REF5SE tubes

Time to retube. If tube’s direct from ARC and NOS tubes are not in the picture, what would be next best  for tubes? Haven’t purchased anything from Upscale , so that’s out.

Appreciate any and all advice.


Have you tried Upscale?

I was able to place 5 ARC grade 6H30P's into the cart.

Not certain if that grade is needed for the 5th tube.



I'm not a past customer either (personal thing), but I did not go further than loading the items into the shopping cart.

Otherwise, I did not notice any exclusions for those particular tubes.



I owned older ARC, before the 6h30, but run a line stage, the Veloce Lithio, which does use that tube. I had a NOS quad of the DR Reflektor which sounded better, and when I was "fettling," thought those might be past prime time; tried a set of new production from Russia and at least in the Veloce (configured as more up to date, with newer battery pack and circuit changes), the modern tube sounded dead and flat. I did find a quad of old never used DRs from the late ’70s that make music. I understand that some ARC users don’t hear that much difference between the DR (how old?) and modern Russian tubes- you are limited to Sovtek or EH as far as I know unless you plumb the depths-- and those can be counterfeit or late production. 

I say if you can’t hear the difference, you are probably fortunate. I think that tube is a dead end, given the difficulty of sourcing it.


I was able to acquire a full set of new matched tubes from ARC last week. (REF6SE) $1200 including shipping. I did have to wait a few months but my current set still have some good life in them. Good luck…!

I bought mine from Tube Depot and The Tube Audio store, same prices as Upscale, "matched" supposedly- though matching on these is not so important according to ARC and others (for power tubes it is though).

Having used both Tube Depot and The Tube Store in the past, I would highly recommend Brent Jessee at  

He is well respected and can give you his personal recommendations. 

Tubes should be available now from ARC. I have a Ref 5 SE and got tired of waiting for ARC to replenish their stock. They said they had to reject 90% of the tubes they were getting in. So I bought tubes from other vendors and lost the ARC "magic" sound. While hopefully waiting for those tubes to "burn in", ARC notified me that they finally had my tubes in stock so I ordered a set for spares. When they arrived I thought I'd switch them out with the ones I had previously purchased and right away the magic was back! So I am recommending ARC's matched sets, they are picky for a reason.

+ 1 million for Brent Jesse. Every time I’ve dealt with him has been an excellent experience! Every single time.

Does Brent Jesse even sell any 6H30 tubes? They’re not listed anywhere on his site, even the "complete stock list". I would never have picked him as a source for these tubes. He’s good for a NOS GE 6550 on the power regulator, though.

Viva Tubes still lists up to matched quads of the Sovtek and EH Gold variants in stock. I’ve had good luck with them when sourcing matched KT88 tubes.

I collected some sets of ARC Select and Platinum grade 6H30 from Upscale over the years - though I’ve now moved on from my ARC Reference components. Quite frankly, I found "plain" Platinum grade non-cryo just as good. Also tried those ARC Select in a Rogue Hera II preamp (octet of 6H30), hoping to quiet it down, and it didn’t make a lick of difference - still noisy as hell on 96dB speakers 😅

So I got the Premium tube set from the Tubestore, matched and balance, and right out of the box, they sound great. I got the preamp used, it's a 2011, and the 6550c tube sure appears (?)  it could possibly be the original. There is no markings on the tube. Supposedly the 6H30's were changed. At least now I know i'm starting fresh.

Thanks to all for your input



If you haven't, I'd suggest changing the 6550 if it is that old. If / when it goes it can take out other components in the PS. 3000 hours is the recommended time to replace, I believe,