1944 NOS Raytheons in the house! These things are impressing so far. When I get a little more quiet time, I'll A/B 'em against the Mullards and Telefunkens.
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ALO Pan Am desktop/portable headphone amp/DAC: Impressions and Reviews - Page 63
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Yesterday I received 2 sets of Raytheon tubes:
1. 1967-1970 JAN-5654, Black Plate, Top O (these have Red/Orange silk-screened markings (eBay $36.95 with shipping).
2. 1944 Military Spec JRP 6AK5; Side Getter and Oval Plates; gray/white markings (eBay $73.50 with shipping).
I gave these a quick listen on the LCD-X and also listened to my Telefunkens for a comparison/reference. Both sets of Raytheons were right out of the box NOS - no burn-in.
I did not care much for the 1967-1970's. They sounded mid-centric and were light on bass, but the biggest problem I had with them was the congested rendition and limited sound stage (very left-right and shallow). In full orchestral passages, there was no air and instruments muddled together and became indistinct. They sounded better with string quartets and vocals, but nothing special. Perhaps with adequate burn-in, their midtone emphasis might be nice for vocals or small jazz ensembles, but considering all of the other good tube choices out there, I'm not optimistic that these will ever make the A team.
Different story for the 1944's. These sounded very nice indeed, even right out of the box. I would say that they were almost comparable to the Telefunkens, and with some burn-in, I believe they may equal them. The soundstage was medium-deep with plenty of air. All frequencies were well rendered. My only nit-pick is that there was a slight edginess to the sound - not sibilant, but a tiny bit harsh. The Telefunkens, by comparison, were smooth as silk at all frequencies. I believe though that the Raytheons will smooth out as they burn-in and turn these into a superb set of tubes.
Got some Mullards recently. Good stuff. Need to listen more but initital impressions more solid state and less tubey magic midrange sounding than my RTC tubes, Mullard soundstage is niiiiice. Pairing with HE-500 probably better than with the RTC tubes. But LCD-2 and XC are my main headphones for Pan Am and currently Mullards vs RTC is a matter of sound preference. Life is good =)
Telefunken vs. Raytheon:
- Raytheon has a slightly leaner midrange. Sounds cleaner so with complex or thinly-textured music, this is good, but with thickly-textured stuff, the Tele is more fun
- The Tele has better treble texture/air. Hi hats on the Raytheon are a little less articulate.
- Bass is very very close. The edge might go to the Raytheon in quantity (by a hair). Neither is bloated or understated. Very nice on both kick drums and uprights.
Just for clarification, the Raytheons are NOS JRP 6AK5 and the Teles are NOS 6AK5Ws
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