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  1. #1
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
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    Replacement Tubes for Audio Experience Symphonies + ?

    Hey All,

    Last year around this time I bought an AE Symphonies + preamp from a dude on EBay. I absolutely LOVE this unit. It really makes playing FLAC and WAV files from my PC (ASUS STX HD card) a very moving and pleasurable experience. BTW, I am using an NAD 2400 THX amp to drive a pair of refurbed Allison Four large bookshelf speakers (1977).

    I bought a set (3- left, right stage and one for balance) of Tung Sols and Sovteks for around $75 total and swap them every now and then just because I can't leave well enough alone (that is why I am on AR, right?).

    Does pouring a bunch of money into tubes really make a difference? Would spending, say, $200 per tube for a matched set be worth it with the preamp I have? Or would you take $1K and buy something else used?

    Thanks for your time and expertise,

    Jason
    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  2. #2
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phileserver39
    Hey All,


    Does pouring a bunch of money into tubes really make a difference? Would spending, say, $200 per tube for a matched set be worth it with the preamp I have? Or would you take $1K and buy something else used?

    Thanks for your time and expertise,

    Jason
    In the order asked.
    Yes!
    That depends.
    That also depends.
    Only your ears can decide. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and jump.

    You're welcome.
    ARC SP9 MKIII preamp,VPI HW19jr, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1 head amp, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts
    Marantz CD63SE CD,Yamaha DVD-S1800, MSB DAC
    Accuphase T101 tuner,Nakamichi LX-5, ZX-7 Teac V-7010
    Lexicon MC8 surround processor
    2 Adcom GFA-545,2 radically modified Dynaco MK3's,2 bridged Crown XLS-402, Paradigm X-30, Behringer CX2310, DSP1124P
    2 12" Transmission Line Subs (PASS DIY El-Pipe-O), Acoustat Spectra 22 ESL's (fronts), Acoustat Model 1 ESL's/SPW-1 Woofer (rears)

  3. #3
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with your AE unit. Are we talking about 12AX7, 12AU7 or something else? Have you tried new old stock or new production? It might be worth it to track down some nos if you haven't tried them yet. I run an integrated amp with new production EL34power tubes and nos 12AX7 preamp and 12AT7 driver tubes. Nos power tubes are cost prohibitive for me at the moment. I'd make sure I trusted the seller before paying $200 per tube. There are several who test and stand behind their products, but there are many more charlatans.

  4. #4
    RGA
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    I think it depends on the tube amp. Audio Note seems to me to believe that the transformer and the capacitors are considerably more important that the actual brand of tube (though they do matter as well).

    You may find that keeping a less expensive set of tubes but replacing the caps with Black Gates or other upper scale cap or getting a superior transformer will be of far greater improvement such that the tube amp with $20 tubes will be better than another tube amp with inferior transformers and capos with $1500 tubes won't be nearly as good.

    Many tube amps can be upgraded relatively easily and you could check the DIY forums.

    For example I have heard that AN CD 1.1X which is exactly the same as the the 2.1X - the latter uses the same tube as the former but the caps are upgraded and it lays a whole world of hurt on the 1.1. I have used more expensive tubes on my amp and there is next to no difference - at least none that I would be comfortable with for the money. Though I have not tried insanely expensive varieties.

    Caps are a big deal in my opinion - but because it requires work to change few bother.

    The parts connection has an article on capacitors http://www.partsconnexion.com/t/blac...te_Feb2003.pdf

  5. #5
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    I think it depends on the tube amp. Audio Note seems to me to believe that the transformer and the capacitors are considerably more important that the actual brand of tube (though they do matter as well).

    You may find that keeping a less expensive set of tubes but replacing the caps with Black Gates or other upper scale cap or getting a superior transformer will be of far greater improvement such that the tube amp with $20 tubes will be better than another tube amp with inferior transformers and capos with $1500 tubes won't be nearly as good.

    Many tube amps can be upgraded relatively easily and you could check the DIY forums.

    For example I have heard that AN CD 1.1X which is exactly the same as the the 2.1X - the latter uses the same tube as the former but the caps are upgraded and it lays a whole world of hurt on the 1.1. I have used more expensive tubes on my amp and there is next to no difference - at least none that I would be comfortable with for the money. Though I have not tried insanely expensive varieties.

    Caps are a big deal in my opinion - but because it requires work to change few bother.

    The parts connection has an article on capacitors http://www.partsconnexion.com/t/blac...te_Feb2003.pdf
    Thanks RGA. That is great (and much less expensive) advice to implement. Since I have never even held a solder iron I will find a local shop to swap out the caps and transformer. Unless, of course, I find someone on AR.com who can either suggest a trustworthy shop in the Hotlanta area or do the work themselves for a reasonable charge.

    Best,

    Jason
    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  6. #6
    RGA
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    I think it would be a good idea to buy a cheap kit one day and use it to learn to solder on. It's not tough (from what I hear). I keep meaning to follow my own advice. The AN kits have great manuals but the kits themselves are a little expensive IMO to practice on - though they swear anyone should be able to do it. Anyone does not have to left thumbs like me however.

    Still there is bottlehead which people like and have kits for a couple hundred bucks.

    The thing with a cap or transformer upgrade is that the improvement is longer lasting than an expensive set of output tubes.

    And if you think about it - while tube rolling is fun in the sense that it alters the sound - that is not really the most desirable thing if you're after some sort of accuracy. I suspect this is a reason why Peter at AN doesn't write articles or talk much at all about tubes. Tubes are basically lightbulbs and they need to operate a certain way (that is predictable and consistent) with the overall design of the amp. Changing the tubes (more expensive or not) could alter the sound of the amp in a negative way.

    More expensive and NOS and whatever does not mean that it will make every amp better. It's the same with speakers. Just because the driver uses exotic materials and even if itself is measurably better doesn't mean that it will be the right choice with the tweeter and cabinet. The more DIY stuff you know the more it seems you can see where makers beliefs lie in what they feel makes larger improvements. With the better tube makers it seems less about the tubes and more about the stuff you don't see.

  7. #7
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phileserver39
    Thanks RGA. That is great (and much less expensive) advice to implement. Since I have never even held a solder iron I will find a local shop to swap out the caps and transformer. Unless, of course, I find someone on AR.com who can either suggest a trustworthy shop in the Hotlanta area or do the work themselves for a reasonable charge.

    Best,

    Jason
    If there is any DIY in you give it a try. Get a cheap kit "whatever" and give it a try. Parts Express has the soldering station below for $15. It has variable heat which is important.



    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=374-100
    ARC SP9 MKIII preamp,VPI HW19jr, Rega RB300
    Marcof PPA1 head amp, Shure, Sumiko, Ortofon carts
    Marantz CD63SE CD,Yamaha DVD-S1800, MSB DAC
    Accuphase T101 tuner,Nakamichi LX-5, ZX-7 Teac V-7010
    Lexicon MC8 surround processor
    2 Adcom GFA-545,2 radically modified Dynaco MK3's,2 bridged Crown XLS-402, Paradigm X-30, Behringer CX2310, DSP1124P
    2 12" Transmission Line Subs (PASS DIY El-Pipe-O), Acoustat Spectra 22 ESL's (fronts), Acoustat Model 1 ESL's/SPW-1 Woofer (rears)

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