First of all I want to thank all of you who posted back; treitz3, F1nut, TNRabbit, kingman, Scarabeo, OconeeOrange, stereo_buff, jjptkd and skip…
After reading the postings, I ordered two tubes from thetubestore.com . I picked a pair of matched and balanced JJ E88CC Gold pin tubes. They were modestly priced, $29/tube, and claimed to have a warmer, smoother sound. I also got the Duende Criatura rings based on F1nut’s advice.
The tubes arrived on Friday and I replaced the old tubes. The outgoing tubes were labeled E88CC USSR 0TK1. I have no idea how old they were. As I put the system back together I was thinking that this may be a very subtle effect and I’d have to listen carefully for a difference. Wrong!
The first disc I played was Fever, Ted Heath & His Music, a German Import disc under the London label. What I noticed first of all was a much wider soundstage, way beyond the speakers and with no sonic holography, with all the instruments clear and distinct, each from their own location. At one point there was a cymbal crash and then the horns come in. I could hear the dying sustain from the cymbals while the louder horns were coming in from the right. I had noticed a much clearer distinct soundstage when I added the Sunfire Symphonic Reference Preamp to my system some time ago. With these tubes it became much clearer and better. It also seemed to be curved around the listener instead of flat in front. It certainly seemed more distinctly three dimensional. Overall the music seemed more real. Maybe that’s the definition of musicality.
That night I stayed up late playing a lot of discs. The rock music changed too. I noticed that an overdriven electric guitar had a more buzzing, fuzzy sound. Again sounding more like it does coming right out of a guitar amp. The hard hitting, high dynamic range parts also seemed to have a slightly muted, or softer punch. A small trade-off. It seemed too for most of the music that I had to turn the volume up a little from before to get the same sound level. Not that that’s a problem, the Sunfire 600 X 2 has ample reserve and power is cheap.
Over the weekend I played tons of old favorites. In many of them I heard things I had never heard before. On Led Zeppelin IV, When the Levee Breaks, which I’ve only heard at least a thousand times over the last 40 years, I heard percussion instruments for the first time.
Now I’m wondering what other wonderful tubes are out there to explore. But at the same time I just feel like enjoying these for a while
Sunfire II Signature Amp 600, TFM-35, (M-1.0) X2, M-400, C-4000, C-1, Sunfire Symphonic Reference Preamp, Sunfire Classic Vacuum Tube Control Center
Mv-5, SDA-490t, ALS Silver, Sunfire CRM-2, TS EQS-12, Shanling SCD-T200A