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Replacement of 6N30P driver tubes with 6N6P tubes in my Ayon Crossfire III

160.62.7.250

Posted on October 17, 2016 at 02:19:43
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8478
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
I recently purchased a very nice Ayon Crossfire III integrated amp. This amp is using the Ayon made 62B triode, which is like a supercharged 300B supposedly (I think it actually bears little resemblance to a 300B at this iteration). The input tubes are these metal canned 6SJ7 pentodes wired as triodes (interstingly, I saw that the top Audio Note Kits 300B monos are using a similar 6SH7 tube...what do you guys know about this series of tubes??) and the driver tube for each channel is a 6N30P Russian "supertube".

Well, the amp sounded very good stock but slightly bright and a bit glassy at times but very open and transparent otherwise. Still, I was not completely satisfied with its tonality and there seemed to be a bit too much "connective tissue" between performers on the virtual stage. That slight brightness was hindering the full tonal palette and flattening the images and soundstage slightly.

Swapping out the rectifier tube from a cheap Electroharmonix 5U4G to a nice NOS Svetlana (winged C) 5U4G, brought a small but noticeable improvement in smoothness but the tonality did not change so much.

I had been reading that the 6N6P is a much better sounding tube overall in many forums and from Lampizator's old site. So, I got a mathced pair and dropped them into where the 6N30Ps go and fired up the system. The result?? Brightness is gone, glare is gone, 3d increase substantial, tonality balanced and natural, soundstage depth improved and dynamic contrasts more obvious because it seems like now that there was a bit of a "noise" burst with dynamics with the 6N30s that is not there with the 6N6 and therefore the dynamic contrasts seem wider.

This is a stunning change for the better in sound from an amp that already sounded quite good (I exaggerate the impact on the sound somewhat because it was already a good sounding amp but now it is VERY good sounding). I was not expecting it to literally wipe away the bit of grittiness and brightness that was there before. Resolution, bass impact and especially bass texture, which was about the best I have heard from any amp, was not affected by this change of tube.

I recommend this change to all Ayon owners because they are commonly using the 6N30 tube in their designs as well as owners of BAT and recent Audio Research designs (I heard the latest last weekend and they don't sound terribly natural...could this tube be why??). Now, BAT I think once claimed that it was the NOS Russian 6N30 that is the "supertube". I have no way to verify this because the ones in my Ayon were new Electroharmonix gold pins and not NOS Russians. The 6N6P is only available as NOS Russian or new Chinese. Maybe the NOS 6N30 really is a "supertube" but based on my tests the new made ones are not even close to the NOS 6N6.

I was not sure that this would bring about much of a change but it brought highly significant improvement across the board. It is not the first time I have heard a dramatic effect from tube rolling but rarely was it so significant. Usually, it is slight and/or debatable that an improvement was had...often I heard a "parallel" move...you gain one thing but lose another. Not this time.

I have other rectifier tubes I will also try (GZ34 and NOS Sylvania 5U4GB) but the sound is really excellent now without reservations I had before.

 

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Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 18, 2016 at 15:30:39
Naz
Audiophile

Posts: 2175
Location: Sydney
Joined: September 2, 2005
And of course the balance of the rest of the system. Can you share precisely which of each tube you are using, there's a huge difference between makes AND year, especially in the case of 6N30P?

Naz

 

RE: Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 19, 2016 at 03:17:27
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8478
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
As I pointed out, the 6n30s are new manufacture and 6n6 are NOS Maybe 1960s or 70s.

The rest of the system is in my profile.

 

RE: Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 19, 2016 at 04:24:12
Naz
Audiophile

Posts: 2175
Location: Sydney
Joined: September 2, 2005
Sorry I missed your 6N30P info but with due respect I shouldn't have to go to your profile to get the other info.

Current production 6N30P pretty much sound as you described and are not a touch on pre 90's Reflector, as Victor has pointed out many times. Yes, I know they cost a squillion dollars now.

6N6P is another story and there is quite a difference between brands. You most likely stumbled across earlier Novosibirsk (Pentagon label, which they later changed). Some other 6N6Ps are fairly ordinary sounding IMO so it's worth telling us exactly what you found that sounds so good in your system.

FWIW and IMO, I agree that a Novosibirsk 6N6P (if that's what you have) sounds better than current production 6H30P in the ways you describe and no doubt some other 6N6P examples might too, though not all.

Naz

 

RE: Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 19, 2016 at 05:58:40
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8478
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
Well, the whole reason profiles exist is to eliminate the need to post ones system all the time when someone requests it. Your seeming indignation to my not wanting to type what is only a click away is unfounded.

I am not sure exactly which factory my 6n6s come from. I will have a look. Wherever they are from they sound much better than the new 6n30s. If I can find NOS and then I might try them again. I am assuming the original craze over this tube is related to the NOS version.

 

RE: Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 19, 2016 at 06:18:58
Naz
Audiophile

Posts: 2175
Location: Sydney
Joined: September 2, 2005
>>I am assuming the original craze over this tube is related to the NOS version.<<

That's precisely what I am trying to point out, to use your term. Adding my experience to yours on this subject (which is substantially the same) to put things into perspective or it could be concluded that 6N6Ps are all better than 6N30Ps.

Sorry if I offended you but my tone was only in response to yours.

Naz

 

RE: Year and make of both tubes might explain it ..., posted on October 21, 2016 at 09:43:55
big muck
Audiophile

Posts: 126
Joined: December 31, 2000
My K&K RAKK DAC MK II with the active output board uses the 6N6P. I replaced the MK II DAC board with the MK III and a few other parts changes. Several years ago I tried the 6N30 in the DAC, re-biasing the circuit for the tube change. I went back to the the 6N6P after a couple of weeks. The feeling was that the 6N6P had a more natural sonic presentation. I have versions of the 6N6P from several different vendors and while there are some differences in sound with the tubes, I never felt that there was any earth shaking variations between what I had available. I have done my share of tube rolling with my components over the years and I'm familiar with the process of evaluation. The 6N6P works great in this circuit and has the added bonus of being inexpensive as well.

 

RE: Replacement of 6N30P driver tubes with 6N6P tubes in my Ayon Crossfire III, posted on October 22, 2016 at 10:54:55
gluca
Audiophile

Posts: 1100
Location: SomeWhere Islands
Joined: February 17, 2005
6N30P and 6N6 cannot be swapped without adjusting the biasing. well, you can but rest assured the replacement tube will not work at an optimum bias and might potentially exceed max ratings

 

RE: Replacement of 6N30P driver tubes with 6N6P tubes in my Ayon Crossfire III, posted on November 4, 2016 at 07:45:34
morricab
Reviewer

Posts: 8478
Location: switzerland
Joined: April 1, 2005
Well, the swap went smoothly and the sound improvement was not subtle. Now, I would like to try and find NOS 6N30s but they are hard to get and expensive. As to rebiasing, from what I have seen both tubes work pretty well over quite a wide range of plate voltages and bias currents. So, maybe not totally optimal but still seems to be work pretty well.

 

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