274B choices?

godofwealth

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Yes, I'm on that forum and know the thread... I'm at the point... Which I'm sure most get to... That I have zero problems thinking there are better than what I have... I simply can't and won't afford it. Lampi has a DAC over 5x what I paid for my B4. I could trade my LTA in for their pre and monoblocks for 3x. I could 5x tubes, cables, power, streamer... But that's not going to happen. I have spent all I choose to, because to get significantly better, will require significantly more money.

With tubes... There are cheap new production crap. There are affordable NOS, there is high quality new production, and then there is stratosphere/unobtanium of each to the overwhelming majority in this hobby. Despite what most NOS tube snobs claim (I was one) There are new production tubes that not only compete, but they best top NOS heavyweights. That is what I found with Sophia with 274s and El34s and best of all, they are reasonably priced. That is good for the hobby.
Sure, I get that. I think there are still affordable NOS rectifier tubes available on that long list, which don’t cost as much as the WE rectifiers. Some are actually quite a bit cheaper than Sophia Electric. FWIW, I have not found new production tubes to be very reliable. The newer the production, the less reliable it is. I have heard too many horror stories about new production KT 150s and KT 170s for me to ever consider owning a product built around those tubes (not to mention that there is a huge supply problem from that source that could vanish at any point). I am actually using WE 422a rectifiers not with my Lampi, but with a pair of SET monoblocks that are not that expensive (cost me around 3 grand). I think the really good WE rectifiers sound great even with low priced DACs and SETs. So, rather than splash on a Horizon, you might consider using premium WE tubes with a lower priced Lampi, and that seems a very worthwhile tradeoff to me, considering how unreliable KT 170 tubes are reported to be (I’ve never owned these tubes, but someone who I have known for a long time as an ARC dealer told me about this).
 

highstream

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The Sophia was by far the most expensive of the tubes I mentioned, although the AZ1's were purchased from a WBF contributor. A quick eBay check suggests that they are not expensive on the open market. The ones I'm going to look at, discussed on the Horizon thread, will be a lot more, as will the customer adapters that come with them.
 

godofwealth

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Here’s a lovely little SET I’m listening to right now, the Oliver Sayes 421a. It’s powered by one single Western Electric 421a, a stereo triode power tube that makes about 3 watts per channel. More than I need for my 105 dB efficient La Scalas. The WE 421a dates back to 1948, and yet mine tests like new. WE knew how to make incredibly long lasting tubes. It’s safe to say no one can do that today, just as 300 years ago Antonio Stradivarius made violins that are simply a whole league above any modern violin. For some reason technological know how is lost, whether it was the particular wood or varnish or strings that Stradivarius used or the Thorium coatings that WE used in their tubes. In both these cases, we will never see the likes of this technology replicated again.

IMG_5598.jpeg
 

Powerman

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Sure, I get that. I think there are still affordable NOS rectifier tubes available on that long list, which don’t cost as much as the WE rectifiers. Some are actually quite a bit cheaper than Sophia Electric. FWIW, I have not found new production tubes to be very reliable. The newer the production, the less reliable it is. I have heard too many horror stories about new production KT 150s and KT 170s for me to ever consider owning a product built around those tubes (not to mention that there is a huge supply problem from that source that could vanish at any point). I am actually using WE 422a rectifiers not with my Lampi, but with a pair of SET monoblocks that are not that expensive (cost me around 3 grand). I think the really good WE rectifiers sound great even with low priced DACs and SETs. So, rather than splash on a Horizon, you might consider using premium WE tubes with a lower priced Lampi, and that seems a very worthwhile tradeoff to me, considering how unreliable KT 170 tubes are reported to be (I’ve never owned these tubes, but someone who I have known for a long time as an ARC dealer told me about this).
Ya, and that I don't get.... There are cheap tubes... But Sophia and up are not cheap. We've had a handle on QA/QC for quite some time. There shouldn't be concerns with reliability with a company trying to be premium. And yes I do think buying a one year warantee is a ridiculous solution.

That being said... I felt it was worth a try. And I agree with your pitch on tubes. Tubes make the most dramatic changes... Gear is much more subtle. It's a solid place to put money... But it's also a never ending rabbit hole. I have sought premium tubes for all of mine, but I'm not interested I everything under the sun. Obviously I would love to see for myself, it's certainly doable, maybe when I get bored. WE isn't some obscure experiment, they are the pinnacle. But I am super happy with what I have and I do need to sit back and enjoy for a while. This admitted gear whore needs a break. :)
 

Powerman

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Feb 15, 2023
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Sure, I get that. I think there are still affordable NOS rectifier tubes available on that long list, which don’t cost as much as the WE rectifiers. Some are actually quite a bit cheaper than Sophia Electric. FWIW, I have not found new production tubes to be very reliable. The newer the production, the less reliable it is. I have heard too many horror stories about new production KT 150s and KT 170s for me to ever consider owning a product built around those tubes (not to mention that there is a huge supply problem from that source that could vanish at any point). I am actually using WE 422a rectifiers not with my Lampi, but with a pair of SET monoblocks that are not that expensive (cost me around 3 grand). I think the really good WE rectifiers sound great even with low priced DACs and SETs. So, rather than splash on a Horizon, you might consider using premium WE tubes with a lower priced Lampi, and that seems a very worthwhile tradeoff to me, considering how unreliable KT 170 tubes are reported to be (I’ve never owned these tubes, but someone who I have known for a long time as an ARC dealer told me about this).
OK, thanks @godofwealth for opening that door... But are they not making them now. I looked but WE only lists 300Bs and any search just brings up NOS WE 274bs. So how much is a new production WE.... Because a single 300B is actually reasonable.
 

retired farmer

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This might sound lazy and cheap but I am wanting to find a brand of tubes that are very good and basically I can buy any tube and be relatively happy. My quest is not to try every tube under the sun I would just like one place I can order from. I have tried sohpia electric 274b and kt88s also a preamplifier section one. That melody h88 sounded very nice before the tube rolls but it is into another level. Sorry cannot think of the number right now. In many ways I think I perhaps found what I wanted I have not been disappointed with any of them and like how they are voiced. I have a bunch of el34 s to buy this winter and likely I will buy the blue bottle ones from sohpia. The 274b I put into a pair of line magnetic 124a monoblocks. That was a huge upgrade as well as the power tube change they are 6l6 tubes in those amps I bought a pair of new old stock tubes made in the reflector plant that were very cheap. They were a huge improvement. I think sohpia was going to make a run of 6l6 tubes if I remember correctly I should take a look at there site to see if they did.
 

Powerman

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Feb 15, 2023
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This might sound lazy and cheap but I am wanting to find a brand of tubes that are very good and basically I can buy any tube and be relatively happy. My quest is not to try every tube under the sun I would just like one place I can order from. I have tried sohpia electric 274b and kt88s also a preamplifier section one. That melody h88 sounded very nice before the tube rolls but it is into another level. Sorry cannot think of the number right now. In many ways I think I perhaps found what I wanted I have not been disappointed with any of them and like how they are voiced. I have a bunch of el34 s to buy this winter and likely I will buy the blue bottle ones from sohpia. The 274b I put into a pair of line magnetic 124a monoblocks. That was a huge upgrade as well as the power tube change they are 6l6 tubes in those amps I bought a pair of new old stock tubes made in the reflector plant that were very cheap. They were a huge improvement. I think sohpia was going to make a run of 6l6 tubes if I remember correctly I should take a look at there site to see if they did.
Oh you're not crazy. Tubes are another rabbit hole. I have absolutely zero desire to try every obscure tube out there... And then get every obscure adapter and try those. I've done pretty well I think. I read up, and go for the consensus choice of what's best. Mullard El34s are widely regarded as best, Telefunken 12AXs, Sylvania 12BHs, bad boys, Mazdas, RCAs... I liked all and voiced to my liking. Is there an obscure pairing, or unicorn grail that's better... Probably... But no desire.

I got spares, I should be good to go. New production was interesting, decided to give a try. Obviously it's good to have new source. I wasn't disappointed. I doubt I will have solid state again... But I'm also not a tube fanatic that needs a whole other room for storage and I don't roll... Not for giggles anyway. So ya...
 

highstream

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Nothing wrong with choosing a brand and sticking with it. The Sophia Aqua II (or III coming?) and EL34-ST are a very good combo. I preferred their KT88-ST over the 34, finding it to have more of a touch of warmth that I liked.
 
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retired farmer

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Nothing wrong with choosing a brand and sticking with it. The Sophia Aqua II (or III coming?) and EL34-ST are a very good combo. I preferred their KT88-ST over the 34, finding it to have more of a touch of warmth that I liked.
Interesting I bought a quad of there kt88s because of that I need 16 EL34's for that amp. Lol I don't want to make mistake on that purchase. Lll
 

Ron Resnick

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retired farmer

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Two different amps I thought I would see if I liked there kt88s voicing before I vought the EL34's for a pair of canary monoblocks. I like the kt88s alot still have nor bought the EL34's
 
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facten

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This might sound lazy and cheap but I am wanting to find a brand of tubes that are very good and basically I can buy any tube and be relatively happy

Think this goal is going to be dependent upon the amps/DAC tube compliment. Just using Sophia Electric as an example , I like their 274B as a rectifier in my Modwright Elysee DAC in my 2nd system but they don't make the 6922 which the DAC runs. I like the SE 6SN7s in my Modwright LS100 preamp but they don't make rectifiers for that - 5AR4 or 5UGB. At one time SE made 845s , not any more so they don't offer an option for my Line Magnetic 518IA. Llikewise , they don't make the rectifier it needs , nor the 6L6s. They don't make EL84s so a no go for my Finale Audio integrated amp. So it's mix of brands for me. Based upon Western Electric's tube poll I'd be surprised if even when it gets around to offering more than the 300B if it will not have a full lineup of tubes in place, at least initially,
 
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rspyder

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Hi my WBFellows! I have been offline for a while enjoying summer, which is in shorter supply here in Canada than you fortunate folks experience down south. I celebrated the end of meteorological summer by tearing around the Italian Alps from Munich to Monza, to attend the Italian GP. I was going to pick up my latest rectifier tube on a side trip from Como to Verona, but decided to have it shipped before I left. It has allowed me to rank my 3 favourite tubes, in what I call the "conductor's" seat of my Horizon DAC. An admittedly abstract descriptor, but a fitting one given the two primary functions of a rectifier tube.

My sincere apologies if the opener and rest of this post puts me offside with those sensible few who are more economically minded when it comes to valve acquisitions, and those who are starting to tap out when it comes to the cacophony of tube-trial posts in respect of our wonderful Lampi DACs. However, I actually enjoy reading these posts and hearing about your suggestions based on real and trust-worthy experience with components we share in common. It has also led to some wonderful long-distant friendships. BTW - Hi Will!

I should mention also (as I have before) that Lukasz' DAC offerings provide an unmatched "foundation" of sound reproduction in the digital domain, with the added fun of personalizing Lampizator's core qualities through the art, passion and frustration of tube rolling.

I can't try, nor can I afford, all the 274B and other rectifier tubes that have been reviewed by this group - but I have tried the KR5U4G (that came with my Horizon), Takatsuki 274B, Sophia Electric Aqua 274B (not Aqua II), Ken Rad CKR5U4G 1943 NAVY, Tele RGN2004 smooth plate, Tele RGN2004 silver mesh (circa 1932) and, finally the Tele RGN2004 black mesh (circa 1930). All the older fella's are NOS and some NIB. All, except the KR and Takatsuki, were compared with the Mullard ECC32 in the "converter" seats and SFR P.17C in the "power" seats of my Horizon because they are my preferred dual triodes and pentodes. The pics below show some of the other pentodes I've tried and loved.

The top 3 Horizon rectifier tubes to my ears and for my system, in ascending order, are the silver mesh RGN2004, Ken Rad CKR5U4G and, at the top of the heap - the black mesh Telefunken Klangfilm RGN2004. All are really good because they share the same characteristics and attributes: well built, reliable, play well with others, and help the dual triodes and pentodes in the Horizon reproduce music in a very real, analog-like and holographic manner with wonderful tone, proper pace and stunning transients. The oldest Klangfilm, distinguished by black mesh plates and bespoke production techniques (note the serial no. is embedded in the glass stem) betters the other two in realism, articulate bass, tempo and ethereal holography. In short, this 93 year old has the skills and energy of Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Disney's Fantasia.

My Stenheim Alumine 3s not only generate a very deep and wide soundstage, they have an uncanny ability to project main performers in a truly 3-dimensional/holographic state. I really like how the Telefunken black mesh RGN2004 enhances that quality.
 

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highstream

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What does the CKR on the Ken-Rad refer or stand for?
 

rspyder

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Hi. The "CKR" was the manufacturer code used by the US military procurement group. "JAN" stood for Joint Army Navy. You can see that on my spare Ken Rad 5U4G (pic below). If a tube was spec'd and procured directly for the Navy, then it was stamped US NAVY (like the K-R 5U4G I used and tested in the pic above).

JAN manufacturer abbreviations:
CHS – Sylvania
CHY – Hytron or CBS-Hytron
CKR – KenRad
CL – GE
CRC – RCA
CRP – Raytheon
 

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highstream

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…The top 3 Horizon rectifier tubes to my ears and for my system, in ascending order, are the silver mesh RGN2004, Ken Rad CKR5U4G and, at the top of the heap - the black mesh Telefunken Klangfilm RGN2004….

Are your 2004’s Italy or Germany production, and does it make a difference?
 

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