In essence, it comes down to understanding the sound that YOU prefer. Alas, the journey to that point is long and expensive.We've attended 150+ classical concerts since we moved up here seven years ago, and together with a sea change improvement in acoustics in my new room, and three visits to WBF guys (one now ex the forum) with the most sublime of sounds, I've finally in the last few years found that I'm way more educated and deliberate in getting the sound I want, rather than the scattergun approach I had before my move.
That particularly applies to tubes, after many years of a grey sound via 80s 6N1P-EV Voskhod Rocket tubes, the move to 60s/70s 6DJ8 Mullards and Mazdas from Brent Jessee in the US fitted in my preamp have just introduced tone colour and speed, texture and airiness, such that I now plough thru the 80 odd Tone Poets and Blue Note 2020 reissues I've bought in the last year, and gauge a real authenticity to music played.
Not so much a different sound now, more a real sound.
FWIW I love the Mullard brown base ECC32 and yes the recommendation came from Golum and Takacs. I used this tube and loved it until the c3g/s surfaced. The c3g/s for me was probably the biggest sonic change from a tube in the Horizon. I still have no idea how the c3g compares to the Telefunken c3g/s other than a very hefty difference in price. These tubes are supposed to last forever and for me they truly have brought me to the finish lineSo the Horizon tube rolling saga...
It's still not done, mind you, but I did hit a milestone. Earlier I reported that the principal thing I liked about Horizon was its very musical and yet neutral and transparent sound. Coming from a musician background (and still jamming with my band regularly) I just don't like to hear any "added production" to the sound of the instruments, either from the sound engineers or hi-fi speaker/equipment designers. Let's not get too deep into this discussion, but for example: an acoustic, guitar, harmonica, saxophone and ride cymbals/hi-hat should sound how I hear them in the studio with no amplification. Emphasis on "how I hear them." Disclaimer, understand that everyone is different and very much respect that, but if I had to describe the type of hi-fi tone/sound that I consider authentic and representative of the sound of live instruments -- it should have no coloration, no "creaminess" in the mids that's not there with the actual instrument, and yet, to have those sweet harmonics up top (that granted I only get with good tube sound). So in short, to me, tubes with the least amount of distortion as possible, almost a "solid state like" sound but with the sweetness of tubes in the top end is the "holy grail of sound."
With that said, and having in mind my preferences, as I mentioned earlier, I kept coming back to the stock tubes in my Horizon (KR 5U4G, Linlai 6SN7 and LinLai KT88) as the most neutral sound I've heard, but lacking the finesse and the dynamic range of some of the better NOS combos. But I needed to find that combo -- that would retain the neutral, open and transparent sound of my stock Horizon but with the added aforementioned qualities.
And so the search began (and it's still ongoing to an extent) --- where I went through literally countless tubes. You have them mentioned in the Horizon tube rolling thread. Countless rectifiers and countless pentodes. The only spot where I haven't experimented as much is the Mullard ECC32 small signal triode position. I have on order currently (C3G with adapters), CV1988 Brimars, and RCA 5692. I expect a lot from the C3G tube, which along with C3M I consider some of the finest tubes ever made. But, given the current configuration, thanks to my buddy @Golum I got myself a pair of ECC32s and wasn't looking back.
The pentodes and rectifiers have been a whole different can of worms.
Meaning, for the pentodes, I kept getting creaminess from the various EL 34 Mullards I've tried, Teslas as well as EL156 Telefunkens, etc. All of them kept coloring the sound and ultimately annoying me because of it. Until finally, on a total whim I bought a quad of Telefunken EL 34 tubes made by RFT for Telefunken. And... bingo! I got the fullness of sound but with fantastically uncolored and neutral mids and an extended top end -- this adversely affecting the bass definition in the right way. In my book anyway, no Mullard XF2 or otherwise can come close. This is the sound I wanted!
The same could be said about the rectifiers. I went through countless... KR, Takatsuki, RCA, KenRad, Osram U18/20, Tele RGN2504, Valvo RGN2504 with mash plates -- seriously, you name it, I've tried it. In the end out of no particular reason I bought 5U4G JAN CRC Black plate top getter by RCA. Mind you, I already had a "regular" top getter RCA 5U4G and while I dug something in that sound, again, the extension and the openess just wasn't there. This is exactly what I got with the JAN version. I was blown away.
So in conclusion, I have hit a milestone (haven't stopped rolling yet), but I've reached a point where I can say "mission accomplished." I have found the sound that has the characteristics of my stock Horizon sound but with more finesse, extension and dynamic range. A home run as the gents stateside would say.
Next up I am reporting on whether C3G, CV1988 and RCA 5692 bring something new/more to the table. Also, please note that, bearing in mind the construction of tubes I just don't believe in adapters (of any kind). The best adapter is no adapter.
@Steve Williams, I can’t wait to try the C3G in the Horizon. I have had and was involved in the design of a couple of C3M based preamplifiers and I still think it’s the best tube I have heard. The first design was done by an old buddy of mine, so as a homage to his work, and just to get some design kinks worked out and a few upgrades applied, I started work on the 2.0 version of this preamp. I remember switching to some interim ECC82 design and I swear I thought the preamp was broken as compared to my C3M pre.FWIW I love the Mullard brown base ECC32 and yes the recommendation came from Golum and Takacs. I used this tube and loved it until the c3g/s surfaced. The c3g/s for me was probably the biggest sonic change from a tube in the Horizon. I still have no idea how the c3g compares to the Telefunken c3g/s other than a very hefty difference in price. These tubes are supposed to last forever and for me they truly have brought me to the finish line
Thank you very much for the kind words, sir. Great system, btw.So glad to have you with us on this journey. I too have spent a fortune and been through a ton of changes. It can be sublime and frustrating. Like you I have cg3/s on the way. I also have the srs power tubes on the way as well. I am positive about the recti at this point, having been through SO many. I really like the mesh plate 2004 and the valvo—both with Ian’s adapter. I currently am using the Ecc32 with the OS1 in power position, which is also marvelous. I believe we both have Marten speakers so we may wind up with similar tubes, though our electronics are different… I wish you the best and cannot wait to read more about your findings.
Thank you! The “big and heavy” update is tied also to the move into my new space — which is going to be another reveal I guess. So I may be a few months off still from completing the new setup.Congratulations on your impending upgrades! Looking forward to seeing the next installments!
Just Beautifully done !
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