It's nice to see so many people finally taking a leap of faith and building their own double triode adapters! Trust me, it's the best decision you'll have ever made for your LD!
Of course now you need good tubes for your sparkly or less sparkly adapters. While I can give ideas and review tubes, I can't make pretty adapters like all those cool kids here lol. But, I can help choose premium 6DJ8 (and empty your wallets)!
So, after spending ~30h with my Pinched Waist Amperex Holland 6922 (7L3 batch), I tested the Amperex Holland non-PW D-getter 6922 from the 7L4 batch.
Basically another tremendously good tube, honestly. Transparent and ultra-detailed as hell, with a sense of immediacy and PrAT that's possibly the second best I've heard in the 6DJ8 family. Highs and lows are well extended, with shimmering treble and tactile bass. Soundstage and sense of 3D are excellent with pinpoint accuracy and instrument placement; truly one of the best tubes I've heard to date. Listening to this tube with virgin ears (as in not right after listening to another tube for an hour), I almost started to think it was better than the PW 6922, and in some ways or for some people it very well may be. For the first three songs, the illusion was almost perfect, but after 15 minutes I started to have a doubt.
So of course, after letting the amp cool down, I threw the PW back in and let it warm up again. It didn't take me long to figure out what had been bothering me. In one word: the music. Let me explain.
I'd mentioned the last time around that the PW almost made it seem like you were in the music and not just listening to it - and also mentioned that it was often destabilizing and difficult to get used to depending on the track (hard to get "into"). Well, that may be the non-PW 6922 7L4's only fault: to be the best tube to reproduce music but not to be in it. I know this sounds silly, but let me explain what I mean a bit more.
The second you play a track with the PW, you don't even need to close your eyes to feel that you're in a enclosed space with realistic reflections (a sense of true "wetness" to the sound) and liquid tame instrument and voices playing. There's no real 3D or holographic effect anymore, just a studio in front of or in between your eyes, like you're in a smoky club after five drinks or in a studio after working 20 hours without a break, just staring at the musicians in a daze and letting the music "sink in" because you're too tired to tap your feet and really listen at this point. Well that's what the PW are like, and it can make you feel uncomfortable when you're expecting a punchy and forward headphone music session.
The sound just doesn't sound immediate, forward or infinite. It sounds like the exact opposite, it's like a dreamy vague yet ultra-precise room with a sense of absolute boundary that's there but hard to pinpoint. The dream vs music analogy is actually as accurate as I can be in describing the difference between both tubes. the non-PW 7L4 is the best for rendering music, punchy and immediate, but it's still just reproducing a signal; while the PW 7L3 shows you a vivid dream of that very same signal with finer details like your brain is filling in the gaps in the story (think about how realistic some dreams are, despite being pure brain fiction of stuff you may have never seen or heard), and as we all know how some dreams can leave a very very strong impression for days at a time and others forgotten right away. So for some tracks the PW almost sounds too much like a waking dream and not immediate enough, making you want to switch back to a tube that just reproduces the music and does it well, but at the same time once you've seen the dream, it's hard to go back to reality lol...
I guess if you were to twist my words just a little, you could sum up all this crap I wrote and describe the PW as a wet dream, and the non-PW as a cool concert. Both might leave a strong impression on you, but in a dramatically different way lol...
Last thing, the Holland D-getter 6922/E88CC I just tested actually reminds me quite a bit of the US 6922 (early ones, 1962 and before): punchy, dynamic and extended, but the Holland D-getter version is more detailed and realistic. Oh, and both the 7L3 PW and 7L4 non-PW tubes are basically perfectly quiet; not mute like the E188CC but totally silent.
Edit: Speaking of my Tour de France of premium 6DJ8, I'm still waiting for my single US Amperex VR0 D-getter 7308 (about as rare as the PW 6922, if not rarer) which is still stuck somewhere between the US and Europe after a forced - and slightly ironic - layover in Israel on Xmas eve lol... Hopefully, it isn't really lost... I'm looking forward to this tube since it would be a good chance to compare some of the absolute oldest an most premium US 6DJ8 to the European ones. Anyway, we shall see...
Edited by Audiofanboy - 1/5/14 at 8:22am