Aesthetix Io Users Group

Tirebiter

Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2018
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Golden CO
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.
I have a pair of Tele Red Tips as well, again supposedly low noise for analytical equipment. Sound wise I preferred the Amperex over the Tele because they weren't quite as analytical as the Tele but there is a caveat, the listening tests were conducted prior to moving my TT, Io and preamp from between speakers to a side wall. That change alone cleaned up the SQ significantly so I need to revisit the Amperex vs Tele comparison. As I recall, the Tele Red Tips were a bit noisy compared to the Amperex but still well below the noise floor from the LPS. In any event, I need to confirm.
 

Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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I have the original LPS supplied from Aesthetix stored away - unused- I can measure their relative noise level on my VTV and Maximatcher testers vs. some tele's , tungsrams, amperex and mullards. All relative though as these are just the tubes I have - all NOS.

Telefunkens have been the most consistent triode to triode for gain , gm and noise in my experience.
 
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thekong

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May 10, 2012
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Hi Kcin, I have been told by other Io users and technicians that the Io runs the tubes very hard. Since you have multiple tube testers, I wonder whether you have monitored the conditions of the tubes constantly, say every 3 to 6 months. If you have, do you find the tubes deteriorate much faster in the Io than in other preamps?

Thanks
 

dan31

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2010
961
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SF Bay
There was a post from Albert Porter on Audiogon regarding the Aesthetix Io and tube life. He left his unit on all the time the the tubes were in remarkably fine shape after a year of use.
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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Kcin - Yes, this testing will be interesting. On my Beck RM1 tester, I can test the gain in the tubes but not the background noise level, and I have found that there is little correlation between these. E g my Tele's stayed much the same in gain yet the noise crept up gradually. Maybe a bit faster in the Philips Herleen I use now, but I am not sure about this. Or how long the JJs or LPS supplied by Aesthetix stay "ultra" low noise. Also, I have never been able to decide how much a bit of background noise has of negative impact on the musicality of the tube. I don't like the noise, of course, but even though I hear it between tracks, with the volume high, do I really hear it in the music? As a rule of thumb, I have thought - at least, when it starts to rival the background noise from the stylus in the vinyl groove (between tracks), it is time to say goodbye, and get some new ones. - All this applies to the critical first gain stage 12ax7s. These tubes are clearly asked to do a huge job. Not sure about the rest.
 

OGH

Active Member
Oct 9, 2020
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Dan31 - I would not recommend leaving the Io on all the time. All may seem well after a year, but not in the longer run. As stated before, I had to ship it back to Aesthetix due to heat over time, replacing several components, not just tubes. Even from here in cold Norway! So unless you have some superlative cooling system, or live in an igloo, don't do it. After an hour or so of warm-up, it will sound good enough anyway. To my ears. But maybe opinions differ, at this point?
 

dan31

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Jul 22, 2010
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SF Bay
I only turn on my Io before listening, perhaps 1 hour before. I turn it off when I'm done. I was just passing information regarding how hard the Io is on its tubes.

Heat management is important. Keeping the Io in an open environment will extend the life of the tubes and its components. My Io is on a open rack with 4"-5" above each chassis so my Io has plenty of space to pull in air and dissipate heat.
 
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Tirebiter

Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2018
117
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115
Golden CO
I have the original LPS supplied from Aesthetix stored away - unused- I can measure their relative noise level on my VTV and Maximatcher testers vs. some tele's , tungsrams, amperex and mullards. All relative though as these are just the tubes I have - all NOS.

Telefunkens have been the most consistent triode to triode for gain , gm and noise in my experience.

I have an ancient Hickok 600A but all it really does is tell me yay or nay on whether the tube is good. It also will give me some idea on remaining tube life but don't have enough experience to have a lot of confidence in my interpretations. Tell us about the Maximatcher and in particular, how it's measurements correlate to actual component tube noise. Given the number of tubes I run between the Io and my Lamm gear am thinking that the MaxiPreAmp II might be a good investment if indeed the readings provide meaningful data.

FWIW, I swapped out the V1 Amperex Bugle Boy Red Tips for Tele Red Tips and frankly in my setup, the Bugle Boys are far superior in overall musicality, presentation and in this case noise as well. In addition, the Tele Red Tips are a step up from the somewhat run of the mill Tele ECC83/12AX7(marked "The Fisher") that populate the majority of the Io 12AX7 slots.
 

Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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Hi Kcin, I have been told by other Io users and technicians that the Io runs the tubes very hard. Since you have multiple tube testers, I wonder whether you have monitored the conditions of the tubes constantly, say every 3 to 6 months. If you have, do you find the tubes deteriorate much faster in the Io than in other preamps?

Thanks
I don't particularly find that to be true. I check my tubes annually. The telefunkens generally test as new if the become unbalanced I move them from front to back. I record their readings and review annually.

I clean the pins sockets 2x/ year

There was a post from Albert Porter on Audiogon regarding the Aesthetix Io and tube life. He left his unit on all the time the the tubes were in remarkably fine shape after a year of use.

Agree, as above.
Kcin - Yes, this testing will be interesting. On my Beck RM1 tester, I can test the gain in the tubes but not the background noise level, and I have found that there is little correlation between these. E g my Tele's stayed much the same in gain yet the noise crept up gradually. Maybe a bit faster in the Philips Herleen I use now, but I am not sure about this. Or how long the JJs or LPS supplied by Aesthetix stay "ultra" low noise. Also, I have never been able to decide how much a bit of background noise has of negative impact on the musicality of the tube. I don't like the noise, of course, but even though I hear it between tracks, with the volume high, do I really hear it in the music? As a rule of thumb, I have thought - at least, when it starts to rival the background noise from the stylus in the vinyl groove (between tracks), it is time to say goodbye, and get some new ones. - All this applies to the critical first gain stage 12ax7s. These tubes are clearly asked to do a huge job. Not sure about the rest.
I have two testers for noise the VTV and the Maxipreamp II . I may give a go this weekend and report back. I agree its difficult to decide how much noise gets in the way of detail and what we can accept with signal going through it. Generally, if things are noisy enough for me to notice I start substituting or using the noise element of the testers to zero in and replace. I will report that my feelings are with NOS that I use its not the Io eating the tubes ... its just that some tubes are nosier than others and may pop up due some other failure. This has happened maybe 4-5x in 15 years of ownership. Some of it self inflicted with bad tube choices earlier on.


I have an ancient Hickok 600A but all it really does is tell me yay or nay on whether the tube is good. It also will give me some idea on remaining tube life but don't have enough experience to have a lot of confidence in my interpretations. Tell us about the Maximatcher and in particular, how it's measurements correlate to actual component tube noise. Given the number of tubes I run between the Io and my Lamm gear am thinking that the MaxiPreAmp II might be a good investment if indeed the readings provide meaningful data.

FWIW, I swapped out the V1 Amperex Bugle Boy Red Tips for Tele Red Tips and frankly in my setup, the Bugle Boys are far superior in overall musicality, presentation and in this case noise as well. In addition, the Tele Red Tips are a step up from the somewhat run of the mill Tele ECC83/12AX7(marked "The Fisher") that populate the majority of the Io 12AX7 slots.
Hi , I said Maximatcher but meant Maxipreamp II . This and the VTV tube characterizers are my go to testers for noise and gain for the Io.

I only turn on my Io before listening, perhaps 1 hour before. I turn it off when I'm done. I was just passing information regarding how hard the Io is on its tubes.

Heat management is important. Keeping the Io in an open environment will extend the life of the tubes and its components. My Io is on a open rack with 4"-5" above each chassis so my Io has plenty of space to pull in air and dissipate heat.
I mainly only can listen on weekends , it is typical I turn things on on Friday or Saturday and turn off Sunday night.

I believe it sounds better after a day of simmering at least!
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
179
160
150
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
Hi Kcin, I have been told by other Io users and technicians that the Io runs the tubes very hard. Since you have multiple tube testers, I wonder whether you have monitored the conditions of the tubes constantly, say every 3 to 6 months. If you have, do you find the tubes deteriorate much faster in the Io than in other preamps?

Thanks
I have not found the Io to be hard on tubes. The power supplies run the tube heaters prior to fully powering the tubes. This minimizes thermal shock. The tubes are all run at nominal conditions, no stress. My KT66 tubes have been in the power supplies 20 years. Some of the 12AX7s have lasted over a decade since they typically last 10,000 hours.

Excess heat from poor ventilation would cause more wear than any other factor. I don’t have that problem.
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
179
160
150
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
Kcin - Yes, this testing will be interesting. On my Beck RM1 tester, I can test the gain in the tubes but not the background noise level, and I have found that there is little correlation between these. E g my Tele's stayed much the same in gain yet the noise crept up gradually. Maybe a bit faster in the Philips Herleen I use now, but I am not sure about this. Or how long the JJs or LPS supplied by Aesthetix stay "ultra" low noise. Also, I have never been able to decide how much a bit of background noise has of negative impact on the musicality of the tube. I don't like the noise, of course, but even though I hear it between tracks, with the volume high, do I really hear it in the music? As a rule of thumb, I have thought - at least, when it starts to rival the background noise from the stylus in the vinyl groove (between tracks), it is time to say goodbye, and get some new ones. - All this applies to the critical first gain stage 12ax7s. These tubes are clearly asked to do a huge job. Not sure about the rest.
The tubes in the first stage are critical since their signal and any noise is amplified by the two subsequent gain stages. The tubes are not stressed any more than any other gain stage.
 

audioquest4life

Well-Known Member
Sep 24, 2020
289
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My KT66 tubes have been in the power supplies 20 years. Some of the 12AX7s have lasted over a decade since they typically last 10,000 hours.

Excess heat from poor ventilation would cause more wear than any other factor. I don’t have that problem.
Glad you experienced such longevity with the power supply tubes. Do you think that generally speaking, based on your experiences, that the power supply tubes can last years as you mentioned With your experience with the KT-66. I have all JJs in the power supply and forget what the one is that would be used in the spot you installed the KT66. Since my factory refresh in Dec 2021, I have enjoyed the Io immensely.
 

Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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This was my last episode with testing Io tubes, The Maxipre II has become a very good tool for this.

Although, it measures noise relatively in db down, It does not have a built in amp and speaker to listen. I bought a wireless bluetooth pod from amazon which also has a 3.55mm to RCA input and use it along with the digital meter in the maxipre II to listen and note. Maxipre could of included this IMO--- as a packaged Far East unit could be had for a few dollars and built in to the case easily.

Regardless, my set up works well.

The Vacuum Tube Valley Tester is smaller, lighter just as relatively accurate and has a built in speaker.. I I like it a as well.

The Io is a commitment , when you get it correct it pays dividends.
 

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oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
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Specific Northwest - Seattle area
Glad you experienced such longevity with the power supply tubes. Do you think that generally speaking, based on your experiences, that the power supply tubes can last years as you mentioned With your experience with the KT-66. I have all JJs in the power supply and forget what the one is that would be used in the spot you installed the KT66. Since my factory refresh in Dec 2021, I have enjoyed the Io immensely.
12AX7 tubes should be good for 10,000 hours. Adequate cooling and/or ventilation of the power supplies provide longest tube life. At 10 hours a week, that’s about 10 years. EL34 tubes are rated at 2,500 hours. The KT66 are also rated for 8000-10000 hours.

so, it depends on the tube type and how hot the unit runs.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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What is the current practical thinking on using a .24mv cartridge with the Io?

1) Does an output that low put a lot of pressure on the Io in terms of staying noise-free with those tubes cranking at high gain?

2) Will an output that low sacrifice some drive or dynamics or energy versus a .45mV output cartridge?

What has been your practical experience on these issues at these cartridge output levels?

Thank you!
 

Kcin

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Mar 27, 2016
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Ron,

I run a Koetsu Jade Platinum, Lyra Etna SL as some of the lower output cartridges on the Io.

No issues here . However, I spend an inordinate amount of time with tube selection. The propensity for noise is a function of the total system gain and speaker interface. I also have the Goldfinger Statement -which is explosive... different cartridge .



@ redcars here has a big Avantgarde system with Io. He may chime in.
 
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Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Beverly Hills, CA
In the new, future system I will actually be taking some pressure off the Io for the first time by dividing responsibility for gain between the Io and a line stage preamp.

I used the Benz Micro Ruby 2 (.3mV output) for 18 years with no problem. So maybe I'm worrying about nothing. But I keep thinking that the Air Tight Opus 1 at .45 mV -- almost twice the output of the ZYX -- might take pressure off the noise question and step up the dynamics and energy.
 

Kcin

VIP/Donor
Mar 27, 2016
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Canada
In the new, future system I will actually be taking some pressure off the Io for the first time by dividing responsibility for gain between the Io and a line stage preamp.

I used the Benz Micro Ruby 2 (.3mV output) for 18 years with no problem. So maybe I'm worrying about nothing. But I keep thinking that the Air Tight Opus 1 at .45 mV -- almost twice the output of the ZYX -- might take pressure off the noise question and step up the dynamics and energy.
It definitely will. With my Atlas and Goldfinger there is definitely a sense of ease.

Having said all that, I am expecting an Esturo Gold this September which is low output. Over 6mos wait because of no saphire plates. Maybe Franc Kuzma cornered the market on saphire?

By coincidence, the DaVa field coil is expected in the same time frame. It will be a fun fall .
 

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