanese GZ34’s are/were, so why pay more for a rebranded tube.

I did try two versions of Philips Holland Made GZ34’s smooth plate ‘skinnier base’.  Often you get that these are very close to the metal base or as good as the Fat Base Mullard/Blackburn and I wanted to find out for myself what that meant in reality.

One was a Philips BB the other a Valvo.  The BB has F31 X9D etchings with “Made in Holland” on it.  The Valvo etchings are hard to make out but I can make out X9G which would indicate that it is a Philips made tube.  Didn’t pay a lot, about $80.00 ea.  In no way are these similar to the Mullard Fat Base and not even remotely close to the Metal Base.  This is the part that is hard to accept... that there is a significant difference between these.  If you start with the cheaper “close to” versions you will not want to even consider spending the big bucks for the other two.  I sure wouldn’t.

I started with the Mullard 1958 Fat Base and was very surprised and impressed.  Because of that I then went to the Metal Base.  I just had to find out what “close to” actually meant in reality.  An expensive education, but boy, there’s no way I could have possibly guessed that there would be that kind of difference and what that difference would be as it doesn’t fall into the typical “expected” difference/result.

I agree with Lon.  The other GZ34’s were not that impressive and at $80.00... OK, but not my preference.  So, IMO, it’s the Mullard Fat Base Smooth Plate 1958 - 1959 or if one has the stomach and cash for the cost the Metal Base 1955-1957.  I for one did not think that I would ever think that spending $350 - $450 on a tube would be worth it.  I do now understand why some spend double that for those, I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on a tube.  Rather spend that on the Anniversary upgrades.
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Re: New Sophia Electric Aqua 274B tube
Reply #60 - 10/01/19 at 17:13:23
 
jslateiv wrote on 10/01/19 at 15:27:09:
That's interesting on the 6085 in your Mono's,  I'll have to try that out.   I have not found it to be overly favorable in the ZR2.  Seems to want to clip/distort to quickly for me in that position.  I figure it's the very low operating point at which the ZR2 drives the tube from.   The 25th should be operating it at a much closer to 'wanted' point though with higher plate voltage and bias then the ZR2.  

Interesting. I'm getting excellent sound with the 6085 in the ZROCK2, though admittedly best when used with the same tube in the amps, and with careful adjustment of gain with the DSD, ZTPRE, ZBIT and amps. I'm getting a very black background with large instrumental images and especially good dynamic playback, both micro and macro. It has unseated the 5814A from the ZROCK2, which was not easy to do!

What wonderful components these are.
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