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I've been in 'tube limbo' for almost a year and finally got out of it today as I had some time on my hands.
Tube Limbo is the state where you know you really ought to service your tube gear but don't want to be bothered or have to spend more money over something that is just going to burn out again anyway.
1. Well, my Anthem 1 tube amp has been going strong for a couple or four years or longer (I don't use it very much for various reasons though). I figure that I really ought to bias those tubes or, at least, check the bias. Well, all very consistent at 23ma, so I re-biased them for 25ma which is what I did the last time, so they may have lost some bias over the time.
After years of EL34 failures, I got tired of buying new sets of tubes and just reused what I had and also fixed a bad socket (six years ago, let's say) that cost me many a tube. Anyway, these tubes are the survivors and may be up to twenty years old, but were out of service at times when I re-tubed. One tube manufacturer on one side and another on the other side, so I couldn't tell you which manufacturer is better.
2. Pre-amplifier is next. I stopped using tubes altogether because the tubes weren't lasting as long as I hoped they would. Sounded pretty crappy, but sometimes you don't realize it because it happens gradually, although the constant hiss seems to creep up very suddenly that you just start noticing when the music stops. I don't think I got more than two years and I don't fire up the tube gear that often, although the preamp did get headphone usage every week. I stopped using tube gear for almost a whole year while I experimented with various solid state headphone amplifiers.
So I reused some of the previous batch of tubes and I probably got lucky. Still some background hiss but it is now lower and that THREE-DIMENSIONAL soundscape is back ;-) I'm so happy! They are all EH 6922, although I replaced a gold pin pair with a normal pair. I think the gold pin ones were cryo-ed and I blame that for their quick failure to being noisy, but I don't really know. Anyway, back to business now. Solid State really still is no match to tube gear, at least for how much I'm willing to pay.
I may have to buy new tubes the next time tube limbo strikes again.
Edits: 04/30/17Follow Ups:
I've been to tube limbo AND solid state limbo.
That was the reason I unloaded a ton of vintage stuff back in around 2005. Everything that didn't work or "almost" worked - OUT!!!!
On the 6922 front. I was using EH in my CJ preamp and they were going every six months - yeah you read that right!!!
I switched over to Gold Lion 6922s and I've had the same one in there for almost two years now. It's still going. Give that a try before you dump your preamp.
But I am liking more and more just a simple preamp. Or perhaps more of just a buffer and less as much a preamp.
I don't understand why your 6922s only last for six months! They should last for 5-10000 hrs. Is the heater voltage higher than 6.9V (+10%)?
For me it comes about every few months, or when the prozac prescription runs out. Just joking! I use Adderall. just joking!
But, seriously, i just start working on a new project and "tube amour" comes right back. cheers.
Come into the light DAK, COME INNNNNTO THE LIGHT~!!!
Three seconds after the voice in my head says "well this solid state amp is JUST as good as my tube gear". BANG - maybe Jim McShane got some new MAGICAL tubes in stock!
That you have to open up equipment and be comfortable with exposed 500 volts.
Didn't use to be like this when you could just call your neighborhood RCA repairman to make a home visit.
to touch exposed hi voltage areas with your bare hands. Actually, i have been buzzed a few times but the worse was with a Fisher amp with a voltage doubler and the brainiac who "rebuilt" it did not insulate the "hot" cap. This happened in my early tube days. During the first power up i touched the cap to see if it was hot and needed to be replaced and boy did i get a nasty shock. but, i am still here so i would not worry too much about getting shocked as the currents associated with the hi volts are not very much and as long as you have rubber soled shoes and and are nowhere else grounded, the risk of injury is not likely.
It was early in my audio days and I was fooling around with a Dynaco ST-70. Using a DMM I rested my finger on something. It was a shock that made me realize this stuff really CAN kill you.
If I did that today it would have killed me.
We used to have cattle and used electric fencing. Sometimes you would touch it when closing a gate or incidentally while working around it. But that shock will make you scream and lose control of your muscles. Fortunately, the current carried by the fencing wire is only a few milliamps so no real damage. But it really hurts.
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