Shootout of Nos 6sn7 tubes

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
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Washington State, US
#1
I will have shootout between TS BGRP, RCA vt231, KR vt231, Syl vt231, Raytheon vt 231 and "Bad boy" next weekend.

If I get MELZ 6N8S 6SN7 Metal Base next week, then I will also include it in shootout


RCA5691, Psavne Acme 300B, Psavne Acme 805 are also being used in Line Magnetic 508 amplifier.

Speaker will be Lansche 4.1 with plasma tweeter.

Digital source will be Dave and HMS fed by ripped CD stored in ssd drive of Cocktail audio x30.


I will play

Eva Cassidy's 'Autumn Leaves"

"Trinity Sessionn " by Cowboy Junkies

For classical orchestra, "Trittico" directed by Fennel.

"Still harry after all these years" will be for fusion jazz.

Any more suggestion gentlemen and ladies.

Thomas
 

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
60
Washington State, US
#2
I received Tungsol Black grass round plate ans Raytheon Vt231 tubes today.

I had done shootout between TS BGRP, RCA vt231, KR vt231, Syl vt231, Raytheon vt 231 and Bad boy

I played

Eva Cassidy's 'Autumn Leaves"

"Post card blues " by Cowboy Junkies

For classical orchestra, "Trittico" directed by Fennel.

"Still harry after all these years" will be for fusion jazz

1. TS BGRP gave most transparent almost see through sound. But it's tonal balance is slightly skewed to treble, so it could sound hot in bright system.

It sound fast but the bass falls way short of the standard set by KR vt231 even behind Rca or Raytheon.

Some people are of the opinion that this one is holy grail of 6sn7 tubes doing everything well .

But it's bass is disappointing.

2. RCA vt231 is kind of all around player. Compared with TS bgrp, its sound is slightly warmer with lush tone but with enough sparkle and air.

It is also very transparent just short of TS.

Its bass is also better than TS.

I paid only 1/5 price of TS on RCA vt231.

But RCA is as almost as good as TS.

Thus TS bgrp is over priced due to hype and RCA is a good deal.

if you can find Nos RCA vt 231 under 150$, grab it.

I had bought 3 pairs of RCA vt 231 with average price of 130$.

3. Kenrad vt231 has best bass among 6sn7 tubes.

With KR in it, I got the impression that I do not need subwoofer to get deep bass.

It also sound sweet. Thus its tonal balance is kind of neutral.

It is pretty transparent just short of TS.

4. Raytheon vt 231.

I could grab one RT vt231 at 80$.

But it was steal for the performance.

Its sound is halfway between RCA and KR.

it give better bass than TS and pretty good speed with transparency close to TS.


I wish to emphasize again the TS bgrp is overpriced due to hype.

I ordered one more RT vt231 at 70$ today.


5. Sylvania vt 231

Its sound is very similar to TS.

It has spooky details and transparency very close to TS.

But it's bass is too tight but not with enough force.

I also have three pairs of Syl vt 231 at average price of 110$ for pair.

This one work better in Freya pre in front of headphone amplifiers rather than 2 channel system.


6. Bad boy ( Sylvania GT 3 holes made in 1952 or 1953)

This one has good tonal balance (slightly bass heavy) which will work well with bright system.

But it falls short of above vt231 tubes in tranparency with limited treble extension.

Its bass is full but not at the same level as KR but close to RCA or RT.


To conclude, this one is not at the same level as five vt231 tubes in detail and transparency.

It is overpriced due to hype.

But if your system is on the bright side, bad boy may work.

I think it is foolish to pay more than 150$ on it.
 
Last edited:

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
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Washington State, US
#3
I paid 575$ to get TS bgrp.

I could get four pairs of each RCA, KR, RT, Syl vt 231 at total of 500$.

It is much better to have four of kind with different flavors than over hyped TS bgrp.
 
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Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
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486
203
#5
Fwiw Thomas, I had similar feelings to you on both the TSRP and the rca smokies when I compared them about a decade ago. Both were beaten overall imo by Shuguang Black Treasure cv181 (which I suspect has since been improved in subsequent iterations) and the Melz 1578. The latter is the drilled plate / metal base iteration and supposedly the ‘special one’.
 
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DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
3,098
988
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#6
Thanks for the post!

Best I've ever tried is Melz 1578, but there are different varieties. IMO the black plate with no holes are the best value and many think they're better than the holey plates. Holey plates can be regular or black plate too. There are 6SL7 versions of this tube too (6N9S I think). I currently use them for my voltage gain stage and the 6N8S version for output buffers.

5692 are a little over rated imo, but very quiet, I can see the appeal in certain systems. These have reduced plate voltage limits too.

I like pretty much any Sylvania, and don't think you need to spend the $ on the "bad boys", the hype is overdone.

Most 6SN7 or 12SN7 are at least good. I built my pre to switch from 6 or 12V versions, you can often find 12V versions for less $.
 

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
60
Washington State, US
#7
Fwiw Thomas, I had similar feelings to you on both the TSRP and the rca smokies when I compared them about a decade ago. Both were beaten overall imo by Shuguang Black Treasure cv181 (which I suspect has since been improved in subsequent iterations) and the Melz 1578. The latter is the drilled plate / metal base iteration and supposedly the ‘special one’.
Thanks for your valuable opiinion.

I also have Shuguang Black Treasure cv181 which sound warm and organic.

But it falls short of vt231 in details and transparency.
 
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thomask

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Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
60
Washington State, US
#8
Thanks for the post!

Best I've ever tried is Melz 1578, but there are different varieties. IMO the black plate with no holes are the best value and many think they're better than the holey plates. Holey plates can be regular or black plate too. There are 6SL7 versions of this tube too (6N9S I think). I currently use them for my voltage gain stage and the 6N8S version for output buffers.

5692 are a little over rated imo, but very quiet, I can see the appeal in certain systems. These have reduced plate voltage limits too.

I like pretty much any Sylvania, and don't think you need to spend the $ on the "bad boys", the hype is overdone.

Most 6SN7 or 12SN7 are at least good. I built my pre to switch from 6 or 12V versions, you can often find 12V versions for less $.
I have Melz 1578 metal base coming from Ukraina.

I had ordered three weeks ago, thus it is normal that I shall get it by this week.

i will include it in the shootout.
 
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Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
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#10
As always with tubes, the outcome is rather dependent on circuit / tube / system subjectivity. Is best to view opinions in a relative context however I did find the rca vt231 to be more oriented towards dark tonality than transparency or balanced presentation. That said, it is still a nice tube :)
 
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analyzer

Well-Known Member
May 20, 2016
162
45
60
Torino - Italy
#11
I had very very similar results and impressions as Thomask when I tried almost same tubes into input stage of my Hybrid Power amp.
Only exception was for "Bad boy" tubes, never tried; neverthless RCA, Ken-rad, Sylvania and Tung-Sol gave me the same nuances as Thomask.
At the end Sylvania VT-231 were my choice for better balance, but only for a little margin.
My esperience with Soviet metal base was unlucky, as all three tubes purchased on eBay were noisy or sputtering and so... rapidly throw out of the Window.
Again interesting results I had experimenting 7n7 and Vt-99 (6gm8 military version); both with specific adaptors; but this is another story...
Cheers
Marco
 

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
60
Washington State, US
#14
I had very very similar results and impressions as Thomask when I tried almost same tubes into input stage of my Hybrid Power amp.
Only exception was for "Bad boy" tubes, never tried; neverthless RCA, Ken-rad, Sylvania and Tung-Sol gave me the same nuances as Thomask.
At the end Sylvania VT-231 were my choice for better balance, but only for a little margin.
My esperience with Soviet metal base was unlucky, as all three tubes purchased on eBay were noisy or sputtering and so... rapidly throw out of the Window.
Again interesting results I had experimenting 7n7 and Vt-99 (6gm8 military version); both with specific adaptors; but this is another story...
Cheers
Marco
Thanks Marco for your kind word.

i had been using Syl vt231 with Line Magnetic 508 for last 2 years.

It's only week point is too tight but not full bass.

But depending on system, it can do wonder.
 

thomask

Well-Known Member
Dec 9, 2018
601
433
75
60
Washington State, US
#15
As always with tubes, the outcome is rather dependent on circuit / tube / system subjectivity. Is best to view opinions in a relative context however I did find the rca vt231 to be more oriented towards dark tonality than transparency or balanced presentation. That said, it is still a nice tube :)
Fed with Dave which sounds neutral or slightly on the cool side, RCA vt 231 did not sound dark.

Choice of tube also depends on personal taste and system.
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
1,983
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#16
I had very very similar results and impressions as Thomask when I tried almost same tubes into input stage of my Hybrid Power amp.
Only exception was for "Bad boy" tubes, never tried; neverthless RCA, Ken-rad, Sylvania and Tung-Sol gave me the same nuances as Thomask.
At the end Sylvania VT-231 were my choice for better balance, but only for a little margin.
My esperience with Soviet metal base was unlucky, as all three tubes purchased on eBay were noisy or sputtering and so... rapidly throw out of the Window.
Again interesting results I had experimenting 7n7 and Vt-99 (6gm8 military version); both with specific adaptors; but this is another story...
Cheers
Marco
Am also running Sylvania VT-231s in the LM805ia, a very natural and alive kind of presentation, really great coherence and a nice level of solidity to the image. Resolution is really great for me with the Sylvanias.

I’ve recently done quite an upgrade with my server and am especially happy with the balance now so not really chasing too much more bass extension... but will have to experiment with some Kenrads sometime soon. So really happy here with the Sylvanias also.
 
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the sound of Tao

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Jul 18, 2014
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#17
Thanks for the post!

Best I've ever tried is Melz 1578, but there are different varieties. IMO the black plate with no holes are the best value and many think they're better than the holey plates. Holey plates can be regular or black plate too. There are 6SL7 versions of this tube too (6N9S I think). I currently use them for my voltage gain stage and the 6N8S version for output buffers.

5692 are a little over rated imo, but very quiet, I can see the appeal in certain systems. These have reduced plate voltage limits too.

I like pretty much any Sylvania, and don't think you need to spend the $ on the "bad boys", the hype is overdone.

Most 6SN7 or 12SN7 are at least good. I built my pre to switch from 6 or 12V versions, you can often find 12V versions for less $.
Can also run 6v or 12v in my pre... it’s good to be able to do both. I’m also getting a lot of joy having that as an option.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
1,683
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230
the Upper Midwest
#18
I've had good results with:
Sylvania VT-231/6SN7GT
Ken Rad VT-231 (black or clear glass)
RCA 6SN7GT/VT-231 gray glass

Possibly THE thread on 6SN7s:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-reference-6sn7-thread.117677/
The Guy for 6SN7s is Andy Bowman of Vintage Tube Services - highly knowledgeable and honest. His Web pages don't always show what he currently has. I suggest calling him to discuss specific needs.

My 6SN7 experience is largely with Atma-Sphere and Berning amps and the A-S MP-1 preamp, a few years back. Excellent electronics.

GTBs weren't my first tube of choice, but the go-to names of that varietal that I remember are Sylvania green and yellow labels and RCA. They were among the easiest to find NOS. The GTBs I tried were from the 60s and 70s. The tended to be a bit warmish, with softer rounded transients and a bit weak on articulaion in the low bass - but they had rich midrange tonality. Resolution is okay but can't match other 6SN7s from earlier dates such black glass Ken-Rads and various VT-231 types from the 1940s and 50's. A grail tube is the 1952 Sylvania 6SN7GT. RCA grey glass are generally fine though a touch laid back. There are a ton of variations on construction for all of these and on some there are different names for the same tube. Most all will last a looong time.

Modern 6SN7s from the likes of Electro-Harmonix I considered 'back-up' tubes. There were also some Chinese variants (Shuguang) for a while that some people touted, but the ones I tried did not live up to their price and hype. They may still be around and their products different from what I knew. Sovteks? Meh.
Where it gets interesting with amps and preamps that take multiple 6SN7 drivers or otherwise is playing with combinations, blending. Strengths of various varietals can sometimes overcome weaknesses.

Threads here on WBF:

Some help on 6SN7 please

6sn7gtb
 

the sound of Tao

Well-Known Member
Jul 18, 2014
1,983
1,610
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#20
Where it gets interesting with amps and preamps that take multiple 6SN7 drivers or otherwise is playing with combinations, blending. Strengths of various varietals can sometimes overcome weaknesses.

Threads here on WBF:

Some help on 6SN7 please

6sn7gtb
Many thanks Tim, I’ll also explore that for sure. Looking forward to getting in some more and do some mix and match with them.
 
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