Tu-be or not Tu-be
Questions and Answers on New Old Stock Tubes
Part 6 - Final Thoughts
I realize that in the world of high-end audio, terms like "bizarre" and "strange" have very little meaning, but what are some of the more unusual tube requests that you've received over the years?
Over in Hong Kong and Japan, audio publications occasionally do in-depth articles and tests on a variety of new and N.O.S. tubes. As a result of this, I can get some unique tube requests. I had one customer overseas who only wanted Mullards that had "Made in GR. Britain" labeled on the tube. Not "Made in Great Britain", not "Made in Britain", it had to be "Made in GR. Britain". Others have called requesting sets of tubes with "large hoop" getter rings, no "small hoops" allowed.
My favorite is when I sell people certain British tubes that come with plastic protectors for their pins. Every once in a while, someone calls me up a couple days later complaining bitterly that I sold them defective tubes with no pins. The reactions when I tell them to simply pry off the plastic covers are usually interesting, but most people have a sense of humor about it.
Where is the market for N.O.S. tubes today? Are you selling primarily to a North American market or is most of the business now going overseas?
I'd say that my business is split fairly evenly between these markets. When I sell to overseas dealers, it's usually in large quantities. I sell primarily to individuals in the U.S. I'm trying really hard to bring more tubes into this country than I ship out. I get a real kick out of finding the rare and special tubes from various out-of-the-way countries.
Have you noticed a resurgence of interest in N.O.S. tubes in recent years?
Oh yeah. Tube-based audio is involving and it's fun- it's a hoot. When I first got involved in HiFi, I did some dinking around with tubes but decided I didn't want to get involved. I got out of it for a while and into solid state, but something always kept calling me back to the tube sound and, for lack of a better term, the "relationship" between the owner and the tube-based amplifiers.
I think people also like to be a bit more involved with their equipment. Tube audio does require a smidge more care than solid state, but it's fairly easy stuff to deal with. Also, tubes in general and N.O.S. tubes in particular allow the user to fiddle around a bit more with the playback system by swapping various tubes in an out in search of system synergy. Nirvana can be reached.
I am completely convinced that people like tube HiFi because they want to be more involved with the music. Everything is digitized today with bits and bytes. Look at a CD cover- you'll see stuff like "drum programming". Im sick of that crap. Tubes allow you to warm up the music, making it sound more analog and ultimately more human.
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