I finally made it through this thread and really appreciate the dedication and insight from the veteran tube rollers, and the great questions from relative noobs like me. I've learned a lot. Cheers for that!
I haven't had my Lyr very long, about a month. Before I received it I had the Matsu****a/Nationals from Upscale and the Super Cryo Reflector 6N23P-EV (marked OTK; maybe from 1984? not sure about that) from Cryoset in hand. I don't think I ever used the stock GEs. And just last week I got a pair of 1966 RTC (La Radiotechnique) E188CC / 7308 from a fellow Head-Fier. I don't have enough time with them all yet to do proper comparisons (more Blah Blah Blah on that later ;-), but I can say this much:
The Reflectors are pretty good for the price. They were horrible at first, mids too forward, whacked out soundstage, no low end, but that's the way of things. I burned them in when not listening, and after 50 hours they sounded fine. After 100 hours they had really stretched out and started to shine. Now at around 200 hours I really like them. They're in-your-face a bit, but I like them for rock. The low end extends a decent amount, the mids are pretty neutral, but they lack air and definition at the high end compared to better tubes. Still, they provide enough detail for me to enjoy them. From what I've read herein, they've really got that Russian sound. Bold to the point of being brash just came to mind.
This morning I rolled the RTCs. Wow. Now I see how tubes can be very different. As promised, these have a beautiful, musical, almost delicate quality to them (delicate, not fragile). To quote Brent Jessee, "low noise to the vanishing point, and a wonderful, airy top end and soundstage." Like the Reflectors, they are dead quiet to my ears. I like that :-) Where the bold, brash Reflectors can get a bit fatiguing, I feel like I could listen to the RTCs all day. I can get the Lyr up around noon on the dial, depending on the source, and they're so open and detailed and beautiful. They'll never be mistaken for bass monsters, but if the bass is there in the mix, it's nice and tight. The Reflectors can accentuate it a bit more, which is fun.
When I got them, the RTCs only had about 13 hours on them, 10 of which was pink noise. I'm hoping the low end will become just a bit more prominent over time, so I won't judge them too critically before at least 50 hours. Does anyone with these tubes know how they'll change over time? I'm thoroughly impressed with them basically out of the box.
After the RTCs, I'll give the Matsu****a's a proper run in. Kevin at Upscale did a fine job marketing them! I know I read in this thread someone who has a very similar setup to mine, right down to the tubes:
Lyr + the above mentioned tubes + HE-500. He has the Bifrost, which I should have in about a month or so, and he said he was done buying tubes. He also has the Ediswan, which is on my wish list.
A couple questions, if you don't mind.
I've been reading about DeoxIT. Seems to come highly recommended, so I'll probably get some. Do I need to get both the D100 Power Booster Metal Electric Connection Cleaner, Enhancer, and Lubricant (D-Series D100L) and the Gold G-Series - Contact Enhancer, Conditioner & Protector? The manufacturer says, "If the surface looks clean, applying DeoxIT D-Series contact cleaner first is usually not necessary. DeoxIT® Gold is designed to dissolve small amounts of oxidation." I'm just wondering what Head-Fiers tend to do.
I gather DeoxIT can/should be used on the socker saver pins, as well. If people put it on their computer DIMMS, I guess it couldn't hurt! Also, do people prefer the brush applicator, or some other version? They offer quite a few choices. Brush seems best for pins, but I'm all ears.
All righty! Thanks for indulging my first post in this thread. Y'all cracked me up quite often as I read through (yes, drugs would be cheaper! but yeah, tubes last... and last... and last ;-) I look forward to following more adventures in tube rolling, and hopefully contributing some useful or interesting tidbits. Hell, I've already got a tube hunting mission planned for next fall somewhere in Europe, if everything pans out. My wife may not understand our mad obsession, but she's fully supportive and willing to help