Tube brands to listen out for

Several years back, I was gifted by my generous older brother with a used Convergent Audio Technology SL-1 Reference tube amp. I’ve had the tubes replaced once about 5 years ago, but now that I’m doing more and more serious listening, I think it might be a good idea to replace them. There are many places to buy tubes, but I haven’t read a lot of reviews or general advice on what BRANDS to look for and why. My budget is what you might call flexible, but I probably wouldn’t spend the $60 per tube I’ve seen on some sites. Of course, having a tube pre-amp means I’m looking for warmth, natural sound - listen to a lot of jazz, acoustic music, classical. Any suggestions?

I have no experience with this preamp but I have been listening to tube amps and preamps and other devices for over thirty years. While tubes sound differently in different circuits and components, there are some brands that have a certain “house sound” and the one that I most often gravitate towards is Amperex, those that are made in Holland. Generalizing I would say they have a body to the sound with some warmth, but not obscuring detail in any significant way. I listen mostly to jazz, some classical and Brazilian music.

Hey, thanks for the recommendations. I’ll look for them. Sounds like our listening habits are similar, so that helps a lot.

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Great preamp w/ killer phono stage

So many great tubes for the CAT Amprex Holland, Mullard for a bit more warmth - check with Brent Jessie, he’ll get you the right stuff! I’m a Siemens fan but never tried the 6922 but I can’t imagine a well sourced set would sound anything but wonderful

More analog or digital? Speakers, amps?



'nuff said.


Guess I could’ve/should’ve threw the link up :slightly_smiling_face:
Brent’s got some tubes under your budget


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Ken Stevens also has a very good idea on what tubes he thinks sound right in his products, just say’n

A grab fro a 1992 Stereophile article on CAT

Stevens is obsessed with the sonic performances of the tubes used in the SL-1. He firmly believes that the entire sonic character of the product can change dramatically with different tubes. Having tried, with very mixed results, numerous tubes in the various CATs I’ve owned, I’ve learned to rely on his tube choices

Hi John,

Thanks so much for the feedback and suggestions. Here’s something funny - you said you’re a fan of Siemens - I’ve worked for the company for almost 30 years and it never even occurred to me to consider Siemens tubes. But they’d probably charge me double! So you have good experience with them?

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I have some Siemens 7308’s that I cycle into my gear. They are very nice. Just a hint of sweetness. Great bass.

Yes, none of the 6922 compatible types though

For 12AU7’s which my preamp uses one of may favorites are the Siemens 5814A sourced, when available from Brent Jessie

I also want to give RAM tubes a try for a lower cost option