Changing tubes

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Changing tubes

In my many videos and blog posts about changing tired vacuum tubes, I am continually surprised at the variety of answers.

They range from heck yeah to hell no; from whenever the system starts to get a bit lifeless to never more than 10 years; and everything in between.

I suppose I should never be surprised when audiophiles have and express opinions. It's what makes us family.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are no universal rules. Every design of vacuum tube audio product has a different setup affecting tube life. I remember a few Sonic Frontier amps that benefitted from changing output tubes every few months. Contrast that with the vintage classic from decades ago that still sings with the best of them.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that all vacuum tubes sound slightly different. Take four or five matched set of new tubes and swap them out between listening sessions. The changes may be subtle, but they are there.

What I have found in all the tube preamplifiers I have owned, from Audio Research to PS Audio, changing tubes at least once a year (and maybe twice) brings a remarkable improvement in music's liveliness.

Before you reject what I am writing, take the time to actually try the experiment.

You might be surprised.

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Paul McGowan

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