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Vali 2 tube rolling

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by capt369, Jan 8, 2016.
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  1. Mr Trev
    I never meant to imply that quality tubes don't make a difference, just that I don't exactly know how much "quality" I should be willing to pay for. And how much of that quality will even show through with the Vali

    I do have an adapter and this tube: http://dbtubes.com/en/general-electric-vacuum-tube/5670wa-3-mica-black-plate.html. Its OK I guess. Nothing really jumped out to me and I had other tubes to check out so I didn't spend a huge amount of time with it - yet. I have read the hype (not meant in a bad way) about the 5670/396a tubes on the Lyr thread, so I'm not going to dismiss them completely

    I just got a TS 6sn7 mouse ear today - got it cheap on auction (Zenith branded with crack in the base, but I'm not hung up on those things). I'll see how this goes…
    volly likes this.
  2. bcowen
    I've never had a GE 5670 (or variant), so take this with a gargantuan grain of salt, but I have yet to hear a GE tube I could stand, from 12AX/U/T7's to 6SN/L7's, to 6CG7's to 845's, to...well, I've had a lot of different types over the years. If not bland and uninvolving, they're screechy and irritating. Point being that the GE may not be the best representative of the 396A/5670/2C51/6N3PE family. Probably why they're so cheap....nobody else likes them either. :grin::grin: Hope I get some time this weekend to try out my long awaited 396 adapter. I have WE 396A's, Sylvania 2C51's, RCA 5670's, and Reflektor (Russian) 6N3PE's to play with, and I'll share what I hear for whatever it's worth. The 6N3PE's are dirt cheap (but take a while in shipping from Putin-ville), and the Sylvanias can still be had for a decent price ($25- $30). The RCA's are pricier, but still a bit less than the WE's.

    Be very interested in your thoughts on the Tung-Sol. My 6SN7 adapter just arrived today. :laughing:
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    volly likes this.
  3. bcowen
  4. bcowen
    The RCA clear top (side getter) with black plates has been one of my favorites in the big rig, and preferred (by me) over Sylvanias, Tung-Sols, and even pricier Amperex's. The RCA chrome-dome (top getter) not so much...clear top is clearly mo' better. :sweat_smile: They're in the $10 - $15 range on Ebay...not sure what the good tube vendors are charging these days. Obviously I haven't listened to any of them in the Vali yet...
  5. Mr Trev
    You're not the first to mention the RCA cleartop. Even the 12au7 variety gets some good press. Another fellow I chatted with recommended a triple mica Tung-Sol.

    My initial impressions of the 5670 I bought was it seemed to be on the brighter side as well as a more forward presentation from what I was used to. It seemed to mellow a bit after a few days. I don't know whether that would be contributed to tube or brain burn-in.
    I did order a Reflector 6n3p-e (along with a Foton 6h8n - whatever the Soviet version of the 6sn7 is). I was supposed to get them close to a month ago. Supposed being the key word. Not sure what happened there, but the seller did refund my purchase so no harm done (actually considering the tubes only cost me $8 total, I would've rather had the tubes than a refund)

    The Tung Sol is playing well so far even though it isn't the most elegant looking setup in the world - two stacked adapters, tube sitting way up in the air. It doesn't do the same "make my headphones disappear" magic act as the Yugo-funken, but I can't really complain about what I'm hearing so far (esp. since I got the tube for only $10 + shipping).
    If the whole 6sn7 thing does play out I'm thinking about making a new lid for the Vali so I can get away with just one adapter - probably buy one of those lower profile adapters too
    volly likes this.
  6. bcowen
    Got started today with the WE 396A. Should've done that one last, because the RCA 5670 and Sylvania 2C51 aren't as good. I'll have to say that the WE 396A bests the Telefunken 6DJ8, although the differences are not night and day and more in the area of subtleties. Then I decided to stick in the 6SN7 adapter with a CBS/Hytron 5692. OMG. I normally have the Loki set with the bass control at 3:00 and the far right treble at 11:00. With the Hytron, the bass control is now at 11:00, and the treble at 1:00. Translated for the Loki-less: this tube whomps out the bass like a 70's disco club, but is a little closed-in up top. With the "corrections" that can be made with the Loki, this tube into the Alpha Primes is spectacular with dynamics I didn't think the Primes were capable of, and a much wider, more delineated soundstage. Midrange is touchy-feely with the harmonic detail and depth that is important to me (and primarily why I fuss with tubes). Note that my evaluations here are very preliminary - each tube was warmed up for about 15 minutes, and then listened to for about an hour. As all these are NOS, I'm obviously far short of even a minimal amount of break-in time, and even further short of long-term listening to determine if the initial attraction holds up or is more like the girl at the bar that's drop-dead gorgeous....until she opens her mouth. But since I'm stoked with what I hear now, I rummaged through the stash and pulled out a Ken-Rad 6SN7GT, Raytheon VT-231, RCA 6SN7GTB, Philips 6SN7GTB, and a Hitachi 6SN7GTB to play with. Pulled an RCA clear-top 6CG7 while I was at it, and then remembered I forgot to try the Reflektor 6N3PE with the 5670 adapter, so gotta give them a whirl next. So much work to do. :flushed:

    Yeah, the adapter stack looks kinda stoopid, but my ears can't see it. :expressionless:

    volly and luckybaer like this.
  7. volly
    @bcowen - I love rolling in the octals, they have excellent air and presence about them. Soundstage and instruments are more resolving.

    Let us know what you think of the Kenrad, it's got a good reputation for solid bass end.
  8. volly
    Keep us update on the mouse ear's mate!
  9. Mr Trev
    Jeez, your adapters are tiny compared to what I have. My 6sn7 adapter has the socket on top of the brass ring. I really need to look into one of those G1217 adapters…

    Good thing you brought up those Reflektors. That seemed to be the kick in the butt the shipping gods needed to get mine finally delivered. Happy to hear it wasn't nearly as in your face as the GE5670. BIgger than I thought too, I had to double check and make sure I hadn't been shipped a 6n23 by mistake.

    My critical listening skills and descriptional-bility of such aren't the best (about as good as my making up words) but the mouse ear is turning out pretty good. It does have a more forward presentation than the Yugo-funken, but is much better controlled bass-wise and has wider, more precise imaging. Listening to some sludgey-doom metal today with my X2. Usually they can be overly sludgey with this type of music, but the TS has an appropriate amount of heft without the bass overunning everything else - any more than its supposed to, anyhow
    volly likes this.
  10. musicfan145
    If you search for “DC” in the main Vali 2 thread, there are definitely some posts that cause concern for using the Vali 2 as a preamp in a speaker rig.

    If you do decide to use it that way, the good news is that most of the really expensive tubes have more air/extension/detail/resolve/etc.: That is, they have more output in the high frequencies. You’re wanting the opposite, so you can stick with cheaper tubes!

    Since your system is bi-amped, you might also look for a way to simply reduce the gain on the tweeter amp channels.
    scotvl and luckybaer like this.
  11. scotvl
  12. RustyPitchfork
    So I have been staying off this thread so I could just swap tubes and try not to be swayed one way or the other, but I am now ready to report my findings. First lets get some of the technical out of the way. Headphones - Monoprice M1060’s (gen 2 - unmodified 50+ hours of breakin) and E-Mu Wood Series (Teak and Ebony cups 40ish hours). Both headphones are run off custom Impact Audio Cables. All music is FLAC from a Plex Server though an iOS Device AirPlayed to an Airport Express optical out to Modi 2 Multibit, Schiit Pyst RCA Cables to Vali 2.

    Stock tube - Taiwan R.O.C. - I’m so happy I started with this tube. It’s the most bland tube. It really made the Vali 2 sound flat and unexciting, but is a fantastic reference point. And I usually start there before I plug in a new tube.

    GE JAN-5670 - This tube, while better than the stock, is also fairly bland. It has a bigger sound stage, but is fairly flat for imaging and lacks the warmth or crispness of other tubes.

    Western Electric 396A - This tube is fantastic. It adds the warmth and sound stage I was hoping for. It really rounds out the treble where other tubes can make highs more pronounced. I understand why it’s a cult favorite around the forums. Not quite the same imaging as the Philips tubes below.


    Tesla E88CC (Gold Pins, Aug 1972) - This might be one of my favorite tubes. It’s got a similar sound profile as the 396A but more lively. It’s my go-to tube for listening to anything Rock and Roll on my M1060s. Sound stage is huge and has great imaging. Lots of warmth, makes for super smooth highs.

    RTC ECC88 (Made at the Philips Heerlen Plant) - Clean and crisp. Is more punchy in the high end, but adds warmth to mids, and keeps lows unmuddled. Again, has huge sound stage and great imaging. A great example of why Philips tubes are a standard.

    Philips E188CC (Gold pins, Nov 1968 - Made at the La Radiotechnique, Suresnes France) - Otherworldly sound stage and imaging, but the punch at the high end is so huge, depending on the tracks, can be unlistenable with the M1060s. The E-Mu’s love this tube. This is also my go-to tube for jazz, just have to be careful with the highs. I wonder if this tube needs some break in time to smooth out the high end.
    riffrafff, volly and bcowen like this.
  13. bcowen
    Thanks for sharing your impressions! Don't have any Philips or RTC's in the stash, but have some Teslas with an IH code, which if my info is correct would be August 1982. Have to give one a whirl. Just ordered a 1964 Tesla 6CC42 (396A variant). The genuine Teslas (pre-JJ) are awesome tubes as a general rule, so we'll see if that carries through with the 6CC42. What I really need is for someone to slap some sense into me, 'cause I'm enjoying this 5692 so much I need to just stop. :unamused:
    luckybaer and volly like this.
  14. volly
    RustyPitchfork, bcowen and luckybaer like this.
  15. bcowen
    volly likes this.
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