New Production EL34/KT77 questions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by gov, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I'm in need of a set of power tubes in the EL34 family to try out in my amp.....NOS choices are just too much money so they're out.

    I'm currently leaning toward the KT77's as I understand they sort of split the baby with the lushness of the EL34 and the slam of the KT88's (but who the hell knows until/unless you try them all). I'm forever seeking a balance of a bit of warmth/lushness with good air and detail but without any harshness. I've managed to find it in various forms with carts, phono pre's and in my Rogue CM2 via tube rolling the small signal tubes. I'd like to find the same for this amp (Leben CS600).

    For a KT77 option, I've heard where the JJ KT77's have had issues with reliability (read some horror stories) but also have read where these issues were limited to the early runs (although Upscale still mentions them) but sound pretty damn good. Other option here is the Gold Lion KT77 which seems generally reliable but I've read mixed reviews on sound qualities with some describing it as lifeless and others as perfect (again, personal preferences abound).

    For the EL34s, how do people like the the new production Mullards? Price is certainly a factor in their favor. I see some are using the RFT NOS tubes but know nothing about them and they're $300+. Then there's the Chinese tubes from Psvane and Shuguang but the fancy ones get very expensive. The Psvane EL34PH are said to sound like the NOS Mullards but they're $400 per quad. Shuguang Treasures are also $400.

    Would appreciate people's thoughts generally on these choices especially if you have compared a few of the choices above in your own systems and can speak to the differences. I know it depends on many factors but comparisons are most valuable.
     
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  2. If you can, just give a try to Winged C EL34's, they are not that expensive and they are very good, I also have GL KT77's and they are also very good, much better than the shuguangs that came with my amp, but Winged C's are the best from those three, at least I think they work better in my system. They are NOS but they cost just a little more than current production tubes.
     
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  3. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks @Stonegarden71 for that and I did see good reviews for those as well. Cheapest I can find them is $240 for a quad so quite a bit more than the KT77's. Can you comment further on what you heard as the differences?
     
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  4. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    The Winged C's have been out of production for several years now, so are basically NOS. I think they sounded good, but I had reliability issues with them, so not worth the current prices.

    I second that the JJ KT77 > Gold Lion KT77. In general I feel the Gold Lion tubes (speaking of the brand as a whole, not just the KT77) are good, but the sound can be so precise and linear I'm tempted to say "if you like that, you'll love solid state!).

    I've never heard the new production Mullards but I've heard good things about them in EL84 as well as EL34, I'd say they're definitely worth a shot.
     
  5. Yes they cost a little bit more, because like it's been said, they are out of production, but there's plenty available yet, so, technically they are NOS, but they don't cost as much as the old stuff...

    As far as the differences, I didn't write that in my previous post, but a few months ago I've tried several brands and models, even some that are not EL34 related, like KT120's.
    I've tried 6 different quads, and the 2 I liked most were the GL KT77's and the Winged C EL34's. So I think you will be very pleased with KT77's. In my system, KT's were a little brighter, also with more top end and more low end, resulting in less mids. I find out I prefer the more controled bass and not that much brightness I get with Winged EL34's. Have to say again, that was in my system, and that these 2 were both my favourites, compared to other EL34's and even some from the KT88 family.
    The different in price is not that much anyway, since GL KT77's are in the expensive side of current production.
     
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  6. samurai

    samurai Call Security!

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    Check into the blue Sophia EL34.
     
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  7. martinb4

    martinb4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Irvine, California
    $600 for a Grade a Quad w/1 yr warranty. That's pretty steep...that said never heard them so I can't say whether they are worth it or not.
     
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  8. samurai

    samurai Call Security!

    Location:
    MINNESOTA
    Just pointing out another option for OP to consider.
     
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  9. martinb4

    martinb4 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Irvine, California
    Totally that's why I looked them up, hadn't seen those before.
     
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  10. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    The Gold Lion KT77 is an outstanding new production tube -- probably the lowest self-noise power tube I've ever encountered, new or old. It is of course a beam tetrode, not a pentode, and it doesn't really sound anything like an old Blackburn Mullard EL34 (which I've had a bunch of over the years but which are now long in the tooth and replacements are outside my price range). It doesn't have the latter's midrange presence and magic, but his has better clarity, detail, and high and low frequency power. It also can't dissipate heat the way the old Mullards could, so if you have an amp that asks the tubes to dissipate a lot of heat, watch out. But if you don't ask too much of the tubes, they seem to have decent life for a modern production tube. However, if you're looking for the "lushness" of a classic old EL34, that tube probably isn't going to fit the bill. If you want quiet, dynamic, detailed, full frequency, that's what you'll get. The GLs are pretty pricey though for New Sensor made tubes -- but I've never had an early failure with one, which I can't say is true of other, cheaper, New Sensor-made tubes I've had.

    I have no experience with the current New Sensor "Mullard"-branded EL34, so I have no opinion on those, nor the JJ KT77, nor any of the the new production Chinese EL34.

    Someone mentioned the now-out-of-production Winged C EL34. Years ago, when those were still in production, I used them, and they had much more of the classic old EL34 sound signature. They also however couldn't take the beating like the old Blackburn Mullards. Those things were build like tanks and would run forever. But the Winged Cs were closer in terms of sonic signature than the New Sensor GL KT77.
     
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  11. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    @gov I have a quad box set of the Psvane EL34PH tubes that I received when I bought my amp secondhand. Owner didn't want them, so I took them. I've never used them, so they've been sitting in their box. I'd be interested in letting them go if you're interested. You can PM to discuss.
     
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  12. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks. Not the first I’ve heard of reliability issues.

    The JJ’s seem to also have reliability issues. And your description of the KT77s is not what I’m going for.

    So all factored in your faves are the JJ’s? Any other NOS you like (other than the xf Mullards!)
     
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  13. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    I’d possibly consider these in lower grade but in my amp you’d have to either keep the top off or find some mod. With three under 7 it’s a tall order.

    Jeff Day was raving about them.
     
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  14. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for your thoughts @chervokas. I know people run KT 77s in this amp and the manufacturer has settings for it in the manual.

    You are also mentioning (I think) reliability with the Winged C tubes. Can anyone advise on how/if the circuit design impacts these things? I’ve heard where certain amps are “hard” on tubes but to be honest I don’t really know what that means or if that could even contribute to the reliability noted in this thread.
     
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  15. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Pm incoming. Which amp did you have?
     
  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Some amps, especially older vintage designs, like the some of the Dynacos and Eicos, biased the output tubes such that they were being asked to dissipated near maximum spec for plate heat at idle. The old Blackburn Mullard EL34s that were in those amps were totally overbuilt. They could handle that and more. These new EL34s and 6CA7s and KT77s, if they get within sniffing distance of max plate for plate dissipation, will red plate and ultimately just run away and fail catastrophically. Not usually a problem with new amps that don't ask that much of them.
     
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  17. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    Why not go with NOS RFT/Siemens? This seller (who has over 5,000 transaction) is asking $270 (or Best Offer) shipped from Germany for an EL34 quad. Probably take less than $270. And since you’re covered by eBay Buyer Protection, it’s pretty much worry-free.

    4x EL34 power tubes RFT ( SIEMENS ) - NOS - EL 34 | eBay
     
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  18. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I wouldn't say the JJ's are my fave EL34 type, only my favorite of the two new production KT77s. I think JJ has fixed their reliability issues, and I'm not too worried about $20 tubes to begin with.

    As for NOS tubes, my favorite readily available are the NOS RFT's from Euroklang that Bigger Dave lists above. Note I've also bought NOS Mullard XF2's from that seller, which are the best EL34 tube I've used by leaps and bounds.
     
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  19. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire

    Location:
    MI
    Gold Lion KT77 is about as good as it gets.
     
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  20. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I agree that the JJ KT77s are some really great sounding (and cheap) output tubes. JJ gets a bad rap, but I'm really not certain how well deserved their reputation is today as mine have seemed to have been just as reliable as current Russian tubes. IMO so long as your amp has fuses on its output transformers, then there is minimal reason to be concerned if a tube should fail short. Remember: ANY tube can fail short. This is not just a JJ thing.
     
  21. E.Baba

    E.Baba Forum Resident

    Shuguang 50 year Treasures.
     
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  22. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I agree with @chervokas - the new-production Genalex Gold Lion KT77 from New Sensor Corp in Russia are excellent. They’re the best I’ve heard and owned among EL34/6CA7/KT77 family and I continue to use them in a Synthesis Flame integrated, and a Unison Research S6 integrated. I prefer them over Tung Sol, JJ, Electro Harmonix, Shuguang, Mullard (new and old) and many others.

    The difference for me is natural, realistic acoustic instrument timbre and, on the electric guitar and electric piano side of things, the same sound I’ve heard at clubs and concerts. In my components, and to my ears, the new Genalex Gold Lions work best.
     
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  23. allied333

    allied333 TUBE AMPLIFIER REBUILDER - inquire

    Location:
    MI
    I heard JJ KT77 are not reliable, but perhaps that has changed recently.
     
  24. Roger Beltmann

    Roger Beltmann Old...But not obsolete

    Location:
    helenville, wi.
    For 6l6 replacements I use Sovtec 6L6wxt tubes. Good price and no recalls on customer equipment. For EL34 amps I've had good results with Electro Harmonix EL34. EL84 tubes make sweet sounding stereo amps but are too microphonic for guitar amps. I have not had good luck with some Chinese tubes. Even when biased properly they tend to go red. All Fender and Groove tubes are re branded Sovtecs. 6550 tubes are great for high power amps but sound a bit too hard for audiophile use. I'm retired now but still do a little vintage guitar amp repair and 60's and 70's amplifiers. The older stuff is very serviceable.
     
  25. gov

    gov Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    As an update I picked up some RFT EL34's from ebay as noted above and via few PMs. and I'm letting them run in before I make any judgements. Also tried a set of vintage Sylvania 6l6gc tubes which are on loan. While the EL34's are new and the 6l6gc's are not, I'm surprised to report that so far the bass is better on the 6l6's which I wouldn't have expected. The EL34's have some goodness going on but the bass is not one of them so far.

    If everything froze the way it was right now, I'd probably love something that split the baby but such as life. More to come....
     
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