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  #151  
Old 01-28-2018, 09:30 PM
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Because of a system reconfiguration related to turntable issues, the Aragon 47k phono preamp is being removed from the system, and my TT will go into the C2300 directly. Tonight I completed the first stage of that, as I have disconnected the Aragon and re-tubed the 2300. I've re-installed the Telefunken (JJ) Black Diamond tubes in the line section that were there before and put a second, unused pair in the MM phono section; a new pair of regular JJ ECC83s tubes is in the MC section, so now the original tubes are all removed from the preamp. I chose the BDs because I remembered liking them and thinking I could live with them; they were removed after about 43 hours or so because some bright recordings were harder to take, compared to the warmer JJ ECC803s High Performance Gold Pin tubes.

I don't know if the line stage BDs have to break in again or not, but in a small sample (about an hour) the BDs are a bit cleaner-sounding, and I noticed a few details here and there I don't recall with the JJs. On a track from my usual Yes test DVD, Steve Howe's guitar was more prominent in the mix, for example. It will be interesting to see how this goes, as this time there are Transparent ICs and PCs in the system that weren't there the first go-round. When there's time I'll get around to playing some LPs.
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  #152  
Old 02-06-2018, 07:47 AM
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It's a small sample, but Sunday I was in the mood for Deep Purple, and used that to try out, for the first time, the new set up with my VPI going directly to the C2300 with the Black Diamond tubes in the phono stage. Unlike those in the line stage, these were unused. But it's been so long since the line stage tubes were in there, maybe they need break-in again?

First, Burn, from the album of the same name. This is a high-energy track; even more so, if you've ever seen the California Jam version. In fact, why not see it here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MLg...=RD8MLgxhqWLHo

It's not the best recording, not that dynamic, and I'm thinking I need to crank the volume a bit more to compensate. But what it sounded like was a bit cleaner sound compared to my previous setup (the Aragon 47k phono preamp and JJ ECC803s Gold Pin tubes in the 2300's line section). Then Machine Head, a better recording with improved dynamics. Much better. Again, clean and more open than before. I enjoyed it! Smoke on the Water was its usual bad self, and Lazy was notable as well.

A striking (to me) feature of all this, including the classical and jazz CDs played prior to the LPs, is that instruments are sounding more like themselves. Sound overall is more open; this could be due to the Black Diamonds being less warm than the JJs before them, I guess, but there's decay I don't remember hearing; cymbals and vibes on the Modern Jazz Quartet box set from Mosaic sounded quite authentic, and I like it. The one hint of potential difficulty was when I played one of my go-to CDs For God and Country, which is a organ/brass/percussion rendition of various Christian hymns. On some of those the brass bit pretty hard, giving an indication that bright recordings will be a challenge; that was the reason I went back to the JJs before. We'll see how that goes when I get around to brighter recordings. For now, the BDs will stay. Overall, I get an improved sense of musicians playing together.
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VPI, Grado, SME, Gingko turntable setup; Pioneer Elite LD, BDP, TV; Magnum Dynalab tuner; Day-Sequerra antenna; Oppo backup BDP; MIT S-video cable; Pangea HDMI cables; DVDO video processor; McIntosh CD, preamp, power amps; Gold Lion preamp tubes; Kimber, Transparent IC/SC, IC; Mirage speakers; PS Audio, Transparent, Shunyata PCs; Audio Additives RCA caps; Furman power conditioning; Sanus: racks

Last edited by prepress; 02-06-2018 at 02:16 PM.
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  #153  
Old 02-17-2018, 07:31 AM
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Last night I was watching some DVD clips and realized something I may have reported before. I was watching Jeff Beck Rock 'n' Roll Party and began paying attention to the bass. There were times the acoustic bass didn't seem to be as prominent or full with the Black Diamonds as with the JJ High Performance Gold Pins previously, but it didn't take long to get past that and enjoy the music. I recalled that when I attend the Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts, the acoustic bass is barely audible in the mix of instruments but that doesn't detract from the music. Then I recalled the description of the JJ tubes from Tube Depot's website, quoted in post 131 of this thread, which says the JJs have a forward-sounding bass. That may be the difference here. With the switch to an electric bass, the bass is more prominent, of course, but perhaps not quite what I hear with the JJs. I think what I hear isn't more bass, but louder bass in such cases.

However, put on a basher like the bass drum of "Fanfare for the Common Man" by the Atlanta Symphony and the weight and impact of the drum seems equal to the JJs. And in all cases the BDs have a more open top, and instruments sound more "live" than with the JJs (not to say the JJs sound bad; they don't). I noticed that with the Jeff Beck DVD most definitely. And I heard Jason Rebello's piano better on "Rockin' is Our Business."

So the BDs will stay in my C2300 longer. I did have a small tweak to my thoughts last night that I might consider putting the JJs back in, but that died down after listening further. This is a different presentation, that's all, and I am learning to live with it going forward. I still have the JJs if I want to reverse course, so no rush or worries.
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  #154  
Old 02-17-2018, 12:39 PM
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Charles.......Thanks for the update on using the Black Diamond's versus the standard JJ tubes. From what you describe it sounds like the Black Diamond tube may be a more neutral sounding tube than the JJ's.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
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  #155  
Old 02-19-2018, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdandy View Post
Charles.......Thanks for the update on using the Black Diamond's versus the standard JJ tubes. From what you describe it sounds like the Black Diamond tube may be a more neutral sounding tube than the JJ's.
You may be right. The JJ High Performance Gold Pins are warmer, undeniably. But as I was listening to Three Dog Night last evening, it occurred to me that the mixing and engineering of the various recordings play into this as well. I noted that, except for the more open sound, I could have said I was still listening to the JJs rather than the Black Diamonds. The bottom was just as strong and impactful, perhaps just as prominent, whereas on the Jeff Beck DVD I played previously the bottom seemed lighter in spots, as if it receded into the background or something; that doesn't carry over to the Three Dog Night CD. DVDs and CD are mastered differently, I think, so that could be another consideration. Also the tracks I played from The Essential Heart kicked just as much butt with the BDs as with the JJs on the low end, but again, the mix sounds different with the top end seeming to be more prominent than with the JJs, such as guitars sounding more out front or distinct in the mix.

Maybe I'm hearing all these things at once, meaning the difference in tubes and in how recordings vary in their engineering and mixes? The BD's less warm character pulls the upper frequencies away from the bottom ones some, to make a more balanced offering. Or something like that. It may be why the acoustic guitars from the Heart CD sounded so much like the real thing. With that, I'm also hearing these recordings on a relatively new SACD player, another factor; the MCD500 is different from the MCD301 it replaced.
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  #156  
Old 05-22-2018, 04:56 PM
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Taking advantage of a sale at Tube Depot last week, I ordered one of their t-shirts and a pair of Telefunken Black Diamond tubes for back-up. To my mild surprise, the Black Diamonds are back-ordered. I guess Tube Depot is doing okay with them. I like them certainly, and a bit more, perhaps, since the MCD500 hit my shelf. I haven't spent much time with my turntable, but I hope to change that at some point. IT might be really nice to see how the Black Diamonds and the C2300's phono section work together over extended listening with familiar LPs.
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VPI, Grado, SME, Gingko turntable setup; Pioneer Elite LD, BDP, TV; Magnum Dynalab tuner; Day-Sequerra antenna; Oppo backup BDP; MIT S-video cable; Pangea HDMI cables; DVDO video processor; McIntosh CD, preamp, power amps; Gold Lion preamp tubes; Kimber, Transparent IC/SC, IC; Mirage speakers; PS Audio, Transparent, Shunyata PCs; Audio Additives RCA caps; Furman power conditioning; Sanus: racks
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  #157  
Old 05-28-2018, 08:34 PM
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A bit late, but for any who are interested, Tube Depot has a NOS sale on. It ends at noon tomorrow, CST (maybe that should be CDT?).
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  #158  
Old 07-11-2018, 05:44 AM
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Finally, the new pair of Black Diamonds are on their way. These will serve as a back-up pair should I need them.

And, I have decided to put all my speaker cables on the 4-ohm tap of my 501s; a custom-terminated pair of Kimber 12TC was ordered to facilitate that. Until now, the bass was on the 2-ohm tap, mids/highs on the 4-ohm tap. I will write something if the new sound leads me to re-evaluate any of the tubes I tried before; even though I've pretty much settled on the Black Diamonds, I won't rule out revisiting any of the other tubes completely.
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  #159  
Old 10-13-2018, 12:07 PM
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I did move my speaker cables to the 4-ohm taps on my MC501s as threatened, and it has been great! It's as though I upgraded a component almost. I did replace one pair of my banana-terminated Kimber 12TC with one having spade terminations to accomplish this, however.

The lower frequency sound has filled in without affecting the highs in any discernible (to me) way. The sound is fuller, the bottom has good weight, and I'm pleased. I even hear more detail in the lower frequencies than before in some material. With that, the idea to revisit the other tubes I have here has arisen again. I've started going back to read what I said in previous posts about other tubes I tried before the Black Diamonds I use now, trying to gain some insight on whether to leave things alone or not. What this tube experimenting has been about is getting a sound I liked, not the most "accurate" one as such. I have six tube varieties here, but will not go though all six, that's unnecessary in my view.

Meantime, while I review previous comments, both mine and others', what is it about the Gold Lion 12AX7 tubes that make them so popular in particular? I did make comments about them having a more balanced sound frequency-wise in my previous setup, but welcome other opinions, since others will have different ears and systems. The main differences in my system now are the power cord changes, the pre/power interconnects, and running the speakers off the same 501 tap. It's possible a different result will come.
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  #160  
Old 10-13-2018, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prepress View Post
Meantime, while I review previous comments, both mine and others', what is it about the Gold Lion 12AX7 tubes that make them so popular in particular? I did make comments about them having a more balanced sound frequency-wise in my previous setup, but welcome other opinions, since others will have different ears and systems.
Charles.......I have experimented with various small tube gold pin Gold Lion tubes (12AX7, 12AT7, 12AU7) in a number of different McIntosh amplifiers and preamplifiers for the past eight years. I have compared their performance to Tung-Sol, Philips, Mullard NOS and reissue, Telefunken, and Siemens. All of the different tubes have been delightful although each bears a personality, and that includes Gold Lion tubes. What I have found with the Gold Lion tubes is a particular performance level that contradicts its price point. In fact, at a typical price of less than $39.00 per tube, the Gold Lions offer a well balanced frequency response from bottom to top, as well as excellent signal to noise level, i.e. very quiet when compared to others. The Gold Lion manufacturing standards are high, which equates to longevity. When you consider a $60.00 to $150.00 or higher price range per tube for other premium tubes, often NOS if available, then compare their performance to the Gold Lion tubes it becomes apparent just how good the price to performance ratio is for the Gold Lion tubes. I have found that the Gold Lion ECC83/B759/12AX7 and ECC81/B739/12AT7 tubes approach the same high performance standards and low noise levels of their Telefunken counterparts without having to pay upwards of $200.00 per tube for the very scarce NOS Telefunken. In my opinion, this is the reason Gold Lion tubes are widely embraced by audiophiles. They sound wonderful, are quiet, readily available, reliable, and their cost is reasonable.
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STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Sonos Connect, PurePower 2000, Stillpoints, Furutech Flux 50, Michell Gyro SE, Michell HR Power Supply, SME 309, Ortofon Cadenza Black, Wireworld, Sonus faber Amati Anniversario
LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC452, MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Micro Seiki DD40, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Nakamichi BX-300, Sony 60ES DAT, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Sonos Connect, Stillpoints, Wireworld, Kimber, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113
VINTAGE - McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, Sony DTC-59ES DAT, McIntosh 4300V, JBL 4312A

Last edited by jdandy; 10-13-2018 at 01:17 PM.
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