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Thread: Tube Tester

  1. #11
    Site Founder And Administrator Ron Resnick's Avatar
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    Thank you, Barry. But I do not want to use any tube tester I have to hook up to a computer -- especially to a PC.

    What is your recommendation for a standalone tube tester?
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  2. #12
    Member Sponsor Senior Member Barry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Resnick View Post
    Thank you, Barry. But I do not want to use any tube tester I have to hook up to a computer -- especially to a PC.

    What is your recommendation for a standalone tube tester?
    Well Ron, you could go with the MaxiMatcher, but you'd have to buy 2 units; one for small signal preamp tubes, and a second for the power tubes. Total cost ~$1,700 for both. There are also a few tube testing kits, but my guess is you wouldn't want to build one. You don't NEED to hook the Amplitrex up to a computer but it may be more than you really need. It is easy to use in 'stand alone" mode.

  3. #13
    Addicted to Best! Blue58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazdoc View Post
    IME, the best tube tester is the equipment that the tube goes in....
    Absolutely correct. From experience I've had tightly matched tubes that sound different and so had to match tubes to give the best performance by ear. Don't ask me why this should be. Perhaps someone out there knows why.

    A tube tester is really only good to weed out faulty or end of life tubes if old stock or to check new tubes for possible poor manufacture.
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  4. #14
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Resnick View Post
    Francisco, I would like to be able to test:

    6DJ8/6922
    6SN7/5692
    12AX7
    12AT7

    Maybe power tubes 6550 and KT120 and KT150
    This page has a lot of information concerning tube testers. http://jacmusic.com/Tube-testers/Dig...pare-Index.htm. One big issue about modern tube testers is reliability and service. One should have an old classical tester from the 50's or 60's just to check if there are no faults in the tube, a short can damage some of the modern testers. Serviceability can be a nuisance with modern testers using DACs, ADCs and software.

    In order to match tubes precisely you should be able to carry measurements at anode voltage and current similar to the operating points of the tube in the circuit - it is why most of the time factory matching of KT120's is not enough, or a set of tubes matched for the VTL750 is not matched for an ARC REF250. And some tubes should be burn-in before matching, the parameters change during the first 50 hours.

    For small signal tubes we can easily get a cheap board at eBay to build a very simple one tube preamplifier that can be used to listen to the tube sound, like the old George Kaye small tube tester. It can be used for subjective evaluation of tube noise and microphony - it is nice to have two circuits so we can directly compare in A/B mode the tube being tested with a reference tube. Remember tubes should be tapped with a rubber mallet for microphony tests, not with a pencil or the screwdriver handle!
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  5. #15
    Member Sponsor Senior Member Barry's Avatar
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    This is an older comparison I think, but useful. Francisco, you know a lot more about tubes than I do but I find jacmusic overly harsh in his evaluation of the Amplitrex even though he apparently owns 4 of them for his business. I don't test DHT tubes so I'm not sure about those criticisms. So he doesn't like Excel looking type graphs, US convention use of commas instead of periods, and technical use of the term emissions - so what? I do seem to recall you can't vary screen voltage when testing pentodes which would be nice. Some of the other equipment in the comparison is no longer available or you have to build them (uTracer looks nice but is Diy for example).

    Your comment about older equipment servicing is important. That's why it somewhat bothers me that the software hasn't been updated since 2009, but the average user won't care if using it in stand alone mode. Infrequently, the program hangs up in computer mode, but it works and most people are not using it that way from what I gather. Albert Porter confirmed to me that the software works in latest Windows 10 in computer mode otherwise I would strongly avoid buying it if you're looking for those features. All in all I think it's a good piece of equipment, though it's expensive and probably much more than most people need.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-13-2017 at 08:00 AM.

  6. #16
    Member Kcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    This page has a lot of information concerning tube testers. http://jacmusic.com/Tube-testers/Dig...pare-Index.htm. One big issue about modern tube testers is reliability and service. One should have an old classical tester from the 50's or 60's just to check if there are no faults in the tube, a short can damage some of the modern testers. Serviceability can be a nuisance with modern testers using DACs, ADCs and software.

    In order to match tubes precisely you should be able to carry measurements at anode voltage and current similar to the operating points of the tube in the circuit - it is why most of the time factory matching of KT120's is not enough, or a set of tubes matched for the VTL750 is not matched for an ARC REF250. And some tubes should be burn-in before matching, the parameters change during the first 50 hours.

    For small signal tubes we can easily get a cheap board at eBay to build a very simple one tube preamplifier that can be used to listen to the tube sound, like the old George Kaye small tube tester. It can be used for subjective evaluation of tube noise and microphony - it is nice to have two circuits so we can directly compare in A/B mode the tube being tested with a reference tube. Remember tubes should be tapped with a rubber mallet for microphony tests, not with a pencil or the screwdriver handle!
    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    This is an older comparison I think, but useful. Francisco, you know a lot more about tubes than I do but I find jacmusic overly harsh in his evaluation of the Amplitrex even though he apparently owns 4 of them for his business. I don't test DHT tubes so I'm not sure about those criticisms. So he doesn't like Excel looking type graphs, US convention use of commas instead of periods, and technical use of the term emissions - so what? I do seem to recall you can't vary screen voltage when testing pentodeswhich would be nice. Some of the other equipment in the comparison is no longer available or you have to build it (uTracer looks nice but is a bit Diy for example).

    Your comment about older equipment servicing is important. That's why it somewhat bothers me that the software hasn't been updated since 2009, but the average user won't care if using it in stand alone mode. Infrequently, the program hangs up in computer mode, but it works and most people are not using it that way from what I gather. Albert Porter confirmed to me that the software works in latest Windows 10 in computer mode otherwise I would strongly avoid buying it if you're looking for those features. All in all I think it's a good piece of equipment though it's probably more than most people need.
    The amplitrex is likely more than most enthusiasts will need. I stand by my original comment that you must be prepared to be frustrated and become accustomed to the individual character of how a tester responds. I also alluded that you would need more than one tester if you were looking for small tube and power tube testing outside of the amplitrex. I am assuming that Ron is not looking for a kit or to build a single stage amp to test for noise. If your requirements are out of the box solutions then a restored commercial vintage unit for transconductance and shorts/leakage and a unit like the maximatcher for small signal tubes that includes a microphony/noise test. I like the VTV characterizer for noise and balance.. but it is not in production anymore.

    Real world voltages on the plates and grids for power tubes only come with the amplitrex but as audiophiles we've been living with machines that don't provide that for decades- allow a good vendor to do that and have the machines to test for the parameters that are best suited to occasional user at home.
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  7. #17
    Orange unit works great, easy to use. Best $500 I've spent on gear as I have a lot of guitar amps in addition to my hifi rig.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazdoc View Post
    IME, the best tube tester is the equipment that the tube goes in....
    This is truth. Even if you can procure a tube tester is it not going to tell you anything of value unless the tester is based on the circuit it is going in. Easier (and a lot less expensive) to use a multimeter to check if they are good.
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