Genalex Gold Lion Reissue KT88s - these things are superb

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by DrJ, Jul 2, 2008.

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  1. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA, USA
    My search for an excellent new production KT88 tube has at least for now ended...these Genalex Gold Lion reissues are the real deal for sure. I have owned original Genalex Gold Monarch KT88s, and have run Sovteks, Penta Labs, and Shuguangs for new production KT88s.

    Up until now I've felt the Penta Labs KT88s (the "SC" version) gave the best balanced sound. But, they had reliability problems, and now they are apparently out of production for at least a year, unavailable. So I tried some of the Genalex reissues. Very glad I did.

    For my money they are by far the best KT88 I've yet to hear. Gorgeous, detailed midrange, liquid highs with tremendous extension, and tight, natural sounding bass without a hint of looseness or flab. Truly awesome.

    The original Gold Monarchs were closest to what I'm getting with these reissue tubes - they had an equally wonderous midrange but were much looser in the bass and much more artificial sounding on top. Not to mention being like $600 more expensive. So in my view, not much of a contest.

    You can see my equipment in my profile - suffice to say that I have strived in my set up for transparency and neutrality, so tube choices make a very big difference to the overall sound of my system. The other tubes I listed were nice but nothing compared to these.

    Anyway wanted to pass on the word and I'd be interested to know if others run these tubes.
     
    Paully likes this.
  2. pablo

    pablo Forum Resident

    Location:
    NE, USA
    Yes, they are. In my Mac MC60's they replaced early 60's Tungsol 6550's.
     
  3. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA, USA
    Interesting pablo, I also at one point had some Tung-Sol 6550s (early 1970s vintage) for the MC60s I once had. The Tung-Sol 6550s were fine but I prefer the KT88 sound and they weren't anywhere near as good as the Genalex reissues.
     
  4. MattTheCat

    MattTheCat Prowling At 78 RPMs

    I was going to upgrade to the Gold Lions in 2 weeks, so your review couldn't come at a better time. Thanks, man.

    -MTC
     
  5. Plinko

    Plinko Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dahntahn
    I use them in my amp and I concur. Great tubes. I have used them in two different amps. With the first amp, I did not like them. I thought they sounded bright and even harsh. Turns out it was the amp, not the tubes.

    I have some vintage Tung Sol 6550s, three holes and I find these Gold Lions as good or better. I do like the Tung Sols, however. I think they sound more natural but not necessarily better.
     
  6. LesPaul666

    LesPaul666 Active Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Good 'ol Mike Matthews strikes again.:)
     
  7. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Location:
    Savage
    Thanks for the report. :thumbsup:

    I have also been really happy with the Penta Labs KT88s SC's which have been prone to failure. I'm down to my last four. With only EH's and JJ's as back-ups I am starting the search for something else.

    These sound like they might be the ticket.
     
  8. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    How much do these cost?
     
  9. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA, USA
    Here's an example of a listing that is in the ballpark price-wise, LeeS:

    http://www.musicdirect.com/product/73534

    I see them for anywhere between $45 and $60 per tube, if you shop around I think you could do a little better than this price.
     
  10. ducatirider

    ducatirider Member

    love these tubes. linear, extended and coherent (in the phase sense). very "modern" sounding yet still possesses tube dimensionality and that round dynamic quality. just a bit pricey but worth it.
     
  11. BigE

    BigE Forum Resident

    $115 per matched pair is $57.50 each, which is correctly in the range you mention. I'm sure MD will stand behind them if you happen to get a bad one, which some other online "dealers" don't always do without a battle.

    Eric
     
  12. Larpy

    Larpy Active Member

    Location:
    USA
    I bought mine from Jim McShane. He's selling single GL KT-88s for $54.50, matched pairs for $109.50, and matched quads for $219.50. Jim couldn't be easier to work with on returning bad tubes. And he tests his tubes thoroughly before sending them out; I'm not sure Music Direct does that.

    These tubes do cost more than other new production 88s, but I think they're clearly worth it. I replaced SED 6550s with them and the improvement was striking and immediately apparent. They just do everything (focus, tonality, sense of ease, soundstage) better.

    My avatar pic is a quad of the Gold Lion KT-88s in action in my VTL ST-150.
     
  13. pablo

    pablo Forum Resident

    Location:
    NE, USA
  14. indy mike

    indy mike Forum Pest

    Jim's a good guy - he went over a B&K 747 tube tester I picked up, replaced some out of spec parts, added a circuit breaker to upgrade the tester to the final version B&K offered, calibrated the tester and sent it back to me in a very short time. :righton:
     
  15. MattTheCat

    MattTheCat Prowling At 78 RPMs

    I finally made the upgrade from the McIntosh stock KT88s (which might be Electro Harmonix and they might be SEDs as Mac uses both and I can't find an indication on the tube itself).

    OK, so on first listen to the Gold Lion KT88s, I didn't really hear much of a difference, maybe a little more detail, but I can't be sure.

    It took a few days and about 15 or so hours. Then, they really opened up. The Gold Lions really are rich, detailed and DEEP. I'm hearing some harmonics on guitar strings that I was unable to detect with the stock tubes ("Factory Girl" from Whiskeytown). I didn't know they'd need break-in time, but I know I'm not imagining that they are sounding better as time goes on.

    One of the tubes was difficult to install. Not sure why, but I was a little nervous that it might break in my hand as I applied some pressue. The other 3 went in w/o a problem. Weird.

    I don't have much experience with KT88s as I've only heard the Gold Lions and the stock Mac tubes, but I'm very happy with what I'm hearing out of the Gold Lions and if they continue to improve and open up as time goes on, then that'll really be something.

    MTC
     
    -=Rudy=- likes this.
  16. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Davis, CA, USA
    A real strong suit of the Genalex Gold Lion reissues, they convey the signature overtones of various instruments incredibly well. But then again they seem to do everything well. I cannot say enough good things about these tubes, since slapping them into my Citation II I have literally not for a minute even thought about which tubes I'm running, the music just pours forth. That has become the acid test for me for tubes: if I'm sitting there noticing their sonic signature to the point that it takes me out of the music, no go; if I simply lose myself in the music, they're keepers. The Genalex reissues are keepers!
     
  17. Vinyl-Addict

    Vinyl-Addict Groovetracer Manufacturer

    Location:
    USA
    I thought I'd bring this thread back to life. I'm looking for a good KT88 to replace my aging Winged "C" 6550's in my MFA 200D monoblocks.
    I need to replace 12 tubes so it's not going to be cheap. Can anyone who was/is using these reissue Genelex KT88's comment on their sonics and relability? :)
    Any other good KT88 you'd recommend over the Genelex?
     
  18. inperson

    inperson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Just got this amp two weeks ago.

    I never listened to KT88's before. Very nice round sound and mid-range and it seems that the sound is deep (not bass wise but more dimensional) Of course this is compared to my 6L6 single ended and 6L6 PP amps, but those amps have more in your face bass. The bass with my KT88 is a bit more tame. I like it but wish it had a tad more.

    It came with the Shuguang KT88-98's which sounded much better after about two days running 24/7. I got some Electro-Harmonix KT88-EH tubes yesterday and I didn't find any difference in sound.
     

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  19. woody

    woody Forum Resident

    Location:
    charleston, sc
    I love the Gold Lion reissues in my MC275. It's been a couple of years since I rolled them in, but I thought they bested the Winged-C and Electro Harmonix tubes I tried at the time. I've found this set to be very reliable but I did buy from a dealer who burns in the tubes before selling.
     
  20. MattTheCat

    MattTheCat Prowling At 78 RPMs

    I've put more than 4300 hours on my Gold Lion reissue KT88s over the past 2 years and a few months. I run them EVERYDAY, ALL DAY and so far (knock on wood), I haven't had ANY issues. I run them in a MA2275 and I know Macs are easier on tubes than other amp designs, so that might account for thier longevity. I hope I can get over 5000 off these tubes. The only other KT88s I've compared them to are EH and I wasn't thrilled with the thin EH sound. The GLs are winner, deep, rich and powerful.

    -Matt
     
  21. bliss53

    bliss53 Forum Resident

    I went from GE 6550 to GL kt88 reissues and they are slightly better in the midrange detail using mcintosh mc75 monoblocks. I have had them for a couple of years with no problems.
     
  22. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Bay, CA
    Hi Frank,

    I bought a cryo'd matched quad of these back when I was getting into audio and if you remember, originally used them in my Jolida JD-801A. I was very impressed with them and they blew the stock EH6550s into the weeds with respect to sound quality. When I bought my C-J Premier 11A, I wasn't overly impressed with it until we put in the Gold Lion KT88s, and then I was really impressed with the Premier 11A. I ran them in that amp until I sold it to a buddy earlier this year, who is still using them. I was very impressed with the sonic qualities that everyone has pointed out here, and while i only had them for about a year, they proved very reliable and held their bias extremely well. When I first got the LP70S, I tried them in that, but it was not a good match for that specific amplifier and I stuck with the stock CJ 6550s. I think the linear pentode design of the LP70 mandates 6550s to be at it's best. The only KT88 that I think surpassses the Gold Lions are the new issue EATs, but they are like four or five times the price.

    Stephen.
     
  23. Vinyl-Addict

    Vinyl-Addict Groovetracer Manufacturer

    Location:
    USA
    I'm considering the Penta labs KT88SC as well since I've read some good reviews on that tube as well. It seems that a lot of people like either one or the other.
     
  24. Vinyl-Addict

    Vinyl-Addict Groovetracer Manufacturer

    Location:
    USA
    I just bought the Penta labs KT88SC so we'll see how they sound. Thanks for your responses. I'll post my thoughts on these after I have a few hours on them.
     
  25. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Just ordered a quad for my Dynaco Mark IIIs. Been wanting to do this for quite a while.
     
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