Tubes - Pre style

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radioeng2
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Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:48 pm

OK....I'll admit now to a sickness. I enjoy audio too much as I have little else to do except work. I haven't had time for squat. But just enough time to buy a preamp.....like I need one! But this is something I've longed for, for many years. An opportunity to get one listed as "don't know if it works" is a real opportunity for me! Not to mention closing at an awkward time of day for many.

I haven't even listened to it yet as it was listed as not run for a long time, so I've brought it up gentle and have it cooking in on the bench today. So I'm not wanting to go into any detail on the unit just now until I have a chance to put ears on it and put it in context of others.

But some folks in these parts have done the tube shuffle much more than I have had time to and really know brands and styles. So I'd like some thought on where the tubes fall in likely sonics. And where to look brand wise for someday upgrade. This is just a linestage, so these aren't in higher gain and microphonic sensitive positions as much as used elsewhere.

First is a pair of Telefunken 12AU7's....

Image

Then next up is four RCA JAN 6SN7.

Image


If the pic doesn't show it well enough, they are the ones that have the completely smoked up sides all except for the vary top. Don't know the proper name given that style. And these are marked on top with a pair of numbers from someone testing. 2700/2800, 2700/2730, 2900/2800, 2800,2800. They could possibly be from original manufacturer, though that would make them probably pretty old. Though depending on use, I guess that is possible.

What 'cha think tube guys? Decent tubes? Please be gentle with the ideas...I'm not opposed to erotic tubes, just may not be able to afford them.

Mark
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:35 pm

Smoked grey glass eh Markie,,,,, hardcore!

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:09 pm

OK...I'll take that as an endorsement George. While SN7's are a fairly common tube, I do know enough to know that you can find some that are on up there on the pricing.

I suspect these are possibly some or all replacements, as the unit came with no screws in the lid. I think that helped on holding down the price a bit too. Tells me it probably was a MrHP wanttabe that owned it. Sampling tubes like a fine wine connoisseur. You too George. You guys and others here know the in's and the out's of the where they came from, the name of the Russian factory associated, the lady that boxed them at the end of the assembly line and her dogs name.

While I've found no schematics on this thing, I gather the AU's are the gain element. Then a SN7 is the line driver with another as a load to it. And the section match is more important than in most situations.

So far it's spent a quiet afternoon burning in and (at last check) hasn't yet belched or burped any smoke, fire nor flame. So at this point, it's suggesting I may be ahead of the game on the unchecked, untried, no guarantee game. 8-[ Fingers crossed....knockin' on wood! [-o<

Mark
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:27 pm

Are those telescope smooth plate? And,, give us a hint on the make/ brand of that pre

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Snoop65 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:20 pm

I think Tinpan started a thread recently about rolling 12AU7's. I don't have any experience with the two tube types you're working with Mark. MRHP ( Eric) or Chauss ( Dan ) I think can help.
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:47 pm

Dan plays close to the vest with his tubes. Or maybe under the covers... :-&

Nah...actually he already PM'ed me some info. :lol:

I'll look for Tinpan's thread. Thanks, didn't remember it.

George, it looks like my Levinson preamp is getting kicked to the curb! 8-[ I couldn't wait, didn't measure it and instead slid it in this evening. [-o< No issues....it was within notes that it was clear it's going to kick butt!

It's an Atma-Sphere MLS-1. A single chassis linestage only version of the MP-1. Doesn't seem many were made. Ralph's phono pre is good enough it's a crime to have only a linestage, but it's what came along and I get to taste above my purchasing power it seems.

I listened to a couple of albums tonight and it's clear it throws a bigger, deeper and more real sound stage than the Levinson. This years CF disc has a couple cuts from the Korean gal. That album has such recording technique and it really shows just that much more on this unit. It was captivating and so hard to shut down with tomorrow being a school day for me.

I mean to write more of a review and draw some parallel's to others. To explain, I have a fully balanced rig. Dropping in unbalanced means wholesale changes. So I intend to try and compare this to several of the unbalanced pre's, but it takes some effort and time...plus some unavoidable differences.

So I kind of set the balanced and the unbalanced in different groups...make some comparisons for sure, but have to leave them with their own kind with their own food, customs and languages. So far, they've managed to stay in the one room together by using careful policing and a few interpreters...I mean converters and transformers.

I'm pretty excited to finally try one of these style of balanced, circlotron, linestages. I've spent time studying the circlotron amps for a long time now and as far as I know, the Atma-spheres are the only pre to use this topology.

Mark
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:56 am

Okay Markie,,, how about comparing it to the CF linestage! I can get you hooked up with some Sylvania brown bases down the road a bit if you like! Have fun and enjoy!

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by MRHP » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:45 am

Hey George.....tell him about the Brimar 13D5's!!!
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Fri Nov 28, 2014 11:10 am

MRHP wrote:Hey George.....tell him about the Brimar 13D5's!!!
If Eric is regarding them as scary...I don't think I wanna know! [-(

"The music that moves us passionately often lives in the space between the notes where we have time to reflect as sound reflects in the room. The space between the notes is what makes a real musician and great sound."

Written in a mailing yesterday from Blue Coast records. Something to reflect on about what makes music be what it is to us. Focusing only on the notes is only part of the story.

Couldn't leave the house this morning without firing the rig back up. Listened to some of the Hot Sardines! Fun music...very dynamic with female vocal. And then skipped through some of the Boz Scaggs to see how thick and heavy bass notes play and how well they still have defined edges without blurring. Very impressed so far!

Do look forward to firing up some of the single ended, like the CF LS, to see how they compare. I've also spent some time lately with a 5687 pre (where's yours Ray?) and will have to try that in the mix. I already know I prefer the dynamics of the CF LS to the smooth of the Dodd. Unless I want to build on, probably need to let that one go.

One thing I've noted on the Atma-Sphere....the image has more height than I think I've ever had before. When a focal has that tad of "space" or echo/reverb on it, you hear it expand the height even more. Most singers seem to be about 6ft tall like you'd want, but then the space can grow even more when it should. Excellent seperation between the performers too. Seems even easier to follow each instrument and note when there is more space between them. Guess that's why that comment from Blue Coast caught my attention this morning.

Back to work...

Mark

PS...check out this video from the Hot Sardines if you can enjoy jazzy stuff.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NF2HTRM/ref=pd_va_rv_0
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Fri Nov 28, 2014 1:48 pm

The Brimars have just the right amount of sparkle,,,especially if the pre is a tad on the dark side,,,well worth the price of admission,,a tad more magical than the teles ymmv,,,they are beginning to be somewhat of a rarity too!

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Sat Nov 29, 2014 2:35 pm

Come on Markie,,, compare it to the Lucas
Linestage!

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Chauss » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:10 pm

Let's hear it Markie! How does it compare? O:)

Here are some of the "holy grail" 12AU7's all in 1 easy spot........ =P~ =P~ =P~
http://app.audiogon.com/listings/tubes- ... ies-400001
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by Zoot Horn » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:11 pm

Come on Markie,, tell it!!!

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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:57 pm

Chauss wrote:Let's hear it Markie! How does it compare? O:)

Here are some of the "holy grail" 12AU7's all in 1 easy spot........ =P~ =P~ =P~
http://app.audiogon.com/listings/tubes- ... ies-400001
Seriously? Can I buy from somewhere I've never heard of? Ma-hash-e-rasha? Sounds like a name some 6 year old boy made up while trying to impress some little girls while playing Jacks out on the front steps. They do still play Jacks don't they?

Started to be interested until I saw the made up name and that it wasn't all of them for the listed price like you'd expect.

I'm a hopin' for now what I have in it are pretty decent. Sure sound like it! But thanks for keepin' an eye out Dan!

Mark
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Re: Tubes - Pre style

Post by radioeng2 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:23 pm

Zoot Horn wrote:Come on Markie,, tell it!!!
Well....it's just been thrilling! So flippin' transparent that I keep wondering if it's just my imagination or if it's as good as it seems. As I'm getting used to it, it will soon be time to do some comparing you guys are asking for.

So far, it's been so fun for the little time I've had to set down and listen, that it's been frankly impossible to change. I'm just glued to my seat as I play album after album until I must quit. I'm just stunned!

I'm kind of amazed that changing something in the middle of a system can change the outcome to such a degree. Why? It's just parts. What makes the outcome work such?

OK, so dropping the nerd pack pocket protector in my shirt pocket and thinking about it....I've always said the topology you begin with matters much more than the quality of parts. Within any topology, you can up your game with great parts, but the way it works is set by they way it's done within the circuit.

So this IS a different circuit. That's part of the answer for sure.

But the other part is that it's with this piece, only part of a system. While always true that a system is all involved, this is a balanced unit and really requires it all to be balanced to really take advantage of it. That's why it's hard to give other pre's a fair chance when I have to change so much of the system to swap out and listen to them. So I've got to just change what I must and alway account mentally for a portion of the system changing and that it's not just the linestage changing.

I got home late tonight and was able to listen to most of a Stockfish SACD before I had to shut down. Listened some yesterday. Got through the 2011 CF CD. Played several fairly acoustic discs. Blown away by them all!

Early on, I thought I might be hearing on some peaks just a touch of hardness. A bit of an emphasis on ss'ing. Haven't heard any more of that, so it was either the material or the fact it needed some run time after an undetermined long unused period. Even if it is there, that's the kind of thing that tube swapping will effect. But the transparency, the real images, the dynamics, the life sized voices...I'm just in love!

Meantime, I've got a couple days of being under the microscope with corp folks in to meet specifically with me and be shown around to the properties. So that's had to be my focus and a lot of hours of prep. Kind of hard to have the patience to get to the fun stuff waiting! I can't wait to figure out what can be learned from this unit.

Mark
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