The Reference 6J5 Thread (L63, 6C5, 12J5, 6P5, etc.)
Apr 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM Post #1,351 of 1,426

Slade01

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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.

Thanks for at least making me feel like i'm not crazy in this line of thinking about the Sylvanias. I felt both round plate versions were lifeless, regardless of the power tube pairing (@therremans - I gave it a legit shot even with the 5998 - still same result for me), and the ladder plate was just lacking in detail/resolution compared to the Raytheons.

I essentially sold off all my Sylvanias. Kept the Raytheons and GEC L63. I haven't had the pleasure of trying the tung-sols, but i'm quite satisfied with what I have for sure.

Really appreciate your monpolisation of the thread as well - definitely eye opening and many will benefit from your impressions.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 1:08 PM Post #1,352 of 1,426

Xcalibur255

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Appreciate the kind words guys. :) Also, I seem to recall saying I wasn't going to post much about the L63. That sure didn't happen. :p

I returned the amp to the setup it was using before I started all this: with the Mullard ECC32 in the driver socket. After the last few tubes it just feels like something is missing. That's really saying something considering I'm talking about an ECC32.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 1:13 PM Post #1,353 of 1,426

Xcalibur255

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Thanks for at least making me feel like i'm not crazy in this line of thinking about the Sylvanias. I felt both round plate versions were lifeless, regardless of the power tube pairing (@therremans - I gave it a legit shot even with the 5998 - still same result for me), and the ladder plate was just lacking in detail/resolution compared to the Raytheons.

I essentially sold off all my Sylvanias. Kept the Raytheons and GEC L63. I haven't had the pleasure of trying the tung-sols, but i'm quite satisfied with what I have for sure.

Really appreciate your monpolisation of the thread as well - definitely eye opening and many will benefit from your impressions.
It's interesting you found BOTH of the round plates to be lifeless. I definitely feel that way about the grey GT tube, but the old engraved base black G had the best dynamics out of the whole group of nine to my ears. It was positively bombastic sounding compared to some of the others. The problem is that tonally it just sounds ridiculous, like turning the color saturation on your TV all the way up to max. That, and everything has this plasticky quality to it. That tube is all macro with no micro to give the sound realism. I ran across a thread on another forum complaining that too many people are hunting this tube to extinction. Well, those guys can have them. :p I am keeping mine because I want to see how they sound in my new amp when it arrives. Different circuit with different biasing so maybe it will pull a 180 on me and my impression will improve. If it doesn't I'll have no qualms about selling them to somebody who might enjoy them more. It's a pity too because cosmetically they're probably the nicest tubes in my 6J5 stock. I really found a nice pair of them.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 1:44 PM Post #1,354 of 1,426

Xcalibur255

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So here's something interesting........ while doing some proofreading I couldn't shake the feeling that the Triangle and the Motorola look like the same tube. So I pulled them both out and they appear identical with only one difference: the Motorola has a bit of a chalky matte coating on it's plate and the Triangle is a bit more of a shiny black. Other than that the construction is exactly the same. The Motorola has Tung-Sol's 322 manufacturer code on it, the Triangle does not; only a date code. So I have some reason to believe I've misidentified the Triangle as a Sylvania when it might be a TungSol, but to my ears the two tubes don't SOUND the same. They share a similar character and tonal balance but the Motorola is substantially superior in resolution and dynamics/drive. I think I need to run the Triangle in the amp some more and see if it "turns into" the Motorola sound-wise.

I guess the other possibility is that with Triangle being both a re-brand and an "off-brand" maybe these are B-stock tubes that test worse or are inferior in some way hence their inferior technical performance. This was rather common with these odd brand tubes like Triangle and Dumont and the like. Sort of like "working rejects" that were cheaper for a reason.
 
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Apr 2, 2021 at 2:24 PM Post #1,355 of 1,426

Slade01

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It's interesting you found BOTH of the round plates to be lifeless. I definitely feel that way about the grey GT tube, but the old engraved base black G had the best dynamics out of the whole group of nine to my ears. It was positively bombastic sounding compared to some of the others. The problem is that tonally it just sounds ridiculous, like turning the color saturation on your TV all the way up to max. That, and everything has this plasticky quality to it. That tube is all macro with no micro to give the sound realism. I ran across a thread on another forum complaining that too many people are hunting this tube to extinction. Well, those guys can have them. :p I am keeping mine because I want to see how they sound in my new amp when it arrives. Different circuit with different biasing so maybe it will pull a 180 on me and my impression will improve. If it doesn't I'll have no qualms about selling them to somebody who might enjoy them more. It's a pity too because cosmetically they're probably the nicest tubes in my 6J5 stock. I really found a nice pair of them.

Yeah - for me for some reason with 6J5 universe...i've preferred ladder plates each and every single time over the round plates of any ilk. It is a surprising reaction to me as well...i've loved round plate presentations in other variants, but not here. I didn't quite hear the (oversaturated) dynamics but it could have been my tube - maybe it was a low measuring tube or something (I do not have a tester), i don't know. But in any event, they raytheon's for me are a real sweet spot.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 2:31 PM Post #1,356 of 1,426

bcowen

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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
Some monopolies are good things. :smile: Lots of great information you've passed along, and I (for one) greatly appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts in such a detailed and well-written manner.

Funny thing was that the Tung-Sol 6J5GT's were the first 6J5's I tried. Liked them a lot. Then all I read about was Sylvania this and Sylvania that, so I grabbed a few different pairs of Sylvanias. Well, ugh. I mean not a global ugh (they're not bad sounding tubes), just that the Tung-Sols kinda stomped all over them. Then I grabbed a pair of the GEC L63's, and I like them a lot too. Different sound than the Tung-Sols, but equally enjoyable in other ways. Now I've just got to figure out what's going on with these Hytron 7A4's, because they step on even the Tung-Sols. Not hugely, just all around a bit better (in my amp, anyway). I keep looking for more, but all I ever see is the CBS/Hytron version which has different internal construction (from what I can make out in seller photos) than the ones labeled Hytron only.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 2:58 PM Post #1,357 of 1,426

Xcalibur255

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Yeah - for me for some reason with 6J5 universe...i've preferred ladder plates each and every single time over the round plates of any ilk. It is a surprising reaction to me as well...i've loved round plate presentations in other variants, but not here. I didn't quite hear the (oversaturated) dynamics but it could have been my tube - maybe it was a low measuring tube or something (I do not have a tester), i don't know. But in any event, they raytheon's for me are a real sweet spot.

I like the Ray's too. Maybe that didn't come across enough when I wrote about then but I could listen to them full time just like the TungSol VT94. It's hard to pull off sounding lithe and vintage without being boring but I think these do.

I'm going to re-test the Motorola and Triangle comparing them directly. I feel like I need to shake that tree a little more. I'm also going to re-test the engraved base Sylvania to make sure I'm being fair to it. My initial review wasn't super negative but that feeling really sunk in afterward and it kind of shows when I brought it up in subsequent posts. And just for good measure I'll listen to the Sylvania grey round plate again just because it's probably the tube I spent the least amount of time with. I feel like I got better at this as I went along so might as well circle back to the beginning again too. Those tubes have getter that has burned off and re-deposited at the top of the tube which is an indication of a lot of hours of operation. Naturally they were sold to me as "testing new" by the seller. :p Maybe they're not representative either.

The Motorola/Triangle thing throws me off though. I should have noticed earlier that they have the same construction, but I've got the Triangles back in the amp right now and my immediate impression is "these just sound veiled compared my memories of the Motorola" and the 3-5k region is a little more splashy the way I would associate with a Sylvania tube and not a TungSol tube. So who knows I guess they could be basically identical looking and still be made by two different companies. No reason that's impossible after all.
 
Apr 2, 2021 at 3:23 PM Post #1,358 of 1,426

SHIMACM

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Excellent reviews! Congratulations!

I was unsure if I would buy a pair of Zenith / Sylvania 6j5g to try, but after I read their reviews I ended up giving up.

I am currently with 4 pairs of the 6j5 family.

A pair of GEC L63, a pair of TS 6j5gt, a pair of TS 6j5gt and a pair of Sylvanias 6j5gt.

I have a pair of Fivre 6c5g on the way to try it out.

Of the 6j5 / 6c5 / L63 family I am still curious only on Mullard 6j5g and Brimar 6c5g.

But I have not yet acquired the courage to buy them.
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 7:20 PM Post #1,360 of 1,426

raindownthunda

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Taking some time today to appreciate this rust-bucket of a tube I recently picked up, the Tung-Sol 6J5GT. You're probably thinking that a tube this ugly must sound awful, right??

Well, I stand with @Xcalibur255 on this tube being top-tier when it comes to price vs performance. I picked up two singles off of eBay to make a pair. Combined with a Philips (Mullard) 6080, the total cost for these three tubes came out to just under $45 total (incl. shipping + tax). Very pleased with how this combination sounds... Airy and ethereal soundstage, great bass texture and extension, luscious full bodied mids, and striking image placement and layering. I thought with the Mullard 6060 the treble would be more rolled off and muddy, but the TS 6J5GT seems to do a great job of keeping it all together. I am not missing the GEC L63 one bit. So, here is my ode to discovering and appreciating the inner beauty of the truly grotesque tubes out there. You are loved.

2021-04-07 15.51.41.jpg

2021-04-07 15.44.14.jpg
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 9:21 PM Post #1,361 of 1,426

bcowen

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Taking some time today to appreciate this rust-bucket of a tube I recently picked up, the Tung-Sol 6J5GT. You're probably thinking that a tube this ugly must sound awful, right??

Well, I stand with @Xcalibur255 on this tube being top-tier when it comes to price vs performance. I picked up two singles off of eBay to make a pair. Combined with a Philips (Mullard) 6080, the total cost for these three tubes came out to just under $45 total (incl. shipping + tax). Very pleased with how this combination sounds... Airy and ethereal soundstage, great bass texture and extension, luscious full bodied mids, and striking image placement and layering. I thought with the Mullard 6060 the treble would be more rolled off and muddy, but the TS 6J5GT seems to do a great job of keeping it all together. I am not missing the GEC L63 one bit. So, here is my ode to discovering and appreciating the inner beauty of the truly grotesque tubes out there. You are loved.

2021-04-07 15.51.41.jpg
2021-04-07 15.44.14.jpg
Sweet! If you have a Dremel, these work wonders in making tubes like that look as good as they sound. :laughing:

https://www.amazon.com/AUSTOR-Piece...1e123&pd_rd_wg=yUYQr&pd_rd_i=B07BNCB8TW&psc=1
 
Apr 7, 2021 at 10:44 PM Post #1,362 of 1,426

PsilocybinCube

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Now I've just got to figure out what's going on with these Hytron 7A4's, because they step on even the Tung-Sols.
I keep looking for these and can't find them either. I bought two pairs of 7a4 tubes, but both were terribly microphonic. This has given me an incentive to try them again.
 
Apr 8, 2021 at 5:23 AM Post #1,363 of 1,426

whirlwind

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IMG_20210401_104750582.jpg

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.
Nice job and thanks for your time on all of these tubes.
Also it is interesting and shows just how subjective sound is....it really does not matter if someone else does not like the tubes that you like....that would mean most people hear the same, which just is not true. Besides hearing, ones preference and gear come into the equation also.
For instance, I love the Sylvania 6J5 tubes and one of my favorite tubes is the ECC32....this sure does not mean everyone or even the majority will like these in their system.
I believe the best advise for anyone is to just listen to your ears and use what tubes you like...regardless of what they are.

Thanks again for your fine work here and who knows....things could very well change with your new amp. :beerchug:
 
Apr 8, 2021 at 7:56 AM Post #1,364 of 1,426

SHIMACM

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Taking some time today to appreciate this rust-bucket of a tube I recently picked up, the Tung-Sol 6J5GT. You're probably thinking that a tube this ugly must sound awful, right??

Well, I stand with @Xcalibur255 on this tube being top-tier when it comes to price vs performance. I picked up two singles off of eBay to make a pair. Combined with a Philips (Mullard) 6080, the total cost for these three tubes came out to just under $45 total (incl. shipping + tax). Very pleased with how this combination sounds... Airy and ethereal soundstage, great bass texture and extension, luscious full bodied mids, and striking image placement and layering. I thought with the Mullard 6060 the treble would be more rolled off and muddy, but the TS 6J5GT seems to do a great job of keeping it all together. I am not missing the GEC L63 one bit. So, here is my ode to discovering and appreciating the inner beauty of the truly grotesque tubes out there. You are loved.

2021-04-07 15.51.41.jpg
2021-04-07 15.44.14.jpg

These 6j5gt Ts are wonderful. Yesterday I heard them paired with Chatham 6as7g. Wow.
 
Apr 8, 2021 at 10:25 AM Post #1,365 of 1,426

Xcalibur255

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Nice job and thanks for your time on all of these tubes.
Also it is interesting and shows just how subjective sound is....it really does not matter if someone else does not like the tubes that you like....that would mean most people hear the same, which just is not true. Besides hearing, ones preference and gear come into the equation also.
For instance, I love the Sylvania 6J5 tubes and one of my favorite tubes is the ECC32....this sure does not mean everyone or even the majority will like these in their system.
I believe the best advise for anyone is to just listen to your ears and use what tubes you like...regardless of what they are.

Thanks again for your fine work here and who knows....things could very well change with your new amp. :beerchug:

Something I was also reminded of this week is that the order in which I listened to these tubes can and likely did influence my impressions. In order to really go at this in a scientific way and make it as fair as possible it would probably entail enough work to really drain the fun out of it. That's why I plastered all those disclaimers about it being merely a stream of consciousness thing. My choice of headphones is really big here too. The Beyers are well known for being picky with matching and the guy listening to them is awfully picky about how much energy is present in certain tone areas too. :)
 

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