Vintage Tube Rebranding

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J-ROB
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Post by J-ROB » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:33 pm

Yeah, before the fact opinions, often distilled from internet ramblings written by folks who probably didn't actually hear what they are speculating about, is a problem. Hearsay and junk science gets passed along as gospel truth every day.

With tube rankings, taste and particulars of equipment matter a lot. There is nothing cut and dry about it.

Exotica also seems to become more desirable than something that is easy to get.

This is not an easy answer but the only legit answer is to listen and decide.

I am in the hi-fi trade. My company sidesteps preconceptions by making things that people never heard before and the things we make that fit into exiting categories don't sound anything like the preconceptions would suggest.

Anyway our stuff is so rare and expensive that it doesn't matter, because few will get to hear it except at audio shows but we know what we are doing in terms of trashing prejudices and expectations. That's what makes it fun.

The way i see it, there is no point in making new gear using 12AX7s except that they are still making them. There are better NOS tubes out there and the desirable 12AX7s are on Antiques Roadshow. Why get into that scramble?

Simply employing a 12AX7 puts you into the insane 12AX7 discourse whether you like it or not.

For those with 12AX7 based gear, especially MI and music production gear, they all make sound, so check them out.

As mentioned above, I swapped a set of JJs in a Vintage 47 guitar amp where I previously had vintage Mullards and RCA 6V6 and I'd have to say it was every bit as good with the Czech tubes. I think the vintage tubes might last longer but not 100% sure about that. I was to lazy to plug in the vintage tubes again so the JJs are still in the amp. If it really mattered I would have gotten off my ass and put the old tubes back in.

Yeah, Mullards and RCAs sound better on the net, but this amp ain't on the net...

Use what ya got and if opportunities to try others present themselves, try em out if you are in the mood.

One place to learn about physical differences in tubes is ebay. Knowledgeable sellers will depict the subtle markers in order to extract max bucks from Taiwanese 12AX7 collectors. Just don't believe the hype that goes along with the distinctions.
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bluesman
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Post by bluesman » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:49 pm

"One place to learn about physical differences in tubes is ebay."

:lol:
"The digital future sucks the boils off my white ass." McHugh

J-ROB
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Post by J-ROB » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:54 pm

Hey don't laugh, bro...I just saw an auction listing for a "17th century cast iron pot like the cowboys used to cook out on the range."

And a 1oz bottle of synthetic oil "ideal for Altec Lansing gear."

Learnin new shit every day on ebay.
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mechanicalmastering
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Post by mechanicalmastering » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:11 am

"One place to learn about physical differences in tubes is ebay."
I actually agree with J-ROB, it's amazing what sort of info someone will be willing to grab and latch onto when there's a profit to be made, I've learned quite a bit about tubes from sellers. Being the original poster, I refuse to tolerate any disrespectful posts towards others and request that you leave my thread. Dick.

bluesman
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Post by bluesman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:48 am

"I refuse to tolerate any disrespectful posts towards others and request that you leave my thread. Dick."

Oh No! Oh No!....I'm being bullied on the internet!!! But, that's ok, Please....have a nicer day today & be nicer to the people you meet along the way.

Hey! you may have given me the inspiration to write & record a new anti bullying song. :lol:
"The digital future sucks the boils off my white ass." McHugh

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farview
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Post by farview » Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:52 am

As with a lot of things in audio, if there is a never ending argument about which is better, there can't be much of a difference. If it was that obvious a difference, there would be no argument. No one will argue that Danny Devito is taller than the Empire State Building...

J-ROB
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Post by J-ROB » Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:16 am

, I refuse to tolerate any disrespectful posts towards others and request that you leave my thread.
Don't leave, bluesman! Jeez, I was just starting to like the guy.

I have owned about a hundred thousand tubes and I learn things about tubes on ebay all the time.

Where else will you find thousands of macro photos of tubes from all around the globe?

I don't care who you are, there is tube information on ebay that you don't already know.

Actually, the more you know, the more info you can derive from pics on ebay.

Of course, a lot of the text is insane jibber jabber but photos don't lie.

The marketplace is not only a means to make money, it is a channel of communication and information diffusion. Think about all we learn about gear from people trying to sell us stuff or popular reactions to their propaganda.

There are no textbooks on this stuff. You have to harvest the information where it is available.

Just trying to pass along some hints to people trying to learn. Those of you who think you are already experts, you are on your own.
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bluesman
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Post by bluesman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:22 am

"I don't care who you are, there is tube information on ebay that you don't already know.

Actually, the more you know, the more info you can derive from pics on ebay.

Of course, a lot of the text is insane jibber jabber but photos don't lie. "

On this, I will agree...I own several hundred tubes of all types & brands & never stop seeking them out wherever I go. I have heard good sounding vintage tubes and bad ones & I have heard good sounding recent production tubes and bad ones. To me the sound the tube produces in the circuit is much more important than the branding on the bottle.

I enjoyed your website by the way...good stuff, old & new.
"The digital future sucks the boils off my white ass." McHugh

J-ROB
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Post by J-ROB » Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:39 am

To me the sound the tube produces in the circuit is much more important than the branding on the bottle.
Precisely my point.

My design partner, jc morrison (former lead engineer at New Sensor,) and I are working on some pro gear built to insane standards like our hifi stuff and we will not be using many, if any, of the standard issue audio tubes. This would be limiting--no pun intended.

There are many specialized tubes built to much higher standards and performance metrics than standard audio tubes but the opposite is also true that the most reliable tubes are often those that were made by the zillions for TV sets and so forth.

In 2011, I think it is time to map new paths through the world of vacuum tubes based on contemporary realities of NOS availability and new production, without getting bogged down in the way it has always been done before.

Mega manufacturers are stuck with using the dozen current production tube types but individual DIYers and smaller operations have a lot of freedom.

Simply switching to a different heater voltage can open up major avenues of supply.

That being said, there are some very decent options in new manufacture tubes...like JJ.

On the whole, the best tubes are the ones you can get, If a rare 12AX7 costs $500 and they are all gone or in Korea, what difference does it make?

When you think creatively and use your ears, the world can look a lot different than it does on the tube tasting threads on forums.

This is not the easy answer but it is the answer.
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Rob Coates
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Post by Rob Coates » Wed Jan 18, 2012 9:25 pm

mechanicalmastering wrote:
I have an NOS "Zenith" Mullard. I also have Mullards branded "Eico" and "Heath"
I guess that what I'd like to know is HOW do you know they are actually Mullards? Were ALL Eico's and Heath's Mullards? If so, what companies were rebranding Telefunken and Amperex?
Mullards are identified by appearance and "made in Grt. Britain" printed on the tube. The Eico also says "by Mullard" in small print.
RobCoates

Rolsen
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Post by Rolsen » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:52 pm

I've been interested in diving into the NOS 12ax7 tube world for a few years, but every time I start jonesing, I take a breath, look at the cost (i.e. grey plate RCAs to Bugle Boys and Mullards, ranging between $75 to >$200) and realize my money is better spent elsewhere. For the price of vintage glass, preamp and power, you could probably buy a Celestion Alnico Gold which will make a bigger improvement in your tone and last years longer! Or, buy better pickups, a kick-ass analog delay, a nicer ribbon mic... in my mind all those are better investments and you won't get suckered into the vintage glass interweb hackery all too common these days. I've found a lot of info here: http://vintageamps.com/plexiboard/viewf ... 2a9328719a

That said, I may still part with $75 for a grey plate RCA just get it out of my system!

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mechanicalmastering
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Post by mechanicalmastering » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:13 pm

So, what's the deal with the "grey plate" tubes anyway? Are they generally more desirable? Better build quality? Thx!

Rolsen
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Post by Rolsen » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:48 pm

Grey plate RCAs are cheaper and supposedly 2nd choice compared to black plate RCAs. RCAs in general are supposedly 2nd choice to Mullard, Bugle Boy and some other Euro tubes. I'm saying 'supposedly' as I have no first hand experience, but the various tube geeks on other forums seem to come to sort of a consensus. I've heard that black (more expensive) or grey plate RCAs are better than modern production tubes and have not cracked the $100 per tube price point yet. These are for New Old Stock (NOS). I'm sure used, or 'pulled' tubes that test good are cheaper yet. I see long and short grey plate 12ax7 RCAs for around $75 online. I also hear that your first 12ax7 tube position makes the biggest difference, so you could start with just one 12ax7 there to see if you're heading down the right path.

Just remember that vintage glass is a diminishing resource, meaning the price will only go up, up, up. I don't mind dumping some cash on tone, and I do! I've got a Jazzmaster with Novak pickups, a newer Vox AC30 head with a couple internal mods, a 2x12 encloser with Weber Blue Alnicos and Celestion G12h30, and nice analog delays - I'm not sure how much better preamp tubes will improve what I have going on right now, which I'm pretty damn happy with. Should you venture down the vintage glass road, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to a report!

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mechanicalmastering
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Post by mechanicalmastering » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:29 am

I wish you the best of luck and look forward to a report!
Awesomness, and you will surely get one, thanks a ton man!!!

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Post by Rob Coates » Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:00 am

Recently had an experience that shook my belief in the indisputable superior quality of NOS MUllards: I got a new ART Pro Channel II and before swapping tubes to NOS Mullards, I decided to listen to and record a couple vocal tracks with the original Chinese tubes so I could compare the glorious improvement once I put the Mullards in. Surprise, surprise, surprise: the Chinese tubes sounded pretty good! Not much different from the Mullards and possibly...choke, choke: better sounding? In fact I can't believe I'm even saying this but I might put the Chinese tubes back in. A couple of things might be going on here. Maybe the Chinese are getting way better at quality control, possibly I just had a lucky accident and have 2 China tubes that came out good at the factory by accident, or the ART circuit has been optimized for the characteristics of the particular tube made at the particular Chinese factory.
I'm curious now. Anybody else noticed a recent improvement in the quality of Chinese tubes?
RobCoates

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