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Tubes Tubes Tubes

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 2:12 am

Tubes Tubes Tubes

Looking for some feedback from the guys that are into tube gear.
I read this review, along with a few other, and want to know if anyone can quantift this review, or add anything to it.

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http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/e ... 7_kt88.htm

Shuguang Treasure Series Vacuum Tubes 6CA7 And KT88
These Aren't Your Grandfather's Fire Bottles
Review By Nels Ferre


Shuguang, China's oldest and largest manufacturer of vacuum tubes has been in business since 1958. In 1983, Shuguang partnered with western firm LG. As of 2005 Shuguang had developed 120 types of vacuum tubes, and manufactured over 70 million units. A notable fact: Shuguang has produced eighty percent of 300B tubes ever made.



The Grant Fidelity Connection
Located due north of Montana in Calgary Alberta Canada, Ian Grant and his partner Rachel Zhang import both electronics and accessories directly from China for sale across North America. In and of itself, this does not sound all that news worthy; after all there are importers of all types of electronics worldwide. What is interesting is that Ian and Rachel travel to China and visit the factories in person.

Ian's background is music, with over 25 years in both consumer and professional audio. Rachel's background is business. Audiophiles are only a part of their target audience. Their larger goal is to offer something better than what is found at most big box stores, at an affordable price. As Rachel put it, "Probably 99 percent of the world's music lovers didn't have a chance to listen to real high fidelity yet. We hope to bring the ultra sound of music to average consumers with an average sized wallet." Ian and I both are old enough to remember the days when one's audio systems were the focal point of nearly everyone's living room, and they are doing their part to bring that back. Products are sold online, by phone and through a network of independent home demonstrators.

I had been aware of their firm for a while, and when I saw that Grant Fidelity was the exclusive North American dealer of the new Shuguang Treasure Series vacuum tubes, I gave them a call. Initially, I was shipped a quad of 6CA7 Treasures- think "fat bottle" EL34 ($240/ matched pair.) Later a quartet of KT88s ($300/ matched pair) was shipped.



Black Tubes?
Obviously, the Shuguang Treasure Series tubes are pricier than most new production tubes. Shuguang designed and manufactured the Treasure Series to commemorate their fiftieth anniversary, and they are not rebadged for anyone else. According to the "poop sheet" there are 65 differences between the Treasure Series and any other tube of the same type from any manufacturer. The obvious difference is that the tubes are black. I initially thought there was black paint in the inside of the glass envelope. It is not paint- it is actually a carbon coating designed to trap any stray electrons inside the glass. I am fairly confident that the carbon coating also helps reduce micro phonics as well. Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you about the other 64 differences -- the carbon makes a visual comparison of the tubes to others impossible. It also stops less scrupulous sorts from manufacturing counterfeits, a common practice in China. I still remember seeing pictures of "Sonny", "Maxwell" and "KDK" blank cassettes sold in China back in the early 1980s.

In an effort to reduce cost, the tubes are shipped in regular boxes (no wooden presentation cases here, although the tubes are visually worthy.) Treasure Series Tubes are covered by a 30 day guarantee; a one year extended warranty is available for a nominal sum. The factory recommends a 300 hour break in period.

Both quads of tubes worked flawlessly during the review period. I was rather apprehensive about the KT88s, as I have experienced a 25 percent failure rate with KT88s in the past. In fact, my current KT88s were purchased used with approximately 200 hours on them, my logic being that if they made it that far, they would be fine. That was over a year ago, and they have many more trouble free hours on them since without missing a beat.



The Test Amplifier
Because a review of vacuum tubes is useless without a point of reference, a bit of background on the amplifier used is in order. My reference power amplifier is the Bella EXtreme 3205, a push-pull pentode that can accept either a quad of EL34/6CA7/KT77 tubes biased at 40mV or a quad of 6550/KT88/KT90s biased at 50mV. Using EL34s, the 3205 will produce 50 watts per channel; use of KT88s will give up to 60 watts per channel. The amplifier is fitted with Russian Electro Harmonix 12AT7 driver tubes and new production Mullard 12AX7 input tubes. (From what I can tell, the Mullards are rebadged Sovtek 12AX7LPS tubes- a personal favorite.) My review of the Bella Extreme 3205 amplifier can be read at this link. The tubes I always use are Shuguang's garden variety KT88s. Other tubes on hand are Sovtek 6550s, and Electro Harmonix EL34s.

It may seem odd to use a quartet of tubes that sell for $480 to $600 in an amplifier that last sold for $1599. To me it makes perfect sense for a couple of reasons. First, I know this amplifier very well as it has resided in my system nearly exclusively for the last 2 years. Additionally, I subscribe to the belief that a system is only as good as its weakest link. As the amplifier has already been "hot rodded" it makes sense to "hot rod" the tubes as well to wring every bit of performance from the amplifier. Not that there is anything wrong with the tubes that I regularly run, far from it, but there is room for improvement, As they say in racing circles, I ran what I brought.

All of the tubes were biased after letting the amplifier stabilize for a period of fifteen minutes, then again at one hour. The voltage was checked again after 24 hours and finally again at 72 hours. All of these checks were performed at the same time, late at night to get the best quality AC possible. One thing I did notice very quickly- the Treasure Series tubes- either variety- were much less prone to drift than the other tubes I have on hand. My tubes can drift anywhere from 1 to 3 mV. The Treasure Series tubes drifted much less, never exceeding 1mV from where the bias was initially set.



The NOS Game
Ian tells me the target audience for these tubes is the "NOS Crowd" not only for audiophiles but also electric guitar players. The thought process is that the Treasure Series Tubes can be used as a high quality "everyday" tube, saving NOS rarities for special occasions, either in the home or recording studio. Me? I don't subscribe to the idea. First, at the price, the Treasure Series tubes had better be pretty special in their own right... to the point that searching out NOS (New Old Stock) tubes becomes moot. The only way I really see the value in NOS is for those applications where no current production tube exists such as the MHDT vacuum tube DACs. Other than that, I feel one is subjecting themselves to the unknown- is the tube really new because someone who says they have a tube tester and knows how to use is says it is? Even if it turns out the tubes are NOS as advertised, then one risks getting hooked on a tube that is no longer manufactured. There is also the issue of supply and demand- as the supply of NOS tubes continue to dwindle, the price f the remaining available tubes will escalate. I prefer to stick with a tube that is easily replaceable, when the need arises. The Treasure Series will remain in production for the foreseeable future. I have been told the factory expects it to take approximately five years to recoup their investment- a good thing for consumers.



Get On With It! Are They Any Good?
Two words: yes and yes. Beyond good... these are great! I was thinking about vacuum tubes recently during my morning commute. (Sick, I know... Leslie calls my checking out audio "stuff" on the internet "Audio Porn" and has been known look over my shoulder to read the text of technical articles in a sultry voice. I rather like that! Like I said, sick. At least I realize it.) Anyway, I was thinking that vacuum tubes are like beer. This has nothing to do with the obvious, that they have both been around for a long time and come in glass bottles. It's more about both having differences among themselves, while remaining similar. Everyone who likes beer has their favorites. You may cringe, but I actually like Budweiser: it's a decent tasting beer at a reasonable price. When I want something a bit nicer and more full bodied, Sam Adams is a nice choice. Beyond that, I like Black and Tans (real ones that are made with Bass Ale and Guinness Stout, not that swill that comes premade in a bottle.) In winter months, I like Guinness Stout, but I find it too heavy for hot summer months.

These tubes fall into the same analogy. Electro Harmonics EL34s are similar to Budweiser- satisfying, cheap and plentiful, but there are better. They are a bit rolled off at both frequency extremes, highlighting the midrange, whereas my regular grade Shuguang KT88 tubes are somewhere between a Budweiser and Sam Adams- more flavor, more texture, more satisfying- in my system, a better all around choice. Better bass extension takes some of the focus away from the midrange- just a more balanced tube. The Treasure Series EL34/6CA7 was the surprise- where I can drink Budweiser all summer long and be happy; I find it difficult to listen to the audio equivalent. I am just not a big fan of EL34s. I found that I preferred the Treasure Series 6CA7 to the regular grade Shuguang KT-88 in my system for their extended highs and midrange beauty. I appreciated the Treasure Series' bass texture, but I found myself wishing for more authority. That is where the Treasure KT88's extra bass grunt came into play. I found these to be my favorite of the lot, by a big margin. I found them to be the most balanced of the tubes I have on hand top to bottom, with incredible detail. Dynamics, both micro and macro... check. The Treasure Series KT88 really has it all — just like a Black and Tan. Keep in mind, I am not slighting the Treasure Series 6CA7 — I still preferred them to my usual tubes. This is high praise.

I also have a quad of Sovtek 6550s. I find that 6550s, at least the ones that I have heard, have a "hardness" that the KT88 doesn't have. The KT88 to me is a generally smoother tube. Using the beer analogy again, the 6550 is like Heineken as it would be better without the aftertaste. And what, to me is the audio equivalent of Guinness Stout? A nice setup of vintage tube electronics maybe paired with a pair of vintage Klipsch speakers. Slower, warmer and mellower. There is plenty of musical goodness there. It is just not something I want all of the time.

I mentioned detail. The Treasure Series tubes have it. More importantly however is nuance. There is a big difference. Detail to me is hearing a cough, a squeaky piano pedal, or making out some previously unintelligible sound from the audience in a live recording. I like hearing everything that a recording has to offer, both good and bad. But nuance- that is something special, and that is exactly what the Treasure Series tubes, at least the types that I had here, offer in spades. As an example, let us play the Beatles "I'll Follow the Sun" from Beatles For Sale. Paul is the focal point here, but I found myself drawn to John's beautiful harmony. This is just one example- it is as if parts of recordings that are behind the main theme of the music are brought just a bit more forward, to blend better as opposed to being relegated to the background. The difference between the Treasure Series is large, not a difference in "flavor" like what usually happens when tube rolling. With the Treasures in place, the Bella Extreme 3205 sounds like a different, far more expensive amplifier. And I this case, different is better. With the Treasure Series KT88s in place, I would put this amplifier up against any $3ooo to 4000 amplifier I can think of. It may not win the shootout, but I highly doubt it would be embarrassed either.

The biggest difference between the Treasure Series and the others on had was in their ability to portray space and ambience within a recording. I listened to lots of different music, but for the most part, I ignored the "sonic blockbusters" one usually sees referenced in a review. See, I was having too much fun listening "regular" recordings- no gold CDs, very few heavy slabs of vinyl, just the recordings you might find at a garage sale. As I write this sentence, I am listening to the B52s Wild Planet. [Warner Brothers LP BSK3471] and although the album is clearly a product of many overdubs, I was shocked at the ambience I had missed on previous listens, especially with the vocals. The same thing happened with my CD copy of Jewel's Pieces of You. This doesn't happen with every recording, so it is not that these tubes are adding anything. I just had more fun listening to music with them in the amplifier, and had a harder time tearing myself from the system.

A couple of nights ago, I listened to Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, which was recorded at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland, a venue where I have seen a few live shows. I closed my eyes, and found I could nearly "see" the show. I am really curious at what is going on inside those glass bottles.

One of Leslie's favorite tracks is Etta James' "At Last." Not a hi-fi chestnut by any stretch of the imagination, but if a system does not do it justice, count her out. She liked the track with the 6CA7, and then I switched to the KT88. I cued up the track again, this time by remote, searching the hard drive's database with my iPhone. When it started playing, I knew something was instantly wrong. I looked down at the screen and realized that doing the search by song title, I had selected a version from a compilation album- one that clearly used a tape far removed from the tape used on the Etta James CD we normally listen to. I hate to use the foggy window cliché, but it is close. Playing the "correct" version, we both preferred the Treasure Series KT88s to the other tubes in the house, with the other black bottles second.

You will notice that none of these tracks would ever be considered audiophile grade. That is what I found so special about the top level Shungungs they brought me closer to the music, they brought me more musical enjoyment no matter what music I played, be it Leadbelly from the 1940s or what is spinning on the turntable right now- Buena Vista Social Club [Classic Records RTH-79478] This is fantastic! I sincerely wish you could hear this. The sound is dynamic, big and super realistic. Let us see, $1900 worth of Salk Signature Sound Songtowers fed by a $1600 power amplifier stuffed with $700 or so of tubes. This is fed by a Juicy Music Peach tube preamplifier ($1695) fronted by my SOTA/Rega/Dynavector analog rig ($3500) which in turn feeds a Project Phono Box II ($170). Yes, you read correctly. All this musical goodness and my phono stage (although very good for the money) is a cheapie. A friend is finishing the kit build of my DIY Hi Fi Supply Cole tube/transformer based phono preamplifier ($1500). I hope it is as promising as it appears to be, but it could not be finished in time for this review. Maybe the Treasure Series Tubes are better than I think, which is pretty gosh darned good.

I do have a couple of dislikes. Both quartets of tubes were shipped as matched quads- a good thing. Someone affixed labels to the 6CA7s that became hard and brittle. All 4 labels fell off of the tubes and down inside the amplifier (!) I was able to fish them out, but they were so brittle that none came out in one piece.

While both types of types of tunes served the music equally well (in different ways) I did have an issue, sound wise, with the Treasure Series KT88s. Their very extended top end tended to accentuate surface noise when listening to well worn LPs. I guess my copy of Donovan's Open Road [Epic LP E30125] is more worn than I realized. It looks great visually, and is clean as a whistle, but noisy as all get out. That said, I still preferred the album with the Treasure Series KT88s, even taking the noise into account. It may be time to search for a better copy.



Conclusion
While certainly not inexpensive in absolute terms, Shuguang's Treasure Series 6CA7-Z and KT-88Z tubes are both stellar performers. When compared to the going prices for NOS tubes from the usual suspects (GE, Genelex, Tung Sol, etc.) the price of the Shuguangs are right in line. Compared to (at least based on price as I have not heard them) the EAT KT88 Diamond at $1395 for a quartet, they are a stone cold bargain. While the Treasure Series 6CA7 is the only EL34 type tube that I have ever heard that I could easily live with long term, their KT88s (to my ears and taste) are even better yet. Though I prefer the KT88s both models are very highly recommended.



Specifications
Type: Amplification vacuum tubes
Shuguang Treasure Series 6CA7: $240 / matched pair
Shuguang Treasure Series KT88; $300 / matched pair
Optional Extended Warranty available at extra charge
Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it's very important that you do it... because nobody else will.

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SHUT UP AND ENJOY THE MUSIC!
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PDR

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

This is the guy that I bought my tubed amp from......it is a rebadged Yaqin....China produced.

I did some research before I bought it, he had some good feedback. From what I read instead of fixing a product
he just replaces it, and he was close to me....this was the biggest sway for me to go this route. I wanted to try
tubed gear but didnt want to spend a lot of $ to start. My A-88 ( KT-88 ) seemed to be the way to go.....under 1k
CND. I was surprised when it arrived, very heavy..65lbs..and the quality was more than expected.
He seems to dabble in a lot of China gear and accessories, and I have seen the new line of tubes...the blacks...
They are getting some good reviews from some....but I would need 2 sets of KT-88 and that would cost(in CND $)
almost as much as the amp itself......hard for me to justify. I will say that the tubes that came with the amp are all Shuguang and it sounds very nice, although I am going to roll some this summer.....6SN7s and the 12ax7s to start,
and will see what comes of it.

Ian Grant seems to have a good reputation, and the few times I've talked with him he was very helpful...... I just dont know if these new blacks will compete with the NOS available at this price point

Perry
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radioeng2

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 10:58 am

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

James,

I don't see anything there to take issue with in his comments. Generally, I've found EnjoyTheMusic to be a pretty believable source.

My first reaction is to pass along that the Chinese made stuff, both tubes and electronics, rather earned a poor reputation. But they seem to have come past that point and more and more good stories are out there now. Just copying stuff, they didn't always get the science of something down, just tried to duplicate. Coming thru better channels now, they seem to have gotten to where stuff works better and better. Higher dollar for each one tubes are a bit worrysome to purchase, but for power output tubes, you're better off not going to the cheapest end and just getting fireworks displays!

They look nice, though haven't heard any street comments about them. Check the forums for experience comments...

Mark
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BillD

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 11:16 am

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

I heard once that the Chinese bought a Boeing 707 and built an exact replica, except it wouldn't fly. Don't know if it's true, but it's believable.
It should sound like it isn't there!
There is a difference between hearing and listening...
Making life enjoyable through expensive electronics.
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Carver: C-4000 & C-1 preamps, PSC-60 preamp/tuner, TX-11a tuner, M-400 (2), C-500, M-500, M-500t, M-500t Mk.II, A-500x, AL-III loudspeakers (2 pr.)
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 1:03 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

Interesting that they mentioned their target audience being guitar players. I don't think they'll have great sales in that market, for a number of reasons:

Very few of the classic guitar amps use the 6550. That makes their target customer base very small. The 6550 gets a lot of use in HiFi applications, but very little use in guitar amps. Most guitarists aren't looking for high powered clean sounding amps. They're looking for compression and clipping, and most guitarists don't like the tone of the 6550 when it clips. The staples in the guitar amps are output tubes like the 6L6, EL34, 6V6 and EL84, not the 6550.

Chinese tubes have a well deserved reputation for being CRAP. Poorly made, microphonic, lousy tone, short lifespan. A fancy black coated bottle may amount to nothing more than putting lipstick on the pig.

At $300 per pair, they're pretty expensive -- that means that a bass player who's looking to re-tube his vintage SVT is looking at spending $900 to re-tube his amp with new production Chinese tubes. Ain't gonna happen.

For new production 6550, the best tubes still come from Central/Eastern Europe. Its no coincidence that a company like Audio Research OEMs tubes like the 6550EH (Electro-Harmonix) and the 6550C (Svetlana). My personal favorite is the JJ/Tesla 6550 (JJ/Slovakia).
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 1:15 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

Hijack notice: China Bashing

I'm going to do a little China-bashing on the subject of crappy electronic components. Everything piece of electronics that I've ever gotten from China has turned out to be absolute garbage. For example:

1. Electronic Metal Halide Ballasts

Metal halide lamps are a type of HID (High Intensity Discharge) lamp that are used in saltwater reefkeeping to replicate the high levels of illumination present on an equatorial coral reef. The lifespan of the traditional CWA magnetic coil ballast is 100+ years if you consider the (serviceable) caps as a wear item.

Right now "green" is all the rage, so everyone is heavily marketing high power factor electronic ballasts, touting them as being highly energy efficient. Essentially, the electronic ballasts are power regulators, while the magnetic ballasts are current regulators. Because of the high power factor the electronic ballasts might give you a 10% savings in energy cost.

The problem is that the electronic ballasts that come out of China have an unacceptably high failure rate. The break even analysis says that the ballast has to live 7 years to save enough energy to pay for its acquisition cost, and everyone I know sees the ballasts fail in 1-3 years. Why? Poor quality components.

With the current manufacturing paradigm, the companies that sell the ballasts here in the Western Hemisphere don't make them. They just buy a product from a Chinese ghost manufacturer, and at the 10,000 unit level they get the contract manufacturer to re-brand the items in the factory. Essentially a cheap ballast of Chinese design gets placed in a fancy box that's been specified by the customer, and gets branded with an American company's name before it leaves the factory. The American company effectively acts as a marketing/resale company. They don't get involved in the design any more.

The problem is that the Chinese manufacturers aren't using high quality components, like electrolytic PSU caps that are rated to last 20 years. They use low quality, no-name Chinese caps that fail after a few years of service. Because the electronics are fully potted inside of a heat sink case, the unit is unserviceable. That means that when it dies your only option is to buy another one. And when you go to buy another one, you find that the company isn't even selling the same model any more because of the high failure rate. They've changed suppliers.

I've seen this happen to far too many people. The Chinese ballasts are just crappy, cheaply produced, disposable items with a high failure rate. I'm still using old fashioned, American-made magnetic ballasts. With a periodic capacitor replacement every 5-10 years, they'll last forever and I only have to buy the ballast once. So what if it uses 10% more energy ... the total cost of ownership is lower.
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 1:22 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

More China Bashing

2. Crappy $30 Chinese DVD Players

I have a Chinese DVD player that failed after playing about 30 movies. Normally when it powers up, the status LED changes from red to green. Now the LED is changing from red to yellow, and the DVD player doesn't work. It won't respond to any control inputs.

I took off the cover and found that it was nothing more complex inside than a computer DVD drive. The problem was that the 12-volt rail wasn't coming up to voltage, so the drive wouldn't function. As I leaned over to look at the PSU board, I actually heard one of the electrolytic capacitors hissing, venting its electrolyte. I could see that the cap was bulging, so I shut the unit down and replaced the failing cap with a high quality capacitor that cost me $0.22 at retail. In volume, the manufacturer would only have to have paid a fraction of a penny for this part, but they opted for something that was cheaper and of a lower quality that was prone to failure.

Yes, the DVD player failed as soon as it was out of warranty, just because the Chinese manufacturer was using poor quality components. The device had such poor quality components inside that it was designed to fail early in its service life. In such a situation the consumer is expected to throw the unit away and buy another one to keep the economy advancing in China.

Interestingly, when I told my neighbor about this, he confided that he had the same problem. He gave me a DVD player that he had sitting in his garage, waiting for our local electronics recycling day. His DVD player looked just like mine but it had a different brand name on it. It was obviously made by the same manufacturer. What a coincidence ... his died in the same way that mine did. I fixed his DVD player too.

I hate Chinese electronics. I go out of my way to restore vintage American gear whenever I can, so that I will own as few Chinese electronics as possible.
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 1:38 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

I'm on a roll now...

3. Compact fluorescent lamps.

Why is it that these things never live up to their 8000 hour rated lifespan? I've got an array of these lamps in my fish room that are on timers in open fixtures, and knowing their installation dates and their rated service life, I can predict when re-lamping is supposed to be necessary. Running the lamps on an 18/6 hour cycle in open fixtures, I've been observing failure rates that cluster in two distributions, the first near 1-3% of rated life (about 160 hours) and the second at about 30-33% of their rated life (2500 hours).

Such early failures are likely to escape detection by most users because most people don't have the lamps running on timers and they don't bother to keep track of something as mundane as changing a light bulb.

True to form, the bulbs are failing because of cheap electronic components that are used in the ballasts in the base of the bulbs. The company does provide a warranty, but it will cost you more to ship the bulbs to them than it would cost to buy a replacement, so nobody bothers.
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
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BillD

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 1:43 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

I agree with that one, Bob. I have CFLs in ceiling can lights. I got a couple off brand ones and they both failed within a month (Chinese). None of the USA built ones have failed.
It should sound like it isn't there!
There is a difference between hearing and listening...
Making life enjoyable through expensive electronics.
_________________
Carver: C-4000 & C-1 preamps, PSC-60 preamp/tuner, TX-11a tuner, M-400 (2), C-500, M-500, M-500t, M-500t Mk.II, A-500x, AL-III loudspeakers (2 pr.)
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PDR

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 2:01 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

All my equipment is made in China....except my B&K I'm not sure about my 760x

Both of my Sunfires.... total= 4K
My tube amp............. total= 1k
My CD player............. total= 1k(used)
My DVD ................... total= 1k
power conditioner........total= 500

Never had a problem yet, but none of it is low end cheap.

To be truthful the only thing that has crapped out is my B&K.....just last week.
There must be hi and low end of everything made over there......I think its what we are
willing to spend that dictates quality.
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 2:03 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

BillD wrote:I agree with that one, Bob. I have CFLs in ceiling can lights. I got a couple off brand ones and they both failed within a month (Chinese). None of the USA built ones have failed.

Its frustrating ... I bought a couple of 4-packs of the Chinese bulbs when they were on-sale at Menards, and all but two lamps failed during the 90-day return period. The ones that didn't fail within 90 days failed at Days 111 and 112.
Carver Preamps: C-1, C-2, BillD's JVD-modded C-4000, C-9
Carver Amplifiers: BillD's C-500, M-1.5t (4) PM-1.5 (4) M-500t (2)
Repair/Restoration/Upgrade expert for all of these components.
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bob p

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 2:10 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

PDR wrote:I think its what we are willing to spend that dictates quality.

For the longest time, Americans have been following the Wal-Mart model where low price is what counts the most. Not surprisingly then, low price has dictated that you get low quality.

Another problem has emerged though -- low price / low quality has become the rule in Chinese manufacturing, to the extent that its now impossible to obtain a traditional degree of quality in most of the things that we buy in our day to day lives. The factories are geared up to produce low quality, disposable garbage in huge volume. Just about everything that you can buy today is a cheap, low quality item. Its becoming harder and harder to find anything that has quality build any more, and when you can find something that's high quality, you're looking at something that is High End and exceptionally costly.

Its really said to see that you have to buy a High End commodity to get something that isn't an absolute POS. What happened to the middle ground that was occupied by old fashioned high quality, affordable manufactured goods? They're gone.

Its no longer profitable to manufacture something that is of good quality, because people of the Wal-Mart mindset aren't willing to pay for it. Price is what counts, and people are demanding low prices. To compete on price a manufacturer has to compromise on quality. This has gone on long enough that the domestic manufacturers of quality merchandise have either gone out of business, sold their brand names to a Chinese manufacturer, or are now relying on a ghost manufacturer to produce low quality goods for them to resell.

What's left then? We're left with low quality mass produced Chinese crap, and once in a while we're given the option of buying a high quality item that's still made in the USA. Unfortunately more often than not the search for high quality leads to a boutique item that's manufactured in the USA, and the price that you have to pay is obscene. It would be nice if there were still some middle ground in small manufactured goods, but there isn't.
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elgrau

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 2:48 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

I 2nd all of the "cheap chinese" comments. I was an "early adapter" of CFL's (nothing to do with "green"; I just liked the very low energy use vs "Edison" lights!) back when they cost a lot, but were advertised as "cost effective" because you'd save enough on electricity costs (and replacement costs - NOT) to make them save you tons of money "in the long run". But I too noticed that these bulbs were failing quite regularly after a year (or even less) of service (nothing at all like the advertised 10+ years of life!). What they failed to tell you (among other things , like Mercury vapor risks :-$ :shock: :) )was that the long life only applied if you left these lights on continuosly! The on/off cycles they can't take! Dishonest marketing/claims from the "watermelons", once again!

Other Chinese crap I wish I never bought: an electric "bilge" pump that seized/rusted tight after about one week! An electronic dart board that arrived DOA (from my company's "rewards" program); took off the back and discovered that both "power" wires from the battery pact to the main electronic's unit had come loose due to poor (or non existant!) soldering! A combo flashlite/nite lite/clock (another "rewards" NOT program POS) that was wired incorrectly. Harbor Freight and Tools sells almost 100% Chinese shit: the only way to ever buy any of it is if it is something like a solid metal tool (that you will only need to use once!) that is so dirt cheap that it makes "sense". Otherwise, you're wasting your time (and money)!
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BillD

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 3:54 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

I don't know where you go to find low cost and moderate quality. It used to be Japan, but stuff manufactured in Japan is as high quality as we make and as expensive. BTW, Perry, the A-760x, if it's like my A-500x is made in the good old U.S.A. and is proud to say so right on the back (in a little flag logo).
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Toy Maker

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Post Tue May 26, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: Tubes Tubes Tubes

We all know China makes total shit most of the time.
I am a little more interested in the KT88 vs. the KT88z tubes.
Just so everyone knows, Bob swares by the Shuguang KT88's those are the tubes in he personal amps, and also in all the amps he is selling on eBay right now. He has said that they were surprisingly high quality, and probably just as good as the original tubes Carver used back in 1990.

I am trying to find out if there is going to be a REAL difference between the standard, and black tubes, to justify the price difference.
(keep in mind, I'm talking about 30-40 tubes at a clip) :shock:
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