Tube Tester Suggestions?

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Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Wed 01/16/13 10:53 pm

I've had some issues with tubes lately, and I'd like to purchase a tester. I'm mostly interested in a noval tester, but octal also would be nice. Does anybody have any suggestions as to a decent model number to look for that won't break the bank?

Thanks,
Josh
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby greaser_au » Fri 01/18/13 5:52 am

Oooh! first post for me on the new forum! First up: thanks for the work that has been put in to get the site back up and running!

Valve testing... where to start.... :) Not sure where you are at with this game, but there is lots of useful info out there. You have two overall aspects to test (beyond stupid things like inter-element shorts or gas).

One is the emission, and the majority of lower-cost testers simply set up the valve as a diode (or triode), with appropriate voltages, & test to see how much current flows for comparative DC conditions. Other testers will test for the valve gain: mutual transconductance (transfer conductance as in Ip/Vgk), or mu (the amplification factor) .

An example of the second type was designed for the rec.audio.tubes newsgroups many years ago by Steve Bench, a copy of the old site is kept here (lots of useful information on this site - also look for 'the sound of capacitors'): http://www.jacmusic.com/techcorner/SBEN ... sbench101/, search for "RAT gm/Mu Tube Tester Project".

good luck in your search,
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Sun 01/20/13 12:40 pm

greaser_au wrote:Oooh! first post for me on the new forum! First up: thanks for the work that has been put in to get the site back up and running!

Valve testing... where to start.... :) Not sure where you are at with this game, but there is lots of useful info out there. You have two overall aspects to test (beyond stupid things like inter-element shorts or gas).

One is the emission, and the majority of lower-cost testers simply set up the valve as a diode (or triode), with appropriate voltages, & test to see how much current flows for comparative DC conditions. Other testers will test for the valve gain: mutual transconductance (transfer conductance as in Ip/Vgk), or mu (the amplification factor) .

An example of the second type was designed for the rec.audio.tubes newsgroups many years ago by Steve Bench, a copy of the old site is kept here (lots of useful information on this site - also look for 'the sound of capacitors'): http://www.jacmusic.com/techcorner/SBEN ... sbench101/, search for "RAT gm/Mu Tube Tester Project".

good luck in your search,
david
Hey, thanks for the reply. That project looks interesting but I want to see if there's a decent tester already out there that will help determine if a tube is basically "good" but more importantly, for tube matching..

Thanks,
Josh
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby kurtlives » Sun 01/20/13 1:12 pm

http://www.maximatcher.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Sun 01/20/13 2:13 pm

lol, that looks great, but $949 isn't exactly what I would call inexpensive. :)
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby greaser_au » Tue 01/22/13 3:24 am

There are plenty of decent testers out there, but I've found that vintage testers go for really stupid money, even the sort of basic emission tester that used to be down the local RadioShack/Tandy shop or that the local valve jockey service guy used to use. Collectors, huh...??!!! Sick

Basic DC matching is fine for minimising hum in push-pull stages, but if you have even the mildest case of audiophilia, you'll want a tester that can report gm or mu (to match to minimise distortion - but then that may not be what you want; after all, why are we here... :) ).

My next project will be a homebrew tester that will use parts of Mr Bench's RAT-gmmu tester to do emission with basic textbook parameters, and also test for gm/mu, for only a few valve types initally (probably EL84, ECC8X, 6V6/6L6/EL34 again probably with pluggable modules that I will patch as I need arises, rather than doing hours of repetitive wiring).

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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby Jess13 » Tue 10/01/13 8:44 pm

I know your post is getting a bit old, but incase you have not found anything I ran across this little gizmo that looks very interesting.

http://www.dos4ever.com/uTracer3/uTracer3.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I know nothing about it other than what I have read, but price and claimed performance seem to fit the bill. I would love to try one but its out of reach at the moment, but its not so high that it cant be bought by the average person.

Jess
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Tue 10/01/13 9:42 pm

Thanks for the find, that looks interesting. Fortunately for now I think I've sorted out my tube issues (by just not buying EL84s from JJ anymore), but you've definitely opened up my eyes to other areas to look at if this becomes an issue again for me.
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby Syke » Wed 10/02/13 10:53 am

JMPGuitars wrote:Thanks for the find, that looks interesting. Fortunately for now I think I've sorted out my tube issues (by just not buying EL84s from JJ anymore), but you've definitely opened up my eyes to other areas to look at if this becomes an issue again for me.
Hi I'm a newbie here if your looking again I see orange has some kind of tube tester out there I got lucky took a chance and got a vintage tenco tester from eBay you would be surprised how many new production tubes rate lower than used vintage I was neway
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Wed 10/02/13 12:02 pm

Syke wrote: Hi I'm a newbie here if your looking again I see orange has some kind of tube tester out there I got lucky took a chance and got a vintage tenco tester from eBay you would be surprised how many new production tubes rate lower than used vintage I was neway
That Orange VT1000 Valve Tester looks awesome! It's also the most reasonably priced so far assuming it does everything it says. I'm going to keep my eyes open for a used one. ;)

There's some negative reviews on Amazon, but I don't know how legit they are. If they even work only for matching, that would be good enough if I eventually find a used one.

UPDATE: I looked around more, and watched some video reviews, and everybody seems to love this thing. Either those 2 negative reviews were defective units (which could happen), or they probably were MaxiMatcher employees. ;)

Thanks!
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby Syke » Thu 10/03/13 12:28 pm

JMPGuitars wrote:
Syke wrote: Hi I'm a newbie here if your looking again I see orange has some kind of tube tester out there I got lucky took a chance and got a vintage tenco tester from eBay you would be surprised how many new production tubes rate lower than used vintage I was neway
That Orange VT1000 Valve Tester looks awesome! It's also the most reasonably priced so far assuming it does everything it says. I'm going to keep my eyes open for a used one. ;)

There's some negative reviews on Amazon, but I don't know how legit they are. If they even work only for matching, that would be good enough if I eventually find a used one.


UPDATE: I looked around more, and watched some video reviews, and everybody seems to love this thing. Either those 2 negative reviews were defective units (which could happen), or they probably were MaxiMatcher employees. ;)

Thanks!
I thought it looked pretty cool but I really don't know what to think about tube matching in general.I bought a big box of old tubes of an old dude in Calgary a pile of 6l6 RCA black plates and old tesla and rfk el84s plus a bunch of old mullard brimar and us 12ax7's the old guy thought I was an idiot when I asked if there was any matched tubes in the box he said back in the day they just replaced tubes when one went bad he had no idea they matched tubes so I took four random el84 Teslas out the box and put them in my orange th30 and the boost in volume and harmonics were crazy they sounded awesome I didn't leave them in though was worried what might happen to the tubes or amp over time kinda off topic but what do you think?
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Thu 10/03/13 1:23 pm

Syke wrote: I thought it looked pretty cool but I really don't know what to think about tube matching in general.I bought a big box of old tubes of an old dude in Calgary a pile of 6l6 RCA black plates and old tesla and rfk el84s plus a bunch of old mullard brimar and us 12ax7's the old guy thought I was an idiot when I asked if there was any matched tubes in the box he said back in the day they just replaced tubes when one went bad he had no idea they matched tubes so I took four random el84 Teslas out the box and put them in my orange th30 and the boost in volume and harmonics were crazy they sounded awesome I didn't leave them in though was worried what might happen to the tubes or amp over time kinda off topic but what do you think?
I'm sure more knowledgeable people can add to this, but, tube matching is important in guitar amps, even more so with new production tubes. Unmatched tubes can lead to problems with hum or possible amp failure (or worse).

Tube matching wasn't even thought of until recent years, and that probably has to do with modern production practices being sub par to the old stuff (in theory). From what I've read, as long as the tubes are close (within 10%) they could be considered matched. I wouldn't stick to that number though without doing a lot more research.

The benefit of not perfectly match tubes is, in theory, it can add more distortion and harmonics. However, a good set of matched tubes should get you that anyway if the amp is any good.

My (uneducated) *guess* is that around the 10% tolerance is probably true, and the manufacturers of products like MaxiMatcher push the perfect matching concept more than anybody else.

Anybody that knows what they're talking about want to clear that up? ;)
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby Syke » Fri 10/04/13 10:12 am

JMPGuitars wrote:
Syke wrote: I thought it looked pretty cool but I really don't know what to think about tube matching in general.I bought a big box of old tubes of an old dude in Calgary a pile of 6l6 RCA black plates and old tesla and rfk el84s plus a bunch of old mullard brimar and us 12ax7's the old guy thought I was an idiot when I asked if there was any matched tubes in the box he said back in the day they just replaced tubes when one went bad he had no idea they matched tubes so I took four random el84 Teslas out the box and put them in my orange th30 and the boost in volume and harmonics were crazy they sounded awesome I didn't leave them in though was worried what might happen to the tubes or amp over time kinda off topic but what do you think?
I'm sure more knowledgeable people can add to this, but, tube matching is important in guitar amps, even more so with new production tubes. Unmatched tubes can lead to problems with hum or possible amp failure (or worse).

Tube matching wasn't even thought of until recent years, and that probably has to do with modern production practices being sub par to the old stuff (in theory). From what I've read, as long as the tubes are close (within 10%) they could be considered matched. I wouldn't stick to that number though without doing a lot more research.

The benefit of not perfectly match tubes is, in theory, it can add more distortion and harmonics. However, a good set of matched tubes should get you that anyway if the amp is any good.

My (uneducated) *guess* is that around the 10% tolerance is probably true, and the manufacturers of products like MaxiMatcher push the perfect matching concept more than anybody else.

Anybody that knows what they're talking about want to clear that up? ;)
I agree with you but the amp did sound really good I might have got lucky.I tried the same thing with a pair of 6l6s in an old 1982 fender concert amp I have this time I put the tube on a bias probe to see how many milliamps apart they were one was running way hot the other cool and yea it sounded like crap the tubes I used were old stock ge with the side getter
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby JMPGuitars » Fri 10/04/13 11:24 am

Syke wrote: I agree with you but the amp did sound really good I might have got lucky.I tried the same thing with a pair of 6l6s in an old 1982 fender concert amp I have this time I put the tube on a bias probe to see how many milliamps apart they were one was running way hot the other cool and yea it sounded like crap the tubes I used were old stock ge with the side getter
Maybe you did get lucky. I'm guessing they're pretty old tubes. If you notice extra hum, or inconsistency from the amp in terms of volume or output, I'd shut it off and test them before using them again. I mistakenly had a mismatched set of modern production tubes that sounded ok, then got weird, and after playing for a little while the amp went silent. I thought it was dead, but I put in a pair that I knew was matched, and luckily it was all good.
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Re: Tube Tester Suggestions?

Postby CurtissRobin » Fri 10/04/13 2:52 pm

I've recited something to this effect many times: matching is vital in hi-fi and sound reinforcement because in there you're trying very hard to reproduce a sound without coloring what's in the original sound. We in the guitar world are creating sound, not reproducing it, therefore asymmetric behavior in amp circuits is one of many colors on our sound palate. There are probably as many amp gurus who argue one side as argue the other. I believe, therefore, that tube matching is important to those who say it's important and it's unimportant to those who believe that way. As with many things, it began with the boutique builders and cork sniffers and spread from them to the general populace. If, in fact, there is a benefit to matching your ears will tell you so. I suggest playing a matched set in your amp then an unmatched set or two and letting your ears decide.

As to "mismatched" tubes harming an amp, nonsense. Assuming tubes of the same type, at least one of the tubes would have to be faulty, not merely different in transconductance from the other(s) to cause harm.

KennyO
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