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Project Ember Tube Rolling

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  1. gamefreak054
    Do you have any experience with the Bugle Boy 12AT7s made in france? I was looking at those thinking they would be closest to the 12AX7s (atleast gain wise).
  2. Johan-71
    No, sorry.
    Just the ones from Heerlen factory Holland.
    I have a lot of 12AT/AU/AX7 from other brands and countries, but for the moment I prefer the 6692/6dj8 family. It's probably because I use my HE-400 now, I just ordered the 500 so i might need some more gain when they arrive.
  3. Asr
    Low resistance generally has a "linear" sound, or what some people would call "solid-statey." However, in the case of the Project Ember, which is a hybrid amp, it means that low resistance will mirror the sound of the tube the closest, compared to the higher output resistance settings. You should be able to hear the effect as you roll tubes.
  4. rikaldrey
    Thanks for posting a thread dedicated for the Project Ember. I have the Ember for almost 2 weeks now, and have been reading the other thread. I can't seem to find specific information regarding this amp, especially that this is my first headphone amp.
    Anyway, I've got questions about this amp. First, initially my setting was on Low Gain and 1 Ohm resistance. I liked it, but can't handle the noise it emits. Maybe it's just my mains, my usb port or my cheapo 3.5mm to RCA cable, but it is so noisy that It gets annoying when I'm listening to tracks with silent parts. So I switched to High Gain, 120 Ohm. The noise dramatically decreased. However, it is still there. Sometimes, it disappears and comes back at a random rate. I have 3 ECC85 tubes to play with, Tungsram, Tung-sol, and Brimar. They produce the same noise I think, I've tested the Tung-sol and Brimar for a couple of hours each and with the Tungsram being the longest. I am still a novice when it comes to amps and tubes.
    Lastly, what criteria/s do you have to consider when buying tubes? I know from what I read that each brand have their distinct sound signatures. Considering you don't have any extra tubes lying around the house or other tube devices, how does one start a "collection"? Family type, 6V/12V, etc. My setup: Laptop -> Odac -> Project Ember -> Alessandro MS Pro/Grado RS1i/SR125i/Fostex T50rp/AKG Q701.
    If you can point me to a more specific tube guide that would be helpful too. I have checked the little dot threads but it seems they use different tubes. Thanks again.
  5. connieflyer
  6. gamefreak054
    Look above me for the guides. I am a bit new to tubes as well (I have been listening to them the majority of my life, but never really played around with them). Otherwise hold on this is going to be a long post as you asked a slew of things.
    Now onto the first question. Which headphones are you using when you hear the noise? The Grados are pretty efficient however the t50rp is not. So your more likely to hear more noise than the t50rps.  Also I think you may hear more noise if the tube is still warming up. So if your hearing noise on start up, then it may be just the tube warming up (iirc the 6 volt tubes warmed up a bit slower than my 12AT7s). If you think its the source you might want to try different sources without the ODAC. I would guess its not the cable unless its damaged (I am using some pretty cheapo 3.5mm rca cables for now). If the sound disappears on another source like an ipod, then there is something off with the USB or ODAC.
    Now if it is your Project ember remove all the sources from it and just play the amp and see if you can still hear the noise (play with the volume). If you still do make sure all your jumper tabs are in the correct position. Make sure both sides of the resistance are on the same setting. Make sure you have both tabs on the correct gain setting (high gain does emit a bit more noise than low gain), and make sure both the input cap tabs are on the same setting. Now if all your tabs are correct you definitely want to make sure your tube is inserted all the way and tightly in. I do not know much about the ECC85s but some tubes can be microphonic and will pick up more noises if not placed correctly or if they are going bad. Now onto the tube itself you may want to check this- http://www.guitars101.com/forums/f81/when-to-replace-tubes-60868.html there is a good post in there that tells if a tube is going bad. You may want to try the stock 6N1P again if you have it to test if you hear noises.
    If all else fails contact Jeremy, he knows this amp inside and out. He will most likely pinpoint the issue pretty easily.
    Now onto buying tubes and amassing a collection. I guess when buying tubes you are going to have to take a decent shot in the dark to see if you like them or not. Unless you have a audio boutique near by that sells tubes and lets you try them, you are going to have to go off other peoples opinions. You may want to look at the gain tubes naturally have as a low gain tube might not sound the greatest on a low efficiency headphone. However if you are using your grados you might not need a high gain tube anyways.
    Now when actually buying tubes you want to make sure you are buying tubes from a reputable seller. There are relabeled chinese tubes to represent telefunkens or whatever desired tube that exists.  I would never buy an untested tube (my dad just so happens to have a tube tester). Generally they will give numbers like 76/78 or 90/93. The numbers represent how good a tube is. On my dads tester 80+ is good 60-70 is questionable and anything under is bad. I personally would not buy a tube under 85. I would try to look for tubes in the 90. You also generally want the numbers to be fairly close. Some tubes will only have 1 number as they only have 1 test you can give. I tested a microphonic tube that had test in the 70/73, and you had to make sure that tube was SECURE otherwise it would make very loud noises. There are also different testers that test in different scales (make sure they list what the minimum acceptable number is and the general ranges it is acceptable, good, and NOS (new old stock) ) and there is also another measurement in GM. which I believe a good tube should measure above 13000/13000.
    You can try thrift stores for tubes. We found a couple of 12ax7 tubes at a goodwill type place. My dad also received a bunch of like new tubes from free Techtronix equipment from his work (its where I got the 12AT7s). 
  7. Asr
    Similar to what gamefreak054 said, you want to try and isolate the cause of the noise by disconnecting the amp from your source and checking for noise when the volume is set to zero on low gain & low resistance. It also depends on what kind of noise you're hearing—if it sounds like hiss, it's most likely the tube, and you should probably stop using it. Generally, tubes are bad when they have a "burnt" look at the top. If the noise is more like a hum or droning, then it more likely has something to do with your power supply and might be related to interference. Make sure you don't have the Project Ember set up next to, or on, another device that outputs high levels of EM radiation (generally, heavy-weight electronic equipment as it tends to contain large transformers).
    Jeremy @ Garage1217 is an indispensable resource and you should definitely ask him about your noise issue.
    As far as tubes, mostly you should get tubes that would ideally match with your headphones. I see you have some low-impedance sensitive types, for which you'd want low-gain tubes (12AU7/5814/5963). For the T50rp and Q701, you'd want higher-gain tubes. 6DJ8s are popular low-cost tubes, with the Amperex Orange Globe in particular being one of the more prevalent ones. 12AX7s would also be interesting for those headphones.
  8. rikaldrey
    Thanks for taking the time to provide some useful information. I have done all the checks you mentioned before. I have tried with 2 Odac's, and a Fiio X3 as a USB Dac, they all exhibit the same symptoms. The noise is more noticeable at around 12-1 'o clock volume. However, when unplugged or plugged to X3's lineout the noise is around 9 'o clock and upward. Directly proportional to the volume level. Also, is it normal for my 3.5mm rca to have some noise when I touch them or turn them around but not on my Grado cable? That bit actually made me think this is a cable problem. I am just using the Grado's atm, I am still awaiting for the Q701 and T50rp so I can't do a test with them. Maybe you are right that this is normal with Grado's because they are efficient and sensitive, I can live with it though as it seems to disappear when I'm playing music, I was just curious as to why or how this happens.
    Regarding the tube buying, so it is just a matter of preference?Was this feature just designed to be economical for people that already have other tube-powered devices? Are there no technical dis/advantages between 6V and 12v tubes? When do you need them? So, It's going to be trial and error in case I don't follow other people's choices? Oh, too many questions. [​IMG]

    Normally, I'm kind of intimated reading these types of threads. They all start with tube talks, preferences, etc. They don't talk about which type to buy, 6V or 12V, why to buy them, or when do you need these specific type,etc. I will have to read more, I just posted here since the thread is still fresh and I needed specific answers. Thanks for the links.
  9. gamefreak054
    Check out the post above yours as there is some really good additional info.
    On the RCA. It should make noise when twisting it. However mine do not make noise when tapping it (not that it cant happen). Still if you remove the cable and you hear the noise it shouldn't be the cable. How audible is this noise? I will go grab my grados in a sec to see how silent the amp is with those. On my alpha dogs the amp is dead silent. Right now if I had to guess it sounds like your tube is getting bad. Are all the tubes you have exhibiting the exact same sound?
    Tube buying is mostly a preference. However the tube families do have different gains. You could potentially buy a 12AU7 to try a low gain tube and a 12AX7 for a high gain tube. Try and match the sound signatures of both of the tubes though. Once you kind of decided which family you like, it would be a safe bet to stick with those. Personally I did not try many 12AU7s, because they did not sound as good as the 12AX7s through my ADs (granted even with the grados they were still a touch dull, but its hard to try a low gain tube right after trying multiple high gain tubes).. So you can get different disadvantages/advantages there. Starting off with a guide is generally a good start if you are looking for a particular sound. If you do not know what sound you are shooting for I personally would buy a cheap tube good at treble, a tube good at mids, and a overall decent flat tube.
    It is kind of going to be trial and error no matter what. Hence why people get so addicted to tube rolling, and it does not help that the project ember takes an obnoxious amount of tubes compared to a lot of hybrid amps in its price range.
    EDIT: As an update. I do not have the Grados here as my brother took them with him to his friends (I did sell them to him, but I still call them mine for simplicity). I did hook up my Westone 2 IEMs to the amp and it was still very quiet almost dead quiet on high resistance (I did not touch the other resistances, as high resistance went up in volume incredibly fast) this is with my DX100 and RCA cables hooked up. I turned them up to around 8 o'clock.
    Another thing I forgot to bring up. Make sure you are not turning your sources volume up all the way. Sometimes if you have your sources volumes turned up they will induce extra sound as well. At least with the ibasso DAPs the line outs are not perfect, and are still volume controllable (might be the same for your sources). I know mine can induce extra sound if they are cranked up to 100% so I keep mine at around 90%.
  10. rmouser
    Hello folks,
    This is my first entry into this thread. My name is Ron. I have Ember, Sunrise2, and Starlight amps. Do you see a pattern here? I built Starlight kit K00001.
    All three amps have special personalities but this is an Ember (my favorite) thread.
    I submit two tubes that I am burning in "side by side" if you will. They are the Amperex 6201/E81CC Premium and the Sylvania 5751 triple mica. I use the Starlight for burning in as it (and the Sunrise2) have higher heater current capabilities, which really doesn't matter.
    The 5751 is an industrialized 12AX7 (gain 100) with a gain of 70. Due to higher gain, this one emits a 60 HZ constant level hum. A GE 5751 was not as prone to do that. To remedy that, I made a tube shield out of aluminum foil and slipped it over the tube--noise gone.
    The 6201 is very warm and liquid with a tight although not powerful bass. Mids are very warn and highs mellow. It is a very "tubey" sound. The imaging seems like being in a sound proofed chamber, being surrounded by the instruments.
    Enter the 5751. Prices are going up on these. I've seen them from $39 to over a $100. This one produces a very robust, dynamic sound, much like solid state with the tube benefits.
     I just bought the 2011 version of the remastered Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here--WOW!
    I heard things I never heard before--very subtle nuances and the bass (kick) drum and cymbal crashes are very vivid.
    Anyone done a listen to a 6DJ8?
  11. gamefreak054
    Thanks for your impressions. I will most likely add this to a section on the first page, but I have not fully decided how to do that yet.
    I am curious how close the Sylvania Triple Mica 12AX7 sounds to my Sylvania Triple Mica 12AT7. I was very happy with sound the 12AT7 produced.
    Anyways on the 6DJ8 are you talking about amperex or sylvania 6DJ8s or just 6DJ8s in general? I tried a GE in my write up and that was pretty decent and Johan-71 gave some impressions on the Bugle Boy and Orange Globe.
    I personally find that the 6 Volt tubes can be a little under powered for my headphones, but that did not stop me from ordering one of my own Holland Bugle Boys 6DJ8s. I was going to try the Orange Globe but they seemed a bit pricier. I will give an impression on that when I receive that. I also won an auction on a pair of France Philips Miniwatt 12AT7 which are supposed to be the same construction as the Holland ones. On top of that I ordered a very strange tube which I figured to be one of 3 things 1) Fake 2) Rare or 3)Just not documented well. It is an Holland CBS 12AT7 which looks like a very similar construction to the Holland Philips 12AT7. Check pic below maybe some of you guys can help me, because I took a complete shot in the dark on this one. 
    Not sure if it will be a worthwhile purchase but I purchased it off ebay, and if tests like crap or turns out to be some fake tube. I think I have a good argument with ebay to get my money back, and the seller seems to be flexible.
    Anyways I went on a little too much of a buying spree, especially for tubes that could all sound very similar. Yeah woops.. like that does not happen on Head Fi often [​IMG].So I most likely be selling some of these off for the prices I bought them in the near future.
  12. connieflyer
    I just did the same thing, purchased 3 tubes when I already know that the 12au7 Sylvania triple  black plate is my favorite, but I had to try some new ones anyways.  One was a Sylvania 6dj8 just had to try one. 
  13. gamefreak054
    Lol, I felt the same way about just having to try them. Except I am more or less looking to reproduce the sound of my dads's bugle boy that I can not keep. Hopefully these tubes that I ordered sound pretty close. I know the philips miniwatt ones can be badged as bugle boys, but is just a matter if French Bugle Boys sound the same as the Holland ones and the change in families does not make too much of a difference. 12AX7 tubes are just too expensive as too many people are using them. Feel free to add your impressions when you get them.
    As an thread update. I added a members impression section in which will state which each member feels about the tubes they tested. I will try to quote people as best I can, and will try to keep up with peoples impressions. I also added an update section for any thread changes, or tube additions that I make (I will not add them to my rankings as they will be tested too far apart). Just trying to keep this thread as professional looking as possible so people either come back or gain more interest of the amazing project ember.
    LoveKnight likes this.
  14. Oskari
    Based on the code given in the auction description, that's a 1957 Blackburn ECC81. It looks like a Mullard tube, too.
  15. gamefreak054
    Cool thanks for the info. My dad may have a mullard black burn I could compare it to
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