Review: Adzam E188CC triode tube (in the EMP)
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Spent&Bent

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Review of Adzam (Mazda) E188CC, delta mark, old build style with strong getter posts, bought on ebay for about 15 euro (for a quad).

Short history & description:

These tubes were made in the Philips Heerlen factory in the Netherlands for the Belgium market,the date codes are all AR-6 which according to Internet sources means they are from the sixties, I am pretty sure this is the case since they also have the old fat getter post, which was later replaced by a thin (cheaper?) wire construction.
I did some referencing on these tubes at Audio Asylum, there is some limited info available there on these tubes, in fact certain people there suggest to keep info regarding the quality of these tubes to one self if run into these.
Since I am no trader and I definitely do not believe these are 500 euro a piece miracle tubes of some sorts I might as well talk about them IMO.
These tubes are very long life, and a more refined and higher standard version of the ECC88 tubes and fully compatible with the EMP and other tube amps that use ECC88.
Here for a (bad) picture and a short note that says that they are pretty rare, and are built like amperex 7308: HERE
Finding the info on these in AA's tube asylum is pretty easy if you use the right keywords.

used equipment:

Sony NS700v / RME DIGI PAD, both on glass toslinks (great stuff btw these things),M-audio Superdac, Brocksieper Earmax Pro (euro version), Cardas neutral reference IC's,Grado RS-1, Sennheiser HD-600 w. stock cable.

Used tube sets for review: original tube set (new production unmarked 6dj8's,"Ruby" 12at7) Amperex USA, 6922 white shield PQ, Groove Tubes 6dj8 (new production (?) reflektor factory sovtek),Telefunken ECC801S or RCA '50s 12at7 black plate/square getter in both NOS setups, also some Siemens and Telefunken ECC88 (brief and from memory since overpriced from store for what I got IMO so never kept them.)

Other equipment that I have like electro stats and RA-1 has been used as well, only as a form of reference etc.

Performance of the Adzam E188CC (in the St. Brocksieper built Earmax Pro)

In my Earmax pro and with Grado Labs RS-1 these tubes hint at a recessed midrange compared to both the stock tubes and sovtek 6dj8's that I have, BUT there's less grain, blurring on edges of notes (more attack),coupled with good inner detail,excellent tone and sense of space, combined with very deep layering of the sound which is really pin-point placed.
Bass is very nice, not ultra tight and dry of course but far from sloppy which can happen more or less easy when using other tubes.
I'd rate these tubes far above the stock and also above the sovtek tubes which sound a bit unrefined and undefined in comparison, and close in performance to the Amperex PQ white shields that I have.
What these Adzams (or rather "hidden amperex") truly lack IMO compared to my E88 Amperexes is the superb midrange, although midrange performance is still excellent compared to all other stuff I can compare it with) in everything else id rate them about similar, not bad for a few euros per tube I paid IMO, not bad at all
.
The best combination was for me was with the RCA black plates, which seemed to relax the midrange sound a bit more compared to my regular Telefunken 801S but makes bass slower.
This Adzam/RCA combination is pretty much free from grain (if you take the PQ as a reference), a little rolled of on top (cause of RCA it seems) with acceptable bass (not the fastest but with great substance and very deep), I like it.
All in all it does not make me feel like the Amperex/TFK 801S can do when listening to the excellent, siren like background vocals on Leonard Cohen's "I'm your man" album, or the sexy seducing whispering of the girls on Abs - what you got (for something completely different
...), but I have heard far worse in the very.very short period (few months) that I have been tube rolling until now.IMO its a very nice NOS combo in the EMP, capable IMHO.

Update: this was written some time ago, in the meantime I have replaced the RCA 12at7 with a Telefunken 801 again, and after some getting used to it I really like the clarity it gives and the improvement in speed, even though it definitely moves away from EMP's/RS-1 typical sound.(and more towards "typical/cheap" wondering at what price it gets "better" solid state?), also I have acquired a Sennheiser HD-600.
The senn HD-600 proves a great match IMO to the EMP outfitted with 2 x Adzam and the center RCA black plate.
Where the Adzams can sound a bit bright and imaging is too stark (is that possible?) in the EMP/RS-1 combo, they lift the HD-600 midrange problems reasonably well, from sounding dark and a bit closed to good open sound plus good and even brilliant imaging here and there at times (I noticed some superb "floating" instruments on a certain test tracks that seemed really suspended in mid air somewhere a few feet around me but certainly not inside on of the earcups), coupled with great and pretty tight bass, that has copious amounts of details on it, no slow,one note bass here with these tubes in place!.


In conclusion:

I like these "undercover amperex gems" a lot, (especially with the senns), maybe you will too
. Grab them off ebay or any other way possible, especially if you happen to have HD600/HD650(?) AND EMP, the highest I have seen the Adzams go is about 35 euros for a quad (although there is a trend upwards, possibly because of the recent Audio Asylum coverage...).

P.S. any Europeans who are interested in trying out the Adzams (especially with EMP/HD600/RS-1) give me a pm you can borrow a matched set if you want, if you want them with a RCA black plate I got about 4 or 5 here.... I would like some others opinion on these tubes as well.
Shipping to you will be free if you pay for return.

Thanks again to Hirsch who supplied me with good advice on the compatibility of E188CC with the EMP.
 
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Spent&Bent

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FYI: There is an auction for two of these great tubes on ebay, it's not my auction.
The price is still "reasonable", 40 dollars for two tubes.....
here
 
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