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KT-88Z Treasures in VRDs

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190 Hours into KT-88Z 150 - 300 hour break-in.

Very detailed with good base -- very similiar to Genalex Gold Reissues.

I will do a Side by Side this weekend with Genalex Golds.

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I don't know much about that tube, but I am running NIB NOS GE 6550A's in mine, and they sound simply amazing. These are the brand new pair of VRD's that Craig just made for me (sold the previous pair to Winchester). They have the bigger power supply and Cardas caps. I have never heard a 2 channel rig that sounds as good as this one, and I have heard a number of great systems over the years. I've had the amps for a couple of months now, but have had very little time to use them (maybe 20 hrs at this point), so I know they will sound better once the tubes are broken in. I should be able to post a thread on them when I get back from Ca.

Good to know about another quality power tube for the amps though.

Mike

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Mike,

Good info on the 6550's.

Is there a year or Black Plate etc. that you prefer?

Interesting choice on the Bugle Boy Tele combo. I tried a Tele on the 12au7 slot but not on the 12AX7 slot - I will give your combo a try this weekend also.

I tried the Amperex 7316 in the 12AU7 Slot a few weeks ago - I now have a lifetime supply. Warm like 59 - 62 Bugle Boy but with the detail of a Long Plate Bugle Boy.

VRDs sound so great right out of the box, but with tweaking the tubes to fit your system they just sound amazing.

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Tried KT-88Z side by side with Genalex Gold Reissues.

Bass is tighter and stonger with Genalex Gold Reissues.

Mids are more bright on Genalex Gold Reissues.

Highs are very similiar.

Did not realize how warm the KT-88Z were unitl listening side by side.

For bass intensive type Rock, read Nirvana, I perfered the Genalex. For everying else, female vocals, piano, trumpets, etc. I would go with the KT-88Zs.

If budget is a consideration and Rock/Metal is your game Genalex Reissues would be all you would ever need.

KT-88Z are more warm, more linear and very detailed.

How detailed?

4:54 into track 9, Tori Amos, Under the Pink after hundreds times listening to this track on many of my sytems and many other higher dollar systems at stores, Audiofest etc. for the first I could hear the piano bench "sqeauk" when Tori moved.

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VTV 6550/KT88 Shoot Out for Hi-Fi

Audio Circle Survey

Genalex KT88 Gold Lion 1969 - 4.87

Tung-Sol 6550 1959 Black Plate - 4.77

JJ KT88 2002 - 4.63

Ei KT90 1999 - 4.52

EH KT88 Reflektor 2002 - 4.16

Sveltana 6550 2001 - 4.13

Svetlana SVKT88 2002 - 4.09

Svetlana SV6550C Reflektor 2002 - 3.98

Philips Sylvania 1970s - 3.98

Chinese 6550 Valve Art 2002 - 3.89

GE 6550A 1970s - 3.78

GE 6550A got screwed in this survey. They should be 3rd.

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GE 6550A's in mine, and they sound simply amazing

The GE 6550A is a great tube! I just like the Tung Sol 6550 Black Plates more. Here's the trove I recently found in a a man's basement when I went to pick up my Fender amps that he tuned up. He is going out of business and sold 40 of them to me for at pre-1960 prices, they all test as new. Look at all those beautiful black plates.

post-35949-13819585070978_thumb.jpg

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Wow.... I think I just messed my pants..... [:|]

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Holy crap... you scored the motherlode! PM me with a quote for a quad of those (if willing to sell). I doubt I can afford them, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Mike

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I would bet that a set of cheap Valve Art KT-88s would give most all those NOS tubes a run for their money depending on the driver tubes used. When I had VRDs I spent a fortune on tubes only to find that the power tube rolling didn't change the sound very much compared to the driver tubes. Those made a much larger difference and so I settled for the very balanced Valve Art KT-88s and sunk my cash into the driver tubes.



My recent trip to Cigarbum's brought back some very fond memories of my Peach / VRD combo which I still consider extremely hard to beat for any amount of money. Bob was kind enough to let us use his equipment as we carefully saw fit and I ran the VRDs right up to the levels of worried looks on people's faces and they hung right in there nice and tight.





EDIT: By the way I was referring to the post with the tube comparison ratings in it. This cache of power tubes recently found above is certainly an EXCELLENT find and I wasn't referring to that post. Of couse I would have grabbed those myself.

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I tried VA KT88's, EH 6550's and the GE 6550A's, and the GE's bettered them both noticeably to my ears. YMMV...

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I have a really hard time spending $500 on current production KT88, and quite frankly have a hard time paying market prices for Tung-Sol 6550. I have found great success with the Penta Labs KT88. The Penta isn't your normal Chinese made KT88....it bests the standard Shuguang KT88s pretty easily. Clear, warm, nice detail, and act VERY stable in circuit. I have about 7 quads of these, as well as a similar stock of VA KT100, another "beefed up" Shuguang they had out a couple/three years ago that's another very stable tube in circuit - albeit not as smooth and detailed as the Pentas are.

I also prefer the Pentas over the Genelex reissues, although I'll vouch that the Genelexes are a good current effort.....but I definitely like the Pentas better in my rig (JM>VRDs>Heritage).

I have read others say that they like the Treasures over the Pentas, but I'm having doubts as to whether they are worth almost triple the $$$. I figure it's the typical "10% improvement for 300% of the cost". And given what I know of the VRD's, more bang for the buck comes from the front end tubes, and since I have two of the top four recent production offerings well in stock, I'm not grippin' over my output tubes much.....and I can run the hello out of them and not worry about running out of tubes.

That said, I'm glad Shuguang is trying to push the envelope. That's good for us tubers.

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I would bet that a set of cheap Valve Art KT-88s would give most all those NOS tubes a run for their money depending on the driver tubes used.

The Valve Arts are on this list. All tubes in the survey were tested with the same driver tubes as well as accessory equipment to include speakers. I don't totally agree with the results as the GE's definitely got screwed. I agree with Mike about the VA KT88's, EH 6550's, but with that being said we all have our opinions. Furthermore, what some may think is too much too spend on tubes forget that everyone chooses to spend their money differently. While one person likes to frequent fine restaurants, always have a new car, buy a new house twice the size of what they really need, own expensive clothes...another saves his money and buys tubes that without argument sound the best. If someone's happy with the tubes they have, good for them but far be it for me to point fingers at anyone if they choose to buy tubes that have empirical evidence to prove their sonic superiority or if they buy tubes based on affordability. I just want to hear people say they like tubes because of what they hear, not because of what someone else says. I have 2 offers to buy quads so please do not ask if I will sell anymore Tung Sols. I still am not convinced I am going to sell as I probably will just put them in the vault and let them appreciate in value. I respect others right to choose...

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Holy crap... you scored the motherlode! PM me with a quote for a quad of those (if willing to sell). I doubt I can afford them, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Mike

I looked yesterday on Audiogon and I saw 2 of them being advertised for $650...still interested?

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If there is a scale of 1 to 100:

1 being string and paper cup.

100 being an exact reporoduction of live,

and the best system I have every heard costing more than my house being a 92,

The three Output tubes I have tried;

Standard Chinese KT-88s,

Genalex Gold Lion Reissues and

KT-88Z have made less than a 10% differance I would put it at 5 - 6 %

The front tubes I have tried,

JJs

Tele's

Amperex (5 Varities from 58' - 68', moslty Holland Made)

make more than a 20 percent difference -- lot more bang for the buck.

I have heard almost more tube to tube differance with the same type tubes up front than I have heard between different brands of output tubes.

I have not tried the Pentas, but I just might, sounds like the sweet spot in the performance cost curve.

I really like the warmth of KT-88Z when listening female vocals but the other half of my listening has artists and groups with either a really good Bass Guitairist or some good strings down low in Jazz music.

The Genalex reissues excell with the latter.

I am also glad their are vendors out there trying to make better tubes.

With modern machine controls, materials developments, and consumers willing to pay for highend,

I am hoping that the golden age of tubes is ahead of us. . .

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I have not tried the Pentas, but I just might, sounds like the sweet spot in the performance cost curve.

Not sure on the performance of the KT-88Z's I bet its a great tube but a bit pricey IMHO. I prefer the Penta's over any other modern production KT-88. I personally do not even care for the Genalex reissue or any other KT-88 that originates out of the old Russian empire. I prefer the Chinese produced even the basic Valve Art types. I personally suspect the Genalex reissue is just a over priced Russian KT-88 with fancy stenciling on it. Nothing special inside to make it a reissue of the Genalex. I even prefer the Tungsol reissue 6550 to the Genalex.

I suggest you give Doug a call at www.dougstubes.com and give the Penta's a whirl if you enjoy evaluating tubes. Tell him I sent ya.

Craig

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I am also glad their are vendors out there trying to make better tubes.

With modern machine controls, materials developments, and consumers willing to pay for highend,

I am hoping that the golden age of tubes is ahead of us. . .

Doubt it. High end audiophile demand is the equivalent of the period in this sentence, compared to the entire page representing the military and large scale corporate demands of yesteryear. That kind of effort, and the metallurgical secrets of yesteryear, are gone forever and died with those who created them. That said, some of the recent efforts are indeed good news, but I very seriously doubt we'll see/hear new tubes as good as Bugle Boy 12A-7, Tele 12AX7, GEC KT66 and KT88, and Tung-Sol 6550 again.

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Doubt it. High end audiophile demand is the equivalent of the period in this sentence, compared to the entire page representing the military and large scale corporate demands of yesteryear. That kind of effort, and the metallurgical secrets of yesteryear, are gone forever and died with those who created them. That said, some of the recent efforts are indeed good news, but I very seriously doubt we'll see/hear new tubes as good as Bugle Boy 12A-7, Tele 12AX7, GEC KT66 and KT88, and Tung-Sol 6550 again.

Actually I don't believe the Metallurgical secrest theory for a second...... I just don't believe there is enough market for mass production of very high quality tubes. In fact with modern production abilities I believe if the market and demand existed much better tubes could be produced then in yesteryear... There is simply not enough market available to afford the manufacturing expense to upgrade the tooling and better quality raw materials. Anything built in the 40', 50's, 60's, 70's and so on "could" be built of better quality today if the manufacturer chose to and could afford to do so. Face it us folks involved in the tube audio hobby may think the demand for this stuff is high but in reality its very, very small by today's standards.

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Alway been a dreamer . . . and some minor trouble listening to Experts.

But if the guy who designed the Amp, a cool and honest guy, is saying Penta there probably is something to it.

I will call Doug on Monday.

The fun thing about the VRDs and out put tubes is that nothing has sounded bad I just keep them for spares.

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