Aesthetix Io Users Group

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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That is an unfortunate experience you are having with the Io. You must have a built on a Monday or Friday model. Just like cars, those are the days apt to have some glitches. Your experience is definitely the exception and not the rule compared to the vast majority of Io owners who have owned these things for many years without major issues, myself included. I have owned my Io since 2005 and feel Blessed with the ruggedness of the Io as I have traveled across the Atlantic a few times with it and have not had any down time with it. Good luck working out the gremlins.
They have had it back in the US twice now, plenty of time for gremlins :rolleyes: Shipping expenses alone become something to consider when buying a Io with 2 power supplies in Europe. I do regret buying mine, great sound, but to much hassle. My trusted old solid state phono has 90% of the sound quality and no problems.
 

thekong

Well-Known Member
May 10, 2012
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Anyone knows what 12AX7 is Aesthetix currently shipping with the Io in the power supplies? My unit came with the Sovtek 12AX7WB, but they are getting old and need replacement.

Thanks in advance!
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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Lagonda - I understand your feeling, I was there myself! Are there no-one in Europe qualified to service and repair the Io?
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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Lagonda - I understand your feeling, I was there myself! Are there no-one in Europe qualified to service and repair the Io?
I know a guy close to Stockholm in Sweden, about a 8 hour drive from me, he can hopefully fix my Krell KPS 25 sc at the same time. That hot running American equipment just breaks too much for my taste.:rolleyes:
 

audioquest4life

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Sep 24, 2020
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Anyone knows what 12AX7 is Aesthetix currently shipping with the Io in the power supplies? My unit came with the Sovtek 12AX7WB, but they are getting old and need replacement.

Thanks in advance!
My recent updates to the Io returned with all JJs, power supply and preamp unit For the 12ax7 positions.
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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I also got JJs from the factory a couple of years ago. I noted that the 12ax7 JJs in the first and second gain stage were very quiet indeed. I still liked the sound better with NOS in those positions however.
 

thekong

Well-Known Member
May 10, 2012
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I also got JJs from the factory a couple of years ago. I noted that the 12ax7 JJs in the first and second gain stage were very quiet indeed. I still liked the sound better with NOS in those positions however.
Thanks! I have Tele in the first 2 gain stages right now, but will be testing some Sovtek 12AX7LPS and Psvane soon.
 
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audioquest4life

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Sep 24, 2020
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Thanks! I have Tele in the first 2 gain stages right now, but will be testing some Sovtek 12AX7LPS and Psvane soon.
Over the many years I have owned the Io, my go to V1 tubes are the Sovtek 12AX7LPS. I replaced the 12AX7 WB that came with the Io when I first acquired it sometime in 2005. Since then, rolled Mullards, Gold Lions, and JJ. The original Sovtek WB and JJs form the factory exhibited tube rush not long after arriving and operating the Io…roughly 2-300 hours of use. The LPS to me seem to be the best default low noise tube for the V1 position without giving up much in terms of sound quality, it’s all great sounding to me.

Now, I am also very interested in testing the PSvane 12AX7 in the V1 position as well.
 

Kcin

VIP/Donor
Mar 27, 2016
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When I received my Io new . Sovtek LPS in the V1/V2 positions and Sovtek WB elsewhere.

I have not found a more neutral/quiet tube than the Telefunken in VI/V2 over the years.
 

thekong

Well-Known Member
May 10, 2012
137
17
323
Over the many years I have owned the Io, my go to V1 tubes are the Sovtek 12AX7LPS. I replaced the 12AX7 WB that came with the Io when I first acquired it sometime in 2005. Since then, rolled Mullards, Gold Lions, and JJ. The original Sovtek WB and JJs form the factory exhibited tube rush not long after arriving and operating the Io…roughly 2-300 hours of use. The LPS to me seem to be the best default low noise tube for the V1 position without giving up much in terms of sound quality, it’s all great sounding to me.

Now, I am also very interested in testing the PSvane 12AX7 in the V1 position as well.
According to my Maxi-preamp tube tester, my Sovtek 12AX7LPS are about 4-6db lower noise than my Psvane. All of them brand new, not sure if some burn in would change the measurements for the better. I have not put them in the Io yet
 

oldvinyl

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Jun 4, 2017
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I know a guy close to Stockholm in Sweden, about a 8 hour drive from me, he can hopefully fix my Krell KPS 25 sc at the same time. That hot running American equipment just breaks too much for my taste.:rolleyes:
I haven’t had heat problems with the Io. When I lived in a warmer climate, I used small fans to keep the power supplies cool in the rack. Where we live now has a cooler climate and the listening room is in the lower level. No heat problems now.

I have had the Io for almost 25 years. This is the third time it needed a repair. I first lost a voltage regulator, then one of the IEC connectors lost its center pin.

So far I have lucked out. Each repair has been accompanied by one of the upgrades.

I really can’t complain. How many folks keep high end gear for decades, get great service and support, and continued improvement and enjoyment?
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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My trusted old solid state phono has 90% of the sound quality and no problems.

Since when do most of us in this hobby settle for 90%? :)
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
2,593
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Since when do most of us in this hobby settle for 90%? :)
Every time my Io gets homesick and wants to go on a American vacation again, i have to settle :rolleyes:
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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It is nice to settle. But to me, solid state is not 90 percent. More like 80. 70. I have glorious sound from my all-tube system, starting with the Io, and would miss it if I parted with it. A lot of it comes from the rest of the system, sure. Not least, the Atma-sphere MA1 OTL amps, my speakers, the preamp - etc - the synnergy in the whole chain. But the Io feeds all of this. I am ready to be convinced in favour of a smaller s-state alternative (and it would certainly be practical), but it hasnt happened yet.
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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RE: 12ax7 tubes in the Io

If you cannot get low noise Telefunken 12ax7s for Io V1 and V2 postions, a quad of Philips Herleen made in 1972 is a good and less costly alternative. I have now used these for 15 months, and like them a lot, especially with electric rock pop type music. There, they are maybe even better than the legendary Teles in some ways. The ones to look for were made at the Herleen factory, in the early 70s or earlier.

Whatever you do, make sure the NOS tubes are tested and selected for ultra low noise, or that you can return them, if they are too noisy in the Io. The noise level is critical in these positions. If they have too much background noise, it won’t help if they are more musical.
 

Tirebiter

Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2018
117
72
115
Golden CO
When I received my Io new . Sovtek LPS in the V1/V2 positions and Sovtek WB elsewhere.

I have not found a more neutral/quiet tube than the Telefunken in VI/V2 over the years.
Test time! I have some spare Soviet LPS' that I just used to see how they measure up. I pulled my pair of Amperex 12AX7A Red Tips from the V1 positions and replaced them with the LPS set. I have been using Decibel X Pro on my iPhone for quite some time to measure relative noise shifts after making tube changes. I place the microphone end of the phone about 1" away from each of the speakers (the AV Duo's midrange drivers) and take note of the readings using the ITU-R 468 Weighing scale (an audio noise measurement standard).

All else being equal, the LPS produce about 9-10dB higher (60dB vs 50-51dB) noise than the Red Tips under at my standard preamp volume control setting used for this test.
 
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OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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Tirebiter - thanks, surprising to me!

I have never heard NOS that were far below the best LPS. More like equal, in noise level. Could it be that all LPS are not created the same? Are your LPS selected for low noise? I have a quad LPS, kindly shipped to me by Audioquest4life, that are very quiet, about the same level of noise as the selected JJ tubes from the factory that I received a couple of years ago. Which, again is approximately the same background noise level I get with good low noise selected NOS.

My method is to lift the cartridge from the groove, turn up the volume, and listen for the background noise with my head close to the speaker drivers. I also measure with an analog decibel meter, but I find that changes between different tubes in the V1-2 positions are easy to hear, and best judged by listening.

It seems that the only sure way to test a tube for noise level is in the Io itself. For the ultra-critical V1-2 positions. Other devices may indicate "low noise" but it isn't low enough. I have a Beck RM-1 tube tester, good in many respects, but it does not predict noise level in the Io (it does help me to avoid problems with inserting bad tubes in the Io, though). I also have a tube headphone amp, using just one 12ax7 (very convenient, easy swapping) that tells me a lot about the musicality of a tube, but little about the background noise level, since it is not driven as hard as in the Io. The noise level is no problem in this amp. It only appears in the Io. Likewise, I think you can shift noisy tubes from the first gain stage of the Io, to later stages, and maybe have no problems, although I have not experimented much (I dislike that a tube is noisy, wherever it is placed).
 
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Tirebiter

Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2018
117
72
115
Golden CO
Tirebiter - thanks, surprising to me!

I have never heard NOS that were far below the best LPS. More like equal, in noise level. Could it be that all LPS are not created the same? Are your LPS selected for low noise? I have a quad LPS, kindly shipped to me by Audioquest4life, that are very quiet, about the same level of noise as the selected JJ tubes from the factory that I received a couple of years ago. Which, again is approximately the same background noise level I get with good low noise selected NOS.

My method is to lift the cartridge from the groove, turn up the volume, and listen for the background noise with my head close to the speaker drivers. I also measure with an analog decibel meter, but I find that changes between different tubes in the V1-2 positions are easy to hear, and best judged by listening.

It seems that the only sure way to test a tube for noise level is in the Io itself. For the ultra-critical V1-2 positions. Other devices may indicate "low noise" but it isn't low enough. I have a Beck RM-1 tube tester, good in many respects, but it does not predict noise level in the Io (it does help me to avoid problems with inserting bad tubes in the Io, though). I also have a tube headphone amp, using just one 12ax7 (very convenient, easy swapping) that tells me a lot about the musicality of a tube, but little about the background noise level, since it is not driven as hard as in the Io.
OGH,

No clue as to the heritage of the LPS I used for this test as they were part of the package when I purchased my Io. When I got the units, the LPS were located in the V5 and V6 sockets for each channel. I put my Red Tips and a spare pair of Tele 12AX7's in the V1/V2 slots and bumped the existing tubes in V1 to V4 down to the V3 to V6 positions.

The Amperex Red Tips are supposedly tubes specially screened for very low noise and were sold for avionics and instrument applications... so given the price I paid for them, happy to see a measurable improvement.

And yes, the ear test also works and quite evident that the Red Tips are quieter but I have an irrational desire to quantify the differences ;)

Brock
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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Those Amperexes sound like a good buy. Beside the noise issue, do you like them in terms of musicality, compared to other NOS, like Tele? In fact the Philips Herleen that I use may be somewhat similar (yours are older than 72?). Mine are not factory-selected, but selected for low noise by a dealer who had a lot of them. Same thing maybe. And from what I have heard, the thing to look for are tubes made at the Herleen factory in Holland, which had several different labels (not just bugle boy, amperex etc). I see that the price for your red-tips is now very high, and I think one can get similar performance for a lower price. I have never heard them, though.
 

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