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Tube rolling

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by jiminy, Feb 5, 2013.
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  1. elmoe
    Calibration to a flat response may have become universal in 1954, but that doesn't mean it was always used. Before bands got famous, they didn't record their albums in "hi-end" studios, and the results are terrible. This is true for a vast vast majority of bands, not just in pop or early be bop music but in: rock, pop, blues, alot of small jazz ensembles, funk, soul, rnb, metal etc etc etc from the 1950s all the way to the end of the 70s, 15 years AFTER that "standard". And I'm not talking about unknown little bands noone's heard of either. There are an incredible number of albums that were recorded on a 2 track set in the middle of the room while the musicians all bunched up together and played - and on a recording like that, even the best engineers had a hard time doing something good (if they even tried, which didn't happen for many artists).
    Today, yes, CDs are consistent, but the vast majority of my music collection goes from the 1920s to the 1980s. So the problem is still there as far as I'm concerned. Thankfully, some remasters squeezed out as much as they could from the terrible recordings, but compared to a modern "standard" release, they are still far from being good.
    That being said you did get me curious enough to try to calibrate my system to a flat response and see what the fuss is about. I'll be trying it in the future, even if I have my doubts as to whether or not I'll enjoy it more than just adding my tube amp in the mix.
  2. bigshot
    My CD collection includes music going all the way back to the turn of the century too. When the older material is transferred to CD, the engineers balance the EQ and conform it to playback for a flat response. The only time you would need to apply all the various curves of pre-hifi recording is when you play back an original shellac disk. You would apply that particular curve using an equalizer.

    If your EQ curves on your music really were all over the place, a tube amp wouldn't fix that. A tube amp has a specific fixed response, just like a solid state amp does.

    Achieving a flat response in playback isn't easy. It took me about two months to get balanced. But it's worth it. I almost never touch my tone controls and everything sounds good.
  3. elmoe
    Fine, I'll bite.
    What is your methodology to get a flat response? I will try it myself and see.
  4. ab initio


    I imagine something like a calibration microphone would be very beneficial: http://www.cross-spectrum.com/measurement/calibrated_dayton.html
    if you've got three microphones lying around, you might be able to use a technique like this to calibrate them for testing: http://www.nist.gov/calibrations/upload/aip-ch8.pdf
  5. elmoe
    Thanks, I'll have to invest in one (or three). I'll give that a serious read when I have more free time.
  6. bigshot
    I used the calibration system on my Yamaha AV receiver and it identified a bump at the crossover between my mains and my sub, but it totally messed up everything else. It's a good starting place though. I'm recovering from surgery, but when I'm feeling a little better, I'm going to start a thread on how I set up and calibrated my 5:1 system.
  7. elmoe
    Yes that's right, I will wait for your thread and use it as reference then.
  8. Claritas

    Feel better. I'm waiting to learn from the master.
  9. bigshot
    I'm not a master, I've just made all the mistakes so you don't have to.
    Claritas likes this.
  10. Claritas

    Maybe that's precisely what a master is.
  11. Greyiron
    Truth is when you spend big bucks for a tube amp vs same quality ss amp, it is flat out transformers in tube amps are better built ,and cost a hell of a lot more than most transformers in ss amps.  And in many instances better caps and some are still point to point. That in itself is a sonic improvement over a pcb board with microscopic copper lines transmitting a signal.  That is not to say there is no good sounding ss equipment out there.  My ears just prefer tube amps.
  12. bigshot
    Most solid state amps are auraully transparent... balanced response, inaudible levels of distortion, super low noise floor. Even midrange solid state amps don't have a sound. If there are differences in caps and transformers, it isn't audible. The nice thing is the consistency of transparency. I can EQ my system and replace my amp with one with the same power rating and not have to re-EQ. I can swap in players and amps without affecting anything further down the chain.
  13. bbmiller
    The organizer of last year's head FI Denver Colorado meeting told me he was not planning to organize one this year but encouraged me to go to the CanJam @ RMAF which he claimed is one of the biggest headphone meetings in the world and maybe I could get my what things sound like questions answered their.
    He also told me it wouldn't be a good place to experience the effects of tube rolling which are subtle. Yet the most frequent contributor to my tube amp appreciation thread the The Little Dot Mk IV / SE Appreciation Thread constantly claims that tube rolling makes an incredible difference to that amplifier.
    So what do you all experience with your respective tube amplifiers? Is the difference between your amplifiers before and after tube rolling create a tremendous improvement in the sound of music and singing? Can you hear an incredible difference in sound of music and singing between midpriced and high-end amplifiers be they tube or solid-state?
  14. buson160man
     I myself am in the process of finding a good match for my audio research ls2 mk II preamp . So far I have tried a electro harmonix 6922 gold pin tube . It sounds ok although I am not sure if it is completely broken in yet . I bought a Conrad Johnson sourced tube from a dealer and it too turned out to be a electro harmonix 6922 but it is a standard pin tube . But when I put the tube in my preamp it sounded a lot more powerful and seemed to have much higher gain than the gold pin electro harmonix tube I was using. I guess Conrad Johnson has tested their tube for optimal performance and it is probably in the highest performance range of the electro harmonix production . Hence you are paying for that . I paid just short of 50 usd for the tube . Standard untested electro harmonix 6922 tubes are going for around 13 to 15 usd . I am thinking possibly that my gold pin electro harmonix tube has still not been broken in completely . If that is the case I hope that at least it gets close to the Conrad Johnson sourced tube . The gold pin is supposed to be a premium version of the standard tube .At present I am trying a gold pin JJ 6922 that has been fully tested . I like the tube depot comparison they have on their web site . It is helpful for green tube rollers like myself .I did some comparison shopping based on tube depots comparison chart and I have ordered the gold lion gold pin genalax 6922 from them . Based on their chart it appears to have the highest gain of the tubes they listed .The JJ does not sound as bold as the electro harmonix that Conrad Johnson sourced . But as per the list tube depot shows it is a medium gain tube as opposed to the electro harmonix tube which showed higher gain . I am anxious to get the genalax gold lion tube and try that tube .
      I prefer to stick with current production tubes NOS can be a risky proposition . I have tried some NOS tubes in my ray samuels raptor otl headphone amp and found the ones that ray samuels supplied were better suited to their amp .
     Well that is all for now .
  15. elmoe
    I wouldn't say there is an improvement everytime, or that its tremendous. For me it really depends which tubes I use. I have a big box full of 6SN7/12SN7 tubes and I tried every combination until I was satisfied with the one I have now. Some sounded alike, some different enough to tell instantly. Right now I have pretty expensive tubes on there, a blacktop Ken-Rad 6SN7GT VT-231 as driver, and a pair of matched Sophia 6SN7s on the outputs. I also really liked Sylvanias 6SN7GT VT-231s 'bad boys' on the output. The differences are less subtle when you start rolling good quality tubes. My amp came with standard Electro Harmonix 6SN7 tubes (not bad, but not great), and "upgrading" to NOS tubes was worth it for me, the difference was definitely there. Now between Sylvania VT-231s and the Sophias, the difference is more subtle (still there though), after that point it's more about tweaking to get exactly what you want rather than for a gain in sound quality.
    Comparing midpriced/hi-end is difficult. Some mid priced amp I'm sure do as well if not better than some hi-end, some just sound different from one to the other without being better or worse. I've heard headphone amps much more expensive than mine that don't sound nearly as good to my ears, but then again I've put plenty of time into picking the right amp for my headphones, the right tubes, and lately I've been upgrading parts in my Singlepower myself, testing plenty of different things to see what I like best, so you could say it's pretty much customized to fit my tastes. It'll be hard to find a tube (or solid state) amp that I'll like better (I haven't yet, though I've heard plenty).
    Ultimately the best thing you can do is read as much info as you can without putting all your trust into a single opinion, pick the amp according to your main headphones, and try to get many used tubes for a cheap price so you can tube roll and settle on whichever you like best. Back in the day I bought a collection of about 20-30 used tubes with a few hundred hours of life left in them on Head-Fi for around 100-150usd so I could try many out without it costing me an arm. If I was going to buy another amp that uses different tubes I would most likely try to make a Wanted classified asking for old tubes for cheap.
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