I was a bit hesitant at the upgrade given the cost of a used tube(!) I have borrowed some expensive EML 2a3's to try in the stratus which is currently running Sophia Princess tubes - I didn't like the EML's at all so for me, more expensive does not always equal better sq . But I also figure that if I didn't like the GEC in my setup I can sell it for around what it's worth and try something else..
I have just done a quick comparison of the GEC vs. the RCA black base tube. I have only had the GEC playing for an hour so it may still have some improving to do but I decided to do a quick swap to see if I could notice any changes in sq.
DSG - I think your impressions are on the money. I can hear what you mean about a higher quality tube providing better layering to the sound. The mid range is a lot more open / transparent and makes the RCA sound a bit congested and the soundstage a bit more closed in.
Compared to the stock 5U4g (shuguang?) that shipped with the stratus the RCA is a big upgrade. The GEC is the same level of upgrade over the RCA again.
Thanks again for your comparisons, made this an easy upgrade :)
Stratus owner here. I was about to purchase the EML 5U4G as you predicted (to go with 2a3 mesh plates and LCD3 phones). Then I saw your comparison in the nick of time…literally. I emailed Donald North about WE422A and he said it would work but would require re-wiring one of the pins. Instead I found a Marconi U52 at Tejas Tubes.
I listened on and off all weekend and couldn't get enough. In the first minute of listening the sound was so smooth and full I thought it was smearing the detail. Then I realized I was actually hearing more detail and more of everything. All the good stuff tubes do but not overblown. I had no idea a rectifier tube could make such a difference. Expensive but, to my ears, a lot of musical bang for the buck. And quite a nice match to the Stratus.
thanks for the impressions guys! I am definitely keeping the U52 for when I decide to go for the Stratus. As far as 5U4G, if the DNA amp doesn't support 422A (or even if it did, its endgame as far as rectifiers go). Im sure with a super transparent amp like the Stratus, the U52 will definitely be able to show itself!