6H30's--Are the more expensive/megabuck versions worth the money?

May 25, 2010
493
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Jersey Shore- waterside
#1
The 6H30 tube has achieved a fair amount of acclaim recently as one of "the" tubes to use in reference preamps. I personally have owned 4 ARC Ref preamps that use them, as well as a BAT VK30 SE that uses them and now just bought a BAT VK32 SE that also uses them.

Throughout the ownership of these 6 preamps that use these tubes, there is clearly sonic family resemblance that makes me think I am hearing some of the quality of the 6H30, which clearly I love or I would not be on preamp #6 using this tube. I find them to be effortless and incredibly stable with regard to sonic balance, not to mention 10,000 hour durability.

What I do not know is the sonic differences between the standard Sovtek 6H30's which are cheap at $30 a piece and the more expensive variants, including the DR 6H30P at $200 per, not to mention some allegedly magical $700/ tube magic inducers.

I would love to hear any feedback about the different tubes, plus the equipment they were evaluated in.
 

RUR

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
647
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SoCal
#2
Russ, a couple of years back when I was using a Modwright tube pre, I replaced the stock 6H30 pair with DR's from The Tube Store. In my preamp, the difference was quite subtle - not near the impact of replacing the rectifier with a NOS metal-base Mullard. Based on what I've read on various fora, mild to moderate seems to be the most common experience. Dunno about any $700 versions.
 

Robert

New Member
Nov 10, 2010
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#3
To my ears, the NOS 6H30DR tubes sound more dynamic, clear, and have better extension for both low and high frequencies. I find them to be less linear than the Sovtek, meaning the frequencies don't congeal quite as well. In my Rex, I like to use 2 pairs of Sovtek 6H30 tubes, and 2 pairs of the NOS Reflektor 6H30DR tubes. It provides a great balance. Going with all 8 NOS tubes was too much for me.

I have 2 pair of the EH 6H30 gold pin on order, and will soon know their contribution.

EAT tube dampers and Hifi Gold fuses are additional worthwhile tweaks.

I would recommend you buy at least 1 pair of the NOS 6H30DR tubes and see how it goes for yourself. There are many threads that state no or minimal difference, which is not my experience.
 

jazdoc

Member Sponsor
Aug 7, 2010
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Bellevue
#4
As someone who does not believe that the more expensive tube is necessarily the better sounding tube, in my BAT preamp, the NOS "Supertube" definitely sounded better. Is it worth the difference in cost? That's an individual decision.
 
May 30, 2010
13,977
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48
Portugal
#5
My system has more than a dozen 6h30 and I went on reading through the various opinions already referred and I have though about them, but nothing else.
When comparing tubes you should measure them. The allowed variance in anode current and transconductance in tubes of the same type but different brands can explain sound differences, that are not always improvements. A result obtained with one brand in one situation can not be generalized - may be next supply will sound different.
 

Robert

New Member
Nov 10, 2010
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#6
microstrip, while your desire to measure effects may be admirable (I am a scientist), it is flawed in audio. I have heard products that should technically sound wonderful, but instead make awful music.

Remember, there are lies, damned lies, and audio specs.

If something measures bad but sounds great, I'm buying. All I can say is, try it, you may like it. And if you just don't want to believe, that's your prerogative. Some skepticism may be warranted, but my motto in audio is, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Best,
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,221
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#7
microstrip, while your desire to measure effects may be admirable (I am a scientist), it is flawed in audio. I have heard products that should technically sound wonderful, but instead make awful music.

Remember, there are lies, damned lies, and audio specs.

If something measures bad but sounds great, I'm buying. All I can say is, try it, you may like it. And if you just don't want to believe, that's your prerogative. Some skepticism may be warranted, but my motto in audio is, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Best,
OTOH, there are benefits, depending up the type of tube circuits, to measuring tubes, esp when it comes to noise and phono sections (of course, in circuit performance is perhaps the best as companies such as ARC and cj do in the tubes they sell). And I'd rather start with a quiet, matched (esp. if using paralleled sections), good sounding Triode than a noisy, poorly matched triode tube too :)

But I've bought tubes that were matched, measured with say a Tektronics curvetracer and sounded horrible too. ( eg. I don't care how good some early Chinese tubes measured, they sounded like drek.) But I'd say that measurements work best within a given tube line say like Sovtek, Tele, etc.

And I've yet to really find anything that correlates with how much life a tube has in it except by listening. Nor is there any measurement that will tell you how long a tube will stay quiet. Even with my George Kaye tester that's pretty sensitive, I've tried Tele 12AX7s that measured perfect but didn't last a damn.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,221
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#8
As someone who does not believe that the more expensive tube is necessarily the better sounding tube, in my BAT preamp, the NOS "Supertube" definitely sounded better. Is it worth the difference in cost? That's an individual decision.
I have a pair of DRs waiting to try in my cj amps. They also can be had NOS from a reputable source for $70 each. That's the most reasonable price I've seen.
 
May 30, 2010
13,977
48
48
Portugal
#9
microstrip, while your desire to measure effects may be admirable (I am a scientist), it is flawed in audio. I have heard products that should technically sound wonderful, but instead make awful music.
Robert,
Thanks for your comment. I should have written more clearly.I just wanted to say that if tubes measure differently they will sound different in most situations, and this could explain many reported variations. However, as you, I recognize that audio can not stay only in the lab - sometimes tubes measure perfectly and sound horrible. A friend of mine bought some very expensive Telefunken ECC83 fakes (with the diamond logo, but we found later, thinner pins ... ) that sounded horrible and asked me to test them. They measured within 5% of the good sounding ones.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,221
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#10
Robert,
Thanks for your comment. I should have written more clearly.I just wanted to say that if tubes measure differently they will sound different in most situations, and this could explain many reported variations. However, as you, I recognize that audio can not stay only in the lab - sometimes tubes measure perfectly and sound horrible. A friend of mine bought some very expensive Telefunken ECC83 fakes (with the diamond logo, but we found later, thinner pins ... ) that sounded horrible and asked me to test them. They measured within 5% of the good sounding ones.
Wow hadn't heard about fake ECC83s; had about Tele ECC88s.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
9,483
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#11
When you say fake diamond logo, I assume you mean the diamond logo silk screened on the tube glass and not the diamond logo that is actually in the glass on the bottom of Telefunken small signal tubes. That would be very hard to fake and is always the way to tell if someone is passing off fake Telefunkens.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
10,996
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Manila, Philippines
#12
I have plain jane 6h30s in my second system/HT (BAT VK-31 SE, BAT VK-6200). I'm also seriously looking at the LL1. I have no experience with DRs or other variants. Thanks to the OP for starting this thread.
 
May 30, 2010
13,977
48
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#13
When you say fake diamond logo, I assume you mean the diamond logo silk screened on the tube glass and not the diamond logo that is actually in the glass on the bottom of Telefunken small signal tubes. That would be very hard to fake and is always the way to tell if someone is passing off fake Telefunkens.
No, I am referring the diamond logo in the bottom. Some people reported fake tubes with the diamond logo in the glass. It seems that one of the factories that produced tubes with this diamond logo for Telefunken also used it for other inferior brands and they are now being relabeled as Telefunken. See also:

http://audioslavery.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=tubes&action=display&thread=126
 
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May 25, 2010
493
1
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Jersey Shore- waterside
#14
First of all, I want to say thank you to all of you who have thrown in your thoughts and experiences on the Sovtek 6H30 and the 6H30p-DR. I have owned four ARC ref preamps that used the 6h30's and like the family of sound very much. Post divorce/post money, as I rebuilt my system, I bought a BAT VK 30SE from a well known reviewer who raved about it and was, absolutely thrilled until the disease and money from the sale my trusty McIntosh MR 71 reignited my tube lusts. I then bought a BAT VK 32SE on Audiogon that was priced a $1000 too low and now find myself with my sixth preamp using 4 6H30's and a couple of CJ19's as current sources.

There was a clear improvement in sound by switching the 32 SE for 30 SE. It was more cohesive, much more depth and ability to individualize musical/mixing sources, plus the mid bass and low bass were more believable. Although I do not have the funds that I once had, at least at this point, I am being reminded of the incremental excitement of getting closer to the musical energy and experience with each positive move forward via equipment changes. I am also reminded of the many nights in audio OCD land tweaking this and that, trying to the get the "music" or was it the "system" just right, only to come back the next morning and sit down and conclude "what was I thinking last night that I thought that this was musical nirvana?" So I am looking for worthwhile changes that are cost effective, can be made quickly so I can get back to what brought me into this hobby years ago, the excitement of being "there" when you are merely at home.

The more mature me (lack of funds tends to promote that transition) now wants to be excited by my system regardless of source (even HDTV), and then sit back and enjoy the 10,000 hours of tube life without the obsessing and audio weenie stuff that made me more of an audiophile than a music lover. So what I am looking for from this thread is four things; 1) if anyone who has heard the differences in tube upgrades in BAT equipment, because the differences are likely to be heavily influenced by how the tubes are used in the circuits, I would like to hear as many specifics as possible; 2) would it be worthwhile to upgrade the CJ19's, if an upgrade exists, because they are somewhat in the signal path; 3) the pro's and cons of upgrading one or both 6h30's in each channel and does it matter which of the two is the one upgraded; and 4) Miles, where does not one get 6H30p-DR's for $70?

Thanks again. Your informative and rapid responses to my questions have restimulated my interest in this site.
 
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steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#16
Wow hadn't heard about fake ECC83s; had about Tele ECC88s.
There was also a time when there were fake Tele EC803S (the holy grail of 12Ax7'S) coming out of China and being sold on eBay. I bought my ECC803S from a reliable vendor

caveat emptor
 
May 25, 2010
493
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Jersey Shore- waterside
#18
I just spoke to Victor Khomenko at BAT who actually took a stand on the worthiness of the 6h30pDR 1991 and earlier in his preamps, instead of the standard party line. His statement was that this tube in his devices is better in every way, with a substantially lower noise floor, less microphonics and a much richer and detailed sound stage. He also stated that he does have upgrade CJ19's but until I yank mine out of my unit and look at the production date to see if I have upgraded ones already, he will not offer any further comments!
 
May 25, 2010
493
1
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Jersey Shore- waterside
#20
As much as I would like to think that I have left the obsessing part of audio behind years ago and moved onto real problems and issues, the past 4 days has proved to me that all is still intact in my audio OCD land. For a guy who went out to buy a piece of pizza and came home with a new 911, it is amazing how much time I have spent in the past 4 days learning about and exploring the lineage of 6H30pDR tubes manufactured before 1991. Even more impressive was that I was able to get Victor Khomenko, a man of extremely few words and even less emotion, to actually tell me that with his products (BAT) that this tube upgrade makes a significant difference and like a serious oenophile which years of product sound the best and produce the most pleasure. So with a bit of unrealistic anxiety because I spend much more than this amount of money with little or no hesitation, I sought out the best value, while trying to insure the highest quality.

I owe it to the moderator of this forum, Ken for giving me the nudge that I needed, by his comment about Parts Connection being too good a deal to feel comfortable about. At first I dismissed them because how could most places charge $200-$300/tube and one $700/tube, when Parts Connection had them for sale at $70 normally and now 20% off till 12/17? Surely something must be wrong. And then I remembered years ago about the Parts Connection/Sonic Frontiers connection and reached out in hopes that time had not eroded their morals. I asked a bunch of hard questions and politely asked them how they could prove that they had the genuine product and what they did to determine a matched pair, or in my case a matched quartet. Their president Chris Johnson quickly wrote back to me and answered every one of my questions in detail. He informed me about the year of manufacture and their 3 stage individual tube measurement system for matching, which they would use to create a near perfect matched quartet for me. He advised me to talk directly with Mike Brion who gave me the lowdown on what particular product I would be buying--for you oenophiles, tubes manufactured in 1987 by Reflector in the part of the factory with windows facing southwest and after 1:30 PM during the late spring, sound the best.

Luckily for me, such magic stock was available for the price of $56/tube and will be sent out to me tomorrow so that I can finally put this project back to sleep and get back to listening to music. The tubes should be here by Monday and I will issue my impression after some electrons flow and the tubes have time to air and let the tannins settle. The reason I have posted this today is that I was really pleased with the nature and quality of the service of Parts Connection and to alert people that their 20% total stock sale is over 12/17.
 

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