I am so happy !! :)
I bought a vintage Conrad Johnson PV-7 tube preamp from a seller in California, and you just never know . . .
The pre was not in its original box, but looked like it was factory packaged with special wrap-around foam inserts and thick bubble wrap, so I immediately felt good when I opened the package.
Then I found a care package with sales literature, and a late 2006 receipt for repair direct from Conrad-Johnson Design, Inc., 2733 Merrilee Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031. The factory had serviced the power supply and replaced a resistor, regulator, some caps, resistors and transistors (a known issue with the PV-7). I'm guess the factory service explained the high-line packaging materials.
The factory had also replaced the 2 phono section tubes with matched Electro-Harmonix 12AX7EH ($22 each then, now about $12 so not very good tubes).
The line stage tubes were 1 unknown 12AX7, 1 unknown 12AT7WC and 1 unknown 12AX7-ECC81 W. Germany (no diamond). My Eico 667 tester arrives tomorrow, but will need going over so that won't help for a while either, but . . . . I had already planned ahead and new tubes are on the shelf.
I wanted to see what the tubes sent sounded like so I replaced the vintage Dynaco PAS-3 with 4 strong matched Telefunken 12AX7's that I bought in October with the Conrad Johnson and warmed it up.
Not so good. The Dynaco is amazingly sweet with those Telefunken Smooth Plates, and customizable with separate bass and treble controls for both channels, and I had it sounding extremely well tuned. Even after 4 hours, the PV-7 still sounded like dirt.
Ok, to the shelf. Forget incremental steps with various Sovtek, Phillips and Telefunkens from the Dynaco, tube RIAA and tube buffers . . . I went straight to the NOS Mullards!
I just scored a strong matched pair of 1960 British made Mullard military issue CV4024/M8162 "R" code tubes from the Mitcham, Surrey, England plant with the rare shield logo AND a strong matched quad of Mullard Blackburn 12AX7's so I have the sockets covered.
2 12AX7's went into the phono stage sockets, and 1 12AX7 and the 2 CV4024/M8162's into the line stage.
Patience . . . warmed it up for a good 15 minutes.
Oooh's and Aaah's !!! :D :D :D
This is an ancient, paltry little pre compared to what many here have, but I have to say, it just kicks butt! I've been at it with the Mullards for about 3 hours now and my biggest first impressions are that the soundstage is IMPRESSIVE, much DEEPER, plus the bass is livelier/faster.
It's a nice "next rung on the ladder" for me that I think I could be happy with for a long, long time. (and yes, I know, it DOES NOT have a remote). That would be my biggest gripe.
Like many here say . . . TUBES RULE !!