Here is the mini review of the various top 6922 type tubes compatible for the Lyr. I only had single tubes of the of some of the really expensive ones so I used my tubed DAC - the Xindak DAC5 feeding into the Lyr (I'll list my exact system at the end, along with the tracks I used). I thought of going song by song and explaining the different tubes, but that would be way to long. I did switch the tubes on each track, sometimes returning to the HG multiple times - so each track was repeated 7 or 8 times. This way I could hear the tubes back to back on the same music - I took notes as I was listening.
The tubes (and abbreviations):
1975 Reflektor Single Wire Getter Post Silver Shields 6n23p I refer to as 'Holy Grails' - HG
1974 Reflektor Single Wire Getter Post Silver Shields 6n23p - 74
1966 Telefunken E88CC Gold Pins - Tele
1959 Amperex 6922 Pinched Waist D getter - PW
1959 Amperex Bugle Boy D Getter - BB
1960's Amperex Orange Shield PQ - PQ
So here was my ranking with comments:
#1 - 1975 Refektor SWGP Silver 'Holy Grail' 6n23p
This tube had the greatest level of detail and the most holographic presentation. The tube has such amazingly rich tone, but at the same time sounding natural (not the euphonically rich tone of the PW which was way over ripe at times). The bass was the very deep yet well defined. Treble extension was excellent, never etchy or harsh. Speaking of musicality on some of the difficult tracks like Florence and the Machine 'Dog Days Are Here', Welch's voice can be pitchy - never on this tube. But what really makes the HG stand apart is the massive soundstage - filled with a whole layer more detail. The singers and instruments projected into this cavernous space as 3D holographic images. Very realistic. I believe it's the greater ambient detail, the little side and back reflections that trick the ear/mind into recreating this amazing imaging. The HGs also have the greatest 'flow factor' just mezmorizing, the 74 has this as well, just in a slightly lesser amount. The other top characteristic is the HG's amazing dynamics, very exciting! The Tele is very good here as well...speaking of...
#2 - Tie Telefunken E88CC Gold Pin and the '74 Reflektor SWGP Silver 6n23p
I love the Tele, this version in particular. It's wonderful rich tone was a big surprise, as the other Teles I've heard were a bit dry. This tube has excellent detail and dynamics. It has to one of the best 6922s I've ever heard. The bass was deep and well defined - although the HG was deeper - the two tubes share a very similar tonal balance and sound. I often had to switch back and forth between each of the 6n23ps and the Tele as they were very similar. The Amperexs have a darker nature- the PW extremely dark. The differences between the Tele and the HG? On switching back and forth it became very apparent the HG had a much bigger soundstage - in comparison the Tele seemed a little closed in. The HG had more detail and a greater 'flow' factor. That said, the Tele was just a joy to listen to, without comparison to the HGs I could easily live with this tube forever
Next up in Part 2:
#2 Tie The '74 SWGP Reflektor Silver Shield 6n23p.