Linlai KT88 experience?


I am looking to buy a backup pair of KT88's for a power amp and was wondering if any of you have feedback or experience with the newer KT88's from Linlai?  I like their E-6SN7 in my pre amp and am curious about the power tubes.

 

Cheers,

Soren

mogelsvs

Not yet.  Expecting delivery tomorrow or Weds.  Then they need 50 hours.   I will report, promise. 

OK, the Linlai KT88-D arrived.  They are very well made, and all plate structures are very straight in the bottle on this quad.  Very solid in the hand.   I am running them as drivers in the 300b mono amps that Lynn Olson and I designed.  The tubes are running about 56 mA and 270V on the plates and they are transformer coupled to the 300b grids with custom iron.  So the tube is coasting along here, and these results don't necessarily translate to the sound in your traditional KT88 output tube use into an output transformer.  That said, the amps ruthlessly reveal the quality and character of the driver tubes you employ.

 

These tubes have about 6 or 7 hours of play, so have a long way to go.  That said, they sounded good from the start albeit a little thin.  After 6 or 7 hours they are full, rich, and well balanced.  I would say in this application they are superb tubes and I know they will continue to improve for 50-100 hours.  I think they are a pretty safe bet for folks to try at this point.  My 2 cents....  I have a very trusted Chinese supplier and I get very good Linlai tubes.  I would avoid aliexpress or those sorts of sites.  My source is JiaJia audio and I have been dealing with Helen for years now.  Shipping is spendy, but I buy $1000 worth of tubes at a time so it is diluted.  I would say if you can get a quad of Linlai KT88D from a trusted source for a decent price, then I would certainly try them.  They cost me what the JJ would cost and I prefer these so far.  Good luck to all.

 

OK 25-30 hours.  As expected with any good KT88, they have really opened up.  The other KT88 I have run as drivers in this amp is the now unobtanium Shuguang WEKT88, which was their best KT88 right before the factory shut down.  The Shuguang WE series WE6SN7 and WEKT88 were very rich and full sounding.  They leaned towards the warm side of things, but still had good detail.  The Linlai E-6SN7 and this KT88-D are decidedly neutral sounding with great detail and very tight bass.   I would not call them warm, but rather very neutral.  Don't get me wrong, they are still tubes, and not solid state sounding at all.  But they are not overly romantic.  The JJ KT88 is a good tube, but in my KT88 amp it sounded just a little unnatural with emphasis of certain parts of the frequency spectrum.  Very subtle, but designed to sound very alive and grab your attention.  The Linlai offererings are just very neutral.  They do everything well with great detail and slam, but they are not overly warm like the Shuguang WE series, nor do they draw attention to themselves a bit like the JJ.   I really like the Linlai WE300b exact Western Electric copy.  It is also a wonderful tube to my ear.   

So those are my opinions.  You can take or leave them.  A data point for you all:)

Happy listening

@donsachs - a follow-up to your Linlai KT88 comments.

Do you have any experience with the Sophia Blue KT88 (vs Linlai KT88) as they are being re-introduced later this month?

Thanks, Don!

JimRicketts/tmhaudio

 

@tmhaudio 

I heard some Sophia blue glass when I was doing the vintage work and a fellow sent me a quad to use with his citation II amp that I was restoring.  Sounded good, but I only listened for an evening and the amp had all new caps and power supply so not really a good data point.  I have not heard any other Linlai KT88, just the Kt88-D.   I have heard their egg shaped 300b tube and it is quite good, but the WE300b copy is much better to my ear.