wonky1969

Some advice about valves for a newbie

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HI all,

this is my first post,so please be gentle.

I have a lector digidrive/digicode CD transport and dac,which uses 4 x ECC81-12AT7 valves in the dac.

I'm interested in trying Mullard variants,and have a couple of questions,are they plug and play or is soldering required to fit them? 

in the lector user manual,it says the valves are ' specially selected ' what does this mean? 

there are various valves available on the popular auction site,ranging in value from £20-90 which ones would people recommend for my use? 

And finally,what difference in sound can I expect ?

I love the way CD's sound through the lector and made me fall in love with CD replay again,i got it just before lock down in march,just out of curiosity and missing handling a physical medium again,and I was surprised at how good it sounds,since the purchase I have not used my Linn klimax renew streamer since,which is a shame,as it's very good,but the lector is better,to my ears.

Just trying to scratch an itch,and am curious if the already superb sound, can be improved.

thanks in advance

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They are plug and play.

Specially selected means whatever the writer wants it to mean. Without a specification it means nothing. So saying Lector probably did select out valves that match in electrical parameters as they are a good manufacturer. Valves, like transistors, tend to have quite a spread of performance between individuals and/or batches. Selection should mean the valves are chosen from a batch to behave more closely to each other and to more closely meet the designed parameters.

I would be careful about buying from eBay, there are a lot of dodgy sellers, a lot of snake oil behind valve lore, and a lot of fools with their money... The big sellers are best but usually more expensive. Billingtons, Langrex, Edicron, and Chelmer Valve Co come to mind for New Old Stock items. Also Hotrox and other guitar amp sites for new production valves.

NOS Mullard are getting thinner on the ground. There are still 1980s production for sale, but the (possibly) better 1950-70 years are getting rarer and not necessarily top quality stock anyway. Bit of a tricky market. Philips and Valvo are also excellent European manufacturers, and I personally like RFT, Tesla, and Matsushita for small signal valves. Others like the JJ ECC8** series which are new and cheap. 

How will they sound? Depends upon the circuit quite a lot, though there may be some consistency in results along the "Mullard is rich and full bodied, Telefunken and Tesla are clear and extended &c&c". You pays yer money and takes yer choice. They sell on again pretty well so its not a huge risk. And they take maybe 40-50 hours to run in so don't judge immediately.

Edited by Jazid

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Thanks for the lengthy reply Jazid,has given food for thought.

It looks like I've got a lot of research to do,but am looking forward to trying some of the options you gave,more musical heaven awaits,thanks again

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Welcome to the wam ...esp as your a fellow Lector 4 box cd owner.

ive done some tube rolling on mine ....have a read here

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Yes you just take them out and replace, you have to be a bit careful and on my Jolida DAC the fitting is very tight, make sure you line up the pins carefully. I have tried various valves, to be honest I don’t find a huge difference between them. 

I have some Mullards (Philips), Golden lions, 2 x Raytheon, 1 set is rare now. It is a bit of a minefield to be honest, some come up on here for sale but not seen many recently. There are a few dealers that seem reliable on eBay such as Langrex. There is some debate whether you need matched valves in a preamp. 

Be aware there are many fakes from China so be careful where you buy NOS valves. Even pro dealers get caught out. There are quite a lot of NOS in the US but then you have to add shipping, tax and handling fees, so I have not bothered. Tesla and JJ are 2 I’m tempted to try, JJs are new but cheap and good. Maybe worth just getting some as a basic set, always good to have a backup.

Edited by StingRay

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You also have to gently spread the sides of the 2.24 DAC apart as you slide the top plate/sides off the chassis as the fittings that hold the wood side plates on catch the chassis 

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MF is the one to listen to. He has the same circuit in the chain and thus his experiences count more than ours

Sent from my BLA-L09 using Tapatalk

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They weren’t matched pairs and as you’ve read trying different combinations till you get what’s best fir your setup is the key.

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Let us know how they work ...and what have you gone for ?  Also bear in mind with the two similar valves per channel by using two different brands it appears you can get the best characteristics out of both etc 

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Super Wammer

What might be more interesting is slotting a valve amp in the system instead of the Linn amp .. as you say the valve cd player sounds better than the Linn Streamer but what if that was going through a nice valve integrated or pre power amp? 

If you love the sound of your CD player compared to the streamer then if i was in your shoes I might consider how to improve the sound of streaming so I enjoyed it as much?

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Hi uzzy,yes I had the same thought a while back,but with active speakers and pre that I love,i am overall happy with my setup,its the best sound quality I've had at home in over 30 years of box swapping.

I think for me the thing that puts me off valve pre/power is running costs in electric,and the heat produced in my modest lounge would be undesirable.

The gap between the lector and the Linn is close,the former having a better bass,the Linn sound being quite polite by comparison,i think to better the Linn would take a lot of money,which I don't have,like lots  of us at the moment.

The only reason I'm thinking of trying different valves,is,I think the ones fitted could do with replacement as the sound has become very slightly duller at the top end,not quite as vibrant as it was when I got it.

Edited by wonky1969

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Just thought I'd update my post,so at the recommendation of mf1000 ( thanks Keith ) I ended up getting two EH ECC81 gold pins and two Mullard valves.

Well I've just replaced the stock valves,and am listening as I'm writing this,ive got to say already I'm shocked at the difference,bass has more impact and definition,mids and highs seem sweeter and more organic than before,and only been on for 10 minutes,so more to come once burnt in 50-100 hours,im guessing.

I think it's probably the best £160 I've ever spent on an upgrade,and also shows how poor ( by comparison ) the originals are,although I'm guessing they're past their best now.

Thanks to everybodys contribution and suggestions,much appreciated.

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