Best EL34 amps

awsmone

Active Member
Apr 7, 2014
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Canberra Australia
#2
i love the sound of el34 s

but the question Kedar is context

what are you intending to drive ?

and is it triode or pentode mode/ultralinear ?
 

awsmone

Active Member
Apr 7, 2014
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#4
tricky tricky

Kedar

not many are optimised for triode and horns

honestly the answer is unless you need high output, el34 is not the answer, SET is better

the only exception in my experience is the rare otl/el34 for use with horn ...very rare
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#5
Actually I heard a SET, 12w, and another integrated, with two different horns, and some compares with other SETs and tubes over the last few months. Will write about it soon, the upload has been taking a while.
 

853guy

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Aug 14, 2013
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#6
Hi Bonzo,

Limited experience, and only pentode (EAR 534, Shindo Montrachet). I know you can connect the screens to make it a triode, but I've never heard one. Think Dave C made a EL34 SET...?

Lots of experience with EL34's in Marshalls and Hiwatts though, which for me, is where they excel.

Best,

853guy
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
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#7
Yeah, I have an EL34 SET... they are great tubes! My current preference is actually Gold Lion KT77. But TBH the output tube is only a small part of an amp's performance and since the EL34 is an affordable tube you'll rarely find commercial EL34 amps that are really good. With triode-strapped EL34s (use Hazen mod) you'll get 6-7 W out of the amp.

I have compared my SET to a friend's Fi 2A3 monoblocks driven by an Airtight preamp and it wasn't all that close, my amp was better. The reason is careful parts selection and the driver circuit design. There are some key parts in tube amps like the OPTs, any resistors in series with the signal, and power supply filtration, especially the last power supply cap. These are rarely optimized, same with the usually inferior driver circuit design and the fact the driver shares the power supply with the output, I'd much rather have two power supplies for driver and output rather than 2 power supplies for right and left channels. The best coupling caps or trafos are rarely used either. I've spend years optimizing my amp and there's still more to be done, at this point it's better than most commercial amps regardless of what tubes it uses, but I doubt there's anything even close commercially that can compare.

My best advice is to have someone build you a SET amp custom using high quality parts and no-compromise circuit design. Maybe Thomas Mayer? http://vinylsavor.blogspot.com/
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#8
Thanks, did you tube roll? I heard one with an 833c tube for power and one El34 for current and one for the tone. I have compared in another integrated where you can roll to 6L6G, KT 90, and that amp was compared to two GM70s amps, a 300b, one much more expensive GU71, etc…Also an EL84 was good. Will write up soon.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
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#9
Thanks, did you tube roll? I heard one with an 833c tube for power and one El34 for current and one for the tone. I have compared in another integrated where you can roll to 6L6G, KT 90, and that amp was compared to two GM70s amps, a 300b, one much more expensive GU71, etc…Also an EL84 was good. Will write up soon.
I have quite a few EL34s including Mullard, RFT, Winged=C, Japanese seam-top, Old Tesla and more... The new GL KT77 are probably the best but other new Russian-made "reissues" aren't as good as any of the old-stock tubes.

I've tried other KT types and didn't like them as much. I'd like to build a 3-stage with EL34 driving 211 but that would cost a ton just in parts and I don't necessarily need that much power... my EL34 SET drives my midrange and super tweeter >400 Hz.
 

jazdoc

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Aug 7, 2010
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#10
My current amplifier is the Found-Music Blade amp centered around the EL34. After trying dual getter Telefunken and Mullards, I actually much prefer the reproduction Gold Lion KT77's; which are much cheaper. I have yet to try the big bottle Sylvania EL34s. The amp uses a 6SN7 driver and OD3 voltage regulator tubes. The amp is very quiet if you find closely matched tubes and puts out ~22W.
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#12
My current amplifier is the Found-Music Blade amp centered around the EL34. After trying dual getter Telefunken and Mullards, I actually much prefer the reproduction Gold Lion KT77's; which are much cheaper. I have yet to try the big bottle Sylvania EL34s. The amp uses a 6SN7 driver and OD3 voltage regulator tubes. The amp is very quiet if you find closely matched tubes and puts out ~22W.
Yes I now remember, that was the one I heard. Did you not have some WE tubes in them at that time? I compared the Tube Audio Design (cheap chinese) to the expensive dual getter Telefunken, and preferred the TAD. Though Telefunken was more detailed and neutral, the TAD had more bass, depth, body.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#13
My current amplifier is the Found-Music Blade amp centered around the EL34. After trying dual getter Telefunken and Mullards, I actually much prefer the reproduction Gold Lion KT77's; which are much cheaper. I have yet to try the big bottle Sylvania EL34s. The amp uses a 6SN7 driver and OD3 voltage regulator tubes. The amp is very quiet if you find closely matched tubes and puts out ~22W.
love these amps and my encounter with them at jazdoc's almost pushed me to buying a tube amp, but otherwise caused me to move my speakers and find what I was missing.

wonderful amplifiers.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
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#14
My current amplifier is the Found-Music Blade amp centered around the EL34. After trying dual getter Telefunken and Mullards, I actually much prefer the reproduction Gold Lion KT77's; which are much cheaper. I have yet to try the big bottle Sylvania EL34s. The amp uses a 6SN7 driver and OD3 voltage regulator tubes. The amp is very quiet if you find closely matched tubes and puts out ~22W.
Nice, good to hear you like the GL KT77s best as well... they cost as much or just a bit more than a set of 8 Winged=C EL34s I picked up recently but are just a touch better. They're not quite as reliable as NOS but not bad, I had one go bad after a year but I was pushing them a little too hard, when I rebuilt the output section of my amp a while ago I changed the operating point to be a bit more conservative.

IDK if you can use KT-88/6550, I like these better for push-pull amps, and EL34 for SET...
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#15
EL84 are also good, more energy and magic in the mids I think but less in the midbass. Lesser power.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
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#16
EL84 are also good, more energy and magic in the mids I think but less in the midbass. Lesser power.
Most tubes have good potential, it's the implementation that's the issue so it's really hard to compare apples to apples. The characteristic sound of an output tube is only a small percentage of the overall sound of a tube amp.
 

jazdoc

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Aug 7, 2010
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#17
Yes I now remember, that was the one I heard. Did you not have some WE tubes in them at that time? I compared the Tube Audio Design (cheap chinese) to the expensive dual getter Telefunken, and preferred the TAD. Though Telefunken was more detailed and neutral, the TAD had more bass, depth, body.
IIRC, I was still using the EL34's when you visited. In my application, I much prefer the Gold Lion KT77's. BTW, small changes have brought significant improvements since your last visit (completed Found-Music IC and speaker wire upgrades, switched to Mullard E810F in the phono stage and slight tweak of speaker position).
 

dan31

New Member
Jul 22, 2010
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SF Bay
#18
The Wavestream el34 based mono amps are very nice. Scott Franklin design but hard to find. The Analog Room in Campbell CA is the home shop for the Wavestream audio products. They had a pair set up in the big room last year.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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#20