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Best 6SN7 for the money?
#3048968 06/15/20 12:11 PM
Joined: Jun 2020
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Leotis Offline OP
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Tube rolling on my Sonic Frontiers was enough to drive me insane with all the 6DJ8/6922 available out there. I now acquired a BAT VK-150 which uses 8 6SN7 per amp (16 total) and I can't possibly roll them all without going broke.

i was reading this on Agon discussion forum in the past the two front most tubes are more critical, that still leaves me 4 tubes to roll. I also read about Sylvania 6SN7 being a good NOS for the money, but there are so many different Sylvania out there and I don't know the difference.

So I am turning to the experienced Agon members to tell me which 6SN7 to go for, say about $20 to $30 a piece (or $50 to $60 per match pair). BAT owners, should I waste time and money and swap out other 6SN7 with something slightly better?

Thanks in advance.

GP Island
Re: Best 6SN7 for the money?
Leotis #3048995 06/15/20 04:12 PM
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V1 is almost always the tube closest to the input, so you've got that correct. That is the tube that will have the most effect on your tone. Before going on a quest for new tubes, do two things.

Check all of your existing tubes for microphonics. Hook your amp up the way you will be using it, let it warm up and gently tap each tube with a pencil. It it rings, it could cause problems with your sound.

Use small pieces of masking tape carefully placed on an area of the tubes that does not have printing, the base is best if possible. Number them so you know exactly what position each tube is in now. Since there are two sets, maybe go A-1, A2, A3 and B-1, B-2 etc.

Then, re-arrange your tubes to put each tube in V1 position, listen carefully and take notes. If that makes a big difference, good or bad, that is something to consider addressing. If you have 2 great sounding tubes on one side and none on the other, consider putting the two best in V1 and moving the other tubes to accomodate that.

When buying tubes, the dealer is the essential link. Do they test microphonics? Do they have a return policy? Can you speak with them on the phone or via email and let them know what you are trying to accomplish? Those are all good things.
A friend of mine with over a dozen boutique tube guitar amps strongly recommends an eBay seller - eskimofridge - he's gotten excellent quality and service from him.

Output tubes and phase invertors (if the amp has them) are the next place to tube roll once V1 is chosen and the rest of the tubes are in good condition. Matched output tubes with a PI tube that has matched sections will sound "better".
Speakers make a huge difference in sound too, a perfect amp with the wrong speaker will sound worse than a not quite perfect amp with the perfect speaker.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Best 6SN7 for the money?
Leotis #3049057 06/15/20 11:21 PM
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Welcome aboard Leotis! That's about $350 bucks worth of a whole lotta tubes. I think if I had such an amp and was going to keep it, I would invest in a good used tube checker. Good luck with it! thu


Take care, Larryz

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