I'm new to tubes, so sorry if this is a stupid question. I'm considering purchasing a used ARC LS-16 preamp, but I've seen several comments in my research indicating that it was "unfortunate" or a "disadvantage" that it uses 6922s. Why? Performance? Durability? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
By the way, any thoughts on a good used pre-amp in the $2000 used range that would provide some warmth to a dry system (without sacrificing too much detail, bass control, etc.) would also be appreciated. Thanks.
I have heard that hype about the E88CC/6922 being not suitable for audio many times as well.
I cannot disagree more - the E88CC - _if_ properly used - is a very good valve for audio applications. _Competently_ designed kit with that valve will satisfy any critical listener's needs.
The sound depends of cause a lot on the design of the amplifier the E88CC is used in, and it can be 'voiced' in many ways by fudging with the operating point.
They can have a very clean, low distortion sound - some people therefore think they are too much transistor-like - others disagree,
As well, good quality E88CC/6922s are very durable:
I have got some Philips/Valvo E88CCs from the 1960ies which have served for many thousand hours in CATV amplifiers, and still measure and sound like new ones fresh out of the box.
A lot has been written about the alleged necessity to use particular rare and expensive NOS versions to get perfect sound - depending on the circuit they are used in this may even be true. In other cases amps are designed and voiced around the current production Russian version ('Sovtek' 6922) - which is a very good quality valve in its own right - only it has slightly different operating points than some NOS versions, and therefore may sound odd in designs made around particular old production types - this is a user's beware. Same is true about using NOS in amps designed around the Sovtek and running these at the limit - the expensive NOS types won't last there...
Listen to the BAT 6922 preamps as well, they make good use of the valve's abilities.
I think 6922's recently went "out of vogue" and hence why you hear
ramblings and whispers of bad things about them. A few years ago,
they were all the rage. I'd ignore it.. The E88CC or 6922 is a
I have an LS-22, very similar to the LS-16. It uses the 6922 as
well. The LS-22 uses eight of them, the LS-16 uses only four.
It is going to really suck when I have to fork out the money to
retube it since getting eight 6922 is going cost alot. Why eight?
I'm not sure. The LS-22 is fully differential internally. It
also has TWO separate balanced outputs, I expect the two balanced outputs use four 6922s for cathode followers. Two more 6922's
would have to be devoted to the gain stage (left and right times
+ and - phases). The last two unaccounted for 6922s? Who knows.
Current sources maybe?
There are also lots of MIT wonder caps inside.. Some must be
cathode bypass. Others are likely plate to grid couplers.
When I bought it, I had Counterpoint NPS220 amps and a homebrew
DAC with XLR outs. Sounded AWESOME with the Counterpoint and B&W 802s.
It's presently overkill for where I'm headed and I might sell it
in a few months since I'm headed towards simpler line stages.
If I'm going to do balanced, I'm going to do it with very high
quality transformers now that I've heard the message. :)
I'd recommend the LS-16.. It sounds great with most commercial gear.
The stuff is built well. It's not designed on exotic ex-Soviet
tubes like the newer ARC or BAT gear.
to your first question. The reasons are: 1. the 6922 is, in the opinion of some, not the best sounding tube. And, 2. The best members of its family are increasingly rare and incredibly (stupidly) expensive. I personally own a cd player that uses this tube as an output buffer, so I own several of these. I now avoid components designed around this tube, as I now consider this to be a significant disadvantage. I much prefer the 12au7 family, which, btw, some others also don't like... I've heard ACR pre's. They're very good. But, save some money and get an even better-sounding pre: a Transcendent Grounded Grid.
I have to agree on your reasoning, especially the price. Combined with the cost of the exotics, is the range. More manufacturers made more 12AU7's, and they are much cheaper on average. Therefore, you get more ability to try different brands and types without breaking the bank.
As for straight comparison of sound. Probably nothing wrong with them, but then I've heard some absolutely gorgeous 12AU7 based preamps (including the one I made for myself :-)), so why cost yourself more money and limit your choices?
One more thing, if one dies and you need to buy one quickly to get going again, the local music store will have a 12AU7, but not a 6DJ8/6922. Of course, by then, you'll probably have a stash of your own, so this may not matter so much.
Without knowing what preamp you are thinking of replacing, it's hard to say whether the ARC LS16 will warm up your system or not. In my system, the LS16 had a bit less trebble glare than the solid state ARC LS9 which it replaced. The big difference between the two preamps was in the huge soundstage of the LS16 compared to the LS9.
The soundstage and other sonic improvements are highly dependent upon the brand of tubes used. The stock Sovteks are kind of harsh, have a pretty puny soundstage, and in general, kind of suck. (Still better than the LS9 though.) Amperex tubes from the 1960s are a big improvement, although they can have rather strong trebble. To tame the brightness of a system, Mullard and Telefunken tubes are a big help. I'd probably stay away from Seimens, though--they can be a bit bright.
I think that the LS16 sounds great, and (my personal preference), that it sounds better than the BAT gear that I have heard. The alternate tubes to the Sovteks are an important enhancement. I've had good luck with NOS, but there have been positive reports about current production EI Elites and JJ tubes. A good place to learn about the differences between tubes is Joe's tube lore.
I too prefer certain aspects of some ARC pre-amps. But the poster asked about a warmer tone which the BAT VK-30 will deliver with the Sovteks v.s. the LS 16 with stock Sovteks. Some Amperex 1960's 6dj8's can indeed be "Trebbly" but most ARC owners know about the romantic sounding versions by now. Same goes for Mullard and Tele- some vintages better than others.
Thanks. I'm currently using a Muse Model Three (not the Signature) pre with a McIntosh MC352 amp. Any thoughts re: the ARC LS-16 would be much appreciated. I'm also interested in your view of the BAT preamps (relative qualities). Thanks much.
I don't know the Muse preamp, though perhaps someone else can help you in comparing it to other models. The ARC equipment that I've heard strikes a balance between trebble extension and a plusher sound that appeals to me. The BAT gear that I've heard just didn't appeal to me. I bought a VK-3i from someone who had replaced it with a VK-30. I was able to listen to both, and there was a "house sound" to them that I thought might be due to the speakers. The sound remained when I brought it home, so I replaced it with an LS16. The LS16, to my ears, was much more engaging--had more air, seemed less colored.
I am assuming when you say that you want "warmth", that you mean that the trebble you have is too strong for you. I'm not sure that there is that much of a difference between the BAT and ARC in this department. They both have a lot of detail, but they sound different. Which is better? I dunno. Oh hell, of course I do, but you might hear things differently.
Thanks for your thoughts. I'd like to help take the BAT off your hands, but your comments and those of others lead me to believe that ARC is probably more my speed. I'm going to do some local listening tests, and if I decide otherwise, I'll contact you to see if the BAT is still available. Thanks again for your help.
Being that you have not purchased yet, it would not be a mistake to avoid the 6922/6dj8 pre-amps. but if you want to own one used for under 2k that has a "warmer" tone try a BAT VK-30. The ARC is not going to give you a warm tone unless you search out NOS Amperex 1960's 6dj8's. All of course IMO.
I have had several pieces of gear, over the years, that have used 6DJ8 family tubes. I never owned one for long, as I thought them [the gear, not tubes] lacking in dynamics [micro and macro] and just kinda wimpy sounding overall.
I don't totally disagree with those who say the 6DJ8 is not a good choice for an audio circuit. I cannot think of one preamp that I've heard at any length, that I would buy today, that I know uses 6DJ8's. That said...
I think the design as a whole and execution of that design is gonna have a LOT more infulence on the sonics of a piece of audio hardware than the choice of the amplification device[s]. Second, I think it is rather difficult [or impossible] to listen to a preamp that uses 6DJ8's and say "that would sound better with 12AX7's".
I think it likely that there's some really good gear out there that uses 6DJ8's. I'm not sure that I've ever heard any of it...but the list of gear that I havn't heard would make a long read.
In a word, nothing - with one small caveat.
E88CC/6922 is prone to oscillation: grid stoppers must be used and soldered as close to the pins as possible.
The 6922/E88CC is an excellent high-performance device.
If there are problems with the sound then it is most likely that the problem is in the design and/or execution of the equipment
This notion seems to have a life independent of any discussion of it which makes the prospect of repeating recommendations tiresome. Still, here goes nothing: Perhaps the best thing about any type of tube is that there are any number of options for tuning one's system by using appropriate alternate types, brands and vintages as substitutes. There are some mighty good 6922 types out there, if you look around.
Before you spend good money on a "warm" pre-amp, you might want to be sure your other gear is not at fault for problems you now perceive. You can do a lot more with speakers or phono cartridges than with pre-amps. If you just love the rest of your system apart from its want of warmth, then you might have to go back in time to the days of warm-sounding pre-amps, like the Conrad Johnson Premier 3, a great (but warm) unit, IF you can find one at all.
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