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post #13756 of 30978

If the driver tubes were the problem would they sound great one day and then the next just be barely audible?

 

I am using the stock Westinghouse tubes plus the Sophia. But I don't have any spares for the driver tubes.

 

I guess I'll have to order some and try them out.

 

Has anyone else had such a dramatic difference occur like this? I am new to tubes and I suppose I was under the impression that they would sort of slowly lose their sound quality over time...as opposed to this night and day thing?

post #13757 of 30978

Did you checked all the connections?

post #13758 of 30978

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xcalibur255 View Post


I hope not, because I don't have any bribe money to keep myself in with.


What, you are a closet Bose headphone listener as well?

You'd better send me a check then wink_face.gif



Quote:
Originally Posted by sammyrambler View Post

So I turned on my WA6SE tonight and put on a CD, but I can barely hear the sound even with the volume turned up high.

 

I hear the music (very faintly mind you) so I figure everything has power etc....all lights are working and so on. I've tried multiple headphones so I know it isn't the headphones causing the issue.

 

Have you guys experienced this sort of thing before?

 

Do any of you know what might be the cause of this?

 

(Please help!)


Have you tried plugging the CDP into anything else just to make sure that's not your problem?

 

post #13759 of 30978

WA22 Rectifier Comparison

I have been trying to make some sense of the various rectifier tubes that are available to use in the WA22. I will attempt to put my “big three” of the EML 274B, EML 5U4G, and Sophia 274B Princess in context with four “lesser” rectifiers (by current reputation/consensus/price) in this opinionated, subjective, unscientific, yet head-to-head comparison of these seven different rectifier tubes.

 

EML 274B.jpg

 

I was surprised that I didn’t like the EML 274B mesh plate tube better than I did upon first listen, so I gave it another shot after swapping it out for a few others and decided that it was a pretty nice tube after all. I traded an EML 5U4G for it, and while I am taken in by the 274B’s ability to separate instruments and its almost ethereal soundstage, it sometimes seems like the sound isn’t quite grounded, or rooted, to anything tangible. While it's a very nice tube in its own right I found it to be a bit lacking not just in the low end, but in overall dynamics as well compared to my venerable Sophia 274B "Princess"  and EML's 5U4G. The first time around on the EML 274B everything is in the right place but the sound seems strangely unmoored overall. Upon a second listen, I would say that the bass is definitely there but it’s just a bit thin; it could definitely be more visceral. 

 

Shortly after I first rolled the 274B in, I swapped out my Shuguang Treasure driver tubes for a new backup pair. I thought that perhaps my failure to break these new drivers in properly could be contributing to my disappointment with the 274B, so I rolled the Princess back in for a listening session and decided that for me the culprit was definitely the EML.

 

 

SOPHIA.jpg

 

The Sophia will probably always be my "reference rectifier" for the WA22. To my ears, it has an agressive and upfront attitude without being fatiguing at all. It's a musical and detailed tube that presents the soundstage that's on the recording without any exaggeration or limitation. The imaging is quite refined, and imaging is spot on. The midrange is liquid, the treble is smooth and extended, and a the bass is deep and punchy. Instrument and vocal placement in space sounds totally natural, and most importantly to me it sounds the most accurate tonally. It isn't lacking in bass impact or extension, but I will concede that it could be a little thin in comparison to the EML 5U4G and the Brimar, in the mid-bass area which where I consider "thickness" to reside. The Sophia isn't quite as thin as the EML 274B is in that area though.

 

 

EML 5U4G.jpg

 

Then I re-acquired another EML 5U4G for a more direct comparison. It has the most depth to it compared to either the EML 274B or the Sophia Princess rectifiers, but for me it wasn't as neutral or as aggressive as I would prefer with the WA22. While the EML 5U4G has more warmth than the EML 274B, it's not as dynamic as the Sophia Princess. The 5U4G is very 3D in its presentation though, and I can definitely appreciate why it is such a popular tube. 

 

 

CBS 5U4G.jpg

 

Switching to a CBS-Hytron (Tung Sol?) 274B, I must say that this tube is acquits itself very nicely. It shares the aggressive dynamics that I like so much about the Sophia and its overall sense of refinement and transparency comes very close as well. It’s nice and punchy in the low end, has an honest midrange, and plenty of depth overall. just the slightest sense of graininess up high if you are really looking for flaws, but it's definitely a keeper and a great backup for the Sophia Princess. If anybody can confirm if Tung Sol or someone else actually makes this tube please chime in.

 

 

SHUGUANG 274B.jpg

 

RUSSIAN 5U3C.jpg

 

I have a pair of inherited Shuguang 274Bs laying about that I didn’t care much for when I tried one out a while back, and installing them with fresh ears my impressions remain the same. I also have a Russian 5U3C that I don’t know anything about, I just consider it my stock rectifier. It’s not bad really, just nothing extra special either. Pretty accurate throughout, maybe just a bit thin in the mid-bass. It beats out the Shuguang by a longshot and is actually a pretty competent tube.

 

 

BRIMAR 5Z4G.jpg

 

The final tube in this 7-way comparison (but certainly not least) is a Brimar 5Z4G which I won a few months ago in auction and curiously hadn’t tried out yet. It’s definitely the smallest rectifier tube physically, barely taller than one of the Shuggie Treasure driver tubes that flanks it and definitely no bigger than one of those by girth. But this little bugger puts out a big-time sound, in fact my immediate reaction was that this is the anti-EML 274B. The Brimar has low-end depth and body in spades, immediately reminding me of the EML 5U4G in certain respects regarding 3D imaging and overall lushness. The higher frequency registers didn’t exactly reach out and grab me on first listen, but there was certainly no negativity in that area. Vocals are nicely rendered, and everything is presented well in space. I usually associate depth and body with warmth, but this Brimar doesn’t seem overly warm, not like an EML 5U4G anyways. Just a nice thick syrupy low end, with accurate mids and crisp highs. 

 

In the strictest sense the Brimar would perhaps be more accurately described as the backup to the EML 5U4G while the CBS-Hytron has more in common with the Sophia. In a nutshell, the Brimar has warmth and musicality without sacrificing any precision. It’s slightly more musical than the CBS-Hytron, which is a bit punchier in comparison. Of course I am nitpicking; they are both excellent standby rectifiers for my Princess as neither really takes much of a back seat in comparison. They are dynamic, honest, detailed and musical tubes. While a bit different from each other they do share that low-end wallop that reminds me of the Sophia. 

 

I don’t know how useful this review format (or lack of it actually) is for tubes in general is but I think that something like this would have helped me on my particular journey so I wrote it in the hope that it might benefit others. 

 

In that spirit, here is my… Final Ranking & Summary:

 

RANKING.jpg

(click to enlarge)

 

1) Sophia 274B “Princess”: It has the best combination of detail, tonal accuracy, and aggressiveness for my needs on the WA22. It has excellent imaging and separation, and provides every bit of soundstage that is available on the source recording.

 

2) EML 5U4G: I can see why this is a favorite tube of many, it has an amazing sense of depth but for me isn’t as aggressive as I would like for the WA22. I hate to use the term PRAT but this is where the Sophia wins for me.

 

3) EML 274B: I didn’t like this tube as much as I had hoped that I would. It is very nice as far as separation and imaging but it doesn’t have the depth of the 5U4G or the aggressiveness of the Princess and can sound a bit distant. 

 

4) Brimar 5Z4G: This one is more like the little brother of the EML 5U4G; lots of depth with a great low end that can be a bit loose at times, very nice tube.

 

5) CBS-Hytron 274B: This is a Sophia Princess “Light” if you will. Has a little graininess up high if you are looking for it but I could definitely live with this tube.

 

6) Russian 5U4C: This is a good, competent, and neutral tube that doesn’t really stand out in any way but doesn’t do anything wrong either. It’s a good choice for a stock rectifier tube by Woo, or it used to be (I think).

 

7) Shuguang 274B: Last and definitely least. The only good thing about these is they are cheap and available. The sound however is muddy, distant, and is actually annoying bordering on offensive. Recommended only for target practice.

 

 

UPDATE (approximately 4 weeks later):

 

"I have been spending some time doing more extended listening with the top three tubes in the above rankings, and have discovered that I actually prefer the EML 5U4G the most with the HD800, and the EML 274B is my favorite with the LCD-2 (rev.1). While the Sophia remains my favorite for use with both of these headphones, it is very close second to the respective EML front-runners with either headphone. So while my overall ranking remains the same, if I only had one headphone instead of both I would change the rankings accordingly. In this respect, to me the Sophia is represents the best compromise for use with both headphones."

(end update)

 

 

I feel pretty good about the tubes that I am using ATM, which in addition to the Princess rectifier are the Shuguang Treasure CV181Z drivers, and the Sylvania 7236 power tubes. I have tried the Tung Sol version of the latter and like the sound of the Sylvania better but it’s very close. The 5998 is nice but not as good for my needs as the 7236, and the 6080 power tubes just don’t have the oomph that my headphones need so I haven't really explored them. 

 

As far as the drivers go there are plenty of good ones out there but with the Treasures I feel like I have found a solution that will optimize my WA22 for both the LCD-2 rev.1, and the recent-issue HD800. I have tried many other drivers and they all have their good qualities and some were great with one headphone but not the other. The only drivers that I actually disliked was the Zenith 6SN6GTR.

 

I have backups of my 7236 and Treasure tubes, and instead of getting a backup for the Princess as well I decided to explore a bit more, mainly by getting that EML 274B. It wasn’t the improvement on the Princess that I had hoped that it would be. From what I have read, I would like to try the solid plate version of it sometime, if anyone has one available please PM me as I would be willing to trade one of the mesh plate EMLs or purchase it.

 

 

In conclusion: 

 

I just want to emphasize that you don't have to spend a ton of $ to get excellent performance from a rectifier tube. While the current-issue Sophia and EMLs deserve their top rankings, there are some very good, relatively inexpensive NOS tubes out there that come incredibly close. The CBS-Hytron and Brimar in particular are very good tubes that I could totally live with, and I am quite sure that there are other excellent-sounding bargains to be had is the wide and wonderful world of rectifier tubes.


Edited by grokit - 10/8/11 at 6:14pm
post #13760 of 30978

 

 

I was following sammyrambler's experience tonight. Guess it's getting late that way. Was hoping for a late rally... or to hear that he exhausted his options. This is where saving old gear and accessories prove valuable...

popcorn.gif


Edited by Silent One - 9/13/11 at 8:56pm
post #13761 of 30978

A very nice writeup grokit, thank you for sharing it with us.  It's really great to see more of this kind of thing here.  Your Hytron 5U4G certainly looks like it is Tung Sol made, but the ones I have seen were bottom getters and not side getters.  The plate style matches Tung Sol though.

 

I can definitely understand where you are coming from with the EML 274B.  I've found it takes the right driver tube to balance it out, otherwise it can indeed seem like the imaging lacks an anchor point.  With the right tube pairing it's possible to get the soundstage more normal sounding, but personally I like the expansiveness so long as the imaging has the proper center focus.  I always thought the 5U4G had too much of this focus, so I think a lot of it is just personal preference.  It's the note separation that makes the tube special, something I value greatly in musical presentation.  I can agree with your feelings on dynamics too.  The EML 274B makes some driver tubes sound lazy and slow.  It takes the better and faster ones to keep PRaT up to the level where it is satisfying.

 

Hearing you describe the EML 5U4G as having more depth once again makes me really curious whether or not I'm missing out on something and might actually like it better than the 274B.  If the tubes were more affordable I would do just that, but at $270 I just can't justify it.  When you say "more depth" though, are you referring to soundstage only or the tube's ability to retrieve detail as well?  I've often found the EML 274B soundstage to be much greater in width than in height, but again I think driver tube pairing affects this a lot.  Compared to, say, my Brimar 5R4GY it has a lot more vertical depth (that tube only seems to throws things left and right for the most part).  Compared to the Tung Sol 5U4G that tube has at least as much vertical depth of soundstage, but not nearly as much horizontal width and probably the same front to back depth.

 

You might find a nice balance with the EML 274B by trying other driver tubes.  For example with my '52 Sylvania chrome domes imaging is pinpoint accurate and they are toe-tapping fast, and with the black glass National Unions the soundstage is enormous in every dimension and axis, not just width.

 

I'd love to hear more thoughts from you on your EML 274B vs 5U4G if you are willing to write more.  The 5U4G seems the clear favorite amongst WA22 owners, but rarely does anybody really go into detail about why they prefer it over the 274B.

post #13762 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammyrambler View Post

If the driver tubes were the problem would they sound great one day and then the next just be barely audible?

 

I am using the stock Westinghouse tubes plus the Sophia. But I don't have any spares for the driver tubes.

 

I guess I'll have to order some and try them out.

 

Has anyone else had such a dramatic difference occur like this? I am new to tubes and I suppose I was under the impression that they would sort of slowly lose their sound quality over time...as opposed to this night and day thing?

If a tube outright fails you will hear a dramatic change, but normally they don't fail like that.  They just start to sound really bad beginning with sloppy bass and loss of focus.  When you say barely audible do you mean *just* ever so barely, or simply quiet comapred to before?  Does the volume control still affect this or can you hear faint music regardless of volume knob position?  It seems like you have lost your gain stage for some reason, either to a tube not working correctly or some other type of failure.
 

 

post #13763 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

WA22 Rectifier Comparison

I have been trying to make some sense of the various rectifier tubes that are available to use in the WA22. I will attempt to put my “big three” of the EML 274B, EML 5U4G, and Sophia 274B Princess in context with four “lesser” rectifiers (by current reputation/consensus/price) in this opinionated, subjective, unscientific, yet head-to-head comparison of these seven different rectifier tubes.

 

 

 

 

RANKING.jpg

(click to enlarge)

 

 

Nice write up!

post #13764 of 30978

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xcalibur255 View Post

A very nice writeup grokit, thank you for sharing it with us.  It's really great to see more of this kind of thing here.  Your Hytron 5U4G certainly looks like it is Tung Sol made, but the ones I have seen were bottom getters and not side getters.  The plate style matches Tung Sol though.

 

I can definitely understand where you are coming from with the EML 274B.  I've found it takes the right driver tube to balance it out, otherwise it can indeed seem like the imaging lacks an anchor point.  With the right tube pairing it's possible to get the soundstage more normal sounding, but personally I like the expansiveness so long as the imaging has the proper center focus.  I always thought the 5U4G had too much of this focus, so I think a lot of it is just personal preference.  It's the note separation that makes the tube special, something I value greatly in musical presentation.  I can agree with your feelings on dynamics too.  The EML 274B makes some driver tubes sound lazy and slow.  It takes the better and faster ones to keep PRaT up to the level where it is satisfying.

 

Hearing you describe the EML 5U4G as having more depth once again makes me really curious whether or not I'm missing out on something and might actually like it better than the 274B.  If the tubes were more affordable I would do just that, but at $270 I just can't justify it.  When you say "more depth" though, are you referring to soundstage only or the tube's ability to retrieve detail as well?  I've often found the EML 274B soundstage to be much greater in width than in height, but again I think driver tube pairing affects this a lot.  Compared to, say, my Brimar 5R4GY it has a lot more vertical depth (that tube only seems to throws things left and right for the most part).  Compared to the Tung Sol 5U4G that tube has at least as much vertical depth of soundstage, but not nearly as much horizontal width and probably the same front to back depth.

 

You might find a nice balance with the EML 274B by trying other driver tubes.  For example with my '52 Sylvania chrome domes imaging is pinpoint accurate and they are toe-tapping fast, and with the black glass National Unions the soundstage is enormous in every dimension and axis, not just width.

 

I'd love to hear more thoughts from you on your EML 274B vs 5U4G if you are willing to write more.  The 5U4G seems the clear favorite amongst WA22 owners, but rarely does anybody really go into detail about why they prefer it over the 274B.


Thanks for the feedback Xcalibur, it always feels a little weird when publishing impressions like that, wondering if others hear things the way that I do.

 

After all of that I will be leaving the Sophia in for awhile for some "re-grounding", but my plan was already to get back to those EMLs for a more thorough comparison. So thanks for stating your interest, I will be sure to take more detailed notes when I do and publish a more thorough comparison. I will try rolling in some other driver tubes with the 274B as you suggest, that is a good point that I didn't make: that the whole comparison was based upon using the same driver and power tubes, and everything could change in combination with other tubes. I actually haven't tried it with any drivers except the Treasures yet.

 

As far as the EML 5U4G goes, it's no slouch on detail to be sure but when I said depth what I meant was increasing the soundstage front to back, or up and down as you said. It really increases the euphonics of the already euphonic WA22 in a very seductive way. Woo knows :•), I may start to prefer it again over the Sophia, but when I was using it before I was always rolling tubes to accomodate different headphones and with the Sophia/Treasure combo I was able to get off that bandwagon. Keeping things "simple" can be challenging when there are so many combinations and possibilities!

 

So now, that EML 274B solid plate remains the one rectifier tube that I want to try but I have no idea how to obtain one. Probably the only other drivers I would like to hear are the Mullard ECC33s, but I'm not that anxious like I am with that EML. Have you heard the 274B solid plate?

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by WarriorAnt View Post

Nice write up!

 

Thanks WA smile.gif

 


Edited by grokit - 9/13/11 at 11:03pm
post #13765 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

WA22 Rectifier Comparison

I have been trying to make some sense of the various rectifier tubes that are available to use in the WA22. I will attempt to put my “big three” of the EML 274B, EML 5U4G, and Sophia 274B Princess in context with four “lesser” rectifiers (by current reputation/consensus/price) in this opinionated, subjective, unscientific, yet head-to-head comparison of these seven different rectifier tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

RANKING.jpg

(click to enlarge)

 

_______________________________________________

 

 

 

 

grokit, that was so well written, so well thought out and put together, your review is still lingering.... quite nicely, I might add! And though the photography does a wonderful job to support the review, it's good enough to stand on its own!

beerchug.gif


 

 

post #13766 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

 


 it always feels a little weird when publishing impressions like that, wondering if others hear things the way that I do.

 

 


Detailed impressions of the various bottles is always good for my wallet.

 

post #13767 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarriorAnt View Post


Detailed impressions of the various bottles is always good for my wallet.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Seems then, head-fi is accomplishing some of its goals - grokit "nailed it" Olympic style!



 

post #13768 of 30978

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentOne View Post

grokit, that was so well written, so well thought out and put together, your review is still lingering.... quite nicely, I might add! And though the photography does a wonderful job to support the review, it's good enough to stand on its own!

beerchug.gif

Thanks for the kind words. I just sent you a PM, as I've been wondering how it's going in DAC landpopcorn.gif

post #13769 of 30978
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post


 

So now, that EML 274B solid plate remains the one rectifier tube that I want to try but I have no idea how to obtain one. Probably the only other drivers I would like to hear are the Mullard ECC33s, but I'm not that anxious like I am with that EML. Have you heard the 274B solid plate?

 

 

Thanks WA %3Cp%3E%20Sadly%20no,%20they%20were%20already%20discontinued%20when%20I%20bought%20my%20EML%20274B.%C2%A0%20Finding%20one%20now%20might%20be%20a%20challenge%20considering%20how%20low%20the%20production%20volume%20was%20to%20begin%20with.%C2%A0%20I%20agree%20using%20the%20same%20driver%20tube%20throughout%20the%20test%20is%20the%20best%20practice,%20I%20was%20just%20referring%20to%20ways%20you%20might%20find%20some%20more%20personal%20enjoyment%20from%20the%20274B%20if%20you%20use%20it%20in%20the%20future.%C2%A0%20%3Cspan%20alt=smile_phones.gif  I sort of got out of rectifier rolling after going the EML route because, in the end, if the tubes one keeps sampling don't achieve the same level of performance then they just sit in the tube box and collect dust for the most part once your initial curiosity is satisfied.  To my ears there is a pretty big difference between the EML and all of my NOS rectifiers so I decided I would always have an EML as my primary use tube.  They aren't superior in every way, and you hit on a couple of those facts in your writeup, but the EML seems to suit my own tastes very well so I figure why argue with that right?

 

I think there is a lot of potential to be found by tube rolling within our own collections though.  I have some 6SN7 which I'd written off as mediocre because they didn't sound great with the EML 274B.   But with further experimentation I found some of those tubes can sound really nice paired with other rectifiers.  Likewise I have a couple of driver tubes that I think *only* sound great when paired with the EML 274B.  There seems to be a certain kind of synergy between all the tubes in an amp, and when you find a really good combination things just sort of click.

 

Has anybody else noticed that rectifiers and driver tubes of a same brand often seem to work well together?  Probably not an accident either.  For example I found my Brimar 5R4GY and Brimar 6SN7GTY to work very nicely together, and the only time I ever thought my RCA greyglass had good tonal balance was when they were paired with my RCA 5RGY.  Tubes are a treasure chest of mysteries for the curious. 


Edited by Xcalibur255 - 9/13/11 at 11:11pm
post #13770 of 30978

Wow, the forum software really bugged out with that last post.  I can't even edit it to fix it. 

 

Anyway my reply is within grokit's quoted post (only the very first paragraph is his quote) and the first part that is unreadable was me stating I hadn't heard an EML 274B solid plate because they were already discontinued by the time I bought mine, and that I agreed with grokit's practice of using the same driver tube throughout the writeup.  I was just suggesting some possibilities for finding more enjoyment from his EML274B in the future when I talked about using different driver tubes with it.

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