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Are new production Gold Lion KT88’s the best?

Discussion in 'Tube Audio' started by Sound Dragon, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    l know that this may be subjective. But for price, reliability and sound. Are the new production Gold Lion KT 88 as good as it gets?
     

     

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  2. petercapo

    petercapo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Without spending insane amounts of money, probably yes.

    The insanely expensive ones might not even be that much better than the Gold Lions, if better at all, but I am really just guessing saying that.

    I have a Cary SLI-80 Signature and have tried EH KT88, Svetlana (not Winged C) 6550, TAD KT88 and the Gold Lion KT88. The Gold Lions are clearly the best, sonically - but still expensive. Depending on which amp you have and what kind of sound qualities are to your preference, there might be a lower cost alternative that you'd like.

    Reliability can be a sticky wicket, and IMO it's difficult to say with much confidence which brand and/or model of tube is going to be more reliable. I'd focus more on the amplifier itself, because, from what I have read over time, a lot of problems people report with tubes can likely be traced back to issues with the amplifier, not the tube. In particular, I'd pay attention to tube socket health. The socket contacts need to be kept clean. The contacts also likely need to be retensioned periodically.

    The amp otherwise needs to be in good order. When I first brought my Cary SLI-80 home, there were serious problems with the workmanship inside. There were bad connections inside and when I changed tubes, the amp blew up not becasue of a problem with the tubes but because a wire came off of the socket contact inside.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  3. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    So for my application. I am running a Citation II. I have been wondering if splurging for a quad of Psvane Treasure tubes would be better than say a quad of Gold Lion KT-88s
     
  4. petercapo

    petercapo AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    895
    I think that would boil down to personal sonic taste.

    BUT, there are other considerations... If there are problems with the Chinese tubes, what kind of recourse is available? To me, this can be a show stopper. AFAIK, credit cards may not accept disputes for purchases made from sellers outside of the United States (check first). If you buy them from China and there is a problem, the seller may insist that you ship the defective/damaged tube(s) back to them, which will cost you a lot. If I were to buy Chinese tubes, I'd use eBay because eBay's policies may be the only protection there is. If you are thinking of buying Chinese tubes from somewhere other than eBay (say, a seller in the U.S. or Canada), read all the fine print of their return policy very carefully.

    Also, and I am speaking from my personal experience and observation, many if not most Chinese octal base tubes I have seen have pins that are splayed-out and also sometimes have excessive solder on the pins. This can deform socket contacts, which could cause problems.

    Just a number of variables with the Chinese tubes that are less likely with the Gold Lions.

    Have you tried different KT88 in the Citation? What kind of sound quality do you like? I have never heard a Citation, but I understand that they are not traditionally "tubey" sounding, would that be correct?
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  5. mkane

    mkane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Don't do it. You can spend crazy money for that last 10% DSC_0559.JPG DSC_0562.JPG DSC_0556.JPG
     
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  6. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    Well. In the past I have bought my Chinese Tubes from Grant Fidelity. I believe a few US outfits are selling various Chinese Tures now also and offer the same return policy on these tubes as others. Grant Fidelity would be my first choice, but there is a premium price for the extra layers of QC and good warranty.

    As to the sound of the Citation. I would agree that it has a very open and wide sound to it that very few other tube amps can match. I happen to enjoy it very much.

    @mkane, those are both lovely and so out of reach for most of us.
     

     

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  7. petercapo

    petercapo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, the Citations have remarkable output transformers with response out to a bazillion Hz. Impressive amplifiers.

    The EH KT88 is on the bright side but very good. The Gold Lions should sound super. So should the Treasures, provided things go well. Forgive me for sounding skeptical, but the last time I read Grant Fidelity's policies, it seemed to me, in my opinion, that she left herself a number of ways out of problems that may arise:

    http://grantfidelity.com/site/limited_warranty with section # 4 linking to... http://psvanetube.com/wordpress/psvane-tubes-warranty-return/
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  8. airtime

    airtime Super Member

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    They are the best I've heard so far. I've been using them in my VTA ST-70 for about two years.

    Order from a reliable source like Jim McShane. Jim throws in the QC for free - as it should be.
     
  9. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    I guess I should just order the gold lions. I was just curious what others were using and if there was a tangible difference that would warrant the added expense.
     
  10. Brice

    Brice AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    They are the best. Don't look at any others.
     
  11. Erhard-Audio

    Erhard-Audio AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I use the Gold Lion KT88's in my custom build 60W/CH power amp. In my opinion and my clients opinions, the best sounding KT88. They'll need a few hours to 'settle in', but boy, they do sound great!
     

     

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  12. airtime

    airtime Super Member

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    What would be the difference between a set of GL KT-88's and a cheaper tube in that category - $50 maybe? You're talking about a tube that you WILL like and be using for 10-15 years or more!

    If you get a cheaper tube you will only be putting off getting the GL's later on. And you will have a quad set of tubes that you really don't care for sitting in a box on a self - doing nothing but costing you more money.
     
  13. Erhard-Audio

    Erhard-Audio AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    my thought too...one spends $thousands on a good amp, then skimp on tubes....don't save at the wrong end, after all, it is ALL about the tubes, so get the best!...and I don't mean the 'snake oil touched by a virgin etc.' over priced bull dust!!
     
  14. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    See. I feel that it is difficult to determine where this line is. My amp came with a quad of EH KT 88s. I would assume that they are decent enough. They certainly don’t sound bad. I had treasure KT 88s in my Rita 880. I will say that that amp sounded absolutely fantastic.
     
  15. mkane

    mkane AK Subscriber Subscriber

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  16. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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  17. Erhard-Audio

    Erhard-Audio AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    well, and this is, of course, my personal opinion based on decades of being involved with tube gear, stick with proven factory new brands. And this, of course, includes EH, Tung Sol, JJ, Gold Lion etc.. They have been around for a while, their tubes are well built and proven. Some of the Chinese are starting to get there, I really like the Shuguang Treasure series, I use their CV181-Z as my driver tubes in my amps, those are 6SN7 equivalents. In fact, they are great sounding preamp tubes!
    I found that a lot of those 'high end' tubes which cost a small mortgage are really not any better than the brands I mentioned here. There are of course people who would argue that point, again, these are my personal opinions based on many years in this industry.
    Same applies to cables etc., there is a TON of snake oil out there. I use good quality multi-strand copper wire for signal and high voltage wiring, no need to pay a premium for silver this and silver that, cryo treated, yadda yadda yadda.....:crazy:
     
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  18. petercapo

    petercapo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    By all accounts, I would not expect the premium Chinese tubes to be "better" than the Gold Lion KT88. I think they would be different, hence my prior question about your sonic preferences. If you like the sound of the Citation amp, then the Electro Harmonix KT 88 might end up being your best bet, as they are known for a more open or bright sound. Save a bundle of money, too. I also have EH KT88 and have run them in my McIntosh MC275 MkIV, and they sound terrific.
     
  19. Sound Dragon

    Sound Dragon Yawns and sets his couch on fire! Subscriber

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    I know this might sound weird. But one of the biggest letdowns for the Psvane is that silver coating blocking the cool tube glow....nothing to do with Sonics, but it takes away from the overall experience for me.
     
  20. petercapo

    petercapo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Aesthetics are a valid consideration. Aesthetics have even been discussed for battleships, so I would think it's valid enough for audio gear!
     

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