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Topic Title: Russian Vacuum Tube Shortage
Topic Summary: and prices going up on what is available
Created On: 04/21/2022 04:31 AM
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 04/21/2022 04:31 AM
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Bamboo

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If you have equipment that uses vacuum tubes and use russian import tubes, might want to start shopping around and get some for the future.

The prices are going way up on tubes in general, but for the russian workhorse tubes they are going waaaay up and the stock is limited

totally understand that some may not like the russian tubes and perfer NOS or ??, but IMO the JJs and EH tubes work pretty well in most situations, are robust, and a fraction of what an American or British or German NOS tube costs.

Anyway, do some googling if you are thinking about shopping for tubes. I found an old standby electronics supply house that hasn't raised their prices and got a bunch of matched EL84 power tubes and 12ax7s (JJs and Sovtec) for future use.



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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV
 04/21/2022 08:18 AM
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Central Floridave

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I was talking to someone last week about this and tubes. I had no idea that vacuum tubes are mostly from russia. I would think digital amps would have caught up with analog by now. It's 2022.
 04/22/2022 04:21 PM
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StirfryMcflurry

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Originally posted by: Central Floridave I would think digital amps would have caught up with analog by now. It's 2022.
you didn't listen to David Byrne

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 04/23/2022 06:10 AM
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Bamboo

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Dave, your own guitar player runs a Fender Twin that is loaded with vacuum tubes. I've seen it and played with the innerds and believe at least a few are from Russia.

China, Russia, and old Iron Curtain countries like the Slovak Republic are the main producers for NEW tubes these days. There is a lot of old stock from USA, England, Germany, etc. running around but prices on those tubes have been going way up as that supply is finite and dwindling.

There are good digital modelers out there that are solid state, but they are mostly copying the old vacuum tube amps. They get close, but besides just the tone there is a feedback and feel a good tube amp gives the guitar player that just isn't being captured quite right in those models...or at least the ones i have tried. So, sound wise for things like praise bands where the soundboard is managing most of the sounds and levels, or where you just want to haul the least equipment possible, or when doing recordings...modelers are great.

It is kinda generational, too. i see more young players using digital equipment and the OGs using "name-your-favorite-tube-amp". That could be a cost thing as solid state is cheaper to make, or it could be a familiarity thing where the OGs were raised with vacuum tube amps.

Vacuum Tube hi-fi and radio equipment is it's own topic and each has a very dedicated following too, so it isn't just guitar amps.

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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV


Edited: 04/23/2022 at 06:12 AM by Bamboo
 04/24/2022 04:39 AM
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tom

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Yep, but no worries, Western Electric is offering US made tubes, well actually only one, at $700/ea. I built a couple amps recently around the Tung Sol KT120, about $50 each then, now $100-$200 ea. That adds up if you want two sets of matched quads. Sheesh. Turning the bias down to make them last longer.

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 04/24/2022 06:23 AM
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Bamboo

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Years ago I did some work for a doc who paid me by giving me his old stereo system which included a couple of Macintosh monoblocks that used KT88 tubes. It was a really cool system but honestly there was a lot of gear required to make that stereo system work and i ended up selling the pieces off as i was in school and needed the $$.

Now i wish i hadn't! (duh...hind sight is always 20-20!).
{Hmmmm..This could be an interesting idea for a NPNR thread...things that I wish I still had! Ha!}

I bet what ever you running those KT120s in sounds sweet.

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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV
 04/24/2022 08:51 PM
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CurtisEflush

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It's amusing that some audiophiles insist on hearing the music "as it was played" and then listening to it through equipment (phono cartridges, tube amps) that introduces non-linear distortion. ( * )

I'm not saying they don't sound sweet -- just sort of an oxymoron in the purity department.

( * ) Especially since Bamboo has another thread about listening to Sirius/XM, which sounds like 100 angry kids playing triangles and tambourines inside a tin can. I cancelled a free Sirius/XM subscription in my car because it hurt my ears just knowing I could tune it in if I pressed the button accidentally.

Edited: 04/24/2022 at 08:56 PM by CurtisEflush
 04/25/2022 03:05 AM
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tom

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True to a degree, but have you built sand amps? Boring. And no one can hear how it was played, only how it was recorded, with mics and tubes and compression that introduce nonlinear distortion... Maybe these? https://www.loc.gov/audio/collections/

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Edited: 04/25/2022 at 03:14 AM by tom
 04/25/2022 03:58 AM
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Bamboo

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Agreed that the sound quality of siriusXM is noticeably hollow and not good at all.
But since radio stations around here (and most of the USA now) pretty much suck it is the best worst option for the car. Plus you do get some interesting channels like the classic radio hour, news stations, comedy, and of course the themed music channels.

Yeah, I'm not really an audiophile. And along the lines of what Tom was saying...In the real world even music that is on uncompressed formats like vinyl and cds are still post process edited and mastered which involves compression and EQ and all kinds of other processing like exciters, limiters, maximizers, etc. My personal peeve is with pitch correction (and auto tune). Even singers who don't need it are getting pitch corrected in post production, and they may not even know it. It has become a corporate standard thing.
Unless you are attending a live performance that "hear it as it was played concept" just doesn't work.

So, to me a good stereo system that is running a tube amp can sound really good and add a sweetness to the music that makes it really enjoyable to listen to. I have a cheap tube stereo now in a bedroom, but my main system is all solid state and uses old Crown PA power amps and a Mackie mixer. Not much audiophile about that, but it sounds good to me.

Anyway, this thread was primarily about guitar amps.
Tube amps rule there.

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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV


Edited: 04/25/2022 at 04:57 AM by Bamboo
 04/25/2022 05:13 PM
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tom

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Yep. Clean guitar amps in solid state, sure, ok. Distortion? Haha! Solid state distortion is all an imitation of a tube with the gain set up where the tube's designer never intended it to be. Genius! Bamboo, next build will probably be a 5e3. Always wanted one.

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 04/25/2022 06:31 PM
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Bamboo

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Nice!
I have only spent a little time with a Tweed D, but I recall really liking the clean-ish tones a lot.

I got a couple stewmac ghost drives and am building one now. Suppose to be a faithful Klon klone. I am not totally in love with the Klon and hardly think they are worth the money they are getting for them these days, but they are cool for pushing a clean-ish to slightly dirty amp and one of the klon klones might work good with the Tweed D.

Let us know how it turns out!
I took a long break from messing with amps but am fixing to get back to it fairly soon. Lots of satisfaction from making a wicked good amp.

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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV
 04/28/2022 04:11 AM
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StirfryMcflurry

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at some yard sale on W Bay drive way back in the day for 5 or 10 bucks I got an old (it was even old even back then) Harman Kardon tube amp from some former audio guy. He said it had been used to power MANY speakers in some warehouse or something. it was about 1 x1 feet square, 6 or 8 inches tall and probly weighed close to 30 lbs. it was the loudest and best amp me or my friends had ever heard. the parents didn 't like it. took a minute or 2 to warm up, but once it did....cover your ears! I have no idea when or where it disappeared but... I kinda miss it: EDIT found it on ebay! Harman Kardan model A - 300 ! ( ----^ my tube amp story ...almost forgot - we had a telefunken tubed entertainment console in the living room. belefonte and herb alpert were crankin !

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Ima just island boy, and I'm tryin to make it, Ima island boy

Edited: 04/29/2022 at 04:22 AM by StirfryMcflurry
 05/01/2022 09:01 AM
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CurtisEflush

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I'm definitely not ragging on you guys and the tubes. I grew up listening to a Heathkit tube amp my dad buit in the 60's, and it sounded sweet even through average speakers.

Nowadays, a single vacuum tube probably costs more than the whole solid-state receiver thingy I'm listening to music through.

I don't play guitar (often enough to matter ), but I've fixed an amp or two.

It's funny how things like guitar strings (tied down at each end) actually generate harmonics from oscillating at multiple frequencies, then pickups typically introduce more distortion, and then you get into a guitar amp with rectifiers generating 60 Hz and 120 Hz noise that barely gets filtered out...

It not a "pure" sound, just a sound we love. Kinda like putting sauces and ketchup all over some chef's pristine cuisine.

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you tube lovers had ever heard of people powering their amps directly from DC. Not 12V fed thru an inverter, but grabbing something like a Prius or Tesla battery and putting clean 200-300 VDC directly in where all that noisy transformer/rectifier voltage would go.

I recall one artist complaining about the noisy AC power at a local venue, and it just seemed like a big battery bank could easily power the amps for a 2-hour show without all the noise.
 05/01/2022 11:49 AM
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theglide

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Anyway, I was wondering if any of you tube lovers had ever heard of people powering their amps directly from DC.


I have 2 tube amps and haven't a clue, maybe the tube amp guru's here would know the answer.

Not a bad idea, noisless power!

I know that stage performers have a lot of gear to lug to a gig and look to reduce the load, I imagine a battery bank would be very heavy?
 05/01/2022 12:53 PM
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CurtisEflush

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I was also thinking the batteries would be a bit heavier, but I didn't do the energy density calculations. Anyway, it wouldn't be too crazy size-wise for enough battery to power one amp for a 2-hour show. A noteworthy chunk of amp weight is in that giant transformer, so that part goes away.

For a full band, I was thinking something the physical size and weight of a 5500W gas-powered generator, but with batteries instead, could be hauled around on the same kind of wheels and power most of a show. It's not uncommon to see those on the back of an RV, so they shouldn't be too hard to haul around in a tour bus or U-Haul.

If more bands adopted the "Direct DC" amp model, then venues could provide the battery bank themselves, and do a good chunk of recharging via rooftop solar on those 5-6 days between big shows.
 05/01/2022 03:40 PM
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SlimyBritches

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Russian Vacuum Tube Shortage? I thought it was a euro punk rock band.
 05/01/2022 04:58 PM
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StirfryMcflurry

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Originally posted by: SlimyBritches Russian Vacuum Tube Shortage? I thought it was a euro punk rock band.
based on that name...I'd wager... they are great!

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 05/02/2022 02:42 AM
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tom

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I've read about but never heard battery operated preamps and headphone amps so yes, you're correct. Prius schmeeus. You need a F150. If it can run your house, it'll run your amp. . https://www.thedrive.com/tech/...ays-on-a-single-charge

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 05/02/2022 03:42 AM
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Bamboo

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Early tube radios were powered by batteries.
That is where the term B+ comes from - it is shorthand for Battery Positive and is a holdover from the old days of battery powered tube radios. B+ is the high voltage dcv that is used on the plates of the tube.

To clean up the line signal it is easy enough to use a line conditioner. Lots of bars have really shitty wiring and lots of neon signs which can cause noise havoc, same thing with outdoor festivals...often run off really crappy generators.

The amps with rectifier tubes aren't really any noisier, and they can have a really nice blooming feeling when played hard. You can use a solid state rectifier in place of the tube rectifier if you wanted and that gets rid of the rectifier tube sag. The power transformer in itself does not add noise, but if the wires within the amp are not routed thoughtfully it can add noise by induction. Good lead dress techniques help reduce this a lot.


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If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC - KV
 05/03/2022 06:57 AM
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Greensleeves

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Thanks for the info Bamboo!

Bamboo where do you shop for tubes? Is there a used tube market.

This is a bit depressing. Thinking about unloading the twin and I have an ampeg j-12 and maybe going for one of the fender tone masters. Selling out it would be but that thing is heavy as f as you know Bamboo. I have a couple vintage T-60s I'm thinking of letting go as well. One first year. One second year. Keeping a painted one.
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