Maybe try some new old stock matched EL84M Sovtek tubes. You can get them from Viva if not others. Not too bad, decent value, tried them in a test amp based on a recommendation from a friend. Give them 48hrs to burn in, they’ll open up.
Also, I've been running PSVANE 12AT7s for the past year as input tubes in my mono amps, replacing some really good Mullard Blackburn plant mid 1960 tubes being stored away. Not a bad tradeoff, sound pretty good, lasting so far.
Glad you mentioned PSVANE. Some friends I have now lost contact with either loved or hated them. The ones who hated them stems more from reliability than their sound. Do you think PSVANE EL84 are any good?
to @lemonhaze There are older 2-3+ year old PSVANE and newer versions I've tested throughly, comparing 2012-2014 versions to 2019 yr plus and the newer 12AU7 and 12AT7s sounded better to me, notably. What changed, I don't know.
As for EL84s, hard to say, you are on your own there unless others speak up having tried and compared to other EL84s. I believe Peter at Audio Note is using PSV in his own line relabled, so it would be a roll of the dice to try them, and I only recommended the EL84Ms from Sovtek since more than a few I know had luck with them.
If you can find them, NOS military grade Mullard 12AT7s are the best you can get.
You might try Upscale Audio as they rep Manley gear and they also sell tubes.
Think the early Stingray amps came with EI (Yugoslavia) EL84's.
They have not been produced for years, but Upscale has them in stock.
I used the EI's in a Pilot 232 power amp and a single ended Magnavox amp with good results (sound was similar to Philips/Holland EL84's).
I also used old Russian 7189 types (later marketed by Sovtek as the EL84M).
They were not as 3D, but I still liked them in the Pilot.
However, the Pilot uses gobs of negative feedback (unlike the Stingray).
Maybe old production Amerex/Holland if they want to splurge on the input tubes.
Not familiar with the driver tubes.
Andy at Vintage Tube in Michigan and Brent Jesse should both be able to help. Best wishes on your journey to help your friend ;-)
I replaced the stock Sovtek EL84's in my Leben CS-300xs with Tungsram's that I picked up from Upscale Audio. Nice upgrade.
I'm going to try Gold Lion next in my amp.
@dekay I also used old Russian 7189 types (later marketed by Sovtek as the EL84M). They were not as 3D, but I still liked them in the Pilot.
Similar experience here with 7189/EL84M. They were a little softer, not as deep of a sound stage or detailed as other NOS EL84s, but still very nice. I liked them.
Like others here, I also tried the Tungsram EL84, and it was bit more detailed, and airy, yet not as smooth as the Sovtek EL84M military tube. Pick your flavor. Same with the Tungsram 12AU7, 12AT7s, detailed, not as smooth as PSVANE, or NOS Mullards hoarded away.
I recommend Anthony at http://www.tubeaudiostore.com/
He's taken over the helm at Music Reference and has select EI and Sovtek EL84M. I've used them exclusively in my RM10 for over 11 years and Never had one short or wear out.
7189 tubz will give u few more watz
Firstly, thanks to all who have responded.
The originals were certainly reliable and have lasted well and the sensible thing would be to use them again but my mate is asking for something that sounds better. My last experience in a DIY amp of mine was with JJ EL84 which I thought were just OK but not great. Difficult making decisions for a friend especially in a different country where he will be ripped off.
Brent Jesse let me return tubes I did not like the sound of, after he told me to play them for 60 hours to see if their sound changed to my liking.
I chose less costly alternates, he gave me a refund for the difference in cost, happy I am.
It's not just the power tubes that effect the sound.
It's not just the power tubes that effect the sound.
Sure, that's why I posted : "He also needs a pair of 12AT7's. Best quality needed for this position"
Your link to audiotubes is great. I have just been reading the ECC81/12AT7 page. I did not realise there were that many alternatives.
+2 on the Gold Lion N709/EL84 and on buying them from Jim McShane. Great sounding, reliable tubes and an exceptionally knowledgeable and honorable dealer.
I've had great results with the NessTone EL34 | 6CA7.
They sound great and are inexpensive enough to keep fresh.
There's a blurb (somewhere) about the Gold Lion N709/EL84 not lasting long in certain amp designs.
Been to so many tube sites I don't recall which one, but think it was a dealer.
Never heard of NessTone. The price seems very fair, perhaps too fair. Are they rebranded Chinese?
@dekay, That's is a little disconcerting. Perhaps because they have been used in guitar amps which usually overdrive them. Some audio amps also drove them hard when they should have been using 7189's. I suppose back in the day the manufacturers were chasing performance rather than longevity.
NessTone probably are but they’re cheap enough to try and if they don’t work for you the investment is pretty small. I’ve used them for years and have had good service out of them. I liked them better than the Electro. Harmonex for what’s that’s worth.
Found it here, and it has to do with the bias design of the amp (so something to check out).
I played electric guitar from the early 60's to 1986 and, IMO, guitar amp reviews of tubes have little to do with how the same tubes will perform in HiFi amps.
Sure, if the tubes are overdriven they won't last. Perhaps Kevin doesn't sell the Gold Lions. 🙄 In his video he's talking about putting an EL34 into an amp that is biased to run KT88s and so driving the plates beyond their rated max. dissipation.
I am considering the Gold Lion EL 84 because the Manley has provision to set the bias individually via trim pots. Have you heard these tubes? I am, of course interested in how they stack up to the originals
Jim McShane says basically the same thing but it doesn't apply to most consumer audio components including Manley. Jim references the Vox AC-30 and AC-30 clones; guitar amps that run the output tubes beyond dissipation specs. I know this to be true as I own an early 1966 Vox AC-30; bad ventilation to make matters worse. Guitar players call this design the "easy bake oven".
I have tracked down some Brimar/Marconi black plate 1950s 12AT7 but have not yet decided on el84s
Brent Jesse of audiotubes.com suggested Mazda of France EL84 tubes as replacements for the JJEL84 in our Luxman NQ150 integrated amp. Was not originally happy with the Mazda tubes, but after 60+ hours they came into their own. Great sound.
+1 Brent Jesse. Great for NOS tubes.
Another option is el83 with an el83 to el84 adapter. They are very similar tubes with a different pin configuration
OK, interesting you mentioned the EL83. Is there a strong reason for considering these especially when there is the extra expense of adapters and doubling up of pin connections. It's certainly doable if the sound quality is worth it. I just have never heard them.
Regarding the sound, what's your opinion on them vs EL84?
Long story short(ish)
I own the Decware SE84UFO amp that uses 6P15P-EV, SV83 or EL84 tubes. Ebay sells the Tesla EL83 tube as a SV83 (which it isn't). Without the adapter the EL83 doesn't work (different pin configuration) but with an inexpensive adapter they work great. Each flavor of tube has a uniquely different sound. The good part is that all of these are inexpensive so you can try them all and tailor the sound to your environment.
The bad part is man I got a lot of tubes.