What means the letter B? We use this to indicate the balanced version. The is a long life version Balanced means, both triodes within one tube are identical within a pre-defined limit.

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Well, let me tell you those Bothan spies had a lark! I mean fighting Imperial storm troupers, bounty hunters etc. The original blind group listening test that provided much of the info for this report was conducted on no lesser day then the 7th of June - Election Day in the UK.

Luckily enough tubes turned out and my test was better than that at the Ballot boxes, I guess every country gets the government they deserve. This report should have been written a little after that, but alas, many things intervened - not the least a love affair with the throes of young and foolish love Thus much time that I should have spend listening and writing reviews was taken up by other pursuits.

Still, this report was slowly taking shape. The next blow came in the form of a friend who kindly donated a new Motherboard for my PC, while fitting it I managed to loose the Hard Drive content and I found that my backups had excluded my whole desktop, where I keep all current problems.

Well, I started to retype everything. I could not sleep at night and finally had to visit my dentist who promptly decided root canal surgery was needed. Still, Jean Hiraga declared the B to be "the tube of the century" and in my view rightly so. Even the legendary Western Electric B has been put back into production. From a situation where there was basically no real choice we have come to one where the choice is huge and perplexing. Hence this test, in order to relate how many of those different valves perform and sound.

Looking in my Valve Cabinet upstairs and beholding the incredible riches of seven different types of B valves and in some cases several pairs compared to the state of affairs not so long ago makes me realize how lucky we Ultra Fidelity enthusiasts really are.

In addition to the valves in my own possession and those submitted by manufacturers and distributors I leaned heavily on friends and acquaintances to obtain a loan of B valves they had at hand to make the test as comprehensive as possible. Some task! Finally a few words on the results and conditions of the test. Music and sound is a very subjective thing. The sound of an entire system comes into play, so there are often synergies and other effects that make what works well in one system work less well in another.

As a result of considerations such as that I have tried very much to bring out each valves individual sonic character relative to the others in the test, in addition to assigning "absolute" scores based on relative performance in my system.

My own scoring is based on the use of the valves in a system 8 that essentially offers an in-room response from near 20Hz to way beyond 20KHz thanks to the large, high sensitivity loudspeakers, digital equalization and super tweeters I generally employ. The use of digital room correction means that usual bass bloat of the room is suppressed, thus the system is comparably close to an open window with pretty low colorations.

Using more conventional systems will significantly change results. A valve that sounds rather bright and brash in my system might help in a system that sounds somewhat dull in the high frequency range. Also, if speakers with a rather limited frequency range are employed the midrange quality alone may be deciding in subjectively preferred valve.

Equally, just because a valve has received a low score it should be excluded from consideration. On the contrary, the sonic characteristics of this valve may very well suit your system very well. So please read the whole text and try putting my comments on relative sonics into the context of your taste and system.

Now, Let the Games begin! The examples tested where borrowed from a friend and well burned in. The valves I had looked consistent, if quite cheaply made with thin glass and flimsy looking internal structures. Internal structures look common and without unusual features. The sound was bright, brash and dry. The soundstage delineation and depth was not ideal. On the positive side, despite a tendency to brightness the midrange was clean and uncluttered with non of the edginess and graininess of some other valves.

Microphonics are about average, perhaps a little better then average. It seems to be a highly reliable valve, which might have attraction for some. Overall a valve that might work well in a system that is rather on the dull side and needs brightening up. If your system is already on the bright side this may be too much.

At current prices and in the current market I feel this Valve is overpriced. All in all a Valve that did not find much favor with either listening panel or myself. Overall


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