Schiit Saga Tube Rolling

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  1. Odin412
    That's a tough question to answer since perception of sonic differences varies a lot among individuals, and only you can decide what does and doesn't make a difference for you. To me a new production Electro-Harmonix or a 1960s vintage Raytheon will sound noticeably different than the stock tube. Now, 'noticeable' in this context does not mean night and day difference, but a subtly different sound that you can hear. My advice would be to purchase a couple of inexpensive tubes and try them out to see what you think.
  2. limelake
    Okay thank you, How about new production tung sol ?
  3. liquidsmote
    I think Odin was talking about the new production in his post. My impressions below his ... definitely on the brighter side of neutral, but the bass was nice. I run it every once in a while, but always go back to the Raytheon.

    I DO need to pick up that NE 6SN7 Odin has. It is pricey in comparison to many, but is beautiful and I know would really pop sitting on the socket saver!
    Odin412 likes this.
  4. Odin412
    I attached a photo of the Northern Electric 6SN7 in my Saga. As you can see it's quite large and almost fills the opening. (Apologies for the slightly out of focus image - my stupid phone had trouble focusing on the tube glass.)

    NE 6SN7 in Saga
    by Odin412 on
  5. liquidsmote
    You weren't kidding ... that's tight! You should consider a socket saver just so you can see the bling bling of the gold base on that NE!
    Odin412 likes this.
  6. Nuttinbutair
    I bought a Saga several weeks ago and have been rolling a few tubes through it. The Saga sounds great, and sounds clearly better than the Alps pot in my headphone amp. One tube vs. passive difference that I thought was odd: tubes make less difference compared to passive based on my system/hearing with head phones then tubes vs. passive when using speakers.

    This seems odd to me because my HP rig is much better than the speakers in my current tinkering. The Saga is in a chain of:

    Mac Mini > Bimby > Saga > Stax SRM-1 Mk2 > SR-404​

    The speakers are cheap 18 year old Altec Lansing 2.1 powered units that output from the Saga in my desktop system.

    With the speakers both the tone and the sense of an expanded soundstage are much more obvious with tubes. Has anyone else had a similar experience?
  7. Synergist969
    Dear Nuttinbutair:

    I too tend to hear more significant sound stage/imaging differences while listening to a loudspeaker based system than through headphones, (when trying different settings, i.e. passive/active/different tubes, etc.), even when both systems/component chains are of reasonably high and "equivalent"(?) resolution levels and the loudspeaker based system is "correctly"(?) set up in the listening space...(Please see my audio chain listing...) I believe this is due to a combination of factors.
    1. The way in which our ears/brain receives, and perceives/interprets least tens of thousands if not more years of natural refinement to identify, and interpret sounds with regard to location/distance, etc...
    2. The way in which the vast majority of recordings are made...(UNLESS the recording is made with a true binaural technique...), the vast majority of recordings are made utilizing one or more specific recording techniques, (microphone placement, minimal miking, minimal or no multi-tracking, etc., (at least for natural space acoustical recordings)), so as to maximize the positive sonic effect of a pair of loudspeakers set up to direct sound at the listener in the classic 60-60-60 degree/equilateral triangle configuration...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  8. Nuttinbutair
    Thanks Synergist969. I am still puzzling over the difference and think that your #1, our perception, is possibly the cause of the difference. The acoustic part of the effect looks like it is described by the head-related transfer function. The difference I am hearing could be HRTF and an effect due to the distortion of sound caused by the tube. My thinking being that when both ears can hear the tube induced distortion from both speakers, our brains interpret the distortion as enhanced spatial detail.

    I puzzled over that idea and don't think that seems quite right. The Saga specs using the stock tube show a very low THD. So the distortion should be nearly imperceptible. Also, from what I have read, tubes tend to be rather linear when not driven into clipping. I would expect the passive mode to be supremely linear. So if this difference is due to distortion, could it be a distortion not measured by THD?

    It could also be that the powered preamp drives the low end speaker amp better than the passive. So maybe the amp quality, particularly of the input stage, is a cause of the more substantial difference in my case. I'll have to tinker some more.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  9. Nuttinbutair
    Oh, and just in case it was not obvious, this is my first tube based bit of audio gear. So yes, I am a tube noob!
  10. Synergist969
    Dear Nuttinbutair:

    Yes, I of course agree with your agreement of my "#1" Yes, I agree that the H.T.F., (or lack thereof with headphone listening, unless the headphone amp. generates/implements a well designed H.T.,R. in the headphone signal path), impacts our perception of image location, depth, etc...

    If I recall correctly, at least the vast majority of we humans cannot reliably detect THD levels below.0.1%...? least as "distortion", however, just perhaps we DO perceive/interpret it as something else...and that may be MORE apparent via loudspeaker output than, keep tinkering with your ideas...and let me know what else occurs to you...
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  11. Nuttinbutair
    Getting back to the subject of this thread, I have three tubes that I am listening to alternately. After reading this thread I'm sure the tube choices will be familiar to other readers. My goal for the tubes was to add a bit more mid-range meat to the sound of my headphones, and add more spatial detail. So after only a limited time using each, here are some early impressions:
    • Stock tube - On the headphones I struggle to identify if the Saga is in passive or active mode, without looking at the light. The tube seems smooth and unoffensive, but not quite what I was after.
    • Raytheon 6SN7/GTB black plates, US made - This one is currently my favorite with the Stax. I enjoy its laid back nature, full mid-range and solid bass.
    • Tung-Sol new 6SN7/GTB - I thought I was going to like this one the most from the descriptions from others. So far it is too fatiguing for me in the high frequency range, even after running for about 40 hours. Could be the Stax present more high range, my ears are burned out, or the tube needs more running time.
    More time may produce a different set of opinions, so I will report back if things change.
    Odin412 likes this.
  12. Odin412
    Thanks for your impressions! I have the same impressions of the Raytheon and Tung-Sol tubes. I love the Raytheon and I find the Tung-Sol to be bright and fatiguing, and I'll be interested to hear if it changes with further use. Please keep us updated on what you find!
  13. Nuttinbutair
    Everyone's comments on this thread were a great resource for me, so I though I should contribute to the cause. :o2smile:
  14. MWSVette

    Just picked up the Schiit Saga used the stock tube for a few days.

    Then I picked up this one,

    I have only had the new in the amp for a few hours but I like it. I will try to give additional impressions after the tube has sometime to settle in.

    I am looking for a couple more tubes to roll through the Saga. If any of you have any of the following or tubes that you think I may be interested in trying and that you are willing to part with please let me know.

    Tung Sol VT-231 GT black bottle oval getter from the 40's

    Sylvania Bad Boy 6SN7WGT 40's or early 50's

    RCA 5692 Red Base 40's or early 50's

  15. limelake
    I see Schiit has a "Replacement Tubes" section in their product lineup.....8$ for 6SN7 russian tube...30$ for a new production tungsol.......I thought Jason didn't like new production tubes ? Did he get the best of the new production Tung sols ?
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