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tube break-in

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  • tube break-in

    Question for those experienced with tubes:

    As I continue along in my audio journey, I've come to believe in break-in. Some components more-so than others, but to me and my ears, I believe in it. I'm sure there's break-in with new tubes.

    What kind of changes should I be expecting? I just bought some fairly spendy 12au7's (Telefunken NOS) and right off the bat I don't like them as much as the EH 12bh7 that are also new.

    The Telefunkens are more harsh, and not quite as sweet at the EH's.....and the Telefunken's were $160 more..

    So I guess I'm wondering if tubes are like amps/preamps where you can tell if you're going to like them right off the bat (even though they aren't broke in) or does the sound change significantly enough that I should just ignore these initial impressions?
    Never Argue With An idiot. They'll Lower You To Their Level And Then Beat You With Experience!

  • #2
    What are you using them in?

    I've stuck to the conservative side of buying nos tubes. As in I don't usually buy them. Andy at vintage tube services can help you with nos tubes.

    Another good source of selected tubes you can trust is RAM Labs.


    • #3
      I'm using them in a TADAC

      Although I've had a few different pieces of tube gear over the years (not much though), this is the first time that I've really bought new tubes. I did try some E80CC's before these, but didn't work well with the TADAC (heat problem) so I exchanged them for the Telefunken's. I ordered them from Brent Jesse Recording and Supply

      I noticed a pretty big difference between the chinese 12au7's originally in the unit to the 12bh7 Electro Harmonix (the TADAC designer sent me these) right out of the box. The Telefunken's however aren't as impressive. I just did some more searching, and read that many times NOS tubes are edgy at first and take more time to break in than current production.

      Guess I'll leave it on for the next few days....
      Never Argue With An idiot. They'll Lower You To Their Level And Then Beat You With Experience!


      • #4
        Hmm, I don't know. My experience tonight is pretty immediate.

        I just changed my Chinese P1J tubes for NOS Western Electric 403Bs in my MiniWatt...and added MAC Ultrasilver+ interconnects from the DAC to the amp.

        Suddenly I have deeper, more pronounced bass, a less bright yet still detailed mid and upper range that is very open. The musical instruments are all a little more distinct and clear while still sounding smooth. It is noticeable to a neophyte like myself. Really amazing on lossless files. And all noticeable within 30 minutes of adding both.

        I'd give it a couple of weekends...and don't discount personal preference. I firmly believe that music is the closest thing to a woman there is. You can appreciate beauty but in the end, everyone loves what they love based on emotional response, not rational discourse. You have to experience and decide what you like better. Nobody can tell you before hand which you will actually like before you listen for yourself, in your room.
        Tweak City Audio WAF-1, Paradigm PS1000, Jolida FX-10 tube amp, Samsung Blu-ray, Beresford TC-7520 DAC, Apple Airport Express (living room)

        Hawthorne Audio 101515 OB Trio DIY speakers, DIY Bottlehead Stereomour 2A3 amp, DIY 6CL6 SPUD amp, Rythmik 370 OB Plate Amps (in stereo), Beresford TC-7520 DAC, Macbook Pro/iTunes & Decibel FLAC player for Mac, Sony S370 Blu-ray (listening room)

        Other stuff: Usher S-520, JohnBlue JB-3, MiniWatt, Glow Amp One, Nuforce Icon Mobile, Sennheiser HD595