Why Can't Modern Tube Manufacturers Make a Proper Tube?

Current tube manufacturers, at least the ones I have tried should be utterly ashamed at their ineptness, apathy, ignorance, or whatever it is that makes them seemingly unable to make a tube properly.

And I never knew what I was missing before I tried reclaimed tubes from the 1950's, an era where people build things instead of ruining things.

The present manufactures are said to have the actual machinery to make tubes for which they have examples in hand and schematics on file, but they just can't do it.

Is this a case of Idiocracy? Are people just stupid today? The world and all creation do follow the 2nd rule of thermodynamics so I guess this is the case.

Listening to Black Plate RCA’s and Mullards in my system, even for a short time made it glaringly obvious that modern manufactures are embarrassingly inadequate. There is absolutely no comparison.

Why can't modern tube manufacturers make a proper tube?

1. lack of IQ?

2. Apathy? 

3. Lack of Materials?

4. Lost knowledge? 



@tonydennison ..Listening to Black Plate RCA’s and Mullards in my system, even for a short time made it glaringly obvious that modern manufactures are embarrassingly inadequate. There is absolutely no comparison.


I have 1950s & 1960 vintage curve-tracer matched RCAs Black plates, and 1965 Blackburn plant Mullard tubes, along with various new production tubes for my own Quicksilver amps. Some of the new tubes compare favorably, or better.

What "modern manufacturers" and "embarrassingly inadequate tubes" have you tried?

Looking back at the 1950's and 1960's, remember, everything was made with tubes, except for mainframe computers and exotic aerospace applications. And they weren't all that cheap ... multiply the prices by ten to get a better idea of the real cost.

Tubes are a very small niche market today, orders of magnitude smaller, and if it wasn't for demand from guitarists, there would probably be no tube factories anywhere in the world. As it is, audiophiles piggyback on to the guitar-amp market, and are at least ten times smaller, or maybe twenty times smaller. Fortunately, the middle-class Chinese audio fans are mad about tubes, so there is significant domestic demand in China.

The small demand makes robot automated assembly un-economic, and the R&D budget, compared to the 1950's, just isn't there. It's one thing to have the Department of Defense pay for reliability research, and throw hundreds of top engineers at the problem, and where we sit now, with a only a handful of design engineers worldwide, and none of them with DOD-sized budget.

Small market for vacuum tubes I guess and not a current technology like it was back in the day. Relegated to a small niche, retro, antiquated, and vintage applications..sad but there are companies like Western Electric who see some market potential and are at least trying to produce popular tubes for audiophiles. Cudos to them! 


I have a few observations that may help explain the nearly universal declining quality:

1) Finite Element Analysis.  The quest to do as much as possible with as little as possible. Sounds like utopia but in reality "over-engineering" as we used to call it was making a thing to function/perform using at 80% or less of it's capacity. 

2) The idea that most consumers don' t care as much about quality as they do about price. This is why "built to last" was shelved and "great value" (cough, cough) replaced it.

3) Planned obsolescence. Making a rapidly depleting product that requires the consumer to re-buy it often. This is often accompanied by "laws" that protect the connected at the peril of the customer./consumer.

4) Rising incompetence. This  is almost universal in the USA and is a direct product of moral relativism. The patron saint of todays young adults is Mediocratese. His motto is "Meh. good enough."