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Inspire by Dennis Had Enjoying Vacuum Tube Audio

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  #5621  
Old 04-09-2020, 04:55 PM
Bombadil Bombadil is offline
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I've never tried a Sophia or Psvane 6SN7. Seems like a lot of money to find out how they sound. I still love my 1960s Westinghouse 6SN7GTB tall, black plate, copper rods. Have 4 of them. Set for life & beyond. Liked these better than any other NOS or new production I've tried, including Sylvania chrome domes, RCA red-base 5692, Tung-sol and a host of others.

My speakers best attribute is their huge, open soundstage and the Westinghouse were clearly the best in that arena.

I was lucky to even have tested them. I rounded up about 20 6SN7s from various sources and one just happened to be in the lot. I had not sought it out. Was comparing all of them over the course of a few weeks and when I popped it in and let it warm up, I played one of my demo cuts and immediately was wowed by it. As it was a used tube, there was no need for breaking it in.

I haven't used any other 6SN7 over the past 18 months.
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  #5622  
Old 04-10-2020, 09:58 AM
FloridaBoy FloridaBoy is offline
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Originally Posted by Comzee View Post
They must have a lot of variation in their tubes as it pertains to audio quality.
I owned their 274b mesh rectifier, worst rectifier I've ever tried (and if anybody owns one here, it's just a imo ymmv)

I also tried their "premium" 6sn7 (gold base, their cheaper 6sn7 versus the blue glass y'all are talking about). Again, one of the worst 6sn7 I've tried.

Reviews for their 300b/2a3 mesh always come in as bottom tier, much worse than cheaper JJ 2a3/300b.

With that said, I've read rave reviews about their extremely expensive Royal Princess 300b. I might have to pick up the blue 6sn7 to try, you guys really seem to like it. I just never touched Sophia again after my earlier experiences with them.
The gold base 6SN7 and 300B/2A3 tubes were made by TJ/Full Music. The owner passed away and Psvane bought their tooling. I have used them with no issues but I did not get them from Sophia. I bought them from DIY-Hi Fi in Hong Kong.

I don't know who is manufacturing the blue Sophia tubes.
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  #5623  
Old 04-10-2020, 10:17 AM
oldominion oldominion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comzee View Post
They must have a lot of variation in their tubes as it pertains to audio quality.
I owned their 274b mesh rectifier, worst rectifier I've ever tried (and if anybody owns one here, it's just a imo ymmv)

I also tried their "premium" 6sn7 (gold base, their cheaper 6sn7 versus the blue glass y'all are talking about). Again, one of the worst 6sn7 I've tried.

I might have to pick up the blue 6sn7 to try, you guys really seem to like it. I just never touched Sophia again after my earlier experiences with them.
The Sophia 6sn7's in my Inspire LP 3.1 preamp continue to settle in. They sound very good. Do they sound any better than my numerous NOS 6sn7's? I don't think so, at least not yet. Could I have saved some money and just stuck with my vintage? I think so. Also, I first ordered a pair of matched C grade from Sophia which had to be sent back. One of them was borked. I upgraded to B grade (for an extra 80 bucks, yikes) so, again, I'm mucho bucks into these new 6sn7's, which is probably coloring my perception of them. I want them to be the best I've ever heard and they aren't. Oh well.

Dennis shipped the preamp with some entirely bog standard Sylvania 6sn7gta with red print, from the late 70s/early 80s I'd guess, which remain some of my favorite 6sn7's.

I'm currently experimenting with my Sophia 274B (blue but NOT mesh plate) in the LP 3.1 with their Sophia 6sn7 brethren. Oddly, I guess, I have a Sylvania green-print chrome top 6sn7 in the driver stage of the preamp instead of a 6bx7 or 6sl7. I may play around with that today.

I'll say this for the Sophias: they are stable. I've had trouble with microphonic 6sn7's in my 3.1 recently (as I've detailed on these pages) and these are, in fact, very quiet. Which is nice.

In my Inspire FireBottle Universal SET I still have the Haltron 6v6 paired with a Sylvania 5u4g. I'm using the original Phillips 5691 driver tube that the amp shipped with, having never seen fit to futz around with it too much.

I'm not dissing Sophia but I do think their price points are off. I bought a Valve Art 274B from Tube Store for 40 bucks. It sounds great. As great as the Sophia 274B? Not sure, but it's not far off.

I'm intrigued by the Inspire 45 amp y'all keep writing about. Later today a friend is dropping off a 45 amp he's not using on my front porch...I've heard it many times and am excited to try it in my system...Will be interesting to hear if it can drive my Altec 604s, paired with the 3.1.
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  #5624  
Old 04-10-2020, 11:11 AM
FloridaBoy FloridaBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombadil View Post
I've never tried a Sophia or Psvane 6SN7. Seems like a lot of money to find out how they sound. I still love my 1960s Westinghouse 6SN7GTB tall, black plate, copper rods. Have 4 of them. Set for life & beyond. Liked these better than any other NOS or new production I've tried, including Sylvania chrome domes, RCA red-base 5692, Tung-sol and a host of others.

My speakers best attribute is their huge, open soundstage and the Westinghouse were clearly the best in that arena.

I was lucky to even have tested them. I rounded up about 20 6SN7s from various sources and one just happened to be in the lot. I had not sought it out. Was comparing all of them over the course of a few weeks and when I popped it in and let it warm up, I played one of my demo cuts and immediately was wowed by it. As it was a used tube, there was no need for breaking it in.

I haven't used any other 6SN7 over the past 18 months.
There are no absolutes in tubes.
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  #5625  
Old 04-10-2020, 11:44 AM
oldominion oldominion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaBoy View Post
There are no absolutes in tubes.
FloridaBoy nailed it. Every time I think, "HEY, this is by far the best combo of tubes I've ever heard! I'll never need another!", I give myself about three weeks and of course I'm back to rolling again.

The KT150/Sophia 274 combo is stunning in my Inspire. But when I threw the Haltrons in just for kicks I was reminded of that silky, slightly more euphonic presentation of a lower output tube...which makes me all the more interested to hear the 45 that should be arriving later this afternoon.
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  #5626  
Old 04-10-2020, 02:31 PM
Bombadil Bombadil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldominion View Post

I'm not dissing Sophia but I do think their price points are off. I bought a Valve Art 274B from Tube Store for 40 bucks. It sounds great. As great as the Sophia 274B? Not sure, but it's not far off.
My Inspire came with a Tube Store Preferred Series 274B, now selling at $40, was $35 last year. Dennis recommended it. I have found it to be quite good.

I do use other rectifiers, with my favorite being a new production Genalex GZ34, which I think is nothing more than a slightly upgraded, or selected pick, Sovtek. It does the job. Paid $35. My only complaint about it is that it is too small ... I like those big, impressive looking rectifiers!
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  #5627  
Old 04-10-2020, 03:18 PM
oldominion oldominion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bombadil View Post
My Inspire came with a Tube Store Preferred Series 274B, now selling at $40, was $35 last year. Dennis recommended it. I have found it to be quite good.

I do use other rectifiers, with my favorite being a new production Genalex GZ34, which I think is nothing more than a slightly upgraded, or selected pick, Sovtek. It does the job. Paid $35. My only complaint about it is that it is too small ... I like those big, impressive looking rectifiers!
Yes, my bad, that's the one I have, the Preferred Series. A great tube. And cheap.

Again, I'm pretty sensitive to "bang for buck" but found myself with a few extra dollars and wanted to try a new production 6sn7, so decided to shell out more than I would've liked for the Sophia 6sn7. Jury is still out. Sounds very good but I'm just not sure it's that much better than a number of others that I have...
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  #5628  
Old 04-11-2020, 06:28 AM
FloridaBoy FloridaBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldominion View Post
Yes, my bad, that's the one I have, the Preferred Series. A great tube. And cheap.

Again, I'm pretty sensitive to "bang for buck" but found myself with a few extra dollars and wanted to try a new production 6sn7, so decided to shell out more than I would've liked for the Sophia 6sn7. Jury is still out. Sounds very good but I'm just not sure it's that much better than a number of others that I have...
I ran the A grade Sophia Blue 6SN7 in my triode strapped amp with a LP27a preamp and a 6BX7. I have not tried any of their other blue tubes.
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  #5629  
Old 04-11-2020, 06:33 AM
FloridaBoy FloridaBoy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldominion View Post
FloridaBoy nailed it. Every time I think, "HEY, this is by far the best combo of tubes I've ever heard! I'll never need another!", I give myself about three weeks and of course I'm back to rolling again.

The KT150/Sophia 274 combo is stunning in my Inspire. But when I threw the Haltrons in just for kicks I was reminded of that silky, slightly more euphonic presentation of a lower output tube...which makes me all the more interested to hear the 45 that should be arriving later this afternoon.
Did you get the Haltron 6V6G's from Viva tubes? I think you will be smitten by the 45 amp.
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  #5630  
Old 04-11-2020, 10:18 AM
oldominion oldominion is offline
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Originally Posted by FloridaBoy View Post
Did you get the Haltron 6V6G's from Viva tubes? I think you will be smitten by the 45 amp.
I did. I like dealing with Viva Tubes. The base is loose on one of the tubes so I got a great deal. They ship fast and have replaced a couple of faulty tubes with no issues.

Spent all yesterday afternoon listening to my friend's custom built 45 amp with Emissions Lab mesh plate 45's, with the Inspire 3.1 preamp. Sounded...okay. They really cannot drive my Altec 604's which is kind of a bummer. They were really working hard to get the 604's woofers moving, which has been my experience with a lot of flea watt amps on these Altecs. Kind of a shrill high end, okay midrange, loose and weak bass. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He also loaned me a Waamamp 45/2a3 amp, which I'm currently listening to with the Emission 45's. Even with smaller output iron and altogether "cheaper" parts--no fancy caps, etc., unlike the other amp--it sounds...better than the "fancy" amp.

There are some vintage Cunningham globe 45's here, but they really pooped out with the Altecs. My sense is that with other speakers this amp and these tubes would be magical but as I've mentioned, the 604's are some finicky speakers.

It's taken a lot of time and money to dial the Inspire combo in to where I feel like I'm getting the best out of the 604's, but I'm very, very happy with where I am with the Inspire stuff and the ALtecs.

May I go ahead and assume that nothing in Dennis's 45 design would be much different from the above 45 amps? FWIW, I think the custom amp is based on a Bottlehead circuit.
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