Shootout of Nos 6sn7 tubes

highstream

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Nov 16, 2013
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Thanks for the ideas. I read through this thread and some others for ideas. My first concern is a modest degree of warmth, then build the best of other qualities from there. I'm definitely not a "neutral" kind of guy. Currently, I've got Shuguang WE6SN7's, which are very good, and have what should be good a pair of CBS/Hytrons arriving tomorrow. The earlier pair of the latter I had were a bit better than the Shuguang, but had to be returned for noise and excessive microphonics. I've also been watching for a pair of Tung Sol 6F8G, which would need adapters. The dac that feeds the Supratek preamp is a Lampi Atlantic TRP with Tesla EL51's and a USAF 596 recti, both of which are excellent.
 

highstream

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Anyone here tried the 6F8G versions? I read that some are on the lush side, like the RCA and the Sylvania, while the Raytheon is maybe a bit warm, but can't find any comments in this regard about the older Tung-Sol version. I'm definitely not a fan of "neutral," preferring a bit of warmth, but not covered over euphonics either, like Mullard and RCA often are. Thanks,
 

analyzer

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May 20, 2016
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Last year I tried a pair of RCA VT-99 (military version of 6F8G). I bought a matched pair and two adaptors that I still have. My sensations are very very good, midrange and voices refined, good bass, powerful and slightly rounded.
Overall a pleasant tube, you can listen for hours, never fatiguing, nevertheless my preference goes already to Sylvanias VT-231 for extension in extreme bass and highs. Also the details are slightly superior and better placed with Sylvanias.
Maybe that 6F8G has a kind of old sound, not mellow but with a bit of warmth, some tube users will surely love this tube.
I used in the input section of my Hybrid power amplifier; Counterpoint NP-220 fully modified by Altavista audio, actually now for sale.
 

highstream

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Nov 16, 2013
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I’m open to other non 6F8G choices, such as Sylvania, but I want to make sure to end up with a modest degree of warmth/sweetness (not pleasant sounding, which I find boring). My taste is to be drawn in by the music, with details, staging, transparency, etc., background to my awareness. If the tone of the music doesn’t do it, the rest, however well done, doesn’t cut it for long for me. Interpreting discussions like this where different posters’ tastes relative to mine have to be deciphered, and trying to figure out whether or not the tubes being commented about have been sufficiently burned in, is difficult sometimes. Currently, I’m using a pair of Shuguang WE6SN7. They do well for me, but am looking to see if I can get a bit more out of that location within my tastes Thanks,
 
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DeadWax

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Apr 11, 2020
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Just read through this whole thread with great interest as I consider 6SN7 rolling in my new LM 805ia. Thanks for everyone's listening impressions. And thanks @the sound of Tao for pointing me towards this thread!
 
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highstream

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Came across this pair of Sylvania 6F8G-VT99 and noticed that they are different heights, which the seller confirms. I'm guessing that means different years. Anything to know about that -- or otherwise? Thanks,
 

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the sound of Tao

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Sitting here with a package of various 1940’s VT-231 pairs - a pair of Sylvanias, two different RCA grey glass pairs, 2 different pairs of a Kenrad clear glass and a pair of Raytheons... and a bottle of Whizz Bang Shiraz and I am rolling away... all different kinds of fantastic... loving the Kenrads completely, the pair of ‘46 Kenrad clear glass VT-231 had me at hello! Phenomenal. Mind blown... official :D
 
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DeadWax

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I recently picked up a pair of WWII era RCA 6sn7 VT-231's. I only paid $90 for the pair on USAM and they sound amazing in my LM805ia - beating out several much more expensive NOS and new production tubes by Psvane, Tung Sol, Sylvania, and CBS. Proving yet again that audio is all about synergy.
 
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the sound of Tao

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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.
I’m finding many of the same conclusions Thomas. I didn’t re-read this post before starting to go through listening with some of the same tubes that you list here but I just looked at this and it reflects what I’m also hearing.

DeadWax’s comment that it then comes down to synergistic matching of tubes to your system really struck a chord as I’m surprised at just how ideally the Ken-Rad VT-231s bring my system into a much more ideal balance. In another system it might be the Sylvanias that do it just right or even the RCA grey glass.

It helps to have a big budget in system building but the make or break factor is often in the fine tuning and it’s not always big ticket purchases that do it. It can also be the little moves.

The level of system (and therefore musical) rightness that came from getting the system balance even more on point (with my main system) by rolling in the Ken-Rads proved a surprisingly big (quantum) shift and a tipping point into essentially a higher level where there are no real sense of compromises in what I am hearing from them. But I’d imagine in different systems other choices would prove to be better. One thing is for sure, when proper rightness clicks in there’s no missing the outcome.

The music is usually pretty good in my system (as I suppose it should be after many years of working towards it) but last night the experience switched up quite a big gear again. I’ve been making a fair few (for me) big changes over the last two or three years but this smaller change was just as important. This thread prompted me to explore more with the 6SN7s and I’m so glad I did now. Thanks guys.
 
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DeadWax

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DeadWax’s comment that it then comes down to synergistic matching of tubes to your system really struck a chord as I’m surprised at just how ideally the Ken-Rad VT-231s bring my system into a much more ideal balance. In another system it might be the Sylvanias that do it just right or even the RCA grey glass.
It's interesting as there are various "layers of synergy" within a system. How the tubes interact with the speakers or the amp is one layer, but we also must consider how the tubes interact with one another. I'm using the RCA VT-231's as a compliment to a 1963 Mullard ECC35 in the 6SL7 socket. The Mullard provides the dynamic "weight", foundation, and extension to the sound while the RCA's give the music more air and sparkle. It's like combining cooking ingredients in a recipe. I'm sure with a different 6SL7 tube the RCA's wouldn't sound nearly as magical.
 
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adamaley

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Apr 15, 2016
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My favorite 6F8G is the Tung Sol BGRP. However, the National Union 6F8G has is warmer but still just as extended. Maybe not as revealing, but probably has the better midrange. It's a tube that's really creeping up to be my favorite. It's pretty affordable as well.
 

mtemur

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Mar 26, 2019
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Tungsol VT-231 smoked glass, black round plate, oval mica, copper posts is the one to get or Marconi B65
 

highstream

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Nov 16, 2013
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Tungsol VT-231 smoked glass, black round plate, oval mica, copper posts is the one to get or Marconi B65

On what basis? Doesn't it depend on one's sound tastes?
 

adamaley

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Apr 15, 2016
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Technically speaking the Tung-Sol VT-231/6F8G BGRP are up there as the best, IMO, however, my favorite recently has been the National Union 6F8G RP. Like @highstream suggests, it all depends on taste. Since every component of mine is tube-based and very sonically responsive to them, the best tube is one that complements the whole. For me, the National Union 6F8G round plates are more often than not copacetic to the whole vs. the TS.
 
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highstream

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Nov 16, 2013
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Someone just put up 6 NU-VT-99 or JAN-CNU on eBay that he claims (privately) were NOS and then briefly used in his amp. $54.95 each plus a little shipping from Denver and open to offer, which was accepted. I grabbed three. Looks like rest gone now, though there are two NOS individuals up for $39.99 each still there, one smoked glass and one clear glass "black T-plate." Do search on "National Union 6f8g tube," as they don't show up in HiFi Shark.
 
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adamaley

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Apr 15, 2016
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Minnetonka, MN
Be sure to grab the necessary 6F8G to 6SN7 adapters if you don't have them already. They're usually only available from overseas so order them ASAP. I it's not worth spending too much on them - these are my favorite so far:

https://www.ebay.pl/itm/154117283168
 

highstream

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Nov 16, 2013
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Thanks. Got mixed up between private and forum messages, but will add here that all 6 were round plates and I have adapters currently being used with a wonderful pair of Sylvania's. Look forward to the comparison. The eBay seller had tried them in his amp and claims they sounded fantastic, but maybe not to his taste.
 
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thomask

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Dec 9, 2018
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Some 6f8g tubes using adapter also give fuller sound than 6sn7.

6f8g tubes have good potential although 1578 Melz is still my favorite overall.



I had been comparing Sylavania, RCA, Raytheon, Tungsol, National Union and Zenith 6f8gs for the last two months in Schitt Freya +

But I will travel abroad to attend the wedding of my daughter and will be back to my home in Washington State late May.

Thus I wil be able to give comprehensive report on 6f8g tubes late June.
 
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Yoram Diamand

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Oct 1, 2020
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Hi my endgame 6sn7 is the Linlai Elite, it is airy and spacious but big, for Feliks audio Euforia
 

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