Siemens grey shield CCa tube... another experience worthy of the price.
I got a pair for $300 USD, and I would definitely recommend them at that price. They blow everything else out of the water, except the Philips Holland 6922 pinched waist tubes. The PW tubes are pure euphonics, tonality and very, very linear. I am preferring the Siemens CCa for a LOT of my music, however. This tube is unlike anything else I've ever heard.
Thoughts on the Siemens grey shield CCa...
- This is without a doubt a high fidelity presentation. It is extremely musical sounding, yet it's a German tube... if you've auditioned other Siemens tubes and found them to be dry, or overly v-shaped in their presentation, this takes the V and fills in the middle. The presentation of this tube will literally send chills through your spine... it is extremely unique in that the soundstage depth/width/imaging/spatial cueing is incredibly full. Top to bottom, side to side, sonic layering from front to back... the presentation is absolutely involving and engulfing.
- Mids are much different than the Philips tubes though. They are more tilted towards the upper midrange, (which is a very nice place to tilt them). They remind me of the liquid midrange I hear with old school Mullard tubes... you get the tweed of the guitar, and more of the high-end distortion coming through. The body is not as full or "holographic" sounding as the Amperex house sound (Orange globes, Miniwatts, etc), but it is full of detail... rich, high-mid detail. This tube creates its own holography from top to bottom... but it's not mid-focused like the Amperex tubes.
- Bass is full as well. I have always found the E88CC tubes to sound a bit more bass heavy than their E188CC counterparts, which to me come across for the most part as a tad more refined/elegant. I am not a bass head, but have no major problem with the bass presentation of the CCa. It's plentiful, fulfilling, but for me, a bit exaggerated. This is part of my minor qualm with this tube... the exaggerated bass and tilted mids create a less linear presentation than the E188CC tubes. HOWEVER, for this tube, the bass is definitely part of the experience... the depth of the soundstage is only possible because of the power down below, and up top.
- Speaking of the high end, it has a lot of energy, and it translates very well with HD-650's. I also believe the top-end presentation absolutely contributes to the detail this tube presents... nuances in tonal decay are present throughout every song. I've found personally that picking up on these nuances is only possible with a very select few tubes, and I've never heard them presented so very perfectly as this tube does. Spatial details I never thought possible are in our music, and I fully believe this tube allows you to hear them unlike any other 6DJ8 tube.
I will also say this, for people who may have rolled different power tubes in their amps... It has the upper midrange magic of the GEC 6080 tubes (which I believe creates amazing soundstage height), plus the width and smoothness of the Tung Sol 7236 tube (but without feeling like instruments are too separated). The marriage of these qualities makes it what I believe is a once in a lifetime sonic presentation.
I've heard other CCa's that are nowhere near knocking my socks off the way this tube has. I especially enjoy it for rock music... I know I said this about the PW tubes, and I will say it also about this tube; it changes my music in a way that reminds me of vinyl. The music sounds organic, very raw, and surrounding. High fidelity.
Other minor quibbles are:
-Attack is not as fast as Orange Globes... I find the OG's to sound very precise in their presentation, even if their tone is more rounded off. The tone of the CCa tube is more satisfying at times though, and the decay is superb. They just seem to not have the same initial definition of each note, yet once the notes are there, they linger beautifully.
-I also find the CCa's to be fatiguing over long sessions. I attribute this to their midrange tilt, and I find it very interesting... I don't really get fatigue from any other tubes with my HD-650's. I am very sensitive to bright headphones, and I guess these tubes just happen to put a bit too much energy into the treble for extended listening sessions. I do find that taking a 5 minute break every once in a while helps. It's not the very top end of the treble either, like I said, it's in the upper mids.
-Linearity and elegance is not there... I don't want to say they sound muddled up, because that sounds harsh, but they don't have Telefunken-like laser precision, and it's audible. It's not a distraction to me, because their presentation is just so emotionally involving, yet it makes me want to go back to E188CC tubes every once in a while. I like refinement, but I really, really love the Siemens grey shield CCa's.