Audio Al

Valve suppliers any recommendations ?

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Posted (edited)

Hello people :D

Can anyone recommend a reliable and affordable valve amp supplier please 

Looking for either 6550, KT90 maybe Kt88s 

I may need 16 :o

Edited by Audio Al

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Watford Valves? https://www.watfordvalves.com/  has to be a good starting point.  

Langrex have been in the business a long time https://www.langrex.co.uk/

https://web211.secure-secure.co.uk/tube-and-valve-electronics.co.uk/default2.asp

https://brimaruk.com/valves/triodes/brimar-ecc83/  great value 

Always worth a look on ebay as well 

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Moderator

You are not are you????? You rascal???

Watford Valve, HotRox, Billington and Langrex. HotRox and Watford are selling said valves for a little over £30 each. Not as though I looked this morning of course...:nup:

  • Haha 2

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26 minutes ago, Audio Al said:

Hello people :D

Can anyone recommend a reliable and affordable valve amp supplier please 

Looking for either 6550, KT90 maybe Kt88s 

I may need 16 :o

Are you really looking for 16 valve amps :doh:  :D

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)

A vote for Billington and Hotrox as well as buying direct from China via eBay. 

Edited by Fourlegs

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, mr.me said:

Are you really looking for 16 valve amps :doh:  :D

My Second Audios had 8 valves per power amp = 16 total. 

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19 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

buying direct from China via eBay.

do you have a preferred seller (link).

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Super Wammer
2 minutes ago, dave said:

do you have a preferred seller (link).

I have had very good and reliable service from a few. I need to be at my desk top computer though so will post info tomorrow. 

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Posted (edited)

You rang m'lord?

I'm a great fan of the JJ Gold Pins as you know, but far less so their power tubes. Different ballgame entirely.

The actual amplifier and circuit will make way more difference than the valves here. That said, noting the 'I may need 16' comment, it's pretty clear that what we are talking about is a well-known US manufacturer. Reliability is king when it comes to power valves and I would definitely avoid any of the 'latest wonder tube' stuff and just stick to known favourites. Frankly, the difference between power valves is usually not as great as between small signal stuff.

The amp in question (as do AFAIK all from that manufacturer) doesn't run power valves particularly hard and it can run apparently (I don't know the specific model, as it's quite rare) 6550s, KT88s or KT90s. The biggest sonic differences are going to be between these types, rather than between different flavours. I've had various amps that use KT88s, including Jadis and Conrad Johnson, and I still have a pair of KT88 monoblocks that come out to play on occasion. My comments are based on these of course, so YMMV.

Avoid supposed NOS and such like the plague. The only 'real' ones that are worthwhile are things like the original Gold Lions, GECs, Tung Sols, etc. but decent ones will require a second mortgage and there are numerous fakes around. Anyway, for 16 you can pretty much forget NOS. There are a few 'serious' KT88s, such as the EAT and KR, but there have been issues with reliability (though later ones are supposedly robust). They're also stupid money. Frankly, a £200 KT88 doesn't sound £160 better than a £40 KT88. Not by a mile.

As a (very) rough guide, 6550s tend to be slightly more of the 'valve' sound compared with KT88s and depending on the circuit, they may be a little better in the mids. KT88s IME have a little bit more sparkle and bass, but it very much depends on the particular amp. Either way, don't expect night and day differences.

If it was my money, I'd be tempted to dig a little deeper into the funds and go for the reissue Gold Lion KT88s. They won't completely break the bank, they have a good record for reliability and they sound fine. I used them in the Conrad Johnson and the Jadis. For 6550s, the Svetlana 'winged C' are generally considered top dog, but the reissue Tung Sols aren't far behind at all and they're a whole heap less money. Gold Lion KT88s are under £40 a go and the Tung Sol 6550s about £35. You can usually get a bit of a deal if you're buying four matched, never mind 16! The Winged C are a lot more. There are some people advertising 'Svetlala 6550s' comparatively cheaply, but these are NOT the Winged C type.

Incidentally, I use Gold Lion 88s in my monos. I do have a set of 1960s GECs, but they're now considered retirement fund, rather than active duty. Do they sound better? Yes. But not that much better.

Edited by rabski
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Sorry, I forgot about actual sellers :D

All the usual ones have been mentioned already. Pick the valve, then check for prices. Frequently, Watford come out on top, but not always.

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Ditto the re-issue Gold Lions. As for supplier, the Brimar sell at what I recall to be attractive prices but more importantly rigorously tested. Not UK made of course but the quality control appeals. I was going to link the website but it seems to be down at the moment. As for the other suppliers mentioned I've used all (except ebay/China) with no problems over many years. Hot Rox is very close to me, sound people.

Good luck, that's a lot of valves !

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Strangely, it would seem that quite a few of us have been checking the price of these valves.... I wonder who will succumb first

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My favourite retailer is Karltone. UK based, their range is smaller but they advertise that they test and measure each valve. Service is excellent.

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Over the many years that I had many different valves, I absolutely concur with above comment that most sound differences arise from the amp, not the tube.

I've tried most of the UK suppliers with mixed results. I ended up using Tube Amp Doctor for 4+ years; I would certainly recommend them. If it's relevant to your amp, then their testing and matching is excellent. This may well suit you:

https://www.tubeampdoctor.com/en/shop_Other_brands_OEM_Tubes_Powertubes_Pentodes/KT88_STR_TAD_575

If this is for that pair of amps, then if you can accommodate them and understand that valve amps can require the occasional fettle, then just buy them. I had a pal with these, playing into some large Spendors. Epic sound. Frustratingly, I no longer have the space or physical strength for these, otherwise they'd already be mine.

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