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vman
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Tube Rolling?

I have a Cayin A-50T tubed amp. I have really enjoyed it so far, and have spent some time reading reviews on-line. Many state that "once I replaced the tubes with xxxxx it sounded fantastic". I have also heard of rolling tubes.

So, is rolling tubes the same as replacing tubes? If so, is this just a matter of taste or are there really significant upgrades I can make here? I am new to this, but I think what I have sounds really good now - but I wouldn't mind experimenting.

Advice / tube recommendations?

Colnmary
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Re: Tube Rolling?

Yes, tube rolling is the same as replacing the tubes with different manufactures of the same type. I have replaced tubes in my CDP and pre amp with great sucess to my ears.

You don't list the tubes in your Cayin A-50T. But I see they have the following :-

Tubes: 4 x EL-34 Output Tubes, 2 x 12AU7, 2 x 12AX7 Input Tubes. The small signal tubes (12AU7 and 12AX7) are replaceable at a reasonable cost. Were they EH tubes?

vman
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Re: Tube Rolling?

Yes, the small tubes end in EH.

linden518
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Re: Tube Rolling?

Most likely, it will be your output tubes that make the most difference sonically. For EL34s, Winged Cs have a great tone & balance, and at around $80 a matched quad, not too pricy. They'll be a good first step upgrade. Then you might try Siemens EL34s, which I haven't tried yet but have heard great things about. And if you're ready to step up, NOS tubes like Mullards.

But try the Winged Cs first. You might not want to upgrade for a while. I have a quad of Winged C EL34s btw., which I am not using because I've decided to use 6L6GC tubes. Less than 20 hrs on them. I haven't decided whether I'd like to keep them or not, but if you're interested, let me know.

Monty
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Re: Tube Rolling?

I've owned that very amp and did a lot of tube rolling with it. I thought
it sounded rather strident and sharp with the factory output tubes. In fact,
so much so that I wouldn't have been able to live with it if the only option
I had was the factory output tubes. If you don't find it strident in your system
then disregard my opinion as I had one sample and it was in my system.

Anyway, if you do find it too sharp for your tastes, I found the best tube
compliment for my ears to be Ei 6CA7 fat bottle outputs, vintage Tung-Sol
12AU7 and the newer Tung-Sol ECC803S tubes.

Oh, and I didn't care one bit for the triode mode, so if you prefer that then
that's another reason to discount my suggestions.

I always try a 5751 in place of a 12AX7 and this was the first time that I
didn't actually prefer it. Apparently, Cayin had the good sense to keep their
gain circuity at a modest level and the 5751 ended up performing poorly in
comparison to the ECC803S.

You may or may not like the tube compliment that I liked best, but if you are
experiencing the stridency of this amp in factory form that I did, I can tell
you that it is absolutely correctable and was with the tubes mentioned above.
In particular, the Ei outputs. They added needed texture and richer harmonics
along with the vintage Tung-Sol 12AU7. The ECC803S kept the transient speed of
the amp while behaving far more neutral than the stock tubes.

It was certainly a beautiful hunk of machinery and nobody could argue with the
build quality and fit and finish. It made me realize just how much trouble the
American manufacturers are going to be in within just a few years if China starts
exporting products like this.

vman
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Re: Tube Rolling?

Yeah, there have been recordings that match your description - not all of them, some are fine - but I certainly know what you are talking about.

I auditioned a Cambridge 640C CD player and almost could not listen to it. The combination was very sharp.

I'll do some looking around based on your suggestion - thanks - btw, any preferences on where to buy on-line? Quick searches have yielded TubeDepot.com & theTubeStore.com - but I have no experience with tube vendors.

Monty
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Re: Tube Rolling?

I really like this guy
for the modern tube stuff. For vintage tubes, this
guy is a decent source. Keven Deal, at Upscale Audio snags some vintage stuff regularly
and also carries most of the popular audio tubes.

Mainly, vintage stuff is wherever you can find it. With modern tubes, I would simply
ensure they back their products and offer a no hassle refund or replacement policy.
If these guys actually subject their tubes to the testing rigors they claim to, then
this would be a good selling point. Properly testing tubes is a time consuming pain in
the ass. I'm not sure I believe most of the tube sellers really do that.

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