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6SN7 Tube Recommendations

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  • 6SN7 Tube Recommendations

    I'm looking to add some warmth to my system, and want to explore changing out the driver tubes in my Amplifier which run 6SN7s. Currently stock tubes are Tung Sol reissues and looking into NOS tubes. Overall, the sound could use some more "body" and fullness, especially in the midrange and wouldn't mind a little "sweetness" even if that means a little coloration.

    Doing a brief research online, RCA, Ken Rad, National Union, Brimar, and Sylvania 6SN7s/VT231s seem possible, but don't have any experience with this specific tube. Not sure if anyone has an extra stash I could borrow as well to try (need a quad set though). Don't want to spend a ton on them though, since I need 4 of them. Looking to see any opinions and personal experiences with NOS 6SN7s.

  • #2
    My current favorites are 1952 vintage Sylvanias. They are not cheap.

    Comment


    • Analog21
      Analog21 commented
      Editing a comment
      Does it have green labels or white? How would you describe the sonic character versus others you have tried? What others have you tried? Thanks Jazdoc!

  • #3
    IIRC, green labels with 3 hole plates. Will double check when I get home re: labels... Great bandwidth with gorgeous midrange. Rumor has it that the metal base versions are even better but that is stupid money...that I haven't spent yet. Have also been wanting to try the smoked glass Ken Rad vt231's because of their reputation for great bass but am reluctant to give up any of the mid's and high frequencies I get with the Sylvanias. I like these better than the "chrome dome" Sylvanias and current Tung Sols. I haven't tried the red base RCA 6987 that some folks rave about. Rolling 6SN7s can get expensive, especially if you need a quad. I use one per amp channel and they are run very conservatively.

    Edit: Green labels
    Last edited by jazdoc; 06-02-2017, 01:40 AM.

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    • #4
      I find the RCA's to be closest to your needs......I find them to have nice full bodied sound, not closed in up top but a smidge polite up there, fluid mids.....the Tung-Sol have a bit less fullness and more lively from the upper mids all the up, and the Sylvania's have more sparkle from the top down, the most airy out of the bunch, great mids, a touch softer bottom end then the others.....all great tubes. Even if you go with the Sylvania's there going to be much more of what your looking for then the re-issue Tung-sol. As always YMMV.
      Jeff Whitlock
      A/V Solutions /
      Unity Audio Design
      www.avsolutionsca.com
      www.unityaudiodesign.com

      Comment


      • Analog21
        Analog21 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks Jeff. I was leaning toward RCA or National Union, so seems like what I'm reading about these tubes has been pretty accurate. now to find a good pair at a decent price for a quad set may be more challenging!

    • #5
      To some extent the sonic character will depend on the circuit, of course. FWIW, I tried several highly recommended NOS RCA's from the '50's in my Oppo; all sounded rather recessed and a bit dark compared to early '50's Sylvania (post-Bad Boys, and much cheaper). I really like the current production PSVane 181 series II, but they are as pricey as NOS. The Sylvanias I mention can usually be had from reputable dealers for $100 - $150 / pr; if you meed to match a quartet it will probably drive the price up

      Comment


      • #6
        https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/th...hread.117677/h

        http://psvanetube.com/wordpress/stor...v181-tii-pair/

        http://www.dehavillandhifi.com/6sn7_vt.htm

        Comment


        • tima
          tima commented
          Editing a comment
          The Head-Fi thread was excellent, but it's not at that address - or not that I could find. I had the same in my list too.

      • #7
        Click image for larger version

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        Finally scored a pair of Ken Rad JAN 1943 vintage black tops. Initial impression are that the reputation for prodigious bass is certainly true. Not sure they are as 'beautiful' in the mids and high frequencies as the Sylvanias but additional listening will be required to make a definitive statement. Got mine on ebay for $160 including shipping.
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • tima
          tima commented
          Editing a comment
          sweet - and they look so very ken-RAD

      • #8
        I use 6SN7 tubes in my amp and linestage so I am very familiar with their sound. As stated above tubes are system dependent and will sound in accordance with the circuit. From my trials I have found the Ken Rad's to have the best bass, the Tung Sol's are next in the bass department after that who knows. The Raytheon's have a best all around sound in my opinion and the Sylvania's are next minus the bass. I got tired of paying the crazy prices for these tubes a bunch of years ago and moved to the 6F8G tubes, which I found to be better than any 6SN7 I ever tried! After a few year with those and I was quite happy with them, someone here mentioned the 6J5GT's as a better sub for the 6SN7. Well a few months ago I got the adapters and a bunch of 6J5GT tubes and started to listen, well for sure the 6J5GT's are better than anything else I have tried to this point!!! They are for sure the most linear octal tube out there, and the more linear the better the sound quality!!! So now I am using the 6J5GT tubes and I will not be trying any other tubes for a long time!!! These tubes do it all better than anything I have ever heard, and they are dirt cheap!!! Another thing is you have to use two 6J5 tubes to make one 6SN7 tube, so you will need a quad to replace a pair. The 6J5's are exactly one half of a 6SN7 so two are needed, On the plus side because you use two tubes in one adapter you can mix two different brand names together and get the best that each tube brand offers!!! Currently I am using the Raytheon's and RCA's together gonna be tough to beat them, although the Sylvania's with any of the others will be as good if not better. The biggest drawback is these tubes are microphonic and you may have to go through a few to get a matched quad!!!

        Comment


        • Dr.Ears
          Dr.Ears commented
          Editing a comment
          The best plain 6SN7 GTB's are Mullard made in Japan on Mullard equipment. Even better, but you need adapters are the 6J5-GT's each of which equals one half of a 6SN7. Inexpensive adapters are available on eBay

      • #9
        Try reading through Brent Jessee's site. He has good description and his tubes are pretty good. Upscale audio is always the best quality, but he does not have near the selection.
        Pure Audio Project Trio 10/Voxativ, 811A Triode monoblocks, First Sound Audio Mark 3S, Rega RP6 customized, Allnic H1201, RT Audio Ultra USB Orpheus EX, Mojo Audio Server with remote Illuminati power supply, Akiko Corelli, Custom power strip direct wired to panel with OFC copper wire.

        Comment


        • #10
          I ran (and totally loved) an Atma-Sphere setup (MA-1 and MP-1) for several years. The hunt for quality 6SN7s was constant; these had a significant influence on sonics.

          My favorites included:

          '42 and '43 Ken-Rad 6SN7GT VT-231s,
          '52 3-hole green label Sylvania 6SN7GT,
          RCA grey glass VT-231.
          I used to know all the varietal details but that was 2010. :-)

          The fancy/expensive Shuguangs were dissapointing.

          Andy Bowman at VTS has been a reliable source for quality 6SN7s.
          Spkr: Wilson Alexias series 2; Amps: Lamm M1.2Ref; Linestage and phono: ARC Ref 10 and ARC Ref 10 Phono; TT: GPA Monaco 2.0; Arms: Kuzma 4Point, Tri-planar Mk. VII U2-SE; Cartridges: Allnic Arrow/Puritas, Benz LP S, Lyra Etna, Transfiguration Phoenix, Denon DL-A100,DL103R; Cables: Shunyata Σ / Σ NR PC/SC/IC; Pwr Cond: Shunyata Triton III, Typhons(3); Isolation: SRA Scuttle3 rack, SRA Ohio Class amp stands, ; Acoustics: Stillpoints Apertures; Audio cat: Finzi

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          • #11
            Originally posted by jazdoc View Post
            Click image for larger version

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            Finally scored a pair of Ken Rad JAN 1943 vintage black tops. Initial impression are that the reputation for prodigious bass is certainly true. Not sure they are as 'beautiful' in the mids and high frequencies as the Sylvanias but additional listening will be required to make a definitive statement. Got mine on ebay for $160 including shipping.
            The $160 you paid for these two tubes is exactly why I went looking for substitutes for the 6SN7 tubes. I paid less than $100 for a quad of the better sounding 6J5GT's, even the 6F8G's are cheaper than most 6SN7's...

            Comment

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