Completed a tube faceoff last night. I was able to pickup a matched pr of the Amperex USN-CEPs a while ago on Audigon (sojs was the seller). So did a faceoff between the USN-CEPs and the best of my Voskhod collection. Using the Lyr and my HD800s with the Moon Black Dragon V2 cable, and my Magnepan 1.6qr and hybrid amp system.
Well here was the results after 3 days of tube rolling:
First Place - Voskhod 6n23p 1975 silver shield wire getter post. Supremely musical, incredible layers of detail. But the winning factor, the ability to just capture the emotion of the music and sweep you away. Just an incredible flow to the proceedings - layers and layers of detail - never muddled or congested. Soundstage deep and wide, on the Maggies just breathtaking holographic. Albums went by last night as I just became absorbed into the sound. Whether on the lyr/hd800 system or the Maggies just incredible.
Second place tie: Voskhod 6n23p 1975 gray shield, plate getter post. Well I was initially expecting these to take the prize, but they 'only' tied for second place. The margin between these and above was small and came down to that flow equation. Very sweet sounding tube, silky textures, great detail. Deep layers of sound, all clearly distinct and just as silky smooth as the main sound. On David Gray's White Ladder album - 'Please Forgive Me' has the gravely voiced Gray singing, backed ever so subtly by these violins. These could be followed easily, but most important were just silky smooth, a great contrast to Gray's close miked voice. The later bass drops had slam and deep extension. The opening drum taps realistic, the bells just hanging in space - with reverberations prolonging into the deep black background. The cymbal taps clear, again hanging in holographic space. Gray's voice has this capturing spacey quality. All excellently portrayed. Again these only lacked that last bit of flow and just a bit less depth of detail from the above.
Second place tie. Amperex USN-CEP white label 1965 USA. I really love this tube, unlike other Amperexs l have tried these have greater detail, and aren't so euphonic. A true match for the best Voskhods, wonderful flow, large sound stage, sweetly musical. Just a touch more layed back then the above Voskhod Rockets. Backgroud textures were clear and silky smooth. On Florence and The Machine 'Dog Days Are Over' no etch on Welch's voice which can be heard on some tubes. I use this track to test for this and in the middle section - for congestion - as it gets very loud and busy. Not with the USNs, everything cleanly seperated, easy to follow, no strain at all. The main difference between these and above Voskhods, especially the 1st place winner, a slightly more layed back presentation and a touch darker. Some may prefer this depending on their source. Mine was a tubed DAC - APL NWO, for those with a solid state dac this slightly darker nature may be prefered.
Third place: Voskhod 6n23p 1975 gray shield wire getter post. These were the darkest of the group, and lacking a slight amount of detail. On Gray's track, I had to work a bit to follow those background violins. They were there, but just didn't have the clearness of the above. Their silky texture masked a bit. A little congested and a bit of etch on Dog Days as well. Solid bass slam and depth.
Well I used other favorite tracks in these tube rolling sessions which I won't go into detail. Needless to say the top three rocked as well on Zepplin, Brand New, Springsteen and others. Excellent on some of the Jazz and Classical stuff as well.
Edited by rb2013 - 11/21/13 at 5:38pm