Tube Resellers - Risky

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Funky54, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. skriefal

    skriefal Forum Resident

    Location:
    SLC, Utah
    It's not at all unusual for the end flaps - where the tube type identifier is usually found - to fall off on old tube boxes. Sometimes the flaps are long gone, before the seller acquired the tubes. The old boxes are fragile.
     
  2. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Indeed I have. And I have tried them inside of multiple amps. And I would rank them as a distant second place in terms of their sonics when compared to the JJ KT77s. The Gold lions certainly sound decent, but they lack most, if not all, of that elusive EL34 midrange magic, which is the entire point of using an EL34 family tube IMO. The GLs just sound dry comparison.

    The thing I love about the JJs KT77s is you get that wonderful EL34 midrange, except that you don't have to sacrifice either the top end or the bottom end to do it. I've owned a lot of tube amps over the years, and I've done a lot of rolling. And I'm telling you that I've never heard another EL34 type tube sound so amazing.

    The only other output tube which I have tried which has impressed me as much as do the JJ KT77s are the new Tungsol 7591As, but these can't be run inside of EL34 amps.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  3. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I haven't heard the JJKT77s, but of course, KT77s aren't EL34s. Neither are 6CA7s. I know we used the designations interchangeably and the tubes are electrically interchangeable. But the KT77s and the 6CA7s are beam tetrodes. EL34s are pentodes. And they do seem to have different sonic family characteristics. I hear what you're saying though -- that the JJ's have the midrange presence of an EL34 with the detail, clarity and top and bottom extension and crispness of a KT77. Maybe someday I'll try a set, despite my ingrained reflex to avoid JJ tubes having heard so many stories people with problematic ones over the years.

    That is kind of the holy grail for tubes in this family -- a tube with the midrange presence of a Blackburn Mullard EL34, with the dynamic range, frequency extensions, detail and noiselessness of the best modern KT77 (I never heard an actual vintage Genelex ). If you could add to that set of characteristics, the ability to dissipate heat of the old Mullards, you'd have the genetically-engineered perfect tube in the family.
     
  4. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    The internet is replete with stories about high failure rates, and runs of tubes with undersized pins, etc. coming from JJ over the last 10 years, and not just from end users but from dealers who actually do test and reject bad tubes (vs. dealers who just take what the factories give and pass 'em along).

    Now, I've had early failures of tubes from New Sensor and, I've had Shuguang tubes fail early on me over the years too, and there seem to be many people here and elsewhere who have had limited to no problems with JJ tubes over the years -- the bottom line is, while there are lots of decent sounding new production tubes out there, the quality of manufacture and materials on all of 'em are light years worse the the quality of construction and materials on old production tubes, and the standards of quality control for tubes from these companies appears to be pretty spotty, and from factory run to factory run.

    That's why I think finding a dealer you can communicate with who does testing and burn-in of new tubes at the voltages the tubes will be running at in your gear and who tests for more than just current draw and leaks (like noise for example), as an extra layer off QC, is kind of essential today. I'd never say, oh, if the tube comes from JJ or New Sensor or Shuguang, it has to be good, X is the best tube company in the world. Just the opposite. I assume they're all of questionable quality (and in some cases, borderline deceptive business practices, like New Sensor's use of all these great old brand names leading people to believe that the tubes are in any way "re-issues" or "reproductions" of the old tubes) and make sure someone gives the tubes a once over before I buy 'em.
     
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  5. sublemon

    sublemon Forum Resident

    always use paypal or a cc for protection. You shouldn't have to pay for defective goods, or the return shipping, even if it was damaged in transit IMO. That's what shipping insurance is for. Also, I would under no circumstance take these same tubes back from the seller. If they actually said: They told me “we’ll just see about this with our tester, but if they show ok, you’ll have to pay us shipping to send the same tubes back”, that is utter BS and no way to run a business.File a claim with paypal or the credit card, and never deal with them again. Also I would remind them that one bad review on the internet is worth more than a hundred good ones.
     
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  6. Standingstones

    Standingstones Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Central PA
    This is probably not a popular view but you get what you paid for. Many people want things ultra cheap. When the product is defective they end up crying the blues online. I would rather trust someone like Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio. He thoroughly tests and burns-in the tubes he sells. I can’t remember ever buying a problem tube from him ever. Yes, you will pay more but it sure beats jerking around sending defective tubes back and forth and bitching and moaning in the meanwhile.
     
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  7. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I don't disagree with the fact that these are a beam power tubes, nor that overall these sound more like a beam power tube than they do a true EL34. However, unlike other beam power tubes such as the 6L6GC or the 6550, both the 6CA7 and the KT77s were deliberately designed to be electrically equivalent tubes to the EL34 without being in violation of Mullard's patents. And IMO JJ really did something special here sonically with these tubes. These remind me a lot sonically of a Phillips 6L6GC, except with better mids, and perhaps a bit more heft on the bottom-end, and I REALLY like that combination.
     
    Spin Doctor likes this.
  8. Jeff Carlson

    Jeff Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tacoma
    I agree with everything you've said... I like Ruby as a grader adding that extra QC...
    I use tubes from all the modern manufacturers, and it's also useful buying from people who
    don't give hassle on returns..
     
  9. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    I buy all my tubes from Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio. He's the guy.
     
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  10. billnunan

    billnunan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I just did the same thing yesterday. I placed my new JJ E88CC Golds into my Moljnir2 amp. Very impressive. It's nice to know that currently-produced tubes can sound so good.

    So, from this Bill to another, enjoy! :cheers:
     
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  11. Jeff Carlson

    Jeff Carlson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tacoma
    Amazing to me how careful consumers about calling out retailers these days.
    I've called out a couple e-bay sellers who had near perfect feedback, and for the life of me I couldn't understand why..... Probably due to the sellers bending over backward to avoid bad feedback after questionable sales. Some sellers clearly will try and pull a move and hope you don't call them out, assuming you'll contact them before giving bad feedback.. I've never bought anything from the tube store because of finding better prices elsewhere..... I don't necessarily subscribe to the mindset that "you get what you pay for"....Sometimes you get a good deal, and if the seller doesn't list issues ,that's on him/her, not the price...
     
  12. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Surprise, AZ
    No, he cutoff the identifier - the flap was still there.
     
  13. Spin Doctor

    Spin Doctor Forum Resident

    I don't have much to add to this since I'm not that tube savvy. But I loaded in a set of JJ KT77s which replaced the original EL34s for a Hercules tube amp by Audio Electronics, which is a now defunct arm of Cary Audio. I wanted an easy point of entry to tube amps, and it really is a nice sounding amp. I don't have any regrets buying it especially since I got it at half price new.

    Anyway, I installed them in Oct of 2015 and they have performed beautifully since day one. As mentioned, the midrange is just terrific and when I listen to Solange (Beyonce's baby sister) singing "Don't wish me well" the high notes makes the hair on my arms stand up. It's just awesome. Also the soundstage is wider, taller and the bass response is punchy with great control.

    I guess you could spend $500+ for a quad of Mullards and I suppose they would sound even better. But at $80 for a quad, I can't see any reason not to try JJ's.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    You might pay a little more, but you can sleep at night.
     
  15. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I agree that Kevin is probably the best person in the business to be buying tubes from. Nobody spends as much time testing each tube as they do, and I doubt that anybody else scales the globe in search of NOS tubes to the degree that he does.

    One thing that I really appreciate about Kevin is that so far as I can tell he NEVER represents a used tube that happens to test as strong on a 60 year old Hickok as being NOS. Unfortunately some well regarded tube sellers are guilty of this practice in my experience, and I have had some supposedly "NOS" tubes I purchased from some of these vendors become unusably noisy only days after their very narrow return window has closed. I am specifically NOT referring to the vendor who has been bad-mouthed inside of this thread, but another vendor who I often see recommended on this, as well as other, forums.

    However there are some fantastic sounding new-stock tubes that Kevin simply doesn't sell for whatever reason. And if you want to try any of these, you often have no choice but to go elsewhere. As always, YMMV, and buyer beware.
     
  16. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    The JJs KT77s sound superb. But they sound completely different than do genuine Mullard EL34s. And inside of my amps, in my system, I happen to prefer the JJs over the Mullards, as hard as this may be to believe. So nobody should get the idea that these are poor mans Mullards. These sound much closer to the kind sonic signature that I typically associate with an Amperex.
     
  17. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I'd never put JJ tubes in any of my equipment.
     
  18. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Tubes-Risky

    such is life
     
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  19. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I totally respect your caution considering their rep. But I personally think that the risk is worthwhile, at least so long as you have B+ fuses on your output transformers.

    But since I've seen Russia tubes short on multiple occasions, releasing the smoke each time, and I've never had this experience with a JJ in a properly working amp, I think that this prejudice that many of you have against JJs may be somewhat overblown (no pun intended).

    Personally no tube, regardless of its source, or brand, goes into any of my amps without giving me a safe reading from one of my tube testers. Anybody who doesn't follow this practice is fooling themselves if they believe that New non-JJ tubes never arrive damaged.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  20. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Location:
    Boston MA
    I tried them in my guitar amps and thought they were bad.
     
  21. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I respect that. I've had tubes which sound glorious in one amp sound Dull and lifeless in another. And I've had tubes which sound too bright and forward in another amp sound perfect in another. So one needs to be cautious as to how you generalize sonics. They are just so highly application dependent.

    JJs may be a bad match for the sound that you are personally trying to achieve out of your Guitar. But the JJ KT77s have sounded sound AMAZING in every EL34 hi-fi amp I own.
     
  22. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    +1 to this. IMO JJ KT77's sound better then the Gold Lion KT77s and cost less. I haven't used either long enough to comment on durability/longevity.
     
  23. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I've definitely heard of problems with JJ and the KT77's in particular, but the issues have supposedly been fixed and quality control improved. I had a lot of the SED Winged C EL34s fail too, and those had a good reputation and were $70/each. That's almost a quad of JJ's.
     
  24. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, but I can’t ever recall having to pay return shipping for something that arrived defective.
     
  25. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Same here on both fronts. It really annoyed me once when I didn't discover that I had purchased a shorted NOS winged C until many months after its purchase. As a result, I now religiously test all tubes as soon as I receive them.

    My hope is that JJ has addressed the QC problems that many have complained about. Most of the claims about small pins are well over 10 years old now. So hopefully those early tubes are all long gone by now. I've been running one set of KT77s in one of my amps for over three years now (of and on) and so far so good. The getters are definitely showing their age, but the tubes still sound great.
     

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