Tubes for VTL it85

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
For those of you who are familiar with this component and/or VTL gear in general, can you kindly weigh-in on which tubes you prefer. My new-to-me second-generation (circa 2016) integrated came with strong Genalex KT77's and weak JJ small signal tubes. I am eager to replace the JJ's. Speakers are Guarneri Homage and I listen at moderate SPL's .
Thanks in advance.
Paolo
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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135
Puget Sound
ANYBODY? I'm especially interested in recs for 12AT7's. I replaced the tired JJ's with new production Mullards and I'm liking what I'm hearing. But there are the NOS Mullards on my radar.........
 

alexx

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2010
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ANYBODY? I'm especially interested in recs for 12AT7's. I replaced the tired JJ's with new production Mullards and I'm liking what I'm hearing. But there are the NOS Mullards on my radar.........

Hi, I am also using VTL (750).

Perhaps you contact Albert Porter.
He once recommended in a forum for his VTL-750: "The 12AT7 makes a lot of difference, favorites are Amperex from the early 1960s, pinch waist Phillips and Telefunken diamond bottom."

User microstrip once replied to Albert Porter in a forum : "Albert, I am using ... ... Mullard or Telefunken 12AT7 input tubes. The Mullard has a fuller sound, the Telefunken is more detailed and perhaps has better bass ..."

Alex
 
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paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Hi Alex,
Thanks very much for your post. So far, with maybe 30 hours on them, the new production Mullard 12AT7 and 12AU7's are very, very nice. I continue to do research, mostly curious about old production Mullard 12AT7 and the Mullard CV4024's. Upscale Audio, and others seem to be quite enamored with the CV4024's. The prices of the new production Mullards are excellent and I think an excellent buy. Like so many tubeaholics, I've had mixed results with NOS or ANOS.
 

Ovenmitt

Well-Known Member
Nov 21, 2017
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Just my personal experience, but I have had some REAL problems with Keven Deal and Upscale Audio. On the other side of that coin, I highly recommend Brent Jesse as a great source for audio tubes - honest, fair and he guarantees his tubes. He also has a really good selection and offers good advice.

I used to own one of those little VTL’s…. A great integrated and I wish I’d never sold it. It really comes down to your budget. You can spend more on tubes than the amp would resale for if you really wanted to go all out. As a middle ground, I had great success with NOS Mullard brown base el34’s and smooth plate telefunken‘s for the drivers….. just my opinion, but NOS European almost always outperforms the new current production stuff.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Thanks Ovenmitt. I've only bought a few tubes from Upscale and so far, so good. I have dealt with Brent and Andy Bouman. (sp?) and have been pleased. I'll contact Brent and see what he suggests. I got the VTL in hopes of being able to replace my vintage tube separates, which while they sound great, they are hot, heavy, and homely. And require a heck of a lot more tubes than the VTL.

Once I find the sweet spot with tubes, I'll be able to decide. So far, I'm liking the the VTL very much. Already with more hours on 'em, the new production Mullards are well worth the relatively modest cost.
 
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paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Well, after about 60 hours now on the new production small signal Mullards I'm very happy to report that the amp has undergone a dramatic improvement. I may experiment with a quad of new production Mullard EL34 eventually but for now I am extremely pleased.

One other thing, unlike my vintage tube separates, the VTL integrated seems more "sensitive" to cables. I found that a DIY pair of Canare speaker 4s11 cables (I biwire my Guarneri Homage) and interconnects made from Belden microphone wire, were also improvements over what I was initially using, which shall go nameless. I don't want to disparage anybody's products here. The VTL now sounds so good I may very well finally part with my vintage tube gear. (sigh) :)
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Just replaced the Kt77's that came with the amp. Although they measured "good" on my rudimentary Jackson, clearly they were well past their prime. I should have known better than to figure the tubes in the amp as I got it were actually ok.

The new production Mullard El34 are now in the amp, and OH. MY. GOODNESS! what an improvement. Music now sounds sweet and creamy. And thankfully, I now understand my early impressions of the amp were absolutely wrong due to the tired or simply bad tubes that were in the unit when I received it. The seller assured me that all the tubes were fine. That proved to be utter nonsense.

But the ultimate winner is yours truly, because with a modest outlay of cash for a handful of tubes, I''ve been able to improve the sound of this integrated enormously.

In short, it's a keeper. This is an amp I could grow even older with. :)
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
More good news. Today I replaced the pair of vintage GE12Au7 with strong NOS RCA and I must say, the improvement in SQ is a very pleasant surprise. As in "WOW!"

Since the VTL-IT85 is the first VTL component I''ve heard/owned, I suspect that the component is rather particular about what tubes it is tasked with using.

I've used tube components for decades, but until now have not heard such a dramatic transformation. Lest my comments/ observations are dismissed as hyperbole, then judge as you will. For me, this is sonic reality. And as further confirmation, my wife, with the golden ears, was moved to comment from an adjacent room as to how much sweeter the music was sounding.

As big of a PITA tube gear can/might be, I keep at it, for decades, because I find valves fascinating on a number of levels.

I use the VTL IT-85 as backup for my vintage valve separates, but if the VTL were my only amp I'd be fine with that. It's more "forward" and a bit more brash than my vintage tube gear. So what? It's simply a different kind of presentation which can be a refreshing change.

I'm trying to source proper vintage Mullards for small signal tubes and my give the Shuguang EL34 tubes a try.

Bottom line, with the tube upgrades I've done, the more I listen to the VTL, the more captivating it becomes. I humbly submit that Luke knows his shi".
 
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paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Update and I hope this helps some other folks.
Further adventures in the realm of the "tube roll." As of this morning, I'd been running new production Mullard EL34s and 12AT7's in the amp. Plus a pair of NOS clear top RCA 12AU7's.

This afternoon I removed the Mullard 12AT's and replaced them with NOS military Mullards, circa 1980's I believe. After a couple of hours, the VTL now sounds smoother and sweeter. I will have a pair of ANOS Mullard 12AU7's soon and am eager to hear what they'll do. I'm optimistic that the amp will sweeten up even more. If so, I suspect it will be a keeper, certainly good enough as backup for my vintage tube separates. I shall see. My VTL journey has been educational and fun.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Another update:

I changed the speaker cables from Virtue (no longer in production) to DIY Canare 4211. Better. Connected the VTL to a dedicated power outlet, using a long heavy-duty extension cord with the final leg to the VTL a Supra power cord. Better. Much better overall.

The NOS Mullard 12AT7's are burning in. At this point I'm very pleasantly surprised at how much better the It85 sounds now than when I got it, a little over one month ago. It truly has been transformed in every good way. The previous owner never biased the output tubes, nor was he aware that they were so old, and the original JJ 12AT7's were weak, and more.

With a little legwork, experimentation, and a modest investment in new tubes, this amp has been transformed, to my ears and the golden ears of my wife, into a major component which is much, much, better. I suspect that Luke Manley would approve.

I'm awaiting a pair of ANOS Mullard 12AU7's and am eager to put them to the test. More later.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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Puget Sound
Today I replaced the clear top RCA 12AU7's with strong ANOS Mullards. Another very nice improvement in terms of smoothness and dare I say, "sweetness?" I've never owned a component which has been as "sensitive" and/or responsive to changes in cords, IC/s, etc. ano of course in this case, tubes. If NOS Mullard EL34 or similar weren't so costly I'd try those next. Maybe a quad of JJEL34's are worth a go. One tube vendor claimed that the JJ's are a bit "darker" and perhaps mellower than the new production Mullard EL34's I'm running.. The very good news is that the amp sounds considerably better than when I first added it to my system. At this point I'm going to put another 100 or so hours on it and re-evaluate then.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
112
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Puget Sound
This amp keeps getting better and better with more hours of playtime on the new production, NOS, and anos tubes. I have no idea how long the various tubes take to break in, but I can unequivocally say that the amp has undergone quite a pleasant transformation since I first hooked it up the third week of January of this year.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
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135
Puget Sound
I'm posting yet another observation in the hope that it might be helpful to others.

I've been rolling small signal tubes into the amp with successful and "interesting" results. Today I inserted a DSPeaker AntiMode 2.0 device into my system. I created a custom EQ profile that takes the frequencies from 4K to 6K (aka "presence") down 6 dB..

Now some of you may say "OH NO!" However, to my ears, the VTL now sounds sweeter and more agreeable.
I'd say that the listenability of this amp has improved considerably. I suspect that VTL along with other contemporary manufacturers of tube electronics has voiced their gear to be more "modern" which to me translates to more analytical and not necessarily for the better. I prefer my music on the sweet side.
 

paolo

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
112
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135
Puget Sound
The VTL is a keeper. I've decided to sell my vintage tube separates. I've learned a great deal over the past few weeks about tubes, even though I've had decades of experience with them, the kind of musical reproduction I enjoy, synergy, speaker cabless, and expectations. I'll end my comments in this thread by simply saying that I strongly believe that Luke Manley sure knows what he's doing. Initially I was a bit averse to the more modern sound of the VTL but I've come to like it very much.
 
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tdotson41

Member
Jan 14, 2020
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Can someone give me a name of reputable place where I can get tubes for my VTL S-400 amp and 7.5 lll preamp. VTL is only selling a limited amount of tubes due to limited supply. Quite frankly I’ve been waiting for Bea to send me tubes for my preamps since February. Any help would be much appreciated.
 

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