Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8 and Tfk ECC801s in the EMP
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Tomcat

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Inspired by 88Sound, I got some NOS tubes for my Earmax Pro from Heinz Posingis. Great tip!

I have tried a “Telefunken ECC801s” (=12AT7) as a replacement for the EMP’s input tube. For the output stage, I got a pair of “Telefunken ECC88” (=6DJ8s) and a pair of “Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8/ECC88 Made in Holland”. The Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8 is in fact a re-branded Amperex from the late sixties, with the same design features as the “Amperex 6DJ8/ECC88, Made in Holland (with orange globe logo)”. One could say, however, that all Amperex Made in Holland tubes are in fact re-branded Philips Miniwatt, since Philips had bought the Amperex brand (and their US factory) after WWII.

The EMP’s original 12AT7 is a tube without brand markings and – as pretty much everyone agrees – a limiting factor of the EMP’s performance. I guess experienced tube rollers could identify the brand by the tube’s design but I never did. For quite some time, I have been using a “Philips ECG JAN 12AT7WC” as the input tube which noticeably improved the amp’s dynamics and its bass extension and punch. Now, I rolled in the Telefunken ECC801s first.

WOW. Quite a few tube connoisseurs claim that the Telefunken ECC801s is the very best in the entire 12AT7 family. My experience is very limited but I guess they could be right. The 801s greatly improved the amp’s clarity, transparency and resolution. The 801s is extremely lively and fast, but tonally rich and warm at the same time. The midrange is gorgeously balanced and transparent, the treble seems more extended yet a lot sweeter and smoother, and bass seems more extended and tighter as well. The soundstage is a lot wider and deeper, and generally, instruments sound more focused, 3D and real. All this doesn’t come at the price of reduced cohesion or musicality, quite the opposite. The ECC801s is extremely transparent and neutral but very inviting, captivating and enjoyable at the same time. It seems to posses excellent timing. It gets your feet tapping and your heart pounding just by getting out of the way. It’s great.

I couldn’t say the same thing about the pair of Telefunken ECC88. Many people seem to love this tube for its warmth, its liquidity and its laid-back presentation. And while it is an improvement over the EMP’s stock “Philips ECG JAN 6922” which is somewhat harsh, cold and technical, it’s not a big one. They have simply different flaws. The Telefunken ECC88 sounds rather incoherent, out of phase and disjointed. Its PRAT factor seems non-existent, it is just a bit tired and subdued. It lacks extension at the frequency extremes, has very little slam and slightly harsh treble. Timbres are all a little wrong, and the instruments just aren’t playing together, harmonic and rhythmic structures are off. This is most noticeable in orchestral music. With the Telefunken ECC88, it just left me cold. And there seems to be quite a bit less output power and dynamic headroom than with the stock Philips ECG JAN 6922 or the Philips Miniwatt ECC88. And this is true for the 48 Ohm AT W100 as well as for the 250 Ohm Beyer 770 Pro. My pair of Telefunken ECC88 glows very bright, as bright as the ECC801s in the centre, and that’s a lot brighter than my Philips ECG or the Miniwatt. I have no idea whether this is of any importance, though. The Telefunken ECC88’s tonal balance is a bit on the warm side of neutral – a trait I wouldn’t mind - but the ECC88 seems to embody what people don’t like about tubes when they use the term “tubey”, it’s sluggish. After reading 88Sound’s experiences, I had high hopes for the Telefunken ECC88, and it could be that I got a misbehaving pair but they just didn’t do it for me.

The 6DJ8s I finally chose were the “Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8/ECC88 Made in Holland”. They seem to have what many describe as typical Amperex strong points: a lively and dynamic midrange and liquid, captivating musicality. Their treble is the most extended, smoothest and sweetest, their bass is the deepest and tightest and their soundstage is the most believable of all the 6DJ8 family tubes I have tried. They offer greater transparency, cohesion and clarity than the Telefunken ECC88 or the Philips ECG 6922. The Philips Miniwatt manages to convey a vast range of different emotions. It has just as much micro-dynamic accuracy as macro-dynamic power. Violin solos are portrayed with great delicacy, subtlety and resolution, but listen to orchestral music, and it conveys very impressive weight, richness and force. It’s a very transparent, lively and musical tube with a gorgeously liquid midrange.

So, that’s what I ended up with in my EMP: one Telefunken ECC801s, two Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8/ECC88.
 
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88Sound

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Quote:

The EMP’s original 12AT7 is a tube without brand markings


The original input tube on my EMP was marked Ei, which I believe is a Yugoslavian tube. The 6DJ8's had no markings at all and I have no idea what they are.

Quote:

WOW. Quite a few tube connoisseurs claim that the Telefunken ECC801s is the very best in the entire 12AT7 family. My experience is very limited but I guess they could be right. The 801s greatly improved the amp’s clarity, transparency and resolution. The 801s is extremely lively and fast, but tonally rich and warm at the same time. The midrange is gorgeously balanced and transparent, the treble seems more extended yet a lot sweeter and smoother, and bass seems more extended and tighter as well. The soundstage is a lot wider and deeper, and generally, instruments sound more focused, 3D and real. All this doesn’t come at the price of reduced cohesion or musicality, quite the opposite. The ECC801s is extremely transparent and neutral but very inviting, captivating and enjoyable at the same time. It seems to posses excellent timing. It gets your feet tapping and your heart pounding just by getting out of the way. It’s great.


This is one of my problems. I was not scientific at all about tube rolling. I took all the stock tubes out and rolled in Telefunken ECC81 (not 801) for the input tube and 2 Telefunken ECC88's for the output tubes and while reading your praise of the ECC801 was thinking that this is exactly what I experienced with all three NOS Telefunkens.

Quote:

I couldn’t say the same thing about the pair of Telefunken ECC88. Many people seem to love this tube for its warmth, its liquidity and its laid-back presentation.


This is not something I experienced at all with my ECC88/ECC81 combination. I had read on Heinz Posingis Web Site that the ECC88 is a warm tube but this has not been my experience with the current set I'm using. When I rolled these tubes everything just opened up, both frequency extremes, soundstage left to right, front to back. The most shocking thing however was the instruments & vocals took on a palpability that made it seem like they were outside the phones and in the room, especially the ones that were panned hard left or right. Vocals and harmonies that were centered all on top of each other on the recording are now all very discernable as separate entities. And the Tambre of all the instruments, especially vocals, strings, & drums are all better. These tubes are also much faster and tighter than stock.

Because of the experience with my first set I have now ordered tubes that will give me 3 additional sets of this tube complement so I can only hope.........that the ECC88's you have are not only different than the ones I have, but also that the additional ECC88's I have coming are the same as the one's I have or possibly there is some major difference in combining the ECC88's with the ECC801 instead of the ECC81.


I'm glad you found some tubes you like. I consider my first tube rolling experiment a greater success than I thought possible!
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by Tomcat

I couldn’t say the same thing about the pair of Telefunken ECC88. Many people seem to love this tube for its warmth, its liquidity and its laid-back presentation. And while it is an improvement over the EMP’s stock “Philips ECG JAN 6922” which is somewhat harsh, cold and technical, it’s not a big one. They have simply different flaws. The Telefunken ECC88 sounds rather incoherent, out of phase and disjointed. Its PRAT factor seems non-existent, it is just a bit tired and subdued. It lacks extension at the frequency extremes, has very little slam and slightly harsh treble. Timbres are all a little wrong, and the instruments just aren’t playing together, harmonic and rhythmic structures are off. This is most noticeable in orchestral music. With the Telefunken ECC88, it just left me cold. And there seems to be quite a bit less output power and dynamic headroom than with the stock Philips ECG JAN 6922 or the Philips Miniwatt ECC88. And this is true for the 48 Ohm AT W100 as well as for the 250 Ohm Beyer 770 Pro.


I haven't heard the Telefunken 6DJ8 family tubes, but I have heard the Telefunken 12AT7 type (although it was an OEM from Siemens, AFAIK). My impressions of the Telefunken 12AT7 type matched yours of the Telefunken ECC88. The reasons became clear when I upgraded to a B&K mutual conductance tube tester. This tester revealed that my Telefunken 12AT7's, which displayed all of the symptoms you're reporting for the ECC88, were simply not any good. When you hear a tube with no PRAT, sounding a little off, working but sounding a bit dead, it's time to test the tube thoroughly.

Interestingly, the stock tubes that came in my X-Can (long since rolled out), failed to pass the mutual conductance tester. Maybe this explains why some people don't like that amp...
 
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Tomcat

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Quote:

The original input tube on my EMP was marked Ei, which I believe is a Yugoslavian tube. The 6DJ8's had no markings at all and I have no idea what they are.


88Sound,

That's interesting. It seems international "EarMax Pro" amps are delivered with a different set of tubes than German "Brocksieper Pro" amps. The stock tubes of my Brocksieper Pro were definitely two Philips ECG JAN 6922 and one puzzling 12AT7 which had written 12AT7 in big red capital letters along its vertical axis. Who knows, it could be that each distributor uses tubes of his own choice for the amp.

Quote:

I consider my first tube rolling experiment a greater success than I thought possible!


That's exactly what I am afraid of. It all starts innocent enough. Tube rolling is fun, they say. It'll improve the sound of your amp. It's a healthy recreational activity. Yeah, right. And before we know it, we'll be like Hirsch, knee-deep into it, with tubes to last ten lifetimes.


Hirsch,

A B&K mutual conductance tube tester, hm? I think it would come in handy, definitely.

Hirsch, you're the devil.
 
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taoster

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i must get some Telefunken ECC801.
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i must get some Telefunken ECC801.

damn you Head-Fi!!
 
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