Vacuum tubes

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by Whitigir, Nov 7, 2017.
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  1. Whitigir
    I have always been wondering while Vacuum Tubes is coming back to the Hi-fi market. These new productions run are not up to par with the NOS or vintage stuff from the 50-80th ?

    Our equipments and technology are better, so what is holding the new productions back ?

    Pricing ? Well, some NOS is priced as $250-300 each tube....isn’t that good fo a market enough for the new modern tubes to start balling ?
  2. ev13wt
    Well. People love:

    • Experimenting
    • Being cool
    • Talking the talk
    • Being different

    Valves are old tech. They color the sound. Some people like colored sound. I would even say: Almost nobody actually like "flat" sound. Not saying that "flat" is worthless, it is not: without a baseline of "flat", one has no clue what they are even EQing to or from.

    New vs. old - I really don't know. Subjectively I'd simply say that "old" is NIB hype, mixed with the fact that back in the day tubes where made by the billions, as such the processes where streamlined with a higher "baseline" quality possibly?
  3. castleofargh Contributor
    I'm guessing that fewer are attracted by obviously colored sounds nowadays. there is an idea about neutral that has a nice ring to it. same with distortions, not everybody can reconcile the idea that he likes hifi and yet likes a 3%THD amps at the same time.
    all that leads logically to a niche market for those gears with "character". while other manufacturers are left with 2 options: make tube stuff as clean as they can, in which case it's often more expensive and objectively still inferior to what can be achieved with modern techs. or embrace the modern tech.
    the long run of superiority when clipping, has now been replaced by "let's not clip anything in the first place". power is also not much of a problem, even less so for headphones. so we just have fewer reasons to got for tubes(well they do glow and can warm the house this winter).
  4. Whitigir
    That is very true, but I still have yet to see any tube manufacturers to claim that they have any special process such as super high vacuum, or using rare easrth elements or whatever, and to price each tube to be $200-300 each yet. Certainly, there is a market, not sure why they are not doing it
    ev13wt likes this.
  5. ev13wt
    Analyze the market and make some! In reality, just call them High Resolution tubes and be done with it. Put a red ring, or sticker on them. Make up some long winded marketing document with pretty charts and noise floor curves. Salt and pepper with marketing bingo words and wait for the thread here.

    Tubes. High definition tubes, burn-in tested and hand selected by Whit-Tubes Inc.
  6. bigshot
    The market for tubes is similar to the market for vinyl. There is a certain demand among consumers, and it's enough for manufacturers to go into limited production to fill the demand. But back in the day, the technology was all pervasive and there were multiple manufacturers competing against each other. That means that quality standards were higher because the market was stronger. Modern vinyl LPs can be good, but the typical LP from say Capitol Records in the late 50s/early 60s was better. And off the shelf tubes NOS tubes are better than recently manufactured ones. You pay a price for being a technological luddite.
  7. Strangelove424
    Never underestimate the power of nostalgia to artificially aggrandize and overamplify into distortion the virtues of the past. Tubes: make stereo great again.
  8. Whitigir
    That is very true, and for this very limited productions, I don’t think the manufacturers will have any good time to prove and to marketing it easily. Unlike NOS pieces
  9. watchdog507
    I'm not a young, hipster audiophile. Although my children ,might argue the hipster adjective. I've been connected to tubes and tube amps since the sixties. Nothing beats a good tube amp sonically and visually. There is that beautiful warm glow of golden embers. Tube manufacturing is in a renaissance nowadays. If you exclude the mass market production from Asia and look to Europe and some from Asia there are tubes that easily rival the oldies of yore. I would also state that NOS doesn't mean great. Old tubes were made en mass and were disposable. If you got a bad tube you took it back and you were given a new one. Those returned "pulls" are now showing up as NOS. Tube amps when built well, minimize coloration and enhance reproduction. Yes there is a tube "sound" but it's less pronounced nowadays.
  10. Whitigir
    Well, most of the expensive NOS and matched tubes are all tested and more than often is over the manufacturers 100% standard. Though, Tubes does have different sonic characteristic vs solid state devices. But that is another topic.

    It would be nice to see if any manufacturers will be starting out to do what they once did. Telefunken is now trying to make their tubes, but it is not even close to their NOS back in the 60-70 products. Their NoS can simply be 200-300$ each, and the newer one is just JJ engineered, rebranded to Telefunken with some Cryogenic crap.....

    I think people who love tubes devices are just simply living in the wrong time
  11. bigshot
    You know it's really hard to find a well made typewriter, dial up modem, dot matrix printer or pager nowadays too.
  12. watchdog507
    Nope that stuff is easy to find! It's all in my basement somewhere.
  13. bigshot
    New Old Stock!
  14. pinnahertz
    What I'm finding is that there are a whole lot of people that seem to like NOS tubes, but their metric is something like "they sound better in my guitar amp", or something like that. In reality, old tubes were not as wonderful or consistent as people may think. I worked at a broadcast facility in the days of transitioning from tubes to SS. We had a 1947 RCA tube console to maintain, and used to buy tons of tubes, in particular 6J7, because it was so hard to find good ones. They were still being made new by all the big companies at that time. But our metric involved actual audio performance testing, not just listening. We tested tubes on a tube tester to pre-qualify them or match them, then put them into the console and measured noise and distortion, selected the best, and returned the others. Towards the end of that era I got a strong feeling the vendor was just giving us the same tubes we returned over and over! But the point is, they were not as consistent as people say.

    I have a very few new Russian tubes here, they test every bit as good as NOS in the tester, but there are a few issues with the comparison. NOS should mean New Old Stock, unused, ever. But there can't be so many in the world anymore. More likely, the NOS are the best looking pulls from working or retired gear, and put into crisp looking old boxes. Techs didn't ditch working tubes, we kept them all because some applications didn't demand top performance and would work for years with a tired tube pulled from a more critical circuit. So you're probably not getting NOS anyway. And in a way, that's ok. As tubes age in use they tend to stabilize and level out in terms of matching performance. That consistency you think you're getting from old tubes may just be the fact that they've been used a while. But if you're assuming it's a dynamite NOS tube, it may not be. Could be well used, just pretty, clean, and shiny.

    I have no doubt that some new tubes are not built as well, or even the same way as old tubes. But the proof is not in just plugging them in and listening. That's a fully sighted, fully biased test, and that's about all you'll ever read about on line too. Whatever your bias is, you'll prefer, and that's likely to be the old stock/used just because it's actually old. It's almost impossible to run an ABX test on tubes, though, so objective measurement is about the only recourse. It's easy to do today with free software, and there's where you'll actually see any differences...if any...between any tubes, new, used, NOS or POS. But I don't find that data readily available. I don't even find anyone testing tubes for the basic parameters in a tube tester, much less their audio performance. It's all about impression...sighted, biased, and therefore probably wrong.
  15. bigshot
    you'd just take them down to Thrifty Drugs and check them out on the tube tester by the horse rides for a quarter
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