First tube pre, VTL 2.5

gmcmangmcman Posts: 1,560
edited September 2016 in Electronics
Brief history, I've been toying with the idea of a tube preamp since they are widely accepted and praised here for the SDA's. I had a lower budget but was able to purge a few items so that upped the ante a little and a remote was a criteria.

I found this used VTL 2.5 at a local dealer and the fact it was black really gave me interest. Good thing I added this since my Ref 50 has an issue with the RCA output jacks so the timing was right.

p8qu3qd2i7nc.jpg


The unit came with stock JJ tubes in both the 12AT7 and 12AU7 slots, JJ ECC81 & JJ ECC82 respectively. There was noticeable hiss and some slight buzzing from the speakers when I first powered it up, the tubes are at least 2 years old, closer to 3, total hours are unknown.

I changed the AT7 tubes to NOS Mullard CV4024/M8162 and found some RCA NOS 12AU7A tubes at a good price and that combo sounds pretty good but only has about 10 hours. I received some Mullard NOS CV4003/12AU7 tubes yesterday and installed them this morning and they have about 8 hours on them.

The jury is out on the 4003's until they settle down but initial impressions are the highs are rolled off and the piano is a little muddy. I understand the tubes need some time to settle down but overall the VTL has added liquidity to the system and it's a total night and day over the SS Ref 50 which is no slouch but it's a whole new level now.

Any input appreciated on this preamp and tube combos.

Comments

  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,463
    Excuse me if I'm out of line for asking, but, can you provide a ballpark cost on this unit?

    I'm interested in seeing what others have to say about it as well.

    Thanks, Kerry
  • gmcmangmcman Posts: 1,560
    My max budget was $1K, was originally $500 but again timing was right, these show up on Agon sometimes around 900-1000 as an average. This one put me over budget almost 100 bucks but it was at VTL 2 years ago for a checkup and received a clean bill of health. Also it's black and I didn't have to pay shipping, so that made me cave a little.
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,463
    I love tube pre's with ss amps. I'm running an Audio Electronics (Cary's budget tube stuff) With a Marsh A200s and am pretty pleased with it. Always looking, though. Look forward to hearing your opinion on it after you've had some more time with it.
  • tattat Posts: 159
    I dont know those type tubes too well but I might wanna try and get some Tesla's from Eastern Europe, they made some great tubes before they became JJ. There are alot of fake Tesla's for other sizes so you have to be careful.
    When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws are free...
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,431
    Cool man, glad your diggin' it. That tube sound sure is addicting isn't it ?
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • dhart86dhart86 Posts: 1,577
    edited September 2016
    Congrats on your new tubed pre--Tube pre amps add alot to the musical mix. while it is true that tubes take some time to settle in......if you feel like your highs are rolled off and piano is muddy....it could also be that the tube combination that you have in your pre is the culprit. Both tube types you mention have a very warm sonic character and could contribute to the muddiness.

    You may need to replace one tube type with a lighter, more airy tube. suggestions include


    NOS
    sylvania / ge / raytheon
    siemens
    telefunken
    RFT

    or

    new production

    psvane
    electro harmonix
    gold lion


    If you haven't done so yet......go to Brent Jesse website and read up on the different sonic characters of different tubes. The right combo will bring you sonic bliss
    Main Rig:
    Antipodes DX > Roon > PS Audio Directstream Jr.>deHavilland Ultraverve 3 >Belles Reference 150a >Harbeth C7 ES3


    Second Rig:
    Roon> PS Audio Directstream Jr Bridge II > EE Minimax pre (Tutay mods) >Belles 150A Ref >Monitor 5 (Westmassguy-modded)


  • Congrats,,, and now it begins :D
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)
  • heiney9heiney9 Posts: 24,137
    Tube rolling is where it's at. If your interested, PM me and I might have something nice for you at a reasonable price.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Plus DAC | MIT Shotgun S3 | MIT Z P/C's | updated SDA 1C| SQ Box Touch/Welbourne Labs P/S- Tubes add soul!
  • halohalo Posts: 5,536
    I used to have a VTL 2.5 preamp. I was using it with Mullard tubes and that complimented the rest of my set up very nicely.

    If you feel the Mullard tubes are too "dark," try Telefunken.

    That VTL 2.5 pre was one of the nicest preamps I've ever owned, in regards to sound quality. The remote volume control can be a little "jerky." The CS from VTL, even though I didn't buy it new, was outstanding.

    Congrats!
  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,887
    Try some brimar 13d5 long plates. They are similar to Mullard but a little more sparkle on the top end, not as dark. They don't roll off the highs as much as mullards. Let me know how many you need, I have 4 NOS spares.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,463
    I'm running Psvane in my pre and love them. Very detailed. I believe they have a bit more gain though I have no measurements to support that, just my take on it from rolling the stock Russian EH's and 40's RCA's.
  • gmcmangmcman Posts: 1,560
    kharp1 wrote: »
    Look forward to hearing your opinion on it after you've had some more time with it.

    Will do, I'm sure I will be asking many questions along the way.

    tat wrote: »
    might wanna try and get some Tesla's from Eastern Europe, they made some great tubes before they became JJ.

    I'm down for trying anything, the right combo will fall into place eventually.


    tonyb wrote: »
    Cool man, glad your diggin' it. That tube sound sure is addicting isn't it ?

    Oh yeah, from the first few seconds of using it, there's a liquidity I haven't heard in SS preamps. Almost like going from taking a hammered texture paint to semi-gloss in terms of overall tonality...especially the vocals. Not so much the music moving from behind the grills, but just overall smoothness.

    dhart86 wrote: »
    Congrats on your new tubed pre--Tube pre amps add alot to the musical mix. while it is true that tubes take some time to settle in......if you feel like your highs are rolled off and piano is muddy....it could also be that the tube combination that you have in your pre is the culprit. Both tube types you mention have a very warm sonic character and could contribute to the muddiness.

    You may need to replace one tube type with a lighter, more airy tube. suggestions include


    NOS
    sylvania / ge / raytheon
    siemens
    telefunken
    RFT

    or

    new production

    psvane
    electro harmonix
    gold lion


    If you haven't done so yet......go to Brent Jesse website and read up on the different sonic characters of different tubes. The right combo will bring you sonic bliss

    I agree, the Mullard CV4024 along with the CV 4003 was a little dark. I haven't tried many combos, but the RCA 12AU7A with the Mullard CV4024 sounds the best so far for what I have currently. The JJ's that came with it have alot of gain and are very bright but could be worn out. The JJ ECC82's I have in the 12AU7 slot provide the most gain noise, even paired with the Mullards.

    I've heard good things on the Siemens as well, I will surely try those as well. I have touched base with Brent also...thanks for the tip.


    heiney9 wrote: »
    Tube rolling is where it's at. If your interested, PM me and I might have something nice for you at a reasonable price.

    H9

    Will do, thanks.
    mikeyb128 wrote: »
    Try some brimar 13d5 long plates. They are similar to Mullard but a little more sparkle on the top end, not as dark. They don't roll off the highs as much as mullards. Let me know how many you need, I have 4 NOS spares.

    The RCA 12AU7A with the CV4024 are just lacking that air. The Mullards in the AT7 slot bring very nice midrange without being boomy, but I don't have a good AU7 to pair with it yet.
    Congrats,,, and now it begins :D

    No doubt.... I thought I was just settling down....now I have a plethora of tubes I need to roll...lol.

    @halo

    Yeah, it sounds real good, I did find the remote works best when resting on a surface as opposed to holding it in the air...dunno why.
  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,887
    The brimars have that air you are looking for. I recently paired them with Mullard with brimars and was the perfect combination.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

  • schwarcwschwarcw Posts: 7,247
    The VTL is a very nice preamp and the price is right. These preamps sound very good and are well built. You should get a lot of enjoyment trying different tubes. Congrat and good luck rolling!
    Carl

  • Congrats on your new tube pre, she's a beauty! Now you know what all the hub-bub is about, enjoy!
    SDA SRS 2.3TL's/SDA SRS 3.1TL's/SDA CRS+4.1TL's and some other stuff
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,431
    Congrats on your new tube pre, she's a beauty! Now you know what all the rabbit hole is about, enjoy!
    .

    Fixed that for ya pal. ;)

    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • tonyb wrote: »
    Congrats on your new tube pre, she's a beauty! Now you know what all the rabbit hole is about, enjoy!
    .

    Fixed that for ya pal. ;)

    Soo true, but didn't want to scare the lad! Next up, Tube Amp!

    SDA SRS 2.3TL's/SDA SRS 3.1TL's/SDA CRS+4.1TL's and some other stuff
  • gmcmangmcman Posts: 1,560
    Just for kicks, I swapped the 2.3's for the 2B with the Mundorf in the AT7 and the RCA in the AU7, this combo isn't that muddy in the 2.3 but in the 2B they sound pretty good and actually slightly brighter.

    I checked the resistance to the tweeter posts and they measure quite high, positive was about .6 ohms and the neg was about 3 ohms...ouch... I'm sure it's oxidation, among other things. I need to order some posts, a good cleaning would likely be an improvement but I can't make accurate comparisons between tubes and speakers when these hookups are in need of dire improvements.
  • gmcmangmcman Posts: 1,560
    @tat
    The Teslas came in, found some NOS ECC82's from 64'-68' from Czechoslovakia. I haven't had them in very long....just an hour or so, I will say they pair very nicely with the Mullard CV4024's. Very smooth and very detailed, not as fat in the midrange as the CV4003 but that could be a good thing. The highs are kind of wispy, maybe that's a bad analogy, but they taper off real nice.

    Looking forward to the Brimars now as well, can't have too many tubes....:) I appreciate the suggestion on the Teslas, they really do sound very good.

    2sg0znpkgj85.jpg

    s8vb4nzpza9r.jpg
  • tattat Posts: 159
    thanks glad they work. Frankly I only have experience with their E83CC (12AX7), but imo it is to die for. Beware of fakes though. Unless Im confusing things, Tesla bought Telefunken's equiptment. Tungsram is another Eastern maker with general quality worthy of consideration that sometimes gets lost in the plethora of Western superstars.
    When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws are free...
  • VTL ST50 w/mods / RCA6L6GC / TlfnknECC801S
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