Selecting Your Tubes Is An Art

Authenticity and details in set matching by VTS

Attention to authenticity and details in set matching that others don’t even know exist!  This attention to detail acquired from 30+ years as both an audiophile and lover of tubes and tube electronics.

A.  Assurance that you are getting the original real McCoy as described. The amount of cross-branding & outright fraudulent re-branding, and late run tubes out there being sold as original is UNREAL!!! I can’t tell you how many stories of woe I’ve heard about spending thousands of dollars on tubes from the “get rich quick” type dealers that ended up in the back of the closet or being thrown away. A VERY LARGE amount of what is sold as original Mullard, Siemens, etc… by both the big houses and small one-man operations is junk of such late manufacture that it is useless for audio. This had been caused by the filtering out of the good old stuff, resulting in mostly junk being left on the market. Most of these tube dealers are not really trying to cheat anyone, they simply don’t know the difference and don’t care. A good example of this is the Tele-junk that is all over the place these days. What is Tele-Junk? Well it seems that after the Berlin Wall went up the East-German division of Telefuken kept running E88CC/6922 and a few other tubes well after the West German division sold out to EI. The stocks from the East are drifting West. At first I thought they were counterfeits but the tooling was too good and of course they do have a diamond in the glass. One of the only ways to catch many of these is by a special rig that measures pin wire diameters and catches under and over size pins. The reason for this is that the classic original wire companies that had supplied the special wires like Dumet, (also used as pins in mini tubes) for 80+ years, stopped production simultaneously with the tube plants because the tube plants were the only ones that used it. The wire that was made later, by regular European wire companies, like so many of the Chinese and Russian companies was of very low quality and is either over or under size. As a V.T.S. shopper there is no chance of any of this ending up in your equipment. I know many music lovers that have thrown away thousands of dollars on these alone!

B.  Properly matching vintage tubes is a whole different ballgame from just making sure the measurements are the same! And from what I have seen of their work, (tube dealers) nobody even seems to know a used tube from a new one!

Tube measuring and analyzing circuitry at VTS

The finest in tube measuring and analyzing circuitry, both vintage and modern.

A.  Featuring full current & voltage testing of all small signal and power/output tubes.

B.  Absolute accuracy to the original, proper specifications of the manufacturer. This is assured by calibration to the National Institute of Standards, (Test #910675) and proper laboratory instruments & conditions.

Tubes are auditioned and selected for tone quality and microphonics, by ear in a sound proofed lab.

This is done by using both vintage and current High-End gear. Many special rigs have been developed and much has been learned over the last 28+ years of doing this full time. Many different techniques are used and cannot be described in this catalog and some really good ones I will take to the grave with me.

Miniature and Octal Pin Cleaning at VTS

MINI TUBES: Each pin on miniature tubes (excluding gold pinned tubes) is de-scaled by a time consuming, proprietary process.  This descaling is the removal of the layer of VERY nasty oxides (the blue/black scale) left when the high temperature gas jets are blasting the tube during the joining of the base to the bulb and out-gassing. I never will understand the guys who lose sleep for days over their Tweek/De-Oxit/Silver Paste, soaked, gold-plated, wrench-tightened, $5,000+ speaker and interconnects and then plug in tubes with pins that look like they’ve been at the bottom of the ocean for 200 years.

OCTAL TUBES: Each pin is brass wheeled with the same great care. This is one of the most important noise reducing features of V.T.S. tubes. NOTE: Many octals are very shiny and clean-looking even though they’ve been in a damp basement for 50 years. These don’t fool me either! There is a layer that you can not see that causes much noise, especially with the cheap weak-gripped-third world tube sockets used in most of today’s gear.

In many cases I cannot even get a good noise floor measurement without fully cleaned pins (See noise testing page).

Visual Inspection at VTS

Internal visual inspection that combines BAUSH & LOMB optics and all of my experience in working with tubes.
One of the reasons why tubes which measure the same, often sound so different in the proper or improper alignment of the cathode, grids and other parts. This is also one of the reasons for the poor sound of most output tubes made today. The sound and light-proofed V.T.S. lab allows me to observe operating temperatures and evenness in heating of cathodes, grids and plates during both general and power testing (very important)!

Tube Recommendations at VTS

I maintain a full set of files on both vintage and current equipment.  This includes schematics, operation manuals, tube layout diagrams and specific notes for consulting when selecting tubes. This gives me the ability to select the tubes as if I was working on the system in your home. If a tube layout diagram makes you more comfortable, just let me know. A few brand names of gear that I have gotten world wide recognition for bringing to a higher level of performance over the last 18 years or so include, Western Electric, AMPEX, Audio Research Corporation, Valve Amplification Corporation, M.F.A. (particularly the luminescence), McIntosh, Marantz, Cary Audio, Rogue Audio, Audio Note, EAR, Citation, Convergent Audio, Wavelength, Art Audio, Quicksilver, Jolida, B.A.T., Nagra, Aesthetix, Air Tight, Jadis, Stax, Conrad-Johnson, Joule Electra, and the list goes on…