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October 31, 2020, 12:41:19 PM

Author Topic: Options for 300B tubes  (Read 424 times)

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Offline Larpy

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Options for 300B tubes
« on: October 08, 2020, 12:17:59 PM »
My Kaiju is now 8 months old. I used the stock EH 300Bs for the first two weeks and then "upgraded" to Genalex Gold Lion 300Bs, which I thought at the time had more "air" than the EH tubes.  But now, 8 months later, one of the Genalex tubes died.  I checked and there's no way to get a replacement through warranty.  The best the vendor could do was to offer me 20% off a new Genalex 300B.  I've been unimpressed with Genalex durability before, so I think I'll pass.

So the stock EH tubes are back in and they sound pretty good actually.  Very close to the Genalexes.  But I have an itch to try something "better."

I've poured through the archives and there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what a "better" 300B is.  Doc is on record as saying that EH has tube making down in a way the newer boutique companies don't and he likes the sound of EH 300Bs better than EML 300Bs anyway. PJ opined that he thinks highly of the EML 300B sound but was concerned about longevity (though this was in the context of the Paramount, not the Kaiju).  Aaron Johnson likes the EML 300B mesh tubes but I couldn't find a post where he explained why.  Deke609 uses EML 300Bs in his Kaiju but I haven't come across a post where he describes the sound.

So are there any new reports to hear from those of you with experience?  Are ELROG tubes now more reliable than they were 5 years ago?  Is the EML 300B XLS or mesh plate a satisfying move for any of you?  If so, why? 

I guess what I'm asking is: what ought I consider in 2020 that I won't pick up from reading the posts in previous threads on the topic?

The Kaiju is my first and only experience with 300B tubes.  I've never heard another 300B amp nor a 300B other than the EH and the Genalex. But I'm smitten. If there are better sounding 300Bs that will last long enough in a Kaiju to make spending more money worth it, I'm willing to spend that money.  Even if, gulp, that means the Takatsuki.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 12:27:48 PM by Larpy »
Larry

Offline Deke609

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2020, 01:04:30 PM »
I don't think there's an answer to this, but there are probably 1000 conflicting opinions.  As for my experience of the EML 300B sound, I've really only compared them to JJ 300B's. IIRC, I found the JJ's to be punchy and quick. I liked them. But the EMLs, after a long burn-in, were to my ear both more detailed and lush, with a fair amount of punch and quickness in their own right.

At the same, I'm kinda losing faith in the idea that component "X" has a sound. Or if it does, how do I separate the sound of "X" from components A, B, C.... Z that are also in the music chain?  I think it's all one system -- or soup of many ingredients, if you will.

I can't say what you will like, but I can point to something objective that in my opinion speaks in favor of EML tubes: 5 year warranty if you register the tubes after purchase.  Assuming that Jac honors the 5 year warranty, and I have no reason to doubt that he wouldn't, that's some nice piece peace of mind [edit: been watching too many zombie movies  ;D )

Now, I know you asked about tubes, but I would consider "upgrading" the interstage and parafeed coupling caps if you haven't already.  In my experience, film cap changes can rival tube changes.

cheers, Derek
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 01:16:22 PM by Deke609 »
Derek
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Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Larpy

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2020, 01:10:39 PM »
Thank you, Derek.  Yes, I upgraded the caps: Miflex copper for the interstage and Jantzen Superior-Z for output.  I also replaced the stock electrolytic cathode bypass caps with Solens.  It's cramped inside the chassis.

I also installed the DC heater PS.  And experimented with 5670 tubes.
Larry

Offline Deke609

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2020, 01:14:09 PM »
Nice choices! Then I think you've got the non-tube stuff covered! Good luck with the tube rolling. I'll be interested to read your impressions of whatever you end up going with.

cheers, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline Gerry E.

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2020, 06:47:01 AM »
The Kaiju is my first and only experience with 300B tubes.  I've never heard another 300B amp nor a 300B other than the EH and the Genalex. But I'm smitten. If there are better sounding 300Bs that will last long enough in a Kaiju to make spending more money worth it, I'm willing to spend that money.  Even if, gulp, that means the Takatsuki.

Hi Larry:

As Nike likes to say - Just do it!  Of course I'm talking about the Takatsuki 300Bs, which I use in my Paramounts.  They sound that much better and are easily worth the cost.  I was using 1998 re-issue Western Electric for a couple of years.  When WE announced that they were going to make 300Bs again, I sold that 1998 pair and switched to my back-up JJ 300Bs until the new WE became available.

After waiting "forever" for the WE, I gave up and bought the Takatsuki.  However, that was only after I got to hear them through a friend and discovered first-hand how good they sound.  During this time period, I have tried a number of other 300Bs, borrowed from friends.  My backup JJs were my least favorite.  Then came the EH and Genalex which I felt sounded better than the JJs but a bit boring.  The EML solid and true mesh plates were both another step up but I'm not sure if the difference was enough to justify their cost.  I also had the ELROG but after getting burned on them, I didn't want to go down that road again.  Too bad as they were one of the best sounding and right up there with the Takatsuki and WE.

Speaking of WE, I finally received the first (and only?) pair of 2020 production WE 300Bs back in March.  After some break-in, I though that they sounded equally as good as the Takatsuki.  However, I couldn't justify keeping both pairs, so I sold the WE and kept the Takatsuki.  Your system will sound 50% better with them.  Even if that's an exaggeration, a 25% improvement is still worth the cost, right?  I hope nobody is offended by my assessment of different 300Bs and it's only in comparison that I make these judgements.  Everything is relative and at the price, the Takatsuki should be that much better.

I bought my Takatsuki from Parts Connexion in Canada.  They were $1500/pair including free shipping when I bought them but the price has gone up to $1599 due to the Yen doing better than the USD.  You can check with Chris to see when they are getting their next shipment.  I think it's highly unlikely that you will be disappointed! 

Gerry               

Offline Larpy

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2020, 10:11:13 AM »
Thank you for your (expensive) advice, Gerry.  The only negative thing I've read about the Takatsukis are by those users who had one die on them after only a year or so.  That gives me pause. As I understand it, the Taks have a 1 year warranty.

What I've noticed about going from the Gold Lions back to the stock EH 300Bs is that the EH tubes lack some of the magic I hear in the Gold Lions.  Not a night and day difference, but enough for me to notice and miss the Gold Lions.  I don't hear as much of that spooky illusion of being transported to where the recording was made.

I can buy 5 pairs of the Gold Lions for about the same price as one pair of the Takatsukis.  Or 3 pairs for the price of one of the EML offerings.  If I felt confident I'd be one of the folks who've written online that they're "still loving their Taks after 10 years," I'd jump off the fence.  But it's a gamble, and I don't know what the odds are. 

I'd love to read more input from others who have been down this road.  After years of twiddling (upgrades, figuring out what sound I'm chasing, adding room treatments, etc.), I've got my system to a place I'm really happy with, and power tube rolling is one of the last variables left for me to play with.  I suspect I just need to open my wallet and take a chance, but there are (relatively) so many choices, and as Doc wrote in a post a few years ago, making good, reliable tubes is difficult, and so I guess it's not surprising that none of the boutique makers has emerged as the most reliable.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 10:12:58 AM by Larpy »
Larry

Offline johnsonad

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2020, 11:26:10 AM »
Larry,

I've invested more than many but not as much as Gerry in 300B's over time.  I agree with Gerry that the Elrog's were amazing tubes and by far my favorites in my amps.  Like Gerry, one of mine died (filament went out) and the other sits in a box.  They were short lived, expensive and I too wouldn't buy them again.

I lived near DocB and the team for a few years and would take over my random 300B's and listen to them in the BH system.  Doc and I had a lot of fun (or at least I did) doing this.  Bang for your buck, there is no better tube than the EH's.  BH voices their systems with them  and you can flavor the amps with capacitors for cheaper if that's something you're into.  Capacitors make a difference and you don't have to spend a fortune on them either.

Currently I'm still using a pair of EML mesh plate 300B's.  They sound good in my system and they just won't die.  Would I buy them again, yes.  They sound better to my ears than the solid plate EML 300B's.  Until this pair dies, I have no plans on trying anything else.  Most likely what I'll do when they die is put in a pair of EH's and laugh all the way to the bank. The nice thing with EML, they have a two year warranty with new tubes to the original owner.  Jac is great to work with and the Euro is quite low now.  I would purchase them again from JacMusic without question if I were to buy them again.

The Takatsuki tubes are the only one I would want if I were to try another high end tube.  There were some problems earlier on but I've not read anything about problems with their build quality in years.  Gerry has a good ear and the experience with them.  If he says they sound 25% better, I believe it.  You've got to remember that many amps run a 300B hot and burn them out quickly.  If you run them at a normal operating point, they are long lasting tubes.  I've read of WE 300B's lasting decades at conservative OP's.

If it were me, I would spend money on room treatments and tuning the room over fancy tubes.  I remember one time with Doc and the BH system, we moved room treatments and speakers around for a few hours.  There can be a dramatic difference with very minor changes (e.g., bass traps, speaker and listening chair placement).  Personally I invested in a calibrated USB mic and downloaded the room set up wizard program.  If you have a well tuned ear, you don't need it, but I don't and it amazing how one inch of movement can fix a hump or suck out in a room.

If your room is already tuned well, and after capacitors, I would recommend rolling driver tubes.  I've got about every 5670 variant ever made.  That wasn't enough, so I modified my amps and split the dual triode driver tube.  I use a 5670 as the shunt regulator and currently a round plate 7A4 as the driver.  It's a damn rabbit hole for sure but if you want to spice things up, driver tubes are a hell of a lot cheaper then 300B's.  I like to mix and match.  My favorite 5670 though is the GE 5 star and even with all of my messing around with drivers, I'm not sure if my current set up beats the GE 5670.

By far the best thing I ever did for my system was to stop messing with it and just enjoy the music.  I've picked up new hobbies and haven't touched my system in literally years, not one change. It sounds good to me and that's all that matters.

I hope this helps some and good luck with your search for 300B's!

Aaron
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 11:28:00 AM by johnsonad »
Aaron Johnson

Offline Larpy

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2020, 11:56:09 AM »
Aaron (and Gerry), thank you so much for your sage, experienced advice.  It's extremely helpful.

You make a good point about speaker placement, Aaron.  I played with the placement of my Lii Audio F15 OBs all summer to find just the right spot for them.  I used my ears and a Radio Shack SPL meter (along with test tones) and, in the end, fretted over movements to and fro by less than an inch.  Just before the Gold Lion died, they were dialed in.

So maybe I need to do the same with the EH 300Bs before I conclude they don't have enough SET magic.

But being honest with myself, I'm not a "bang for the buck" guy when it comes to audio.  I have relatively few passions (audio, guitars, fiction, and wine), and they are where my disposable income goes (I have the advantage of being in a DINK relationship).  I take turns obsessing on one or another passion so it doesn't get too out of hand, and the reining obsession has been my Kaiju and DIY OBs for the last year.  So I suspect I'm going to have to try a pair of the big bucks 300Bs just so I know what I am (or am not) missing.  And then I can relax.

But now I think I have my short list:  EML mesh plate 300Bs and the Takatsuki 300Bs.
Larry

Offline Gerry E.

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2020, 03:25:51 AM »
The only negative thing I've read about the Takatsukis are by those users who had one die on them after only a year or so.

This is the first I heard of that.  The pair I got to hear before buying my pair was at least 5 years old and maybe 7 or more, with daily use.  It would be interesting to know the details of the failed samples (ex. what amps they were used in, operating parameters, etc.).  This is also surprising given the Japanese attention to detail and quality control.  Also, who knows if Takatsuki has made any design improvements over the years? 

Not that this has anything to do with longevity but they did change the color of the base from white to black, so that shows they have made at least cosmetic changes.  I suppose one could always contact them and ask about reliability in the field.  Their website is in both English and Japanese.

Gerry           

Offline adeep42

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2020, 05:35:48 AM »
Has anyone tried the new AudioNote 300Bs. I believe they're made for AudioNote by Psvane.
Crack with Speedball
Eros
VPI Prime
Ortofon Cadenza Bronze
Bob's Devices VPI SUT
Phoenix Eagle PSU & Tach
Cambridge 752BD
Apple Airport Express
PrimaLuna Prologue Pre-amp
PrimaLuna Prologue Amps(as mono-blocks)
Martin Logan Summit X's

Offline Larpy

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2020, 11:36:23 AM »
Gerry,

I might have misremembered the length of service before a Takatsuki 300B died unexpectedly. In the comment section in this review
https://www.dagogo.com/takatsuki-ta-300b-vacuum-tube-review/
a guy named Carlos says one of his Takatsukis died after only 500 hours, 3 years of use. But then he corrects himself and says it was 6 years.  Weird to only listen to tubes 500 hours over the course of 6 years, but the 500 hours comment alarmed me.

There was another report of a similar early death and I just tracked it down and, lo and behold, it was written by (presumably) the same Carlos, only this post was from 2 years earlier.  Granted, I don't think English is his first language, but his claim that one of his Tak 300Bs died "at this very moment" in 2019 when he had written 2 years before about his Tak 300B tube dying after only 500 hours makes me wonder how credible he is.  He said he used the tubes in an AirTight ATM300, by the way.

OK, I'm now leaning toward the Takatsukis.  The fact that Aaron imagines he can go happily back to the EH 300Bs once his EML mesh 300B tubes die makes me think the difference in sonics between them must not be all that significant.
Larry

Offline johnsonad

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2020, 04:40:12 AM »
Larry,  it’s not that. Honestly audio isn’t as important to me as it once was and I’ve stopped searching for the holy grail. The EH’s still have the 300B technicolor magic though not as magical as the Tak’s most likely.  It’s good enough for me at this point if that makes sense?

I will say the EML 300B mesh are beautiful and very well crafted. I just like looking at them!  I’m hoping they last for a few more years.
Aaron Johnson

Offline patm

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2020, 07:38:52 AM »
Hi, haven’t posted in a while. Been listening to a pair of EML 300b mesh for about 10 years. I find the top end rolls off to soon but other wise very musical. On my search for the best sound I preordered a pair of Western Electric 300b from the new works at Roswell Ga. after a year wait I received them yesterday. A plus sound right out of the box. Maybe not the absolute sparkle of the Elrog top end but still magic. The mids are as advertised bass is full and well controlled. After only 5 or 6 hours I can say I am totally satisfied so far. I never got a pair of Elrogs past 1.5 years. There’s magic happening in north Ga. Are they worth the money? For me, if they last the way they sound now during break in. YES!
In the beginning there was nothing, then it blew up!

FP III, Paramount 300b (Takatsuki TA-300B), both with Mundorf S/O caps, Mikes iron, HFBG Eros,Oppo 103,Rega RP6 2m black ,Vaughn Triode JR II

Offline Deke609

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2020, 08:11:31 AM »
@PatM: your signature line lists the Takatsuki 300Bs. What did you think of them?

cheers and thanks, Derek
Derek
______

Roon Intel NUC ->  Yggdrasil DAC -> BeePre (w/ BeeQuiet and EML 300B)  -> Kaiju (w/ DCFil and EML 300B) or Stereomour II (2A3 [EML Mesh] and 45 Conversion [EML 45B])  -> Audeze LCD4

Offline patm

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Re: Options for 300B tubes
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2020, 06:35:58 AM »
I had those for a very short time ( like six months?) and one went bad. Can’t really remember detailed sound memory. I can say I was happy until one let go.
In the beginning there was nothing, then it blew up!

FP III, Paramount 300b (Takatsuki TA-300B), both with Mundorf S/O caps, Mikes iron, HFBG Eros,Oppo 103,Rega RP6 2m black ,Vaughn Triode JR II