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Headamp Blue Hawaii Special Edition

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by audiosceptic, Aug 13, 2009.
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  1. bmichels
    It's been quite some time tube roling has not been discussed. Has someone recently made a tube "upgrade" that provided a real substantial sound improvement over the stock tubes ?

    I personaly upgraded to a set of PSVANE replica EL34, but the improvement over the stock tubes was realy subtil... to say the least.

    To answer the previous question, I got mine in 2016 and still enjoy it. It may be the ONLY piece of gear that I do not wish to upgrade/change. Only change will be when (IF) justin comes with a better Amplifier (the rumored "all tube" amplifier, in the making since many years)

    PSVANE Replica EL34.jpeg PSVANE.jpeg
  2. Rushton
    This aligns with what Justin has told me: in the BHSE circuit, differences in tubes are audible but they are subtle, not dramatic. But, this is what most tube equipment designers tend to say. As we know, the real story lies in what we hear and how much we value the change observed.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the PSVANE tubes. Can you describe the subtle differences you DO hear?
  3. Phil95
    Sorry to disagree with some HeadFiers, but changing the original (Russian) Mullard for Philips Miniwatt metalbase EL34s (vintage 1955) brought a HUGE improvement to the sound quality. I can't precisely define the nature of the improvement: everything was clearly better.
  4. Rushton
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Philips Miniwatt tubes! Can they even be found any more? So many of the vintage tubes are just no longer available, at least not at any near-to-earth prices.
  5. tumpux
    Not at any near to earth prices
    With no guarantees that they will run until the end of the week

    But hey, their bragging right is off the chart..
  6. VandyMan
    I've had good results with matched "EL34 STR 450 Siemens NOS" tubes that I got from Mesa Boogie. It was fairly subtle, but they did seem to improve clarity and gave an overall more tube-like sound signature (in the best sense). For me, they were worth the cost. Plus they are inexpensive by NOS standards.
    Rushton likes this.
  7. Ali-Pacha
    Mesa STR-447 here ( thanks @TheAttorney ). Not as refined as Shuguang Treasures (my stock ones), but way punchier and meatier. And cheap.

  8. bmichels
    I have an opportunity to get a quad NOS Mullard xf2 EL34’s for my BHSE.

    --> Do you think it will sonicaly be a reay step-up from my curent PSVANE replica EL34 ? Or the stock mullar shipped with the BHSE ?

    --> What is a "reasonable" price for such set of a quad NOS Mullard xf2 EL34’s ? are there several types of NOS Mullard xf2 EL34 ?

    thanks in advance
  9. statfi
    I bought a quad of NOS Mullard XF2s for $800. They were noticeably better than the stock tubes. However I got NOS-6CA7-PH-MB Philips Miniwatt EL34 / 6CA7 Metal Base (4) and prefer them. I have traded the XF2s for other stuff I wanted.
  10. TheAttorney
    Thank you for waking me up :) - it's reminded me that I still have a matched quad of vintage Philips Metal Bases, and a matched quad of Treasures available for sale.
    As I've done little to market them since I downsized 2 or 3 years ago, I'll sell these at very reasonable prices - just PM me if anyone is interested.

    From memory, you prefer a warmer presentation, and found the Metal Bases too bright for your system/tastes, in which case the xf2's could fit the bill.
    I found the xf2's to be a significant upgrade over the 1st series PSVANE replicas, which themselves were an improvement over stock.

    There is only one vintage xf2 model that was manufactured in Blackburn, England, but there were several OEM brands (different companies that stuck their own logo on exactly the same product).
    These days, it's most likely that a matched quad will not all have the same logo, but that's fine as long as the performance is good and matched.
    These days, it's also hard to find NOS versions of the most acclaimed models, which is why I prefer to use the term "vintage". Because such vintage tubes were so well made, they may still outlast any modern tube, but of course the risk is there that any tube may blow sooner than you'd like. The only tubes I ever had a problem with were the 1st series PSVANE replica models - hopely the new versions will be more reliable.

    Personally, I felt the Metal Bases were at least as big a step above the xf2 as the xf2's were above the PSAVANE's, but the softer/warmer/beguiling presentation of the xf2's may well be just right for those needing that kind of sound to balance their system. BTW, the descriptions of soft/warm/etc are not night-and-day differences between any tube - it's more subtle than that in brief comparisons, but I felt it still mattered in the long run.

    Edit: Ok, so there may have been two models of xf2: single and double halo - the latter had the higher reputation, but not everyone agreed (surprise!) and either will be fine.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
    Rushton likes this.
  11. Bones13 Contributor
    I use a quad of Siemens EL 34 tubes from Ram Labs, after a recommendation at Axpona a couple of years back, from Dan (@mrspeakers). I also ordered Voce headphones after that listen. The tubes were a mild improvement over the Black Treasures, and current Winged-C EL34s, but all differences in the arena are pretty small.
    Rushton likes this.
  12. bmichels
    Serious upgrades today:

    New Unbrilical cable from Justin (the thiner one), New Stax SR009S (but I keept my old SR009 for dual listening with my wife). Only waiting now for the Quad balanced set of NOS Mullard xf2 EL34 to have my BHSE pushed to the limits .

    To my surprise the New Unbrilical cablenles seems to have a positive impact ! more dynamic and clearer sound.... unless it is (again) the famous new-toy syndrome... :dt880smile:

    Or... the reason may be that the bare copper wire in my (quite old) original cable were oxidated. This is why the new cable uses now silver plated wire instead that will never oxidize.

    BHSE unbrilical cable.jpeg BHSE unbrilical cable detail.jpeg

    IMG_2924.jpeg IMG_2923.jpeg
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    Rushton and sonics like this.
  13. Bonesy Jonesy
    I have a Quad matched set of Philips MiniWatts XF2's double halo's currently in the for sale forum.
  14. Bonesy Jonesy
  15. astrostar59
    Hi bmichels

    Nice rig there. I spotted an 813? Is it an RCA 1943?
    I have those in my amp. Also some nice Mullard 813 made by Philips in France about same vintage.

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
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