I’m a newbie in the field of vacuum tubes applied to high-fi/end audio, so pardon my ignorance in advance.
I don’t know if this subject was discussed here before but is it recommended / useful / possible the using of tubes damper rings and / or shields with the BHK preamp / amps?
I have used dampers on my tube equipment for a long time and to good effect. I recommend the ones from Herbie’s Audio Lab (I don’t know if he ships internationally).
As for those jacket or metal shield things, I’m not so sure. Some of them are advertised as reducing heat buildup but it’s always seemed to me that they are just as likely to keep heat around the tubes rather than dissipate it. I have no measurements to prove this however.
Also, there isn’t a great deal of room around the tubes in the BHK amps. As I recall, the tubes with Herbie’s dampers on them just fit into my BHK 250. There is more room in the preamp.
Jomal, I too have used dampers on vaccumtubes for decades, and I too use Herbies’ dampers…
I find the biggest sonic difference* from using dampers to be a decrease in edginess. Using dampers reduces edgeness while NOT decreasing detail.
- I am NOT a golden-eared audiofile who can hear many tiny differences. I’m much more a long-term listener who hears differences better by reversing or removing the ‘improvements’.
Thank you guys for your experiences!
Whenever I find damper rings they seem like an o-ring. But these one from Herbie’s Audio are by far the most different.
Hey, I’ve found this one from Golden Dragon. Do you know it?
I’m also a Herbie’s Audio Lab tube dampener user. Pretty heavy habit.
I too used the original Herbie’s dampers for many years. I now use the double o-rings that Conrad Johnson provides.
If you decide to use o-rings, be sure they are designed to be used with tubes. I have heard of people buying basic one’s from a hardware store, and having them melt.
It is one of those low cost tweaks that at worst do nothing, and do no harm. I believe they help, although I have never did any serious comparisons.
I would stay away from the shields, or those things with the springs on them. As I too question whether they do lower heat. I think the shields may have been used in the past to lower noise, or avoid interference. In the past, tubes were used in some environments, that we would not do now. For example car radios. My 1955 Chevy had tubes in the head unit, and an amp behind the speaker in the dashboard. Imagine the beating those tubes took.
Herbie’s here too. I can’t tell if they do anything. Seems like a waste of money. I’m sure I would buy them again.
Hey, I’ve found this one from Golden Dragon. Do you know it?
I have these installed on my BHK Pre - I found them too big for the BHK Amp. As to an effect on the sound - on the preBHK its not major - if perceptible - when I had these installed on my prior preamp and CJ 17 (4x6922s) the edge went off the sound making the system more mellow.
I recently purchased a BHK Preamp and I also purchased 2 of Herbie’s ‘Tube-Dampers’.
They are the Model ‘SS-9’ size.
They fit perfectly and WOW did I hear an improvement in sonic quality right after I slid them on to both tubes.
It was amazing…
I was actually wondering ‘IF’ it might actually hear any improvement. BUT to me, it has proven that I do in fact have a very “resolving” system and any change will be noticed as is the case in this case!
I plan to keep them on the tubes and should I change the original Psvanes out to something else, then the ‘Tube-Dampers’ will come with the change.
So the bottom line is that if you do not install the Herbie’s SS-9 Tube Dampers then in my opinion, you are missing out on better sonic performance from top to bottom.
The Herbie’s Audio Lab UltraSonic SS-9 Damping units are the right and correct way to go.
The cost was $15.49 each and I had a shipping cost of $7.05 for a total landed cost to me of only $38.03.
Guys, they do work and I completely recommend them to all that have a BHK Preamp.
Enjoy the sound and happy listening to you all.
I am one happy camper and very pleased I installed them…
yep, i tried them (herbie’s) and nope i didn’t like them. i did hear, or i think i heard, sometimes, a more concentrated sound stage. or maybe not. i dunno.
RonP, I am so sorry that you did not hear any improvement. I guess everyone’s mileage does very… for me it was improvement right from the get-go.
I must say its a joy to listen to my system what with the new BHK Preamp. And I am still surprised and pleased with what Herbie’s Tube Dampers have done to my sonic improvement. There is a couple of pics for those who might be interested in seeing how they work.
Just ordered a pair from Herbie’s…
On your BHK Pre, do you utilize anything other than the stock feet that came with the unit? Curious as to how the effect of any tube dampers might vary based on the inclusion of other vibration control devices (like footers).
I recently put some cheap sorbothane feet (Pangea Pico feet) under my BHK Pre, but haven’t had a chance to really sit down and listen with & without to determine what, if any, difference they make.
I’m interested in trying a pair for my pre. I figured for the price, why not? Has anyone tried the Rx version and compared it to the SS?
I have used both. I really don’t think I could tell the difference between them, so the RX may not be the right choice especially with a budget.
I don’t feel that using the dampers precludes the use of isolation components. I use isolation components and the tube dampers. I’ve thought at times that I probably don’t need the dampers and take them off. Things are less focused and imaging and soundstage are hazier. It’s not a YUGE difference at all, but after years of using the dampers I can hear the difference, and I put the dampers right back in. When we get to the quality of playback most of us have. . . it’s easy to believe “everything matters.”
Thanks for the reply. My pre sits on a Powerbase and a Solidsteel rack which I imagine are helping a lot. I do enjoy bass and volume, so I figure the dampers can only help. They’re certainly not pricey compared to other tweaks.
Improving one’s system is really a step-by-step approach. It all matters and some things/tweaks do more than others. The important thing is to continue moving forward so the sum of the tweaks ultimately lifts your sound up beyond your initial starting point.
I found the tube damper rings made a difference.
So did using IsolateIt half dome sorbothane dampers worked their magic.
Again, its the little things that move the bar higher.
Even lifting your speaker cables off the floor makes an improvement.
In the end it all comes down to how reveling your system is to begin with, compared to whether you will notice any improvements.
The more reveling, the more you will notice/hear an improvement.
And remember not all tweaks have to cost a lot of money especially if you do them right the first time.
I can hardly remember how my system sounded before I really got involved with tweaking.
For me, my system is not the some sounding system I started with and I am so very pleased and proud of how well it sounds that I want others to come by and hear what it now sounds like.
Happy listening my friends,
PS, I forgot to mention that I am working on using IsoAccoustics Gaia speaker isolators to increase the sonic performance of my speakers.
@sandrock - I’m picking up the BHK Preamp soon and thanks for the tip; will see if it makes a difference. I just ordered them. As an aside, I’m placing the BHK Preamp on my PSA DS DAC; both on a glass shelf (rack); however, I have to remove the preamp feet due to 7.5in height restriction for both components. Do you recommend Herbies isolation pads (1/8in thick) for a little bit of isolation between the DAC and BHK Preamp. I’d like the Preamp to be a distance from the BHK250 amp (one shelf below DAC/pre shelf); therefore, I was going to take the feet off the pre and place it on the DAC. The question becomes how effective is the preamp’s feet for isolation versus some kind of thin isolation pad. If the feet are very good in comparison to pad, I have to then think of placing the pre below the DAC w/ feet (remove DAC feet) on top of the glass shelf with the BHK250 right below.
Mechanically, you may consider isolation feet. I have my BHK Pre sitting on it’s own shelf but I stack the PWT and DSD. I’ve removed the feet and use Isoacoustics OREA feet. Each foot is rated for a maximum weight. In my case I’m using the OREA Indigo’s 4 X 16 Lbs is more than adequate. The price is good compared to many alternatives.