Retubing dilemma

I have a melody el34 integrated amp.  As I mentioned in a older thread one of the tube store el34 preferred series tubes went up in flames. So now I have a choice and I want to see what people think would make the most difference sonically. I would like to keep this under  $200. 1.  I currently have 2 northern electric 6Sn7 tubes and 2 shuguang treasures 6sn7 tubes, 1 of each type on each side.  Should I replace the northern electrics with shuguangs so I have a full set all the same and just replace the el34 with the same preferred series or
2. Replace the el34s with gold lion kt77 that seem to be very well liked. 3. Other suggestions. 
As an aside if I went with #1 should I move the old shuguangs to one side and put the new pair on one side. 
jkontuly, you need to start reading my posts. I’ve got a Melody and have warned many times about my Preferred Series tubes going up in flames. Three in two months, failed spectacularly. Worst of all the tubes tried in my 30 years running tube amps.

The tubes you seek are JJ. Very reliable, very affordable, yet very close to the best sounding tubes JJ are the best deal in tubes I have found.

You can buy them from, they are a good source, just not for their Preferred Series tubes! As for the other tubes leave them alone. Unless of course you like playing the lottery.
There’s a lot of good information here, regarding 6SN7 tubes:       Far as whether you should have two of the exact same iteration/manufacturer, in each amp: pay particular attention, to the third from the last paragraph.
Thanks millercarbon. I will look through your posts. Were you suggesting the JJ EL34-II or plain EL34? Have you tried the GL KT77?

Rodman thanks for the great post and clearing that up for me. 
I read the article, WOW it’s out there. This is how people that make music do things, really, they mix valves to get their signature sound.

That 3rd from the bottom, paragraph is surely not meant for the audiofiler.
Someone seeking superior sound. It’s not gonna happen, mixing valves left to right, not matching top to bottom, and most of all mixing brands left to right.

It is a weird valve to begin with, from a Marantz / Mac perspective, Cary was the big user and promoter of that valve.. Personally he voices with TV tubes in my opinion. The exception was his selection of Ruby EL34 valves. That is a wonderful valve.. Things like 6SN7, and EL84, and 6922? HUH?

Don’t compute. You better do something with those valves.. There is a LOT better valves. The weird thing is, some manufactures VOICE with cheap valve for a reason. It’s like saying they come with the right power cord, from the factory. LOL A lot of PC still have the vinyl hide drying on the 1 dollar PC. NEVER meant to be used. Valves are very much the same way....

BTW MC JJs are Comrade Ivans, favorite...:-) Don’t get all huffy now.. LOL. your gonna be amazed if you move into a great set of valves.. NO they don’t have to cost over 200. USD either. More like 100. for a set.
GL (200. or more 5% match), Solvex, PSVANE (200. or more 5% match)

But EL34. A lot better sounding is EH fat boys are real nice and Green print BOTH EH. GL, KT77s good but spendy.. The EH is as good. and matched better. 5% not 10% like GL, Ruby, I can’t say a bad thing about that valve.. Made in China..Great reputation... NOS, save your money, unless you have a great friend (power valves) 1000. Mulards NO....

Small valves, great NOS stock, a lot better than what you’re using...
But not big bucks...

My insurance guy has Melodies, I say Melodies because he has 3. Two are 6L6 one is KT88/6550.

He learned about cheap 6L6 valves.. hee hee, scared the crap out of him, calling me at 12:30 at night...LOL Tube red plating and noisy as all get out... Comrade Ivan sent him 100 valves for 3-4 usd a valve. UPS....40% were under 10% of a standard RCA 6L6 (64). A lot of testing for me, though (up my rates)...:-)

Realize that you have an EL34 amp . That said one of my integrated amps is an Ayon Audio KT88 ; to my ears Gold Lion, Psvane , Black Treasure and Sophia Electric tubes all sound better than JJs , and just as reliable.
I have a Quicksilver 60w tube amp. I swapped from JJ KT-88s to Gold Lion KT 77's and the sound was more intimate, present, gentle in the midrange and treble. This could be just due to my setup (low ceilings) but I really found the KT 77's mellowed things without making them "rolled off" or fuzzy. They were $189 +$8.50 shipping for a matched quad from McShane Designs and he was great to work with.
You are comparing two different type tubes. A true comparison is the same type of tube from different manufacturer. Apples and Oranges!
Just recommending JJ. Which one you decide to spring for is up to you. I've long since lost track of which tubes of which make sounded like what. The way my audio mind works I can hear every tiny little difference but only remember what stands out. Something that is only a little bit better melts into average. None of the tubes I tried stands out in any way other than what I've said- Preferred stand out as crap, JJ stands out as value. Everything else is somewhere in between. None of them stands out in my mind as being so good as to be worth a premium. Any premium.  Including Golden Lion. There's differences, sure. Differences worthwhile to some. Just not me. Not that I have heard yet anyway. 

It took me a while to get here. At first it was real easy to get excited about every tiny little difference, to think it was worth the premium for some minor little detail. Eventually though after replacing enough sets of tubes, swapping out spares, and doing lots of other things, now I just want tubes that sound good and work. JJ fits the bill. There simply is no thrill in it for me in gambling to see if maybe I can find "the one" my Precious that will transform my listening experience. Even if it exists its just not worth the trials and tribulations of trying to find it. Not when there's at least a dozen sure fire things that make a bigger difference and cost less. 

I'm telling you this in case maybe you are the gambler. Maybe you do still find it fascinating and worth all the time and money. And risk- remember how that Preferred Series looked flaming out? Lucky it was just the tube. That was the last straw for me. I've walked into the room to find the amp dead because some tube blew, and they usually take out a resistor, and that's if you're lucky. Its just not worth it. Reliability with tubes is mega. I've had sets of JJ that lasted me more than 5 years. With not a one going up in flames.

This is all power tubes I'm talking about. Input, preamp, whole different story. Those last a very long time and are extremely reliable. But they have about as much effect on sound. You will see. Either turn you on or not. Won't cost much to find out, one set to know and you wind up with a few spares.
The Gold Lion KT77 is the best EL34 variant I've heard by a rather large margin I would very highly recommend it.
Been on the 6L6/EL34 train a while now. I've not heard these yet, but a trusted Agoner tells me that the new Tung Sol EL34B beats my current reference 7581A. 


hilde, rodman is right... kt77 is an el34 variant, kt88 is a 6550 variant, very different tubes different output power different sound - some amps can run both but most amps are made for one or the other -- as a generality, el34’s are less powerful but sweeter sounding, 6550’s have about 40-50% more output capability and better bass control generally a bit less tubey sounding

both are tetrodes/pentodes but can be run in pseudo triode mode for less power and more sweetness

agree modern russian made gold lion kt77's are among the best el34 variants, with the also russian made mullard reissue el34b's or tungsol el34's (same tube different labelling) a close second
Thanks for the correction. OP, ignore what I said unless your amp can run those GL KT-77s.

Still learning...

+1 for the Gold Lion KT77’s; and here’s how I got there:

I was looking for an alternative to stock EL34’s, so first contacted Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio to get a recommendation. I explained my sound objectives … the ability to convey emotion, natural tone, with good low-end slam and transparency. Was there such a tube?  Oh yeah. The KT77 was the clear choice, but I still spent time checking out a bunch of reviews – first on Upscale, and then on  

Since I have a drawer full of “spares” from tube rolling, I wanted a bit more validation. This review sealed it.  It reviews the “EL34 Family” of tubes.

Installed the KT77’s and haven’t looked back since. I concur with all those 5-star reviews. 

The 6SN7 tubes are another story. @jkontuly my suggestion is to put in the Gold Lions. If you basically liked the overall sound you were getting before, compare that and then decide if KT77's give you enough of an improvement in sound quality. If not, and you want more of what the Shuguang Black Treasures offer, go ahead and get the full set. Hope that helps.

Happy Listening!

@strateahed Great link. It seemed from what others said that this tube won't substitute? (Or maybe needs to be checked?)

In the link you provided, I liked this paragraph:
"1st Place (tie):  Genalex Gold Lion KT77   ($49.95 each. All prices in USD) Essentially, a perfect tube. Quiet and unfussy. It works with every musical genre. The sound quality is right up there with the Shuguang black bottles but this comes at half the price. This tube does it all–huge reserves of power and headroom, a massive airy soundstage but in this case airiness is not a sign of thinness or an unsaturated midrange. For hard rock and complex orchestral music, here’s your tube. It’s no slouch with jazz but tone freaks seeking an even more saturated midrange might prefer the Mullards or the Tung-Sols. Highs are unusually detailed and well defined but never glassy or edgy. This tube excels in scraping up micro details. The bass is deep and dry, not quite as punchy and elastic and ripe as the SED Winged C or the Tung Sol EL34B, but bone dry. There is a touch of warmth but this tube is not a tone freak’s dream. It’s more neutral. This is the only serious challenger to Shuguang and Psvane’s best offerings, and again, it’s half the price. My vote for the King of the EL34-family."
Aren’t Red Ruby, Shuguang rebranded? I’m telling you the Red Ruby is a true KT77 killer.. 1/2 the price and every bit the quality. Never had a flame out yet.. LOL. They will scare the crap out of ya.. LOL I had a cable drop, that caused a tube failure.. LOL dog was barkin’ rabbit was jumpin’, wife was screemin’. I was laughin’. Still brings a smile to my face.. 15K cable drop..The words I said that day.... Every commandment, less killing...was broken.. I say that with great reverence.


if you are talking about ruby tubes...

ruby is a rebrander, and sources their tubes from russia, china (shuguang) and slovakia (jj tubes - using former tesla tube making tooling from the former czech republic) -- latest info from them here... ------------->
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