Author Topic: Best current production EL 34s?  (Read 708 times)

Offline malloy

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Best current production EL 34s?
« on: June 08, 2022, 11:11:19 PM »
Disregarding any NOS El 34s, which of the current production EL 34s is the 'best'?  Mullard, JJ, Tesla, Tung-Sol, etc.? A very old thread from 2007 here says the Groove Tubes were good then went south.

Thanks!

Paul

Offline tmazz

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2022, 08:24:28 PM »
Paul the "best" is really a relative term.

What is best for your system may not be the best in mine. Sonically each of the current production tube has its own individual character. The best one for you depends on your sonic preferences for the system. the speakers and other electronics that you use and how well each tube dovetails with the rest of your system to achieve your sonic goals.

Here is a web page from upscale audio that describes the sonic  flavor of various new production EL34s.

https://upscaleaudio.com/pages/the-ultimate-guide-to-tube-rolling-el34

Be careful when looking for EL34 comparison reviews online. EL34s are used quite often in guitar amps and may of the reviews out there are written from that perspective and not with any kind of eye towards reproducing a full range sound in a home audio system.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2022, 08:35:42 PM by tmazz »
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Offline Jack

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2022, 09:41:08 PM »
Six of the "new production" brands are all made by the same company, New Sensor, in the same factories so how much different they sound from each other is debatable. They were able to acquire the naming rights from "legacy" companies like Mullard, Genalex, Tung Sol, Sovtek, and Svetlana to go along with their EH brand.  I have a small stash but if I had to buy new I would probably just buy the JJ's and be done.
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Offline tmazz

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2022, 08:40:44 AM »
I have not investigated the EL34s, but at lest with the small signal tubes like 12 AX7s and 12 AT7s they are not the same tubes with different names slapped on them. Even though they are made in the same factories the tubes from the various brands made by New Sensor each use different materials and plate reconfiguration. So they very easily can and in fact do sound different from each other.
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Offline malloy

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2022, 12:48:25 AM »
Paul the "best" is really a relative term.

What is best for your system may not be the best in mine. Sonically each of the current production tube has its own individual character. The best one for you depends on your sonic preferences for the system. the speakers and other electronics that you use and how well each tube dovetails with the rest of your system to achieve your sonic goals.

Here is a web page from upscale audio that describes the sonic  flavor of various new production EL34s.

https://upscaleaudio.com/pages/the-ultimate-guide-to-tube-rolling-el34

Be careful when looking for EL34 comparison reviews online. EL34s are used quite often in guitar amps and may of the reviews out there are written from that perspective and not with any kind of eye towards reproducing a full range sound in a home audio system.

Thanks for the insight. Yeah, most of the reviews I've read are for tube amps for guitars!

 I guess what I really meant was "good enough" without spending over $60 or more a tube. I'm looking for a warm sounding tube with a 'tubey' midrange, but with enough detail, so it's a toss up between the reissue Mullards and the Tung-Sol.  I'd like to splurge on the Gold Lions, but not at those prices. The Prima Luna are 'cheap' enough to try as well.

I have some Electro Harmonix 6922s, and if the family sound is the same with their el34s, I know would not like them.

Paul
« Last Edit: June 11, 2022, 12:59:54 AM by malloy »

Offline malloy

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2022, 12:56:09 AM »
Six of the "new production" brands are all made by the same company, New Sensor, in the same factories so how much different they sound from each other is debatable. They were able to acquire the naming rights from "legacy" companies like Mullard, Genalex, Tung Sol, Sovtek, and Svetlana to go along with their EH brand.  I have a small stash but if I had to buy new I would probably just buy the JJ's and be done.

Thanks, Jack I was thinking the same thing. But as Tom pointed out, they can and do sound different. I've had good experience with JJ's in another amp and Guitar Center has them in stock. Might be another option.

Paul

Offline HAL

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2022, 06:30:57 AM »
Another company that rebrands new EL34's is Tube Amp Doctor.  They use Shuguang tubes and select them.  The EL34B-STR and EL34BHT are the higher screen grid versions if that is a requirement.  I only use them in guitar amps, but they do well. 

Unfortunately they are all getting hard to find.

Only thing to look forward to in the future is if Western Electric does actually start producing different model tubes in the future as they have stated.  Should be EL34's and 12AX7's in the ones they are trying to mfg.  Only time will tell, but they are making 300B's to original specs.  Who knows what the price will be.

Offline tmazz

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2022, 09:05:05 AM »
Just for the record, New Sensor does not rebrand tubes. The different brands that they manufacture are actually different tube designs.

And along the line of matching tubes to your gear I know that a lot of people really like the JJ tubes. I bought a set of JJ 6DJ8s for my ARC VT-200 and I hated them yet I have heard them sound fine in other applications. Like everything else in this hobby so much depends on symmetry.

and FYI, I just looked on the4 Electro Harmonix web site and given the current situation you are going to be hard pressed to find Mullard or Tung Sols for under $60. Their current prices for them are $84 and $76 respectively. The only EL34s they carry for less than $59 are the Psvane at $24. And interestingly the Psvane is the only tube on their list that is not sourced from Russia and subject to the punitive import duties.

The EH 12AX7s that I bought from them on March 14th for $15  is now going for $52.  :roll:



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Offline malloy

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2022, 11:08:53 AM »

and FYI, I just looked on the4 Electro Harmonix web site and given the current situation you are going to be hard pressed to find Mullard or Tung Sols for under $60. Their current prices for them are $84 and $76 respectively. The only EL34s they carry for less than $59 are the Psvane at $24. And interestingly the Psvane is the only tube on their list that is not sourced from Russia and subject to the punitive import duties.

The EH 12AX7s that I bought from them on March 14th for $15  is now going for $52.  :roll:

It looks like I picked the worst time to go playing around with tubes again!

Offline malloy

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2022, 11:18:57 AM »
Another company that rebrands new EL34's is Tube Amp Doctor.  They use Shuguang tubes and select them.  The EL34B-STR and EL34BHT are the higher screen grid versions if that is a requirement.  I only use them in guitar amps, but they do well. 


Thanks! Got to check them out.


Only thing to look forward to in the future is if Western Electric does actually start producing different model tubes in the future as they have stated.  Should be EL34's and 12AX7's in the ones they are trying to mfg.  Only time will tell, but they are making 300B's to original specs.  Who knows what the price will be.

I found their site and they even have a cd player with tubes! Can't find the price, though.

https://audioxpress.com/article/r-d-stories-the-original-western-electric-300b-vacuum-tube-now-shipping-worldwide

Matched pair of 300Bs is $1,500. If they can get EL34s down to around $100 those would be great, but they'll probably charge $300 or more.  :roll:


Offline tmazz

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2022, 12:34:52 PM »

and FYI, I just looked on the4 Electro Harmonix web site and given the current situation you are going to be hard pressed to find Mullard or Tung Sols for under $60. Their current prices for them are $84 and $76 respectively. The only EL34s they carry for less than $59 are the Psvane at $24. And interestingly the Psvane is the only tube on their list that is not sourced from Russia and subject to the punitive import duties.

The EH 12AX7s that I bought from them on March 14th for $15  is now going for $52.  :roll:

It looks like I picked the worst time to go playing around with tubes again!

It may be an expensive time, but there is no bad time to play with tubes .  8)
Remember, it's all about the music........

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Offline P.I.

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Re: Best current production EL 34s?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2022, 12:01:13 AM »

and FYI, I just looked on the4 Electro Harmonix web site and given the current situation you are going to be hard pressed to find Mullard or Tung Sols for under $60. Their current prices for them are $84 and $76 respectively. The only EL34s they carry for less than $59 are the Psvane at $24. And interestingly the Psvane is the only tube on their list that is not sourced from Russia and subject to the punitive import duties.

The EH 12AX7s that I bought from them on March 14th for $15  is now going for $52.  :roll:

It looks like I picked the worst time to go playing around with tubes again!

It may be an expensive time, but there is no bad time to play with tubes .  8)
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