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? 



Actually New “Tung Sol” efforts have been great …their el34b was my very favorite power tube.



@ghdprentice My post was relating to the title of the thread and there is certainly only one place for the tube in relation to the Global Electronics Industry, the Thermionic Vacuum Tube is a Superseded Technology, as is the other Superseded Technology referred to, the Vinyl LP as a medium for embedding recorded data.

I use both Valves and Vinyl, I dropped the Transistor in Power Amplification more than 30 Years ago and have over the years adopted more Valve devices, Phono Pre - Pre-Amp and DAC. 

I have used Vinyl for approx' 40 Years and have only recently added a CD Source to my system.

I get the whole attraction to maintaining the use of Superseded Technology, my Stacked Speakers are a design conceived approx' 68-70 years passed and has been first marketed 65 years passed.

The World has changed, and more, much more is known about human activities, especially their pursuit of pleasure, entertainment and self indulgence and how the combined effect of the collective are very destructive to a fragile eco system. 

In a nutshell, I can easily drive a TT with a Battery. I can easily find a Battery that can be re-charged by Solar Technology.

The Tonearm and Cartridge are Passive, and only come with a manufacturing impact, The TA can be a keeper and only required as a one off purchase, or used TA's can be considered, if exchange arms are desired, again keeping the manufacture impact minimal. The Cart' is sacrificial, which will mean at some point it will need a replacement, for the past eight years, I have been buying in used Cart's and having them rebuilt, again a method to reduce the impact of manufacture.

The Vinyl LP's in use have Albums that are belonging to a collection that commenced over 40 year ago. My most recent purchase has been a New Album.  

The CD Source can be Powered by a very similar methodology that can be adopted for the Power Supply, 99% of my owned CD Collection are bought as used items, again a method that reduces the impact resulting from manufacture.

Friends have already adopted Battery Power for their Pre-Amp's and one has adopted Battery Power for their TT.

I will be pursuing Battery Power myself.

My Speakers which rely on a Power Supply are used in Conjunction with other Speaker Designs, one of which is a used purchase passive cabinet speaker, this speaker although not as good a performer as the ESL Speaker, is a attractive experience. The impression the cabinet speaker has made has spurred myself on to discover a Speaker to Supersede the use of the owned speakers at present.

A Speaker Design is being put together using a selection of owned high quality drivers, to be built using already owned salvaged materials to produce the structure.

Valves are Power Hungry and not really wanted in today's world, alternative methods are the better option in relation to Power consumption and the supporting infrastructure required to optimise the Valves performance, there is a lot of stuff required, a Power Amp's Copper used in a Tranx, can be substantial and if used for a different audio Power Amp design, might have enough Copper to produce 100+ Circuits.

The idea of supplying a Battery Power Supply becomes a investigation into what might be the required Solar Array > Battery Bank, or a device used to power a off grid RV or similar. Such a Power Supply type will require substantial monetary outlays.

Valves are a very difficult choice, if one is to do their bit to cut back on creating unnecessary emissions of harmful pollution. 

Manufacture releases all sorts of Toxicity into Water Ways and the Atmosphere.

Consumers using their purchased goods for entertainment purposes only, as a collective do quite a bit to impact on creating harmful gasses being released into the Atmosphere.

Consumers who are the type that are buying new regularly, exchanging earlier models for the latest models, are fuel for the Toxic Water and Atmosphere that the world is no experiencing.

Note: There are billions of life forms living with humans on this Planet that are deeply impacted on by Human Activity only.   

Have my own efforts been enough to justify my usage of Valves, who knows, I don't do the Math.

For those that do do the Math, I drive approx' 100 miles per week in a 1000cc Car, I use a Train for all other travel, I can't recall the time I last took a flight to travel, maybe eight - 10 years ago.

My TV was purchased in 2004 and is watched for approx' 10 hours per week by myself.

I am not a gamer and my last phone was purchased in 2018.

My music system has very few devices that are from a Typical Manufacture Background and those that are are used purchase items, but can be bespoke modified when put to use.

I listen to music on my own system on average for about 100 hours per year, but do share time with others and their systems, of which some are Valve Orientated with ESL Speakers. This could be construed as my being instrumental in encouraging the use of other Power Hungry Set Ups.

Am I doing enough to off set my usage of a Obsolete and Power Hungry Technology, let the math decide??

I like to think my doing something and intending to do more about putting a off set in place is plenty.    


@glennewdick ”I’m willing to bet there were far more failed tubes in the early years then most here would like to admit. just the sheer amount made would dictate to a much larger failure rate then we see today. there”

Many years ago, as I was running with a friend in a forest outside of Augsburg, Germany, I remarked on the number of “holes” around us. Gunther explained these were from bombs from WW2 and we were running on land that was once a Messerschmidt (or BMW) aircraft factory and airfield and not to go off the trails as there were many UEO (UnExploded Ordnance) remaining.

Okay… so how many bombs never went off?

I’ve seen estimates in some places as high as 25% of some production runs - and this is on both sides - Axis and Allies. Low estimates of 10% are out there, out of the literally tens of MILLIONS of bombs manufactured.

Google “bomb failure rate in ww2” or similar.


How does this relate to tubes?

Well, think about it. Even at the much-vaunted “10,000 hour” lifespan of MILSPEC tubes from the era, the market isn’t exactly flooded with those tubes. I recall Army service techs in the 70’s (older NCO’s who worked on tube gear in the 50s-phase out as SS was being fielded) telling me tubes were failing right out of the box and I’ve seen that myself working in a music store in high school with a brand stinking new set of pricey tubes in Marshall and HiWatt amps - poof!

Except if it’s a bomb - no tubes, yes, but “technology” - and it fails, someone’s vacation on the Rhein, or a backyard gardener in suburban Dortmund or London has their weekend plans ruined while the EOD guys extricate a 200 pounder which is still a common occurrence.

It’s somewhat of a miracle that so MANY 75+ year-old tubes are still working at all, given the marketplace competition for the survivors the pricing is understandable.

Sturgeon’s law comes to mind, “90 per cent of everything is crap.”



On the one hand, the materials as well as the techniques of this ancient method of production have changed with the progress of the times,
and secondly The market for vintage tubes is relatively niche and can be driven by audiophiles seeking a specific sound profile. As a result, there might be less pressure on vintage tube manufacturers to adhere to the same manufacturing standards as large-scale modern tube manufacturers.

A bit judgmental aren't we? Face it, audio afficionados are a small part of the consumer market and tube addicts are a minority of audio nuts. As several have noted, in the 50's and 60's, tubes were mass-produced on the latest equipment with many materials we can't use today. Current tube makers have a minuscule market and often, must do with outdated equipment and replacement materials. Also, at my last job, I was the oldest employee by several years; I worked with mostly 20- and 30-somethings. And I can tell you, they were smart, diligent and creative as all get out. Perhaps you should not obsess over your tubes quite so much and get out and meet some younger folk?