The Valve Question:
Not all so called progress in technology results in improvement. I don’t claim to understand the technology, but the experience is something I do understand. Valves are more cantankerous and prone to failure at some point, require burn in and periods of warming up before play, but these are “convenience” factors not sound factors. They sound better, significantly better. The inconvenience is a fairly small price to pay.
Valves make sound more organically true to life, no doubt about it. They are fairly inexpensive thanks to China being willing to manufacture them, and like a lot of “low technology”, easy enough to replace if they do go wrong, unlike a circuit board.
I am glad I added them to my system, resulting in a signal processing flow that is truly an analogue chain- starting of course with the musicians, who were likewise entirely analogue, through to the valve pre-amp. Only beyond here, the main power amp, do solid state electronics appear, as necessary to drive the power-hungry five-cone speakers.
The chinese TJs in the phono stage have been replaced by NOS (New Old Stock for anyone unfamiliar with the jargon) Telefunken ECC83 and ECC82’s
These vintage valves have a much more open and delicate sound-field, which works extremely will with acoustic jazz instruments, and stereo especially. They are universally described as “expensive”, however compared with typical modern audiophile equipment they are cheap as chips. It’s all about expectations.
I’ve been a bad boy. I’ve bought some more vintage new old stock ECC82’s, for the pre-amplifier. Code on tubes B3015126. Tubes, where good things begin to happen, that you can no longer explain
Both dated 30th May, 1961, Berlin factory, says this “dating site” for Telefunken Tubes.
By my reasoning, music recorded in 1960’s with tube microphones through valve-based mixing and mastering equipment is now being amplified by the same 1960’s technology. It all seems to make sense.They talk to each other in matching technology.
The pre-amp with (earlier Chinese manufactured) valves in situ:
World Designs custom-built preamp and phono amp
UPDATE December 19, 2021
Custom build KT82 power amplifier by World Designs, to be delivered shortly. The valves are Chinese Psvane ECC83 and KT88-T , last remaining stock in UK.