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Why hasn't the enthusiast community started making high quality tubes yet?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Given that so many of us are fans of tube amps (I don't have one yet, but will someday), why hasn't the same enthusiast community started making tubes that rival the best NOS tubes? If we can bring back planar magnetic headphones, why can't we make modern tubes that rival or exceed the old titans?
post #2 of 14
Now that pricing is getting up to $100 or more on many of the hard to find tubes, you would think that some entrepreneur would create the next "audiophile" butt warmer that they could sell for big bucks. $75 light bulbs have got to be proffitable.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landmantx View Post

Now that pricing is getting up to $100 or more on many of the hard to find tubes, you would think that some entrepreneur would create the next "audiophile" butt warmer that they could sell for big bucks. $75 light bulbs have got to be proffitable.

That's what I was thinking.  I wonder if amp makers themselves would have the technical skill to do it - although making good industrial glass could be a limitation.

post #4 of 14

I suspect much Western tube manufacturing know how was lost with closed manufacturing lines, layoffs, by now substantial die offs of the people - just shipping crated equipment, drawings to Russia, China didn't transfer the ability to make a perfect 1960's vintage audio power tubes

 

I would guess much of the "magic" would be in materials that may never have been thoroughly documented, formulas that may have evolved with long term relationships with suppliers

 

 the major problems today would be the detailed materials specs - ability to source them if you could spec them - and likely still not knowing all of the possibly critical processing steps lost from 50 years ago

 

 

there are still a few transmitting and other high power, high V tubes being made - 500 W beam tetrode in ceramic/metal finned case anyone?

 

 

but that's with a few real industrial applications - just how big do you think any audiophile tube amp manufacturer is?

 

musical instrument amp makers seem happy with imported supply


Edited by jcx - 3/15/13 at 1:04pm
post #5 of 14

Wild guess it boils down to the $ return on the $ investment... IE market demand doesn't exceed the $ required for R/D and tooling up the assembly process.

post #6 of 14
Let's not forget government regulations. I am sure it would be far easier to manufacture them in some part of the world that actually endorses entrepreneurism and manufacturing. Someplace like the Peoples republic of China :-). Ok no more political discourse, I don't want to get banned :-)

Still, I am sure with today's technologies and robotics, a more consistent and better sounding product could be reverse engineered and produced at a higher level than anything in the past.

Maybe the biggest reason we don't see it is as stated above. Most people would prefer cheap and easy. That is why Best Buy is filled with mass produced Sony, Yamaha and Denon SS amps and not one nice tube amp on the shelves for people to experience. I was actually surprised to see a Samsung all in one unit that has a built in tube amp at Best Buy recently. Actually sounded pretty good, but most won't spend $600 for it.
Edited by Landmantx - 3/15/13 at 1:47pm
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
I heard about the tube amp sound bar!

I wonder if the Maker Movement might find interest in reverse engineering or innovating new tubes.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Also, tube amp makers comply with American regulations. Are tube regulations much sterner?
post #9 of 14
We pretty much have to look at some boutique stores from Japan, China and Russia who have tried to clone the WE tubes. All very expensive. :/

You raise a really good question. As stated, the demand for tubes is very low and no one would make any serious money out of it.
post #10 of 14

Read this article.

 

http://www.grantfidelity.com/site/tubebasics

 

At the end:

 

Vacuum tube manufacturers: Most current mass-production vacuum tubes are made by former and current socialist countries such as China and Russia. China accounts the world's 30-40% vacuum tube production in today's market and many of their tubes are sold under western OEM brands with the origin undisclosed. Most developed countries stopped making vacuum tubes in the 1970's and today even if they want to resume production for the lucrative profit in hi-fi tubes, the production equipment cannot be restored anymore. China has never stopped making vacuum tubes in the past 50 years since the country was closed to outside world until late 1970s and early 1980s. There are two vacuum tube manufacturers in China - Shuguang (meaning 'dawn' in English) and TJ Full Music. Shuguang is one of the oldest tube manufacturer in China with over 50 years of history and it is about 10 times the size of TJ Full Music. TJ Full Music has been in business for over 15 years and is privately owned.

post #11 of 14

A hand made triode. Video is at the bottom of the page.

 

http://paillard.claude.free.fr/
 

post #12 of 14

There are excellent modern tube makers out there but you just have to experiment on which brands work well for your rig. Don't rely on reviews. I do believe you can get a great modern tube. While I do use modern tubes, most tubes I use are the old ones from the 40s, 50s and 60s. The reason is that they are cool and very easy to find.

post #13 of 14

I agree, modern tubes made in China and Russia are very good. Just don't try the vintage western tubes.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tyre View Post

A hand made triode. Video is at the bottom of the page.

 

http://paillard.claude.free.fr/
 

 

Absolutely fascinating.

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