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SingleMalt

Opinions on cryogenically treated valves / valve recommendations

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Hey Folks

Just got my first all valve rig and am naturally already looking at changing the valves in my CTM-15 (I spoke with Ashdown and they told me the CTM-15 has generic Chinese valves) (Pre 1 x ECC83, Output 2 x EL84) and I'm browsing the options on Watford Valves and see that they offer a lot of the valves cryo treated for a couple of quid extra.

I've read very mixed opinions about whether or not this makes any difference. What are your thoughts?

And do you have any recommendations on what tubes to go for?

I've been looking at the EHX balanced ecc83 and their el84. I've read some good reviews on their stuff and they are a very reasonable price.

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Hi
I've bought some valves from Watford valves,preamp and powertubes.If you're looking for sound differences to non-treated tubes,I doubt you will hear any difference.Perhaps they live longer.
I find the TAD tubes just as good or better.They test the tubes in many ways that ensures a long life and above all ,what they recommend works in my experience.They know what they are talking about when you're looking for a sound or a character.
http://www.tubeampdoctor.com

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Don't be too distracted by all the apparent different brands out there. All modern production valves come from one of 3 factories - New Sensor in Russia, Shuguang in China and JJ in Czech. Various companies rebrand these but the truth is the rebranded tubes wil be one of these.

The other issue is that the quality of all these modern brands is pretty dire. I'm talking particularly about teh longevity of the tubes. With such poor QC, it's a bit of a craphoot as to whether you'll get a decent valve or not. Some brands (eg Ruby, Groove Tubes, TAD) claim that they retest tubes from their respective supplier to eliminate the out of spec ones.

The other option is to buy NoS valves from someone like Watford. These are unused old stock of valves from the 90's & earlier when production in the US, UK & Europe was still happening. People claim various tonal differences with these vs current valves (personally, I have cloth ears & have trouble hearing much difference tbh); what I can vouch for is that they tend to be more long-lived and reliable, esp the power tubes.

So if you want longevity, I can recommend NoS, esp for power tubes. If you're interested in tonal differences between valves, you really need to try them for yourself and decide.

Edited by mickster

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My view is that the whole 'cryogenically treated valves' thing is more snake oil.
Very little, if any audible difference between the two and certainly far less than choice of strings or pickups, for example.

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[quote name='discreet' timestamp='1419187017' post='2637399']
My view is that the whole 'cryogenically treated valves' thing is more snake oil.
Very little, if any audible difference between the two and certainly far less than choice of strings or pickups, for example.
[/quote]

This is pretty much what I thought the case would be.

[quote name='mickster' timestamp='1419185843' post='2637373']
So if you want longevity, I can recommend NoS, esp for power tubes. If you're interested in tonal differences between valves, you really need to try them for yourself and decide.
[/quote]

Brilliant advice, thanks. Looking on Watford now and it looks like they only have 1 NoS but it happens to be an EL84. Prices look good so I think I'll give those a try.

Pretty cool buying valves made in the 70s for the Russian Military....

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[quote name='SingleMalt' timestamp='1419190353' post='2637444']
Pretty cool buying valves made in the 70s for the Russian Military....
[/quote]They probably were the best ever made, having to stand up to battle conditions. They kept valves long after everyone else, not only because they lacked the SS technology, but also because valves are immune to EMP.

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Cryogenic treatment may or may not be snake oil, but as Mickster says, you have to try valves really (which can be expensive if you try a few sets, to see how they work in your set up). Watford Valves are pretty good, in my experience and their advice is sound. Re 'military' valves being better, they may be tougher, but that won't necessarily make them better at sound reproduction.

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I know Dave Gilmour uses cryogenic leads on gigs and in his studio and says there is a difference. IMO you'd need to be in that environment for any difference to be important.

It'll all seem like a waste of money next to a shed builder and thrash merchant down the Dog and Duck.

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I suspect that Dave Gilmore has taken so many drugs in his time and is so unfathomably rich that he can afford to let himself be talked into all sorts of old codswallop... :D

Edited by mickster

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Is he planning to be cryogenically preserved for future resuscitation do you think?

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I can't say I've noticed a strong difference between the cryo and non-cryo personally, but I haven't really done much tube rolling either. Watford say it makes a difference, HotRox say they certainly do not freeze their valves, so who knows.

I did get a Ex military NoS CV4033 (ECC81) type tube for my Compressore, it did sound noticeably different to the stock rubytubes that came with it. But it failed after a year (being chucked in my gig bag 4 nights a week probably didn't help) making a lot of crackle and hiss. So I replaced with a JJ, which also sounded fine. I'm using JJ's in my valve amp these days to. I like the sound, and they seem pretty reliable so I'm happy with that.

Power amp valves are too expensive to play around when you have to buy a matched sextet - so I just stick to what I know.

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I don't know how they would sound in a bass amp, but for guitar amps JJ EL84's are the only modern production ones worth talking about.

For preamp if you're planning on keeping the amp for a while I'd go NOS with something like a Mazda or Brimar.
Don't cost that much, sound much better than anything current production and last for literally decades.

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[quote name='strtdv' timestamp='1419280742' post='2638377']
I don't know how they would sound in a bass amp, but for guitar amps JJ EL84's are the only modern production ones worth talking about.

For preamp if you're planning on keeping the amp for a while I'd go NOS with something like a Mazda or Brimar.
Don't cost that much, sound much better than anything current production and last for literally decades.
[/quote]

I don't see it going any where to be honest. Really like the little thing.

I know Watford are closed for Christmas so I'll probably do a little more research and pick up some NOS valves as many here have recommended. They have a few available right now that are only £30 for a match pair (1970/71 Sovtek EL84M).

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I've heard folk deride JJ's for being a bit cheap, but I always had them in my Matamp with no problems and they are currently in my Burman.. The one thing I've always tried to do is to let the head cool off before moving it.

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[quote name='Billy Apple' timestamp='1419291320' post='2638541']
I've always tried to let the head cool off before moving it.
[/quote]

And then put your hat on? Arf, arf!

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Cryogenically treated valves?

I thought the idea behind using valves was to get an 'authentic yesteryear warmth' - I don't think the Rolling Stones shifted their fish fingers out of the way to achieve that. :rolleyes:

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[quote name='icastle' timestamp='1419294422' post='2638569']
Cryogenically treated valves?

I thought the idea behind using valves was to get an 'authentic yesteryear warmth' - I don't think the Rolling Stones shifted their fish fingers out of the way to achieve that. :rolleyes:
[/quote]

I dunno.. Bill Wyman was always shifting his

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[quote name='Billy Apple' timestamp='1419322943' post='2638652']
I dunno... Bill Wyman was always shifting his
[/quote]

And Captain Birdseye. All those unchaperoned children on that boat. It's a disgrace.

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[quote name='discreet' timestamp='1419327185' post='2638708']
And Captain Birdseye. All those unchaperoned children on that boat. It's a disgrace.
[/quote]

I know. And there was horse-meat in the chili con carne.

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