I have been itchiní to try a different quad of power tubes in my Jolida 502 integrated amp. Currently, I use Electro Harmonix KT88ís. The EHís are highly regarded as an overall great performer. The major criticism is that they sound like solid state. After doing some Internet research for several months, I decided to try a set of inexpensive Chinese tubes Ė the Shuguang KT88ís. [NOTE: Shuguang makes re-branded tubes for Groove Tube, Ruby and Valve Art, to name a few.] According to what Iíve read, they are preferred by many Jolida owners and are supposed to sound very ďtube-like.Ē This comes primarily from informal feedback of Jolida owners as reported by the folks at Response Audio who modify Jolida amps.
My Shuguang KT-88's arrived last week. Since the EH KT88's are the only power tubes I've used thus far in the Jolida, I don't have any other basis for comparison. The first thing I noticed is that they have better bass than the EH KT88's. Otherwise, they sounded equally as good as the EH's right out of the box. That was a good sign. After a while I noticed that they are not quite as analytical as the EH's. On some music the head bobbing and toe-tapping increased. I should mention that, with the exception of the bass, the other differential characteristics I am describing are very slight.
The level of detail is about the same, but the vocals are more forward and natural sounding on some recordings with the Shuguangs. Eventually I realized the Shuguangs have a slightly larger soundstage and, in general, are a bit more musical. However, the build quality and aesthetics are not as good as the EH's. The EHís are also a bit more refined and produce more a tad more clarity with instruments such as piano and cymbals. Nevertheless, I prefer the Shuguangs over the EH KT88ís, primarily because of the better bass and overall musicality. I canít fully describe it, but the Shuguangs simply have a different presentation than the EHís that I find more pleasing.
It took me two years to finally try a different set of power tubes and Iím glad I did.
awesome, when ya find something ya like.. its hard to try something new. and if ya go crazy and try to many tubes its hard to keep track of the changes.. glad ya found a better choice with one change
Cool! Sounds like a good match with your system. Let us know what you think after using them for awhile. I always find it interesting to really get used to something new (a few months) then switch back to the old. The results are quite often not the same as I originally thought. Sometimes its massive, sometimes nothing.
Awesome. Glad you're enjoying tube rolling. I've also had great success with Chinese tubes. I tried the Shuguang EL34B and the sound is very nice. It was too analytical at first until I installed some warm and juicy sounding tubes in the pre. The Chinese are making some great tubes. I'm gonna give their 12AU7 and 6922 a try.
Plenty to choose from in new production tubes - Tung Sol 6550's, Ei KT-90's, Ei elite 12AU7, 12AX7, 6DJ8, EH KT-88's, etc. I tried some Chinese 6L6GC tubes recently that didn't get along with my amp but they did sound nice while they lasted. I've also got some Chinese 12AT7 triple mica Mullard knock-off tubes that sound sweet.
Cool, changing tubes is one of those things I struggle with, glad you like em. The musicality you mention is something that strikes home for me. I know each tube distorts the signal just a bit differently, finding the one that pleases your ear is great/