Your Favorite “Under The Radar” Tubes

Designsfx

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Sep 26, 2023
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In a conversation I was having earlier this evening on the subject of tubes this phrase came to my attention. These aren’t the classics or even todays most recent makes gaining popularity but rather the stuff that has been around a while, possibly marketed for a different non audio application yet found by some to be wonderful performers when used in DACs, Pre’s and Amps. Not usually discussed for fear of creating a rush- what are your favorite “Under The Radar” tubes?
 

matsurus

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Aug 24, 2023
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6sn7, maybe not most obscure.. but i like the sound of bigger preamplifier tubes compared to usual ECC83/12AX7 etc..
 
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cjfrbw

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Apr 20, 2010
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Some tubes that are analogs of commercial types but specified for the early tube computers (but with different numbers than commercial types) before they went solid state can be quite good. They were generally made to a very high spec. I read somewhere they weren't as linear, probably competitive commercial grousing, but they have graphs that show them with exemplary linearity.

One example that I use in the Wavacs are the Raytheon and GE five star 6414 tubes that are drop ins for 12at7. They have a slightly different gain (48 rather than 60) and a supposed lower anode voltage (likely just because of more conservative usage but can be run higher) and they are much better sounding than my Tele S tubes, and much better built (and a LOT cheaper being non boutique and under the radar). They are rated for 10,000 hours.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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JAN Philips 6922. Generally available. Used to cost around $19. Musical, clear and while not the last word in authority, it is mellifluous and carries many of the same characteristics of a good NOS Amperex.
 

Designsfx

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6CB5A, pretty much every TV Damper (6AX4, 6DE4, 6AU4, 6CG3, 6CJ3, etc). Compactron tubes (6FJ7, 6FM7, 6HS5, 6HJ5, 6AF11, 6AY11 and many more), 6AH4, 6N7, 6A6
I had the 6CB5A on my list of tubes to try- the internal wire in that tube is crazy. What gear do you use this tube with? I would be trying it in a Lampizator dac.
 

Designsfx

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Designsfx

Active Member
Sep 26, 2023
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Los Angeles
No worries! You mentioned some interesting tubes- some I had not heard of. My response was addressing your statement regarding use in equipment that it was not designed for- just clarifying ;)
 

Designsfx

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Sep 26, 2023
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And you should! I do the same in my pre and amp as well. I was just clarifying that my interest in alternates or those that are not typically used (hence under the radar) would be used in a dac for my application.
 

Buck_Rogers

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Apr 12, 2018
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6DJ8/6922 There are literally tons of them out there.

Amperex, RCA, GE, Sylvania.

Used in scopes and test gear, Lots of industrial electronics.

Extreme performance, High gain, Low noise, Low microphonics, Versatile, Rugged.

I have over 100 of them and 50 are Bugle boy's.

See them all the time on ebay, Used tested perfect usually about 10 to 15$.

Great preamplifier tube.
 
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Designsfx

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@Buck_Rogers
Yet another TV based tube used in an audio system! How does it differ from an ECC88 when used in your system?
 
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