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post #91 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by magiccabbage View Post
 

i wanna start building next year so id better start getting used to keeping the info in my head. I presume as you build it becomes easier. The act of making hopefully will help me understand how it all works. 

 

Here's a great resource if you want to understand tubes: the Navy's free electricity and electronics training materials - http://www.phy.davidson.edu/instrumentation/NEETS.htm  They have a whole chapter devoted to teaching you the basics of vacuum tubes from the ground up: http://www.hnsa.org/doc/neets/mod06.pdf  

 

One of the defining characteristics of a vacuum tube is that current can only flow one way through the tube - from the filament/cathode to the plate/anode.  Rectifiers are thus the simplest sort of vacuum tubes.  Apply AC to heat up a filament, in a vacuum, and electrons float across the gap onto a positively charged plate, which outputs current flowing in only one direction (DC).  To be clear, no signal passes through this sort of a tube.  It is merely part of the power supply of the amp, so whatever sonic changes are perceived as between rectifiers are only the indirect results of changing the power supply circuit.

 

Signal tubes are far more interesting because you are using the same principals to amplify the voltage of the actual audio signal, which is introduced into the tube through something call the "grid."  The amplified signal is then (typically) picked up off the anode.  Rectifiers don't have a grid.  In any event, I highly recommend the neets modules if this is of interest! 

post #92 of 359
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by playitloud View Post
 

 

 

Before you all rush out to pay excessive amounts of money on a Western Electric 422a, maybe it is good to put things a bit in perspective. Although  I do not have all the rectifiers Dubstep girl has tested, I have a few of the top contenders: WE422a and GZ37 Mullard fat bottle (black base). I use them in my 300B amp (see profile). The power supply of that amp is a choke input type supply. My amp needs an indirectly headed triode, hence no GEC U52 for me.

 

Both are great rectifiers but they are quite different. The Western Electric 422a compared to the Mullard GZ37 big bottle is bass light, and less defined and dynamic in the bass. The Mullard GZ37 big bottle (BB) has incredible bass depth, dynamics and definition.

 

The WE422a excels in the midrange, where it is very natural, and smooth but also very detailed,  and transparent. You hear everything here but it still sounds natural (beautiful tone and timbre of instruments, no grain). Quite an achievement. I think that is where the WE422a really shines. The midrange of the Mullard GZ37BB ,on the other hand is warmer, sounds bigger, less quick on its feet, but still very natural and relaxed. The midrange of the WE422a is more exciting, the Mullard is more relaxed.

 

The WE422a also has beautiful highs, natural tone and very quick. You clearly hear the hi-hats hit each other. And again, no grain, no hard edge. The Mullard GZ37 BB’s treble is more rolled off, less defined,  but again still very natural and smooth, just not as prominent..

 

Last, the WE422a excels in soundstage width and depth, the Mullard is more intimate compared to the WE422a., but it still has a decent soundstage don’t you worry.

When I owned the Sennheiser HD800, I much preferred the Mullard GZ37BB to the WE422a.  The HD800 could use some extra bass, and did not need the soundstage qualities of the WE422a. In fact, when I used the WE422 the soundstage became too large,  there was not enough presence, I felt removed from the music. The Mullard GZ37 BB was for me a perfect match with the Sennheiser HD800.

 

I now use the Fostex TH-900, and things get more tricky. The jury is still out on this one. With the WE422a, the midrange is very present. It completely cures the recessed midrange issues of the Fostex, as a bonus it creates a large open and very detailed soundstage that is very addictive….However, it loses some of its main qualities and that is the bass. With the Mullard GZ37BB the bass of the Fostex TH-900 is simply incredible. Deep, dynamic and very well defined. The WE422a is not capable of doing that. The bass is not only less deep, it is also less defined and dynamic. For some reasons, the WE422a is not capable of controlling the bass of the TH-900 as much as the Mullard does.

 

Now beware I listen mostly to classical (opera & symphonic) music, with some good slides of jazz and pop/rock. And you could argue that for classical the WE422a is to be preferred, but it is not that easy. In my opinion classical music (at least symphonic and opera, but also piano) profits just as much from a well defined deep bass as other types of music, as long as it does not overwhelms the midrange….And it does not with the Fostex. Bass provides the basic rhythm of the music, mess that up and the structure is lost, also in classical music…Good bass definition is very important for complex  and dynamic (classical) music (Mahler just as much as the Stones), it gives direction and purpose. If you lose that,  the rest does not matter (to me) anymore.

 

To summarize, the WE422 excels in the midrange, but falls a bit short in the bass (IMO, and on my equipment). The Mullard GZ37 excels in the bass, and has no real shortcomings, it is just less capable in the midrange and treble than the WE422a. At this moment, I use the Mullard GZ37 BB in the 300B amplifier, and the WE422a in my Lampizator DAC….

Hope this helps a bit….

 

i mostly agree with everything you said, but i wouldn't say it falls short in the bass. it might depend on your amp as well, the GZ37 might be a better pairing with your amp than the WE422A. i find the WE422A is neutral in the bass but i never find it light or lacking definition or dynamics. The GZ37 definitely has more bass, but it also seems less accurate due to extra body and bloom. might be a preference thing but i find the WE422A to overall be the better tube, its neutral with beautiful tone and its not overly colored and seems to be just about perfect in everything else with near perfect extension in all directions.

 

the GZ37 is similar but warmer with fuller bass, more midrange, smoother treble, etc.

 

the U52 is kind of a middle ground between these 2 tubes, being like the 422A but with a sweeter more euphonic warmth to it. if you've ever heard other GEC tubes like the 6AS7G, the sound signature is basically identical.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by playitloud View Post
 

BB= Big Bottle. The High Wycombe one,...Can be both black or brown base...

 

+1

 

the Fat bottle GZ37/53KU (Cossor, High Wycombe) comes in both brown or black base.


Edited by Dubstep Girl - 12/13/13 at 2:11pm
post #93 of 359

I got a newbie tube question. Which tube (driver, power, rectifier) impacts/adds to the sound the most?

 

I think it's very interesting that there's the purist school of thought that any added component degrades/adds something not there to the sound. These people tend to stay away from tubes. Then there are those like most people here probably, myself included, who are just looking to pair up the best sound with headphones, so looking for a tube that adds the best subjective sound is the goal. However, I wonder if this is ever excessive at some point. Imagine adding a tube in cables just for adding a sound. Currently, I'm using the Bottlehead Quickie in my chain to add a tube sound. It's battery powered so it's natively DC power and does not require a rectifier. It has a pair of driver (I think?) tubes that add warmth to the overall sound. While I've heard from purists that battery powered DC is a great way to go since there's one less component in the chain required, I'm wondering if I'm missing out on having a rectifier tube to add more subjectively pleasing sounds.

post #94 of 359
Thread Starter 
Depends on the amps design
post #95 of 359

DSG, thanks for the great write-up!  I always wondered how the rectifier tubes factored into the listening, since so much attention is usually given to the rest of the amplification chain.  Clean, powerful and quick DC current is at the root of the best sounding devices, and simply cannot be overlooked.  

 

Skeptic, really enjoyed reading the links you provided.  It was like a trip down memory lane, as I started my interest in electronics by building tube radios in the 60's during grade school.  My dad started me out...  

post #96 of 359

It looks like the prices of the WE 422A are taking off.

 

In completed sales on E-Bay you could snag one for $300-$400 just a moth ago. Currently there is one is over $600 on E-Bay for an auction as well as the top-shelf stuff from Asia at $700+

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/201000578874?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

post #97 of 359

After reading this great review, I could not stop buying myself a NOS WE422a, and it has just arrived yesterday. I paid this tube for 450usd. I tried this tube with my WA22. The power tube I used is GEC6AS7G normal brown base, and driver tube is Tung-sol 6sn7 black glass round plate. I compared this tube with my all time favorite Mullard GZ34 metal base. With my HD800, I found out that the base is more defined however I still prefer GZ34 with its great sense of dynamic. Regarding to the sound stage, I think the difference between those two tubes are almost indiscernible. But I have to admit that the treble is more refined with 422A. However, when I tried this combo with LCD-3, I found out that Mullard GZ34 is obviously a better choice compared to WE422A. WE422A just makes LCD-3 slightly warmer than usual. When pairing with Mullard GZ34 metal base, the sound from LCD-3 is just incredible. 

post #98 of 359
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chengka7 View Post
 

After reading this great review, I could not stop buying myself a NOS WE422a, and it has just arrived yesterday. I paid this tube for 450usd. I tried this tube with my WA22. The power tube I used is GEC6AS7G normal brown base, and driver tube is Tung-sol 6sn7 black glass round plate. I compared this tube with my all time favorite Mullard GZ34 metal base. With my HD800, I found out that the base is more defined however I still prefer GZ34 with its great sense of dynamic. Regarding to the sound stage, I think the difference between those two tubes are almost indiscernible. But I have to admit that the treble is more refined with 422A. However, when I tried this combo with LCD-3, I found out that Mullard GZ34 is obviously a better choice compared to WE422A. WE422A just makes LCD-3 slightly warmer than usual. When pairing with Mullard GZ34 metal base, the sound from LCD-3 is just incredible. 

 

the GZ34 and 422A were my favorite tubes with WA22, i preferred the 422A for being slightly sweeter and tonally warmer, though the mullard gz is a little more dynamic. both excellent tubes though unfortunately both can be costly.

post #99 of 359

A lot of talk on vintage tubes or tubes from the 1960s. Are these still being produced today, or is there a limited supply in the world?

post #100 of 359
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 

A lot of talk on vintage tubes or tubes from the 1960s. Are these still being produced today, or is there a limited supply in the world?

 

not being made anymore. becoming rarer and rarer by the day

post #101 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

A lot of talk on vintage tubes or tubes from the 1960s. Are these still being produced today, or is there a limited supply in the world?

The following Vacuum tube FAQ is useful for beginners.
http://www.vacuumtubes.net/faq.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

I got a newbie tube question. Which tube (driver, power, rectifier) impacts/adds to the sound the most?
.......
I'm wondering if I'm missing out on having a rectifier tube to add more subjectively pleasing sounds.

From my experience, all 3 have an effect.
If you are on a tight budget, than it is suggested to change tubes in the following order
1. Preamp tubes ( also advocated by Kevin Deal )
2. Rectifiers
3. Output tubes
Items 1 and 2 have the greatest impact.

Again, based on tube design articles I have read, this depends on the power output of your tube amp.
Most low power SET tube amps sound better with tube rectifiers.
When a certain power threshold is reached, solid state rectifiers do a better job due to speed. This in turn has an impact on audio PRAT.
http://www.tnt-audio.com/edcorner/prat_e.html
post #102 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 

A lot of talk on vintage tubes or tubes from the 1960s. Are these still being produced today, or is there a limited supply in the world?

 

NOS tubes are not RoHS Compliant. Market demand will dictate at what trajectory prices are launched toward the moon. :normal_smile :

post #103 of 359
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent One View Post
 

 

NOS tubes are not RoHS Compliant. Market demand will dictate at what trajectory prices are launched toward the moon. :normal_smile :


While everyone else goes pursuing rare, pricey vintage tubes, I for one am waiting for the future: http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/27/nano-vacuum-tubes-could-give-a-second-life-to-the-guitarists-be/

 

:D

post #104 of 359

Go NASA...

post #105 of 359

A while ago, like back in the turn of century, I had me a ha-2 headphone amp. I didnt think it was so great. So I tried a bunch of cans that were available then, finally settling on a dt 990 which is what I was listening to up until a few months ago, now I have a T-1 and I really think it is the refined 990. Bring out the mids, tighten up the bass, thats about it. Any who, I was set to sell every thing the HA-2 and get back into speakers as heaphones just werent cutting it.  I had tried all sorts of different output tubes, I think I picked up my WE 421 for like $50 or $75 bucks and wasnt overly impressed. I think I actually liked the 7236 better but still not enough to keep it (but that might have been when I had my ms-pros). As a last ditch effort I bought a different rectifier just to see if it made any difference as Pete Millet actually didnt say it would make a big difference. I plugged in the GE or RCA $15 rectifier and if I had not already posted the HA-2 I would have not put it for sale. Everything cleared and tightened up. Made me satisfied for probably the very first time in my headphone quest.

 

The engineer was wrong. Crazy stuff. Now I dont know if the rectifier was actually a mullard or chinese fake, but they make a difference. So thanks for the reviews Dubstep Girl. 

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