The Reference 6J5 Thread (L63, 6C5, 12J5, 6P5, etc.)
Mar 26, 2021 at 4:38 PM Post #1,336 of 1,630

whirlwind

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Well, I must apologize. And you are right. The ST-bottle Tung Sols I have are in fact flat ladder plates and not round (so much for the bad memory on my part). These are the same "A" suffix, and sound great. I think the round plate, metal base 6J5GT's are a little more open and extended in the treble, but 1) I don't have a lot of time on these ST's yet, and 2) these have a definite "organic" sound to them that works nicely across many musical genres.

VT94A Tung Sol.jpg
These are fantastic tubes IMO.
 
Mar 26, 2021 at 5:12 PM Post #1,338 of 1,630

Xcalibur255

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Well, I must apologize. And you are right. The ST-bottle Tung Sols I have are in fact flat ladder plates and not round (so much for the bad memory on my part). These are the same "A" suffix, and sound great. I think the round plate, metal base 6J5GT's are a little more open and extended in the treble, but 1) I don't have a lot of time on these ST's yet, and 2) these have a definite "organic" sound to them that works nicely across many musical genres.

Right you are! These are identical to what I'm testing right now. I think they're 90-95% the same as the metal base GTs I tested yesterday. Just a touch more organic and a touch more layered maybe, but we're talking small differences. If a person is hunting for a pair of these and all they can find is the metal base version they should snatch those up and not worry about it, they're getting the same flavor and very nearly the same overall listening experience. I must confess, though, that my ears say these are just the tiniest bit better based on what I'm hearing this afternoon. I am not ready to call a verdict on that though since I need to make sure they've settled and their sound is not still changing to any significant degree.

Of everything I've tested so far these are my favorite at the moment. All that's left to test is an STC/Brimar round plate and the GEC L63 brown base. Figured I would wear the tweed jacket last. :p
 
Mar 28, 2021 at 12:56 PM Post #1,339 of 1,630

chrisdrop

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I went for a pair of those Fivre 6C5GT from Langrex. ~10h so far and they are winners. Typical pleasing mids/upper bits for Fivres and even perhaps a bit more grunt than usual? We shall see in 40h or so. They are pretty and taller than most other tubes like this that I have. No "Spumante" style decorations, but lovely nonetheless.
IMG_0104.jpg
 
Mar 28, 2021 at 1:00 PM Post #1,340 of 1,630

bcowen

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I went for a pair of those Fivre 6C5GT from Langrex. ~10h so far and they are winners. Typical pleasing mids/upper bits for Fivres and even perhaps a bit more grunt than usual? We shall see in 40h or so. They are pretty and taller than most other tubes like this that I have. No "Spumante" style decorations, but lovely nonetheless.
IMG_0104.jpg

Gorgeous! Be quite interested in your further thoughts once you get more play time on them.
 
Mar 29, 2021 at 8:47 AM Post #1,343 of 1,630

SHIMACM

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Mar 29, 2021 at 2:11 PM Post #1,345 of 1,630

Xcalibur255

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Here is the VT-94 I've been testing. My photo is much crappier than bcowen's but oh well. They all have been pretty bad. My phone camera doesn't know what it's supposed to be focusing on in these shots I guess.

My final impression hasn't changed from the initial one. Everything I wrote about the Motorola's last week applies here, they're very nearly identical. I find these to be just the tiniest bit better overall but I know I would not be able to tell them apart in a blind test. My advice to new buyers who are looking for these and coming up empty handed is to jump on the metal base GT if you see them, you're not really missing out on anything.

I could easily listen to these tubes permanently and they're my favorite of everything I've tested so far. Next tube is the STC/Brimar which is the pair I paid the most money for. Let's see if they were worth it.
 
Mar 31, 2021 at 5:44 PM Post #1,346 of 1,630

Xcalibur255

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Okay, I tried a dozen times to get a better picture but they just kept getting more and more blurry. So I guess this is as good as it gets from me.

Anyway, here is the STC/Brimar 6J5G black roundplate. For technicals I find this tube to be essentially the equal of the Tung Sol. It's a very good overall sound. The soundstage is nicely deep and three dimensional and very layered within. I find the air and space around notes to feel a little more "dense" with this tube than any other 6J5 I've tried to date. This lends a nice sense of ambience to some music, but I can see it working against something like rock or metal maybe (which I don't really listen to). Not to suggest this is a slow or laid back sound, it's actually not. Bass really kicks and dynamics are good. I find the tonal balance to be very vocal forward with the occasional hint of bite in the treble, but the overall balance is pretty good with no major spotlighting. It's sort of neutralish if neutral was wearing a tweed jacket. I occasionally found the midrange to have a bit of a steely quality to it that I didn't agree with, but this was not pervasive across every piece I listened to.

This quality came out in the most interesting way with string instruments. On the one hand the sense of body and weight from the string was great but occasionally the steely overtone would cut into the realism of the timbre for me. It's actually rather similar sounding to the Raytheon roundplate tonally, only with better bass kick and some differences in the specific areas where the midrange is forward sounding.

A very good tube overall. I would probably rate it behind both of the Tung Sols but probably ahead of everything else I've written about so far. The last tube I will be writing about is the GEC L63 and if there are no surprises that will probably be a brief post since others have covered that tube here quite a bit already.

edit: Added 'not' to the last sentence in my paragraph about tone that totally changes the meaning of the statement. :)
 
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Apr 2, 2021 at 11:19 AM Post #1,347 of 1,630

Xcalibur255

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Did I save the blurriest photo for last? I sure might have! :p

This tube probably needs no introduction since it's popular here, but it's the GEC L63 with black ladder plates in clear straight glass brown base clothes.

Right off the bat what struck me about the L63 is how rich the tone is. It actually sounds quite a lot like a Marconi Osram B65 in terms of tonal balance, but it's a bit richer and bolder perhaps. That's actually kind of the theme of this tube all round I would say: rich and bold but without becoming too much or too heavy handed. It pulls it off without any overt bad habits either such as glare or honk in the mids or any etch or hardness in the treble. Pretty impressive.

I think the soundstage is what struck me most. It's intimate, and maybe the smallest out of all the tubes I've tested the past few weeks. Like my comment about the Brimars the sense of air and space just seems to feel more "dense" here, like it's more fog than air. This brings a strong ambience to some kinds of music. It's probably not actually smaller than the other tubes here but rather just comes across that way because the presentation is so musically 'dense' here.

Dynamically this tube is quite forward and expressive. Lots of energy but it's well controlled. I am particularly drawn to how it handles transients and leading edges. They are quick and incisive without feeling harsh or edgy. That's a hard balancing act to pull off. There's something about the presentation here that says "I'm powerful, bold" but at the same time it's still refined and controlled.

Did I save the best for last? Not quite. If I had to pick one tube out of this whole lot of nine it would be the Tung Sol VT94, and if I dropped one of them and broke it I would swap over to the Motorolas and not feel any immediate need to hunt down a replacement. I would put the L63s in a tie for second place with the Brimars. I think I like the Brimar presentation a little better overall, it has some of that round plate 3D holography going on with it's soundstage presentation and I think everything breathes a little better and layers a little better. The L63 is very good at layering and note seperation, it's just that all the musical information feels packed in so tight and I like the Brimar's presentation of that musical information a little better. What hurts the Brimar is that sometimes steely overtone in the mids, and I'm wondering if maybe more burn-in time would make it go away. But for now I think I'd just call it a draw between them. Both great tubes and great sounds.

To whoever is still reading thanks for tagging along and I hope these write-ups have been worth reading. Again this isn't meant to be used as buying advice per se. I didn't put enough effort into controlling conditions from tube to tube, it was more just a stream of consciousness thing. Hope somebody got something out of it though!

For a final wrap-up if I had to rank all of these tubes I think it would land like this:

1) Tung Sol VT94
2) Motorola (Tung-Sol) 6J5GT
3) [TIE] Brimar 6J5G and GEC L63
4) Raytheon 6J5G ladder plate
5) Raytheon 6J5G round plate
6) Sylvania 6J5GT black ladder late
7) Sylvania 6J5GT grey round plate
8) Sylvania 6J5G black round plate

The only tube in this entire list that I did not like was the Sylvania in last place. Which is super interesting because other people swear by this tube and consider it to be their absolute favorite. I guess it just goes to show that we all listen very differently and have different priorities when it comes to what we like. For me this tube just sounds inauthentic in a cartoonish way. Instruments just never sounded real. The only thing that really holds back the other Sylvanias, especially the ladder plate, was that they were simply outclassed by the tubes at the top of the list when it came to sheer resolution. The grey roundplate has it but it's a dead fish in terms of dynamics. The black ladder plate has the dynamics but it just doesn't have the low level detail and texture retrieval of the best tubes in the group. The Raytheons could also basically be another tie. I really liked the round plate soundstage presentation, but when it came to tone it wasn't as well balanced as the ladder plate whose overall presentation I thought was more even handed and pleasant.

One thing I will say is this: nearly every tube on this list is superior to the vast majority of the 6SN7s I have heard, and the top three on this list are flat out superior to EVERY 6SN7 I have ever heard and I have owned/heard pretty much all of the desirable ones over the years. There was consistently a sense of superior note separation and layering, but in the case of the Tung-Sols and the British duo they also had superior musical detail retrieval too. Other than a lack of new production offerings to ensure that future scarcity doesn't become an issue I'm quite surprised more amp makers don't use this tube over the 6SN7. Sure the circuit needs both triode sections sometimes, but in some amps it actually does not. Some even just leave one section unused and literally operate the 6SN7 as a 6J5. Maybe it's better, however, that this tube doesn't become as well known as the 6SN7 thought otherwise price and scarcity will quickly become an issue.
 
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Apr 2, 2021 at 12:30 PM Post #1,349 of 1,630

chrisdrop

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Fixed a few typos.....

Man I feel like I've been monopolizing this thread lately. I'm all out of tubes to review at this point so the next few pages of this thread shouldn't be filled with posts from only me now. :p
A most welcome, well expressed, and throughly enjoyable monopolisation. I have thoroughly enjoyed...
 
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Apr 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM Post #1,350 of 1,630

A2029

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One thing I will say is this: nearly every tube on this list is superior to the vast majority of the 6SN7s I have heard, and the top three on this list are flat out superior to EVERY 6SN7 I have ever heard and I have owned/heard pretty much all of the desirable ones over the years. There was consistently a sense of superior note separation and layering, but in the case of the Tung-Sols and the British duo they also had superior musical detail retrieval too. Other than a lack of new production offerings to ensure that future scarcity doesn't become an issue I'm quite surprised more amp makers don't use this tube over the 6SN7. Sure the circuit needs both triode sections sometimes, but in some amps it actually does not. Some even just leave one section unused and literally operate the 6SN7 as a 6J5. Maybe it's better, however, that this tube doesn't become as well known as the 6SN7 thought otherwise price and scarcity will quickly become an issue.

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*Awesome job with the write ups! Some great reads :)
 

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