Tubes Tubes Tubes
Who doesn’t love vacuum tubes and old school vacuum tube amplifiers? Ok, there are people who prefer solid state amplifiers but even then it’s hard to deny you can take great pictures of vacuum tubes, and not only at night.
I’m a fan of tubes and I own / have owned a handful of tube amplifiers, both desktop as portable sized. The very first tube amplifier I bought years ago was the tiny Bravo Hybrid but it actually is somewhere in a box in the attic somewhere. Its sound (unmodded version) wasn’t the very best but it did get me hooked on buying tubes.
Some of the tube amps I still own are the LaFigaro 339, the BottleHead Crack, a Glenn2359 custom built 300B amp, a Leben CS300f, Alo Audio’s CDM, CypherLabs’ Trio, Alo’s Continental V5, the Little Bear B3, etc. The amplifier in the picture is a Woo Audio WA2 and it’s one of the amplifiers I regret having sold. It didn’t have the most tube warmth and smoothness but it was a wonderful looking and sounding amplifier. I still have the Woo Audio WA5 on my list to replace it one day.
The advantage tube amps have is that it is easy to roll tubes and change the sound signature of your amplifier. Yes, the sound of SS amps can be “changed” too but it’s not the same. At the same time you can spend as much or as little money on it as you want. Sure the “famous” NOS tubes can get really expensive but there are plenty of cheap and good sounding tubes available on the world wide web, even on Ebay. Before getting in to tubes I do however suggest reading up on them in general and about the type you’re thinking of replacing. If not you might overpay or even end up buying fake tubes, especially from Ebay. Head-Fi and several other audio fora have a great number of vacuum tube threads and if you’re not sure yourself you can always ask one of the experts there.
I love rolling tubes, listening to tubes, decrypting tube date and factory codes, looking for tubes on the web and in shops and even cleaning tubes. Over the last years I have collected hundreds of tubes (I haven’t even listened to) and while I’m trying to cut it down, I still find myself buying special ones that suddenly pop up somewhere. Compared to some of my friends and people I know however, my collection is minimalist but luckily it’s not a contest, it’s a work in progress.
Anyway, I can fully recommend getting “into tubes” if you have the time, interest, budget and most of all like tube sound. But be aware, it can get rather addictive 😉