Let's talk tubes in general

tubes more than tube amps. like what tubes are known for what sound profile, etc. can mention amps that they really play well with too. also share where you can buy amps for fair prices and get trustworthy product.

I’ll try to keep this post updated as details / comments are shared :slight_smile:

In Canada I have found:
The Tube Store
The tubedepot
On CAM there is a pretty good tube section under accessories

as an example of what I’m talking about, take Watford Valves in the UK. if you look up some tube amps, it has recommended tubes for them. they suggest, for the Vali 2, the Philips ECC88, then something called the ECC88 Tesla and then the 6BQ7A, with a kit having two of those from different brands.

If you are looking at tubes for certain amps, you just research the correct tube and it’s equivalents. Past that, just read tube rolling threads on Head-Fi or SBAF.

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This site has discussion on the “sound” of various NOS tubes, I have never actually purchased from them.

Tubes however sound different in different circuits, so you really can’t separate the tube from the amp too much, I’ve have the best luck getting other peoples opinions for the amp/tube in question, Head-fi generally has more posts in a tube rolling thread for an amp than most other places.
Where a tube was manufactured and the time period in which it was manufactured has more impact than the brand name on the tube.

I have bought from
Viva Tubes
Upscale Audio
Various EBay Sellers


I want to be lazy and just get info that lets me choose from general recommendations and stuff. simple annecdotal details are usually enough for a lot of things…especially when I suffer from information overload, which I would cause tubes are a nasty rabbit hole with numbers, and I’m dyslexic (well, for numbers it’s actually called dyscalculia, but literally nobody uses the word)

I find that most of the recommendations are too specific and that when I go to sites to buy, the descriptions are not that specific.

I will read the whole LP tube rolling thread and probably not get a single useful recommendation. That is because either the tube will not be available to me or the tube will be stupid expensive or it will break down to “we all hear differently”. That is why I have refrained from tube rolling to this point.

With the LP I just might bite the bullet, buy two pairs of medium priced tubes and hope for something amazing.


while this thread is for tube amps in general, I’m curious to know what could make my Vali 2 hybrid sound more OTL…warmer.

that said, what is meant for that one called the ECC88 Tesla. what does Tesla mean / do vs the plain ECC88?

Tesla is a manufacturer, originally at least based in the Soviet Union.

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My general rule on tube rolling is find a reasonably priced tube recommended by a few people and just go with it.
You really can’t A/B tubes unless you have 2 amps, differences are often obvious but subtle, your often trading things off, and new most often sounds better. Even when you later swap back to a tube you’d previously liked less.
Generally NOS are better than new production, you can generalize about regions and time periods, but it’s big bottomless pit of expenditure if you want to find the one you like the best for you.


That was my issue with the Vali 2. It just sounded like a very clean SS amp. And that was with three tubes. And with an amp that cheap I was not going to spend $200.00 on tubes, which you can do Easily.


what does NOS mean?

@ShaneD - the only tube I could read was the original that it came with. the other two are so worn that I can just make the brand out, but no other detail about what model, etc it could be.

also, what enhancements can tube rolling provide? I know they can make something warmer, one of the things I’m after, but I’ve read how they can make the soundstage wider as well. what else? can tubes aid in separation or imaging?

odd that they put Tesla after the #, rather than in front. I would have taken that to mean the manufacturer then, LoL!

I keep hearing that tubes can make a noticeable difference. I tried tube rolling in my Loxjie P20 and Vali 2 and never noticed any huge upgrade. A slight difference in sound, but that’s about it.

yeh…makes me wonder if that is what you get moreso with an OTL than hybrid.

That was what I always wondered. I will try it down the road with my full tube amp, but am tempted to try it with my FOURTH hybrid amp.
Why yes, I am a glutton for punishment. :grin:

fourth hybrid? what did you get?

NOS is new old stock, basically a tube that was built a long time ago but never used, though it get’s used to describe lightly used old tubes as well.

Tubes can change a lot of the sound, for example I think the NOS Ei tubes I swapped to in my Tuba, have better bass, a richer midrange and slightly better staging than the New production Mullard tubes it ships with.
But rolling can’t fix limitations in the other components in the amp or it’s design, rolling a thousand dollar tube into a $300 amp is never worth it.


Yes this, personally I would only spend 15-25% of the cost of the amp on tubes, as otherwise imo you could just sell the amp and get a better preforming one


I would agree with that M0N. but you do get your weirdo’s that like to drop a $5000 speaker system into a $600 rust bucket of a car :wink:

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