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I'm considering GE, RCA (smoked glass and black plates), RFT, Siemens and Tungsram. All of these are similar in price. I'm staying away from Mullard, Amperex, etc. (too pricey).
Between the ones I listed, in your experience which did you prefer? I'm wanting warmth and tone rather than analytical (as long as I don't lose that lovely EL84 quickness and fluidity). The stock tubes are EH and those are too analytical.
the others sound really bad (GE Syl, etc) and are starting to sound worse and worse...
The JJ are a little bad, but the EI are also really bad...
the only real choice is Philips/Miniwatt or Amperex EL84.
or expensive new production gold lion/mullard
so there you go???
Try some "not so expensive" Indian made EL84. These were made by Philips/Mullard tooling.
There is a EL84 test report here. Indian Tube is not included, probably it was not available.
How about converting to 6AQ5s / 6005s ??? A firecracker of a tube.
Where is Joe Rosen when we need him ???????
Sylvania/Philips ECG black-plates might work good.
In EL84 I've found 60's Mullard & Amperex (Philips Holland) to be a huge upgrade over the American tubes I've listened to, also like both of those more than the T-funken. A ton more air and bigger soundstage than the contemporary RCA's. Very triode like.
I'd look for strong testing used pairs/quads of those.
no one mentioned RFT EL84 (also branded as RSD, Standard Brand etc.). has anybody tried them?
RFT still seems to be underestimated but their small tubes are highly recommended meanwhile. price is still reasonable but will probably rise i`m afraid...
Best EL84 is stated in my other post.
I have pretty much all EL84 mentioned so far, and I keep going back to Ei EL84. They are no longer made but can still be bought through googling. I don't know if Ei just got lucky and hit the sweet spot with this tube, but it has bags of clarity and resolution while still having great instrumental tone and musicality.
I heard Nightingale Armonia inrtegrated amplifier equipped with Ei EL84 tubes and it sounded more accurate and realistic than Cary SLI-80.
I would help if the OP stated what amp he had. :-)
If you wish for "warmth" over raw strength (like the Tungsram or Reflector 6N14P-EV) --- my experience, it's going to be hard not ending up with the Philips/Miniwatt or Amperex EL84.
I also like early 1960 Sylvania BP 6BQ5. Thin green lettering. Has nice midrange. Maybe not as nice as a really good Dutch Philips EL84, but a pretty nice tube.
For sheer power and chime, the Tungsram is one of the best output tubes of its wattage range.
Good luck with your search!
After testing many tubes in many amps used for home entertainment. IMO and a few others the best sounding EL84 (6BQ5) are GE for PP amps & Sylvania black plate for SE. The NOS tubes are not expensive at the moment. They cost more a few years ago.
The tubes incluse EI, Russian (both types) Amperex, Mullard 1950s square & later round getter, RCA, GE, Sylvania, JJ, Telefunken, RFT France, Tung Sol and Raytheon.
The auditions were in the various upgraded amps owned by me listed below and by a few of my audio friends that owned some of the same amps in stock form. The audition at my listening room was with three audiophiles that came to the same conclusion as I.
All my amps were upgraded to superior sonics including rolling in best preamp and/or phase splitter tubes, getting rid of lousy tubes such as 12AU7 or 12DW7 with 1/2 a 12AU7, upgrade coupling caps & resistors plus rebuilding the power supply & adding a choke where possible when a CRC existed (now CLC).
The list of amps I owned-
Dynaco Stereo 35
DIY 6BQ5 PP
Eico AF-4 (SE)
Eico 2510 (SE)
Hammond Organ reverb chassis (monoblocks)
My amps (tubes) were auditioned on DIY Scan Speak speakers similar to Pro Ac 2.5 Response with better drivers than the Pro Ac Response factory units. One has to own good speakers & sources to hear the best tubes for an accurate analysis of what sounds best. Plus, a lousy preamp tube can mask the sonics of a great output tube. One more factor is at times a certain tube will sound better in a certain circuit. However, the results of the 6BQ5s was obvious to all involved.
Guess what, the best sounding 6BQ5 was not JJ, not EI and not the Russian 6BQ5s. All amps responded the same regarding the GE & Sylvania 6BQ5s as best picks for producing the most clear sounding & unveiled microdynamics and maintaining a large, stabile & crystal soundstage.
NOS EL84s of any stripe are costly, with Mullard and Amperex being extremely so. :> (
JJ's EL84s have reasonable "tone", are relatively inexpensive, and (at least for now) reliable, unlike their Octal production.
While "reissue" GEC tubes are undoubtedly nice, the price is fairly high.
Actually, the price of some NOS EL84's has dropped because of good new production tubes. One thing we don't have is the OP's ears and those are what ultimately determines what is *best*. ;-)
BTW- To avoid being overbearing like some here at AA, I add this:
We all hear different to a small degree plus develop a certain sonic taste. Thus, my opinion on what is best may differ with others. I simply go for a crystal clear accurate sound that can sounds like a person is in the room even when played back in an audio system. It is kind of spooky at times, but live sounding.
Overly warm systems are not my cup of tea. Perhaps another way to state overly warm is when I want to hear a piano, I do not want a hint of a harpsicord type sound in that piano (distortion). However, harpsichord sounds cool on classical music when it is to be a harpsichord.
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