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Connecting to a Powered Subwoofer

 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-12
Hi - I am very new in this field. Can anyone kindly assist me in how I should connect my Powered Subwoofer. I have read a lot and still finds it confusing. Should I connect the Powered Subwoofer Line Level In (Left & Right) to the 5.1 Surround Tube Amplifer 'Subwoofer' Out (Single RCA) or should I connect the Powered Subwoofer Line Level In (Left & Right) to the DVD/SACD Player Subwoofer Out (Single RCA)?
Someone told me that since my Powered Subwoofer has already being amplifed and I should not connect from the 5.1 Tube Amplifier and instead to connect from the DVD/SACD Player Subwoofer Out. The cable I need to use is a 1 RCA to 2 RCAs to the Powered Subwoofer Line Level In (Left & Right). To add further confusion, someone said I need only a single RCA Subwoofer cable and connect to the Line Level In LEFT since Bass is mono only.
My Powered Subwoofer is a M & K 8" KX10.
Others suggested that I should connect speakers wire from my Tube Amplifier 5.1 Surround labelled 'Subwoofer' to the Powered Subwoofer Left & Right IN from amplifier.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17112
Registered: May-04
.

Your DVD/SACD player has no facility to control volume which tracks the output of the ampifier feeding signals to your speakers. Making the sub connection here would result in a single level of output from the sub. This line out from the player should run into the (pre) amp section of your system if you aren't using any digital connections from the player. This obviously then depends on how you have your system set up. Coaxial or optical digital connections or HDMI would carry the full 5.1 output of the player and no further "sub out" connections are required from the player to the (pre) amp.

Therefore, make your subwoofer connection to the amplifier's outputs. A single cable run from the amp to the sub will be sufficient. Other connections - two cables, speaker level vs sub out - will all provide essentially the same signal running to the sub. If you haven't paid attention to the set up of your sub in your room or, if you aren't extremely critical to the sub's output beneath 80Hz, then you're not likely to hear any significant differences between those connections. A second line level cable (RCA) would only add an addition bit of gain (volume) to the output if your amp has two sub outs. That would mean you would set the overall gain on the sub's amp a bit lower for the same output level. If the amplifier has only one sub out, you can split that output at the sub with a "Y" connector and use the additional gain if the single line proves incapable of balancing levels between highly efficient main speakers and the sub. This "Y" connector is seldom needed with today's subwoofers as plenty of gain is available from their own amplifiers.

The speaker level output from the amp to the sub is claimed by some to be a different sounding connection but that would be for you to determine. Different isn't necessarily better. I would run the single line out to the sub if this were my system.


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New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-12
Hi Jan - Thank you for your valuable knowledge. Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that my DVD/SACD player does not have coaxial or optical digital connections or HDMI. Obviously it is 5.1 surround as the name suggest DVD/SACD. All the RCAs are connected to the Tube 5.1 amplifier.
As per your advice, I would "run the single line out to the sub" and its probably the easiest method of connection. As you have mentioned ""Y" connector is seldom needed with today's subwoofers as plenty of gain is available from their own amplifiers" so I will get a single subwoofer cable (1RCA to 1RCA). I believe my M & K 8" KX10 is a new model (I hope) @150Watt RMS.
One more question : Would you suggest that I purchase a quality Subwoofer Cable or just an ordinary Subwoofer Cable will suffice. I have intention of purchasing Morrow Cable Sub2 priced at $74++ @2m length. Once again thank you very much and I do appreciate your good advice.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17114
Registered: May-04
.



IMO "subwoofer cables" are a bit of fanciful marketing and nothing more. I'm certainly not anti-cable and I feel cables are easily one of the most overlooked plus uselessly and ridiculously disputed topics in home audio. Cables make a difference in the sound quality you perceive. They do so for many reasons which run contrary to what most buyers think because most buyers don't do their homework before they buy. More cables are sold on their looks and marketing jibberish than should be the case when there are solid reasons why one cable might have an advantage over another in any given system.

I would suggest you buy a good quality cable and "good quality" generally begins at about $30 for a meter length of cable. Longer lengths are less expensive per meter as termination and packaging costs are included in that first one meter length. This price range should get you slightly better than average quality in the copper and in the materials. Don't buy in to extra heavy RCA's as these are most often just audio jewelry used to draw in the average, uninformed customer. Gold plating resists oxidation in the connection which has for decades been a source of recurring noises and signal failures in components which are put together and then ignored for years. This is like driving a car for years without ever changing the oil. System maintenance is a part of owning a good quality audio system and should be performed on a regular schedule. Just taking apart and remaking of the connections will often result in better sound quality as long as the cables aren't so poorly made you can break their internal parts by handling them. Therefore, some house keeping chores are a good idea every now and again.

Gold plating reduces the extent of these oxidation problems but the gold is a very thin plating over a cheap and not very high quality conductor made of a brass and (usually) tin base material. Heavy connectors and heavy insulation make cables look more impressive to the average male consumer - if a little bit is good, a whole lot must be better. As a rule, this isn't the case when it comes to cables since you're only adding more brass and tin, both of which fall at the lower end of good conductivity. Pure copper or silver would be ideal for conductivity but too easily damaged and too expensive for most systems.

If you're making a single line level (RCA) connection, the cable doesn't carry much in the way of current which is the main reason for heavy gauge cabling in audio systems. The actual need for heavy gauge cables is normally only applied to speaker cables and then only when they are running between very high current amplifiers and certain difficult to drive loudspeakers which draw high current from the amp. But take a look at the actual current and voltage capacity of, say, a 14 AWG cable used in a 120 Volt AC circuit. (AC is what travels within your interconnect and speaker cables.) Home audio systems do not approach these current/voltage levels and they certain do not do so on a sustained time basis. A simple 18 gauge cable would be more than sufficient for the current requirements of a subwoofer and most speakers. Buying more is a waste of money IMO. Therefore, more copper - which is typically not there but simply suggested by virtue of more (thicker) insulation used to make the cable look more impressive - can actually working against you by changing the capacitive parameters of the cable when you have an inexpensive PVC dielectric (insulation). How the conductor legs are arranged - parallel run vs twisted pair - will effect the inductance and capacitance values of the cable. These are issues which affect interconnect and speaker cables though capacitance and inductance aren't a big issue with a subwoofer cable as their (main) effects occur far, far above the frequencies where any true subwoofer will operate.


Therefore, don't get caught up in a gobble-de-gook sales pitch that tells you nothing. What you are looking for is a good solid solder connection made within the connector - something seldom mentioned in the sales pitch for less expensive cables - and nothing fancy in the way of materials unless you can afford to step up to something several times the price of a $74 cable. Don't buy junk but don't buy something you're being sold without a good reason. Fairly thin and simple is how to go here and don't let anyone argue you out of it based on looks - or lies - alone.

Cables are one of the most contentious items discussed in audio and many forums will not allow a thread which simply starts yet another cable war. The first issue I tend to see in such discussions are the "engineers" who won't even try that "$15k" cable that doesn't realy exist other than in their imagination. Price should not be the issue in audio. If the higher quality materials are working to affect a change in the signal transmission or in your final perception - perception here being very different than just hearing - then the issue is why there are changes, not how much do they cost. The "experts" who argue for or against anything in audio are typically not the folks who do the hard design work in audio, they are just the people who think others should pay attention to their words and no one else's. In that respect, you should include my advice also. To design a good cable the designer must have some working knowledge of metalurgy along with a thorough grounding in plastics and their effect on signal transmission. Theory is fine and should be where every good designer begins. However, theory is just theory and it can sometimes be trumped by subjective tests which then need to be proven as real. Gravity is such a theory. At one time the theory itself didn't exist. Today we can't exactly explain all of its mechanisms but we understand the theory based upon subjective evidence. So far, cables have largely escaped such scrutiny since the two camps debating cables are as far apart on the subject as Republicans and Democrats are on economic theory.

Antenna theory also comes into play as a cable operates much like a simple whip antenna on your car. Transmission line theory is also essential to a good cable design since resonances and reflected energy have a strong influence on the behavior of a signal within a cable. Few people other than those who work in the cable design field every day will have the extensive base of knowledge to actually argue about the effects cables can have on the accuracy of the signal transmission. Therefore, when you begin to explore cables for your system, understand that most of what you will read is either uninformed BS or has been made up by the marketting team for sale to the buyer. Very few salespeople come close to understanding cables and most merely spout the company verbage when they are promoting a particular cable line. More importantly, cables in one system may react in a different way than the same cable in a different system. Cables become part of the circuit and should be understood as such. Since few people understand or even take the time to look at the actual electrical specs of their components, cables are mostly a crap shoot of misunderstood and ignored facts.




At the average level of most systems, cables are somewhat less important as long as you buy decent quality in materials and construction. As your system gains greater transparency to the source, cables become far more important and the alteration of signal quality they affect can more easily be understood by just listening with an open mind. If you haven't had any experience with a highly transparent system, I would encourage you to stop by a good independent dealer and ask to listen to some music on their reference system.


Finally and most importantly, cables are the dressing on the salad and not the steak on the platter. Correctly positioning both your speakers, your sub and your listening chair will have far more relevance to the ultimate sound quality you hear in your room than will the difference between two cables. Speakers (and subwoofers) pressurize the air within a room and the room's dimensions plus the position of the driving source (the speakers/sub) of this pressurization will be as much as 90% of what you hear as the final product of your system. If you are only going to plop the speakers and sub where they fit, then buying higher quality cables is a waste of money. It will amount to no more than a single grain of salt in an entire pot of stew. And like that stew, what you get will first depend upon the quality materials you use and the attention to preparation you provide them. The alterations a cable can make to the signal will be miniscule compared to the effects of placement within the room. Take the time to educate yourself regarding how speakers and subwoofers should be positioned in a room and try a few set ups before you decide to live with one. You can read a few threads on the forum;

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/698793.html#POST1985168


https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672623.html#POST1937114

And you can place "loudspeaker set up" and "how to position a subwoofer" in a search engine to get ideas on how to properly set up your system. As the system's transparency determines just how much you can extract from such tweaks as cables, you can do nothing unless you first set up the speakers, sub and listening chair to achieve the best your system can present. This is largely free other than the time invested. A modest system can easily transcend the overall quality of a higher priced system where basics have been ignored. Therefore, above all else, do the basic work your system requires to operate to its best advantage.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17115
Registered: May-04
.

This article might be a little above your head but it is a good starting point when trying to understand how speakers and rooms interact; http://www.tubetrap.com/bass_traps_articles/home-theater-3.htm
 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jan-12
Hi Jan - Once again I want to thank you for passing on your valuable knowledge and advice and spend your valuable time in writing to me. Thank you so much.
 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 4
Registered: Jan-12
"Your DVD/SACD player has no facility to control volume which tracks the output of the ampifier feeding signals to your speakers. Making the sub connection here would result in a single level of output from the sub. This line out from the player should run into the (pre) amp section of your system if you aren't using any digital connections from the player. This obviously then depends on how you have your system set up. Coaxial or optical digital connections or HDMI would carry the full 5.1 output of the player and no further "sub out" connections are required from the player to the (pre) amp."

Hi Jan - I have just received the M & K Powered Subwoofer KX-10. I hooked it up but still has no sound except the hum from the subwoofer. But first can I please clarify something with you.
As per your description above, my DVD/SACD has a coaxial and optical output but both are not utilized because the 5.1 Tube Amplifier does not have both coaxial and optical connectors.
I connect my Powered Subwoofer Line In Left jack to the 5.1 Tube Amplifier Subwoofer jack, this means that the DVD/SACD interconnect RCA jack that was connected to the 5.1 Amplifier Subwooofer jack would become obsolete. Before I owned this 5.1 Tube Amplifier, it was a Phillips Home Theatre AV Receiver which includes a Phillips Subwoofer and was hooked up to the receiver surround system via speakers out for subwoofer. I have disconnected the subwoofer since I am going to use the Powered Subwoofer. Would appreciate if you could advice. Thank you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17117
Registered: May-04
.

Greenhorn, I don't really understand how you have the system connected. You have the SACD/DVD player connected how? What runs between the player and the amplifier? Interconnects, obviously, but what outputs and inputs are you using on each piece? Does the amplifier have inputs for a 5.1 channel analog connection? Does it not have a dedicated output for a line level subwoofer out connection?


What amplifier is this? Can you provide a link to it so I can see what in's and out's it has?



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New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 5
Registered: Jan-12
Jan, thank you for your reply. Please allow me to explain more clearly this time (I hope). My Philips DVD/SACD Player has the following RCA jacks:
1. Front Left & Right
2. Rear Left & Right
3. Centre
4. Subwoofer

The rear panel of the 5.1 Tube Surround Integrated Amplifier has the following RCA jacks:
1. Front Left & Right
2. Rear Left & Right
3. Centre
4. Subwoofer

and speaker terminals: Front L&R (+-), Rear L&R (+-), Centre (+-), Subwoofer (+-).

The 5.1 Tube Amplifier does not have Coaxial or Optic connectors. The amplifier have inputs for 5.1 channel analog connection and it does NOT have a dedicated output for a line level subwoofer out connection.

The Philips DVD/SACD Player which has similar RCA connectors as described above is connected to the 5.1 Tube Surround Amplifier using audio interconnects. The Subwoofer jack of DVD/SACD Player is no longer connected to the Subwoofer jack of the 5.1 Tube Amplifier. The 5.1 Tube Amplifier subwoofer jack is now connected to the Powered Subwoofer Line In Left jack via subwoofer cable. Hope this make sense.

The amplifier was bought on ebay. Here's the link:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem%26item%3D250961861621&ssPage Name=ADME:X:eRTM:GB:1123

The model is MINI 5.1 X5 Surround 5.1 6P1 Tube Integrated Amplifier K

Thank you.
 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 6
Registered: Jan-12
Sorry it seems that the link did not work the first time. Retry:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MINI-5-1-X5-Surround-5-1-6P1-Tube-Integrated-Amplifier -K-/250991577025?_trksid=p4340.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DDLSL%252BSIC.NPJS%26its%3DI %26itu%3DUCI%252BUA%26otn%3D10%26pmod%3D250961861621%252B250961861621%26po%3D%26 ps%3D63%26clkid%3D6227366994811669081
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17118
Registered: May-04
.

Sending me to an eBay page isn't as much help as I'd prefer. I'm somewhat confused since the specifications listed on this page; http://www.ebay.com/itm/MINI-5-1-X5-Surround-5-1-6P1-Tube-Integrated-Amplifier-K -/250991577025?pt=UK_AudioTVElectronics_HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers&hash=item3a7043 87c1 indicate 12 watts to the five main channels and 20 watts to the subwoofer. Is this the amp you own?



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New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 7
Registered: Jan-12
My apologies. I couldn't find a proper link and thought that this would be of help to you. Yes I owned this amplifier. There is also a picture of the rear panel but its written in Chinese. With your expertise I believe that you are able to figure it out. Probably I should explain to you anyhow.

On the left of the picture are rows of RCA Inputs. Top row are:
R - Front, Rear and Centre and bottom row are:
L - Front, Rear and Subwoofer.

The rows on the Middle and Right Hand side are Speaker Terminals. The speaker terminals for the Subwoofer is located at the very end of the the Right side of the picture.
Once again thank you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17119
Registered: May-04
.

"The Philips DVD/SACD Player which has similar RCA connectors as described above is connected to the 5.1 Tube Surround Amplifier using audio interconnects. The Subwoofer jack of DVD/SACD Player is no longer connected to the Subwoofer jack of the 5.1 Tube Amplifier. The 5.1 Tube Amplifier subwoofer jack is now connected to the Powered Subwoofer Line In Left jack via subwoofer cable. Hope this make sense."



What that tells me is still very confusing. Reading that I would assume you have the player's outputs connected to the amplifier's inputs via line level audio interconnects. The interconnects are running from the player's front L&R out's to the amplifier's front l&R in's, etc. All channels are accounted for except the subwoofer out from the player "is no longer connected to the Subwoofer jack of the 5.1 Tube Amplifier". How do you expect the player's subwoofer output to reach the subwoofer if you don't accommodate its output between the player and the amp? The player cannot drive the subwoofer, only the amplifier has sufficient wattage to do so.

You say the amplifier "does NOT have a dedicated output for a line level subwoofer out connection". So, what are you running from the amp to the subwoofer as you describe in the previous paragraph? "The 5.1 Tube Amplifier subwoofer jack is now connected to the Powered Subwoofer Line In Left jack via subwoofer cable."

From what you have said, the amplifier does not have a dedicated subwooofer output which could be used with a line level interconnect. What I see you writing is you have the amplifier's subwoofer input jack connected to the subwoofer's input jack. But you have no output from the player to provide any subwoofer output signal from the player into the amplifier! If the amplifier has no dedicated line level output for the subwoofer, I can only assume the dedicated ".1" aspect of this amplifier must be taken from a set of speaker level outputs - not line level interconnects.

Since I can't find a photo of the back of what I assume is your amplifier, I have to assume further that a 5.1 amplifier must have connections which will accommodate a 5.1 input from an appropriate source player. In other words, the ".1" of that statement is the subwoofer input/output. Therefore, the amp should have all connections made from the player - including the subwoofer out from the player - which must be run to the appropriate input of the amplifier. If you do not connect a channel at the inputs of the amp, you cannot then expect to have that channel be output by the amp (without a signal applied to its inputs). All output channels from the player must be run to the inputs of the amplifier.

Further, you cannot run one input (at the amplifier) to another input (at the subwoofer). In's go to out's and out's go to in's. That's how it works. If you don't follow that rule, it doesn't work. That seems to be where you're at right now.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17120
Registered: May-04
.

Run the outputs of the player to the inputs of the amp. Take the subwoofer output from what must be a dedicated speaker level output on the amplifier. Run a speaker level cable to the "speaker level" inputs of the subwoofer. You only need to run one channel, and it does not matter which channel you select.
 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 8
Registered: Jan-12
While I wrote a reply to your earlier comments, you just sent me this one. My earlier comment mentioned that there is a picture showing the rear panel of the 5.1 tube amplifier. Your comments is important and its a good learning curve for me. You have provided me a lot of knowledge and I really do appreciate it. Thank you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17122
Registered: May-04
.

Greenhorn, I'm not scolding you but eBay is a dangerous place for someone who doesn't fully understand what they might be buying. Retailer assistance after the sale is all but impossible on such sites and the manufacturer might be impossible to reach with any questions. I don't mind helping where I can but, do you have access to a brick and mortar type of audio shop? Unless you really know what you are getting yourself into, a dealer who can provide the sort of advice a "greenhorn" usually needs is a valuable asset well beyond the monetary difference you might save on a website. Even when you think you know what to expect from a component, retailers and components can be a disappointment; https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/697727.html#POST1980150


Saving a few dollars in one thing. Being left out in the cold is another. I would suggest you would be wise to find a dealer in your area whom you can trust and who can assist you with all the things a "noobie" needs to learn.



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New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 9
Registered: Jan-12
Jan, you can be rest assured that I am not at all upset. I really do appreciate the time and effort that you were trying to help people like myself who have no knowledge whatsoever. Yes you were right in saying that about eBay retailers. I was disappointed that the seller told me that he could not assist me as "I have no idea how to connect to a 5.1 tube amplifier to a powered subwoofer". I understood what you have written in your earlier comments and will try the connection tomorrow. If all else fail, I would just need to get someone to set it up however I have confident that it will work. Thank you very much for all your efforts in trying to help.
 

New member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 10
Registered: Jan-12
Here's a diagram of the rear panel that the retailer sent to me. Many thanks.

Upload
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17125
Registered: May-04
.

Good luck, Greenhorn. I'll help as much as I can. Just remember; in's go to out's and out's go to in's. All of your outputs from the player should run to the inputs of the amplifier. Take your subwoofer output from the speaker level output of the amp along with all of your main and surround channels. Your sub's owner's manual should explain how to operate the sub with speaker level inputs.




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17126
Registered: May-04
.

I would also suggest you purchase a set of replacement tubes for this amp. Not a complete set but, say, a pair of each type of tube in the amp. Noobies and tube amps are a somewhat dangerous combination under the best of circumstances. Noobies and tube amps purchased from an online retailer are destined to be problematic. And it looks like you have a very unusual tube amp with that many channels of tube amplification.

If you begin to have problems with the amp, you can often do a good bit of troubleshooting on a tube amp if you have a few spare tubes to use. Don't buy anything fancy because you might stick in a new tube and it will go up in a flaming red ball of hot plates and grids. But have a couple of cheap tubes you won't mind sacrificing to a bad bias resistor. Without these - and some help - you are destined to be sending this amp back for repairs. With a few extra cheap tubes you can often spare yourself some headaches.



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17127
Registered: May-04
.

Last thing for now, never power up your amplifier without tubes in all sockets and a load on the outputs. In your case a "load" would be a fully operable speaker. You risk damaging the amp if you turn it on without speakers connected to the outputs.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 12
Registered: Jan-12
Jan, finally the subwoofer is working. Believe it or not, I have decided to read through the Operating Manual of the DVD/SACD Player. There was a small print in italic which says:

"Helpful Hint: If the subwoofer is equipped with its own amplifier, the Subwoofer connection should be connected directly to the subwoofer."

So I decided to connect to the DVD/SACD Player Subwoofer Out to the Powered Subwoofer Line In jack. There was no sound. Then I turned on the TV and used the controller and select System Menu to check the DVD/SACD settings. Viola! the Subwoofer was 'OFF'. Switched it to 'ON' and beautiful music begins to play with deep powerful bass.
I am so glad it all works out. Once again, thank you for all your help.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Learners_permit

Post Number: 14
Registered: Jan-12
Hi Jan - I wonder if you could kindly give me your opinion regarding tubes. Remember in one of your forum you wrote to me advising me to obtain some spare tubes. Now I have been looking to purchase some spare tubes for my Meng Yue X5.1 Surround Amplifier. My tube amplifier uses 12 x 6P1 (6AQ5) and 6 x 6N2 tubes.
I have written to the seller twice asking him for spare tubes and received no answers. As you have said before, eBay is "a dangerous place" to do business. Yes I have learned my lesson.
I have been to eBay and look at some tubes and almost every sellers are located in Russia and Ukraine. They offer "6P1P-EV = 6AQ5 = EL90 Svetlana Tubes" and according to the forum that I have read and virtually everyone said it is similar to my 6P1 (Chinese made tubes) and have similar number of pins (9-pins).
What would you advise?
Now I have something to confess. Lately I am thinking of changing my tubes but I am also not wanting to jump into the frying pan without understanding the danger behind doing this kind of stuff. Someone said "It ain't broken why fix it?".
Thank you.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17140
Registered: May-04
.

My suggestion was for an inexpensive set of spare tubes. You don't require an entire replacement set for trouble shooting purposes, just one or two replacements for each type of tube used in your amp. Using spares can often allow a temporary repair or at the least a better diagnosis of a problem. Go to any of the larger, well regarded tube retailers on line and explain what you're looking for.

tubedepot.com, Vacuum Tube Valley, vacuumtubes.net, thetubestore.com, or tubesandmore.com should all be able to provide a few low cost replacement spares for your amplifier.

Before you set off buying new tubes to replace the OEM units that came with your amp, I would suggest you simply spend some time with the amp. You've only had it for a few weeks and you need to be more accustomed to what it does right and what might need some improvement. You also need to realize just what can be accomplished through tube rolling and what must be done to the system before tube rolling should take place. Don't rush into rolling tubes just for the sake of hearing something different. Tubes can change the presentational style of your amp along with the basic sound of the system. Neither of those would be sufficient reason to simply begin rolling tubes. IMO the concept of "tube sound" is highly misunderstood and in most cases should be avoided. Strive for neutrality in the system, whatever that means to your ears. The best system is one that pays service to the music rather than one which constantly draws attention to itself. "Whatever that means to your ears" is not permission to do anything that you think will change the system. "Whatever sounds good to your ears" merely means you must first have some clearly stated goals - which may not be the exact same goals I might have - and that you constantly stay headed in the right direction toward those goals without diverting resources to do nothing more than making a step sideways or to make something sound "different". "Different" is not "better". Better is better.

Can you describe or explain what your present set up does well in its presentation of music and what might improvements might bring the music closer to a realistic, lifelike presentation? I'm not particularly interested in whether the system has good imaging or soundstaging nor am I interested in tight bass and clean highs. How does the music live in your system? Or, doesn't it? On many occasions I have suggested a client should consider a "music system" first rather than a HiFi. Placing the emphasis on the music itself will mean a system which portrays those qualities which you find interesting in a performance. Music hasn't changed much in the last few hundred years, merely the styles of performance have changed. Therefore, what made for good music 80 years ago will still be largely revelant to how music should affect you today. A HiFi, on the other hand, will constantly be outdated from the moment you buy it. This component will do this better than that component and new buzzwords will enter the vocabulary. Constantly keeping up with the changes in audio will keep you constantly broke. If, on the other hand, you first make the system all about the musical qualities it displays and you are clear about what is important to you - your priorities - and what at your budget you can live without, then even a modest system can be satisfying for long periods of time.

Do you play an instrument? Do you attend live performances? If so, what sort? Do you have some familiarity with the concepts which are used to make music and how those concepts are put into use by talented performers to make music which is a step above the average? You don't have to be an expert at music any more than a good driver needs to know the how's and why's of an anti-lock braking system. However, a good driver should understand what it is about an anti-lock system that makes it useful to their ability to be a better driver and how to correctly use that system to their advantage. You should adopt the same principles in your system building. You should be familiar enough with the sound of an unamplified instrument that you can recognize its timbre and scale when played. A trumpet sounds unlike an electric guitar which sounds not so much like a drum. You should have a passing knowledge of how a favorite performer uses their instrument, what are their signature techniques they use to their advantage. Are those being well served by your present system? If not, why not? If you haven't recently, go hear some live music before you ever change anything on your system. Understand what values you enjoy in any music your experience. Music is in many ways all around you. What is it that makes you - not me, you - stop and take notice? Describe what it is that you like about your favorite performers. Make a short mental list of those priorities and as you are considering making upgrades to your system, make certain you pay attention to that handful of musical values first and foremost. If you get the musical priorities right, the system's qualities must follow. The qualities which relate strictly to the system; imaging, soundstaging, etc, are strictly those things related to the system and not the music itself. If you were to listen to your favorite performer through a mono system - an AM radio, what qualities would still make them your favorite performer?

I'm not one who necessarily seeks "accuracy" in my own system's musical portrayals. I tend to desire transparency to the source above all else, a sense the system is not intruding into or affecting the music as the artist intended it to be experienced. Since I listen to many historic pieces of music performed in many instances decades ago, bass and highs aren't all that important to me as most people would understand them. However, my perception of how the artist manipulated those values are important to my experiencing the music as the artists intended at the time of the recording. Therefore, there is a distinct difference between a system which portrays accurate "bass" and a system which is transparent enough that it can emphasize the role a bassline plays in a performance. A blues guitar played with a palm muted bass has more to do with intent and listener perception than with accuracy of the system. Understand? There is a distinct difference between those two goals of accuracy and transparency. Take awhile to think about each and why you might favor one over the other. What other examples of musical priorities can you think of which would apply to your desires for your music?


Make your list of priorities then compare it with honesty to where your present system is at in regards to those priorities. At that point you should be able to devise a very broad plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. Not by buying such and such a component or accessory but by playing to the strengths of the system as it stands. Always play to what your system does well and build on those strengths. And always keep in mind what your budget will allow and what are likely the most costly aspects of music reproduction. Then come back and we can talk more specifically about tubes.

OK?



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