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Upgrading the X-CANS amplifier... w/photos - Page 3

post #31 of 43
Thread Starter 

Cheap is good.

Oh yes... sorry I haven't updated my X-CANS page yet.

Last night, I did a VERY comprehensive "live rolling" session (left the unit open for quick access) with the X-Cans and four different pairs of tubes. I used jazz, electronica, and classical music as the primary test elements:

First Place: JJ Electronic E88CC - $22/pair

* Highs were articulate without any harshness.
* VERY detailed midrange. Absolutely the best for vocals.
* Bass is a bit restrained, but still acceptable.
* Soundstage is wider than any of the others. Nuff said.
* Dynamics are fluid and immediate. Definitely the best tested.

If all of JJ Electronic's tubes are as good as this one, it's our duty to support this company. I hereby declare this tube as the Official X-Can Upgrade Tube!

Second Place: Kevin's 6H23-EB - $50/pair

* Highs were similarly articulate. No harshness.
* Midrange is disappointing with this tube. Significant loss of detail. Unexciting response.
* Bass beats 'em all. Deeeeeep and accurate. Roasts yer face off. Other amps can go lower, but this tube pushes the X-Cans to the max.
* Soundstage is plenty wide... 95% of the JJ's.
* Dynamics are excellent at the extremes. A bit "soppy" in the midrange.

This would be the rock n' roll tube. It gives the classic stereo sound... punchy highs and lows. Not quite as fun to listen to as the JJ's, but still an excellent replacement choice.

Third Place: Stock JAN/Philips 6922 - $16/pair

* Highs are ear-bleedingly harsh.
* Midrange is nicely detailed.
* Bass is ever so slightly more restrained than the JJ's.
* Soundstage is wide... perhaps 90% of the 6H23's.
* Dynamics are the inverse of the 6H23's. Punchy in the middle but thin at the bottom end. Top end sizzles uncomfortably.

Would be a good tube if not for the high-end harshness and thinner bass response. People who have never rolled tubes will likely find them OK... but they aren't. Roll 'em.

Fourth Place: Uncle Ned's Sovtek 6922 - $24/pair

* Highs are articulate. A bit too dry.
* Midrange is detailed but lacks soul.
* Bass is tight and controlled. Sounds analytical.
* Soundstage is very small. It fits inside the incense burner (see below).
* Dynamics lack a certain body. Again... "thin" is the rule here.

Looking at this tube's getter might explain why it sounds thin and 2D. It looks like a microscopic incense burner. The other three have halo getters... with the JJ's being the largest. Does size matter? It seems so. This tube didn't do anything harsh, yet neither was it exciting in any way. I did extensive swapping with the JAN/Philips to make sure.... and yes, the Sovtek is indeed worse by a hair. These don't mate well with the X-Cans. Skip 'em.

There you have it. The cheapest replacement tubes happen to be the best. I wish everything in life was this way. Those who want a minimum of fuss should rush out to buy the JJ's. Remember though, that taking your time and rolling them all will give you a much better understanding of tubes. A cheap education, if you will.
post #32 of 43
Thanks for the update - will visit Triode and try the JJs & possibly the Sovteks as another reference(will sell if I get unpleasant results.)

The one thing I did like about the Jan Philips(with the v2 atleast) was that they threw up an incredibly big and defined soundstage. You could hear boundaries of the soundstage quite well - that's something I've quite been able to do with even the classic Siemens I've tried.

Another thing I was curious about was dynamics - this is where the Philips fell a little flat. With these Siemens I have it's almost too much punch in comparision.

I would be curious if you could quickly compare dynamics and soundstage size. I'll shut up and go support tha cause though.
post #33 of 43
Thread Starter 
post #34 of 43
Thnks, that's all I wanted to hear. I don't like the incense burner sound or flat dynamics, especially since I use Senns.

THanks for the offer too, but I think I'll go w/ a couple of pairs of the JJs from Triode. You should be able to sell those others on Ebay I think.

Here's an auction for a glow in the dark Sovtek T-Shirt:

post #35 of 43
Hahaha, a NOS shirt, that's great.

I want one. :|
post #36 of 43
Nikolai Dot Org - have you got yourself a pair of NOS tubes yet? It would be great if you can and do some more comparison. Like the Mullard, Siemens.... I have a pair of Mullard but the warranty won't run out for another 18 months so I don't really want to mess with it just yet.
post #37 of 43
Thread Starter 
I don't have any NOS tubes... and am not seeking them out for a few reasons:

* Prices are sky high.

* Somewhat overrated performance.

* Quantity is very, very limited.

* Consistency is spotty.

* Fakes are common.

* Once the remaining few are used up, that will be the final, permanent, infinite end of everything NOS.

Why publicly review something when nobody else can get it? If tube audio is going to continue to thrive, existing companies need to be supported. Eventually, with enough demand, they CAN make tubes equivalent or superior to NOS. Why not? What was so magical about the 50's that we can't reproduce over 50 years later?

It's a political view, perhaps. I want everyone to have access to high-quality audio. The world will be a better place for it. After all, Nicholas does mean "victorious for the people", yanno.

With tube-heads leaving their equipment on all year long, the situation is only headed in one direction.... and fast.

Of course, if anyone sends me some NOS's... I'd be happy to review them.
post #38 of 43
There's is a reason why Musical Fidelity uses NOS tubes for their top of the range Nu-vista 3D CD player, and the fact they can only make 500 because they only have 1000 pair of the tubes (1 pair or replacement for every machine) could only means that the old ones are better. Why wouldn't they use modern tubes if they are better and have unlimted supply? They could bring the price down and sell a lot more of their product.

I know tubes should be better now then it was before 30 years ago but the whole world went solid state nut and drop the tube thing like a plague in the 70's. The technique, machines and skill of the people have moved on and may be that's why they were better then. I know NOS are hard to come by but there are still dealer that still have some left, so I think you should at least try 1 out before dismissing it. There is good a reason why most people seek NOS tubes for their tube amps, and the whole HiFi market can't be wrong (or can it?[img]http://www.head-fi.org/forums/smilies/eek.gif[.img]).

Why publicly review something when nobody else can get it?
Well, I would love to read a review of the Sony R-10, Grado HP-1000, stax omega II & Sennheiser Orpheus (I am sure a lot of people here would too), even though most people can't afford them and are hard to come by, they would still like it. And compare to the HP-1, NOS tubes are easy to get your hands on.
post #39 of 43
Thread Starter 
(recovers from an exploding bottle of Welch's grape soda)

Well said.

I agree that NOS tubes are worth seeking out under certain circumstances. In the case of a budget $150 second-hand headphone amplifier... I question whether this would be one of those times.

There is a point where upgrading to a higher level of equipment would be wiser than blowing everything on vintage tubes... i.e. MG Head or Earmax Pro vs. X-Cans with Telefunkens.
post #40 of 43
I see your point of spending $70 on a pair of NOS for a $250 headphone amp, but I did just to see how much improvement it'll make (when the Jan philips ones dies). Better have heard and tried it then haven't.

I've read that in headwize you are after a X-canv2 now, is that right?
post #41 of 43
Thread Starter 
Yup... it will be here in a couple of days. Expect more updates to this already-too-stretched-out thread.
post #42 of 43
Well, since this thread is going to be extended anyway...
I am living in Russia for the entire year, should I be looking for these tubes? I have an unrolled X-cans at home that could probably benefit. Am I correct in assuming that these are old school Soviet tubes? Perhaps they are sitting in storage down somewhere in my neighborhood...
post #43 of 43
Anyone tried "Polamp" tubes? They're from Poland. The AudioValve RKV comes stock with 4 of their PCL805's, and I've seen EL86's on Yahoo shopping, I'm sure they make some variant of the 6922, but I'm not finding anything...anyone know what their story is?
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