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Schiit Lyr 3 Tube rolling thread.....

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  1. FLTWS
    Well now, this is getting interesting and fun. When I first got my LYR3 I did some casual listening with the stock Tung-Sol and it sounded very different from my 6DJ8 and 12AU7 based headphone amps and I was very impressed. But I spent most of the time since acquiring the LYR3 to burn in my 6SN7 purchases before starting my more formal tube listening comparisons in earnest last weekend.

    With the exception of my 2 RCA's, the tubes designated as "military grade" types are outperforming the "consumer” use ones, to my ears. The RCA's have a uniqueness in sound character I haven't heard completely duplicated by any others but that sound may not be to everyone's personal liking.

    I don't really understand why these various 6SN7's should sound different (but that also goes for my other tube types as well but something I've been aware of since the 70's). While the plate shapes and positioning and overall tube sizes and positioning of the various parts will vary from one tube to the next, they all have the same general internal structure in order to conduct electrons in a vacuum, I think. So it's a mystery to me.

    Here's where I'm at presently. It’s going to take at least 2 rounds of listening sessions with each tube which will take more than a few weeks. I can’t grind on focused listening 8 hours a day, day after day, and with summer comes travel, and other diversions...

    5/25:This is the start of round 1.
    6/5: Finished round 2
    7/6: Additions: WH's

    My Listening Impression & Comparisons of 6SN7 Type Tubes
    (hopefully no cut and paste snafu's)

    I spent 3 weeks listening to the stock Tung-Sol for a few hours on several occasions while using most of the time to burn in my collection of recently acquired 6SN7’s, my first exposure to this tube type. Burn-in consisted of 24 hours for each tube, including the stock tube. Each tube got 24 hours of continuous exercise using my PAD “Luminist System Enhancer” which, according to the included notes, reduces break-in to just 5 hours from 24. If that’s the case 24 hours of play on “repeat” should equal 100+ hours of burn-in. Whatever!

    On days I plan to listen I fire up the LYR 3 when I get out of bed and run that “Enhancer” disc on repeat until I get to the listening session itself which could be morning, afternoon or evening, or two out of three, or all three on a day when I’m really motivated. I take notes as they come to mind using pre-printed sheets as formatted below.

    The chain of gear included my ERC-3’s AES/EBU output over Straight Wire Balanced Info Link 75 ohm digital cable to Yggdrasil (A) to the LYR 3. IC’s were Dana Cable Reference to the LYR 3 and Dana Cable Ultra HP cable to my Abyss Phi. I used this same equipment for all comparisons. I don’t doubt that some tube’s sound may make a better match with my other phones and different boxes and wires, but changing transducers and other components only confuses sonic impressions and especially at the transducer end as phones are rarely close in sound presentation.

    I also measured volume levels with a meter to insure that they were always the same. (A better way would be to have two LYR3’s driven simultaneously from the two pair of RCA outs on my Yggy to avoid the delay in cool down and warm up related issues, just move the headphone SE connector from one to the other).

    I tend to use the same handful of demo CD’s (mostly classical and Jazz) over and over as I know them like the back of my hand and since the 70’s in some cases.

    The differences I mention are usually smaller than the words available to describe them but still some struck me as quite dramatic. I don’t have a 2 channel system to confirm what I hear through the headphones, especially when it comes to imaging and sound stage. My experience with headphones is they are significantly poorer at presenting spatial information compared to speakers, and neither really comes close to delivering a concert hall experience.

    The conclusions I draw are for me, my purpose in doing this survey was not primarily to conclude good/bad or yes/no or for/against, but rather to give my impressions of what I heard and hear which tubes gave me a sound presentation that would make me want to listen to my music. My thoughts are just one of many others out there and should not be considered authoritative or recommending, and are just my input on a voluminously posted about topic.

    There is also the possibility that the different sound qualities of the different tubes may differently favor my other phones more, or less. For this survey I’m sticking exclusively to my Abyss Phi, it can get too confusing jumping from different sounding phones with different presentations. The Phi is the most neutral sounding headphone to my ears of those I own, neither bright nor dark, neither forward or recessed, dynamically relaxed, just so listenable all around with no quirks from the top to bottom of the frequency range.

    I sometimes wonder if there are sound differences in a batch of identically manufactured tubes of the same brand – but I’m not going there, enough is enough, LOL!

    The naming and descriptions come from the seller’s information.

    I did a second run through of comparisons after another 24 hours of burn-in using my above procedure. I also double check volume levels with my sound level meter to insure a close match before each listening comparison.

    RCA 1952 6SN7GT, Grey Glass, Black Plate (Flat, Staggered), Short Bottle (Brent Jesse $49.00)

    Bass: Full, impactful, warm

    Mids: Rich, warm, transparency is good

    Highs: Soft, smooth, never harsh, maybe lacking a little sparkle when called for

    Transients: Good, but not ultra-detailed

    Air: Plenty, up and down the frequency range

    Detail: The warmth and airiness may contribute to a very slight obscuring of very fine detail

    Dynamics: Excellent, never gets congested, handles ffff with aplomb

    Image: Stable and uniform

    Soundstage: The most recessed tube of all I have.

    Top to Bottom Balance: Weighted towards the bottom of the spectrum, sumptuous string tone, the horns maybe not quite as brassy or bright as they should/could be

    Long Term Listenability: All day, if you like a softer, rounded, warmer sound.

    Second run through; my thoughts are unchanged.
    (Up next, the RCA Clear Glass from the early 50’s. I expected it was going to be tough call finding differences. Couldn’t have been more wrong.)

    RCA early 1950’s (56-52 date code?) 6SN7GT, Clear Glass, Black Plate (Flat, Staggered), Medium Bottle (Brent Jesse $35.00 - At this price, I feel it’s a steal!)

    Bass: Full and just as deep ranging as the 52’Grey Glass not as warm or airy but maybe just right for me

    Mids: Clear and present, grouped voices nicely individualized if the recording captures it, more transparent than the 52’ Grey Glass

    Highs: More extended than the 52’ Grey Glass

    Transients: Sharper, quicker, better articulation than the 52’ Grey Glass

    Air: Not as much as the 52’ Grey Glass, but not dry, maybe just right for me

    Detail: Inner detailing and overall clarity much more to my liking than the 52’ Grey Glass

    Dynamics: On a par with the 52’ Grey Glass, maybe a hair less

    Image: Stable and uniform

    Soundstage: Just as wide but depth of the sound stage is a small amount less

    Top to Bottom Balance: Neutral, no excess emphasis on any portion of the frequency range

    Long Term Listenability: Very Good to All Day. This tube balances a lot of the above parameters very well. I think it balances nicely between warm and dry sound presentations as well as forward or recessed.

    Second run through; my thoughts are unchanged.
    (At this point I wanted to return to the stock Tung-Sol and see what my thoughts are versus the 2 RCA’s after a warm up).

    Tung-Sol (the stock tube) New ($30.00)

    Bass: As deep as the RCA’s, clean, and tight

    Mids: Clear and present, but flat, not much body behind the sound of instruments and voices by comparison with the RCA’s

    Highs: A touch hot, occasionally grainy/metallic but very slight and usually only on louder passages (smoothed out a bit between 75 -100 hours)

    Transients: Quite good, quick on the attack and nicely controlled on decay

    Air: Not much (a good bit below average)

    Detail: Quite good

    Dynamics: Quite good

    Image: Stable

    Soundstage: Very flat front to back. Side to side as wide as the RCA’s

    Top to Bottom Balance: Mostly neutral but a little elevated in the highs, a very warm sound. Images and sound stage are flat, thin, little roundness or body behind the sound of voices, or instruments. Note that this is by comparison with the 2 RCA’s.

    Long Term Listenability: Probably not all day. I found it to not be as involving to listen to after a while, not completely sure why (maybe listening fatigue).

    In some aspects its sound is similar to the 50’s RCA Clear Glass but highs are not as sweet and a bit grainy/shout-y and a bit metallic at times depending on the recording (perhaps needs more burn-in than the NOS’s?). Very vivid, very forward with little front of stage to back of stage distancing and very little air by comparison with the RCA’s. The stock Tung-Sol is still a good sound out of the LYR 3. It’s just in comparison to the RCA’s (and perhaps others to come) that differences were obvious to my ears.

    At the end of my survey I’ll give the stock Tung-Sol some significant burn-in hours to see if it makes a difference.

    Did a third run through; the sound has improved and is more listenable, (but by comparison to other tubes) the sound stage still lacks depth and the perspective is still too close. If it feels like I can reach out my arms and touch the players it’s too dam close. As a consequence images are large and closer together L to R across the sound stage, what makes it work a bit is how clean the overall sound is from top to bottom.
    (Next obvious choice; I wanted to hear how the NOS JAN military Tung-Sol 6SN7 compared. Again, I didn’t expect a significant difference. Again, I was wrong!)

    Tung-Sol 6SN7WGTB Early 60’s JAN, USA made Military Grade, Brown Base, Black Tri-Plates at Angles, Tall Bottle (Brent Jesse $60.00)

    Bass: Fine, but maybe not as explosive or subjectively deep sounding as the stock tube

    Mids: Nicely done, clear and present, back in the realm of the Clear Glass RCA

    Highs: A lot smoother than the stock tube.

    Transients: Good attack with a proper, airy decay, especially on cymbal, Tam-Tams, Bass Drum

    Air: Much better than the stock tube, maybe not as much as RCA’s but fine enough

    Detail: Good but different*

    Dynamics: Good but different*

    Image: Stable but different*

    Soundstage: Much improved in the front to back parameter over the stock, nicely layered

    Top to Bottom Balance: Fairly neutral but bass, subjectively, not as deep ranging or impactful as the stock tube.

    Long Term Listenability: Very Good, maybe great!

    *This tube was very surprising. The stock tube gave me an orchestra pit perspective (in my face); this NOS version pushed me farther out into the audience which I much prefer. (The RCA’s were somewhere in between these two extremes). Sounds of the various instruments blended much better, just like in the concert hall. I double checked the volume level to make sure that was not causing what I was hearing with regard to listening position.

    Images with the stock tube presented the various instrument groups in bold relief, almost like turning up the contrast or any edge enhancement controls on a TV. The NOS was beautifully blended, overlapping, with plenty of air, but still directional, closer to the concert hall experience.

    Detail was over hyped at times with the stock tube, the NOS was not as dramatic, but more realistic if I’m a listener in the audience.

    Dynamics were a bit more explosive on the stock tube; the NOS seemed just as wide ranging but again, from a perspective out in the audience which makes a difference.

    The stock tube’s sound field was very flat front to back, the NOS nicely layered. I like this tube’s sound; it’s got some uniqueness to it like the RCA’s. But, I’ve got 7 more tubes to listen to yet.

    The stock tubes sound might favor more popular genres of music?

    Second run through; this still sounds so much better than the stock tube. While maybe not as refined in the highs like the Ken-Rad VT-231 and some of the others, or airy in the bass, all other aspects are within a hair, especially sound stage, not in my face, not too recessed. Tung-Sol; same tube, different countries of origin, different mfg. dates, surprising.
    (Next up the Raytheon. I ended up a little disappointed with this one)

    RAYTHEON 1940’s 6SN7GT (Identical to Raytheon VT-231), Clear Glass, Black Plate (Flat, Staggered), Medium Bottle, Flat Plate, (Brent Jesse $50.00)

    Bass: Good, deep ranging, good impact, some air

    Mids: Good voice individualization, nothing special otherwise

    Highs: Nicely extended and controlled, very little harshness

    Transients: Good to very good

    Air: About average or slightly below

    Detail: Okay, nothing special

    Dynamics: Okay, nothing special

    Image: Stable but close up

    Soundstage: Just confusing, sometimes okay, sometimes not

    Top to Bottom Balance: Neutral generally, maybe a little down on the very bottom, a little up on the highs

    Long Term Listenability: Not sure.

    It presents a clean sound with detail and dynamics, but the sound stage is not up to some others and again, one that’s not very involving.

    Second run through; much better sounding after another 24 hours of burn-in. It has most of the best qualities of the Ken-Rad, but, the soundstage is still flat front to back and the sound is very “in my face” with a touch of brightness or a slight roughness at times. It’s a very exciting sound with plenty of punch and detail and may work better with Jazz or Rock but I still prefer the Ken-Rad, and many of the others, over it.
    (Ken-Rad; this is a better sound to my ears than my Raytheon)

    KEN-RAD 1940’s 6SN7GT VT-231, Black Glass, Black Plates (Flat Staggered), Bottom Getter, Medium Bottle, (Brent Jesse $95.00)

    Bass: Very good, goes deep with authority and impact when called for

    Mids: Very good, fully fleshed out

    Highs: Extended and a little touch bright at times but they are pretty clean at higher volumes

    Transients: Very good, great attack and decay characteristics

    Air: The right amount

    Detail: Very good

    Dynamics: Close to the best I’ve heard

    Image: Stable

    Soundstage: The perspective is close in but its uniform from L to R and its front to back depth is middle of the range.

    Top to Bottom Balance: Excellent, a real strength, no frequency band(s) are emphasized so the details are exceptionally well balanced.

    Long Term Listenability: Very good, the up close perspective may be a bit much at times but the balance is so good and the sound so clean I find I can listen at slightly lower volumes and not miss a thing, which helps mitigate that closeness of perspective.

    Second run through; the soundstage is much more relaxed with the right amount of distance from the players and better depth, this is an improvement. Overall, one of the better sounding for my listening tastes.
    (Somehow I ended up with 3 different Sylvania’s !)

    Sylvania 6SN7WGT/A 1940’s JAN, Military Grade, Clear Glass, Early Brown Base, Black Plate (Parallel “T’s”), Bottom Getter, Medium Bottle, (Brent Jesse $70.00)

    Sylvania 6SN7GT 1940’s VT-231 JAN-CHS, Clear Glass, Black Base, Green Print, Black Plate (Parallel “T’s”), Bottom Getter, Tall Bottle, (Brent Jesse $90.00)

    Sylvania 6SN7WGTA 1974 JAN, Clear Glass, Black Base, Green Print, Black Tri-Plates at Angles, Medium Bottle, (Upscale $140.00)

    In general these 3 tubes have very similar characteristics with some minor variations

    Bass: Very good, goes deep with authority and impact when called for and with good control.

    Mids: Crisp and clean, not to warm or cool, good on vocals

    Highs: Clean and clear

    Transients: Very good, quick on attack, controlled on decay, no blur

    Air: Very slightly less on the 40’s issues than on the 74’

    Detail: Very good, delineates instruments and voices very nicely

    Dynamics: Good to very good

    Image: Very stable, nicely balanced L to R on all 3

    Soundstage: Middle of the road between up front and all the way back

    Top to Bottom Balance: Excellent

    Long Term Listenability: Very good, among my favorites.

    Second run through; the 40’s issue Sylvania’s are a bit dryer with less air than the 74’, and a touch less oomph in the bass than the 74’. The 40’s issues sound a little bit quicker on the leading edge of transients but never etched. The 74’ by comparison may sound too smooth, but this smoothness applies up and down frequency range and I found it lends a sense of ease to the sound of instruments and voices blending them beautifully. Make no mistake these differences are very slight. I’m especially torn between the Black Base 40’ and 74’. Eventually I’ll get around to seeing how those two match up with my Utopia and HD800. I have my suspicions but I want to just focus on my Abyss Phi until I’m done sorting out all 11 tubes to my satisfaction.
    CBS Hytron 5692/6SN7GTB, Clear Glass, Brown Base, Black Plates (Flat, Parallel), Short Bottle, (Upscale $150.00)

    Bass: Good and solid

    Mids: Just slightly forward of neutral but smooth enough to be highly listenable.

    Highs: A small amount more energy that some others, but less than borderline bright

    Transients: Excellent attack and decay, really snaps when called for

    Air: A bit less than the best

    Detail: Thanks to transient capabilities very resolving

    Dynamics: About average

    Image: Stable, players are clearly outlined

    Soundstage: Wide but not especially deep, a little less than middle of the range

    Top to Bottom Balance: Fairly flat with just a hint of brightness

    Long Term Listenability: Good, this tube may need more hours than some others, so…

    Second run through; overall a great sounding tube. I note that this tube put out a few tenths of a db more at the same volume knob setting than others which were pretty consistent. I re-measured and adjusted accordingly. This is a transparent sound bordering on vivid (works well with my Phi). Sound stage is very slightly forward and middle of the range in depth. Transients snap and demand attention but this tube keeps them just short of over etched. Among my favorites.
    Early Russian 6H8C 1960’s, Clear Glass, Black Base, Grey Plate (Parallel “T’s”), Tall Bottle, (Upscale $35.00)

    Bass: Really tight and powerful when called for

    Mids: Nicely balanced between warm and dry

    Highs: Nice but maybe just a bit of grit

    Transients: Excellent attack and decay

    Air: Solid middle of the range between warm and dry.

    Detail: Very good

    Dynamics: Not quite the equal of the best

    Image: stable, wide, big, (as in close to the players)

    Soundstage: Wide L to R, not as deep as some

    Top to Bottom Balance: good

    Long Term Listenability: I do like this tube with Jazz and Rock and this may be another tube that’s going to want more hours of use to reach its best sound.

    Second run through; sound improves with additional burn-in. Still an up-front sound with average depth actually sounds similar to the CBS Hytron, just a little behind in each category.
    One conclusion I’ve come to is that, in general, the JAN / VT-231 / Military Grade tube types were uniformly excellent overall. If they are spec’d tighter, or get a bit more care in fabrication and component materials, or are held to tighter tolerances on measurements for military use, I don’t know. All tubes (Except the 2 RCA's that were fine after the first burn-in session) improved as they got more burn-in time on them.

    My favorites (in no particular order): the 52 and 56 RCA', the USA made early 60’s Tung-Sol, the 40’s Ken-Rad, the Sylvania 40’s VT-231 and 74’ WGTA JAN, and the CBS Hytron. The sound of all the others is still fine but a bit more forward than I prefer. There was no one tube I found unlistenable.

    Of note; The 52' Grey Glass is very, very different sound from all the other tubes and I can see how its soft, laid back characteristics may not appeal at all to some. This may work well with my classical music, especially some of the thinner, brighter 60's and 70's recordings from Columbia and DG. But I prefer the middle of the range immediacy of some of the others with my Jazz and Rock.

    Reporting back on my WH "D" vs "Halo" vs Ken-Rad VT231.

    I hear virtually no difference between the 2 WH's, both are great sounding with my classical and Jazz CD's.

    If I had a second LYR3 I could run simultaneously off my Yggdrasil "A" I could do quicker A/B'ing, and "maybe", I could detect something but the difference would be no great shakes in the bigger picture. And, as I just ordered a new Yggdrasil "B" on which I plan to do some serious, simultaneous A/B'ing against my "A" unit during 1 to 2 months after delivery, I've got bigger fish to fry.

    My Ken-Rad VT231 is another winner, more explosive dynamics than my WH's, with maybe more powerful deep bass, but at times a very slight amount more in the highs with certain recordings than I might like, but not bothersome to me. Those with younger ears most likely could very well hear the highs with a different take from my own.

    When my 2 Foton's arrive I'll have 14 different 6SN7 types (don't know why I bought 2, doh!), 9 of them are outright excellent, unless I buy something requiring a pair of 6SN7's I'll probably sit tight. Among my favorites there is no clear winner in my book. A given tube with this HP amp, with these cables and with one of my top 3 phones, just might "click" better than another, but I feel no urgency at this point to wade though any more at this time. And most of these run so cool temp wise, I'll probably fail before they do.

    For me, there is no one tube to rule them all.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
    Wildcatsare1 and Wes S like this.
  2. bcowen
    The synergy between tubes and amps is a very real thing in my experience as well. And speaking of the CBS/Hytron 5692 it was one of my top 3 favorites in the Vali 2, but is clearly at the bottom of the heap in the Lyr 3. Smooth, silky treble and full of rich harmonic detail and texture in the mids. Bass rather plump but still tuneful and defined. And boring. Snooze-ville. I think most related to the dynamic presentation (both micro and macro) that is lacking when plugged into the Lyr 3 (but was actually a strong point in the Vali 2...go figure). No rhythm, pace, toe-tap, groove-inducement. But that's just my opinion, and synergy includes the 'cans and the ears too. I have a pile of them and could look at shipping cost across the pond if you still want to try one (PM me).
    buonassi, volly and FLTWS like this.
  3. ilikepooters
    The closest western tube to the 6N1P is the 6BQ7A, might be worth rolling those with the adaptor if anyone has a stash, can get the Brimar version cheap over here
  4. Dogmatrix
    6n1p = 6dj8/6922
  5. quimbo
    I purchased a Lyr 3 just under 2 months ago, never had tubes,now have a nice assortment of tubes. 14 in total, 11 different varieties. Time to stop searching and really start listening.

    Latest edition is a Hitachi 6SN7GTB 6SN7 ECC33. This has black ladder plates and D getters in the tube base, made in the 1960's. This sounds like it will be a fine sounding after some burn in.
    bcowen and FLTWS like this.
  6. FLTWS
    The fun begins.
    Wes S likes this.
  7. caenlenfromOCN
    Does anyone agree with me that the tung-sol the Lyr 3 comes with sounds lifeless? I would like to try the stock Russian NOS the Lyr 3 comes with, does anyone want to trade my Tung-Sol for the stock Russian Lyr 3 tube?
  8. bcowen
    Like this? I have one in the queue but got distracted and haven't listened to it yet. May have to re-sequence.... :slight_smile:

    quimbo likes this.
  9. bcowen
    'Lifeless' wouldn't be the word I'd use to describe the Tung-Sol. To my ears (and in my rig) it's a good sounding tube overall, but lacking harmonic depth and detail in the mids and gets fatiguing after a couple hours of listening. The Russian tube is cheap enough, why not just buy one from Schiit? Or better, get a Foton 6n8s on Ebay -- sounds better and is almost as cheap.
    caenlenfromOCN and FLTWS like this.
  10. skyline315
    How much time have you put in on it?

    My opinion of the tube changed pretty dramatically after putting some decent hours on it. I was ready to toss it into the trash heap at first listen.

    The stock Russian tube (in comparison) wins in clarity, but is very flat sounding and a bit lifeless in comparison to the TS.

    Of course, preferences, the rest of your rig, etc. can change all of this.
    bcowen likes this.
  11. Ripper2860
    Received my 40's Ken-Rad VT-231 (Clear Glass / Staggered Plates). After giving it a quick listen, seems a nicely balanced tube w/ no glaring issues -- just a nice blalanced sound over-all. It's NOS so I'll let it burn-in over night before doing and critical listening. Pretty excited about this tube, given the recommendations given for its use with Lyr 3. I just hope my Hifiman HE400S cans can fully reveal the virtues of this tube!

    Next up: Hytron 5692 Brown Base or RCA Red Base (ouch!!)

    ** Just went from Fleetwood Mac (Rumors) to Joey Alexander Eclipse (Jazz) with stand-up bass and excellent drum. Wow! I can say that even with virtually no burn-in, the bottom end is greatly improved over the provided Tung-Sol tube. Looking VERY promising for the KR!!
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
    Wes S likes this.
  12. cebuboy
    After a long wait(230v got backlogged), finally got to try the Lyr 3, popped in a melz 6h8c and was surprised of the airyness, made the hd650 sound wide than what I’m used to. Will let this tube simmer for a while...

    ScubaMan2017 likes this.
  13. mourip
    I have wanted to try one of those legendary Russian 6SN7 equivalents for quite a while.

    Can anyone suggest the best one and a reliable vendor that will send the real thing?
  14. cebuboy
    Well, the best from what I’ve read is the MELZ holed plates, but is expensive. I got a MELZ with ribbed plates, so far the sound is quite good and not as expensive as the holed plates version. Ordered 2, one is doa. Got it from a Ukrainian seller, so it is a risk.
  15. jconde
    Hello guys. I am an ignoramous. I just bought the Lyr 3 with the two stock tubes. I want to try vintage tube but i know nothing of years or ribbed plates. Can you recommend me my first tube or two. Should it be a Ken-Rad or and RCA? please help me with specifics like years and rib plates etc.

    Thank you all. i hope I am not just entering a new addiction.
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