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 Post subject: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:29 am 
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Bottle Rocket

Joined: Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:28 am
Posts: 15
Hi guys.
My TC50 is still with the original tubes, as I would like to change its character just a little to give him the extra “spice” I feel it miss, I would like to mess a little with the tubes.
However I don’t want to start with too much $$$, I thought to start with the preamp tubes only and progress from there.
From past experience I had with rack mount preamps, replacing the preamp tubes (even all of them) did almost nothing to the sound.
Question to those who already had a chance to replace the preamp tubes in the TC, is there any noticeable change in the sound?
My main “problem” is with the red channel, no matter what I try to do, it does not sound focused enough to my ears, .
Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:40 am 
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Mark III
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Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:45 pm
Posts: 346
Location: Southwest Michigan
I have had more luck with variances in tone from changing power tubes than with preamp tubes. I've tried the stock EL34s, Mesa 6V6, Mesa 6L6 and Mesa 5881s. I am currently running a pair of Mesa's =C= EL34 tubes. I personally did not care for the 6L6 or 5881s. To my old ears, they sounded a bit dull to me, but I am, admittedly more of an EL34 kind of guy. The 6V6, however, were quite different and pleasing to my ears, especially on the clean channel with the Drive mode engaged. Very "bouncy" and "juicy" to me. I can't say the =C= tubes were all that mind blowing, but I do like them better than the stock EL34s. What I have done in the preamp section is replace V1 with Mesa's SP12AX7 (kind of an old habit) and V3 with a Mullard CV4004. I have considered a JJ ECC803S, but haven't really found much of a need to try it yet since I am quite happy with my current tube compliment.

EDIT: I knew this had been discussed before and found the thread: viewtopic.php?t=73771

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TC-50, Mark V, Electra Dyne, Road King I
Mostly Fenders with Duncans
Celestion, Eminence, EVM, and WGS speakers


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 6:22 am 
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Triple Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 3088
Location: North Carolina
I too have messed around with preamp tubes. Not much to gain from change in preamp tubes, if any it will be minor.
I would agree, the power tube is the place to find the change in tone. I also have a set of the Mesa =c= EL34 STR442. Not bad in the TC-100, excellent in the RA100, and ok in the TC-50. For some reason the =c= EL34 sound incredible in the RA100 (lower plate voltage I would assume).

I also gambled and went overboard on the power tube testing with the TC-50. Gold Lion KT77 were a wow factor, but the tubes were basically spent since I had used them for 8 months or longer in the Mark V at full power before retiring them, they still work and sound great. Ruby (forgot what model) EL34 were way better than I expected (did not like those in the RA). EH 6CA7, tried those in the TC-100 ( :shock: what that did to the clean channel was sweet, almost fender tweed sound, and the gain channels :shock: definitely different variant than the EL34, similar to the KT77 but with more chime in the voice and deeper low end. Have them on reserve to go back to when I am looking for that type of voice). I have not tried them in the TC-50 yet. I had tried many power tubes including the Mesa NOS Siemens EL34 STR450 (surprising that they sound just like the Mesa stock EL34 but smoother in character). Mullard re-issue EL34 would be a bit too much for the TC, those are a blast in the RA100 though.

Most of the time, I am running the Stock Mesa STR447 EL34 tubes in both TC-50 and the TC-100. Preamp tubes, all stock but had to replace a few in the TC-100 shortly after I got the amp due to a nasty ping noise when channel changing between CH2 and CH3 (onset of going microphonic, not the first time I had that issue with a new amp, reason why I have a small surplus of power and preamp tubes).


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:13 pm 
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Bottle Rocket
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:13 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Las Vegas
I got some incredible results from preamp tubes.

I got two Wathen 12AX7-WCM Cryotone preamp tubes and put them in the V3 and V4 positions.
The tubes are crazy expensive. But they changed the amp tone in a big way! Super quiet tubes, the cryogenic process they use for them gives them a mid-high boost which really brings out the articulation of the amp.

I'm running the crunch channel "tight" with the gain all the way up. Same with the lead channel. No fuzziness or fizz. Tons of creamy sustain on the lead channel. The crunch channel now reminds me of a slightly more focused tone that Billy Duffy got on "Love Removal Machine" by The Cult.
The lead channel is just nirvana for me. Articulate, focused, and held notes sing and shine with sympathetic even ordered harmonics.

Basically these preamp tubes took what the TC-50 already had...and put it on steroids.
I was pretty skeptical because of the price. But I'm a believer now.

Next up I want to try a set of their power amp tubes.

Here is a link to their preamp tube section:
http://www.wathenspeakers.com/cryotonet ... tubes.html
As I said...I went with the 12ax7 WCM for the V3 and V4 positions.

EDIT: My band plays classic rock: Bad Company, Aerosmith, Gary Moore, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, etc. So that is where I am coming from when looking for my tone. I'm going for "brown sound". Death metal guys may not have any interest in the midrange sounds that I dig.

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-Robbie
Current Amp: 2018 Mesa TC-50 Rackmount

Past Boogies:
1982 Mesa Boogie MK II (ordered it from the company brand new)
1989 Mesa Studio Preamp and Simulclass 290 Power Amp (also direct order from the company along with the Mesa shock mount rack)


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:31 pm 
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Triple Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 3088
Location: North Carolina
I believe the WCM is a Mullard CV4004. I have some of those. Will have to pop them in and try it out. I use those on the RA100 but CV4004 and the long plate 12AX7 re-issue. I was looking at the website you listed. Seems like they have the Chinse gen 9, Mullard CV4004 or could be Tung Sol as they look the same or the JJ versions.


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:01 pm 
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Bottle Rocket
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:13 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Las Vegas
bandit2013 wrote:
I believe the WCM is a Mullard CV4004. I have some of those. Will have to pop them in and try it out. I use those on the RA100 but CV4004 and the long plate 12AX7 re-issue. I was looking at the website you listed. Seems like they have the Chinse gen 9, Mullard CV4004 or could be Tung Sol as they look the same or the JJ versions.

As I understand it...the cryogenic process that they use is what differentiates their tubes.

Not sure which tubes they start with, but what they end up with is certainly different than the Mullard you spoke of.
Here's what Don at Wathen wrote me when we were discussing the tubes:

"Our tubes are expensive but the closest sounding tubes have noise and are not as balanced and musical. The old tubes are often largely spent or B stock. You could buy some for $400. each and it may die in two weeks. I actually own a collection of virtually all types of 12AX7. We used them to do blind testing when we first started developing our proprietary processes. After a while, our tubes were so much better than anything else, it was a waste of time to compare anything other than our tubes in order achieve better sound quality. When you consider everything, sound quality, consistency, life cycle and the feel of playing. Second best isn’t even close."

And I have to say...I've used every tube out there over the past 40 years of gigging, and what he wrote in that quote above is right on the money. I've literally never heard a tube make this much difference.

_________________
-Robbie
Current Amp: 2018 Mesa TC-50 Rackmount

Past Boogies:
1982 Mesa Boogie MK II (ordered it from the company brand new)
1989 Mesa Studio Preamp and Simulclass 290 Power Amp (also direct order from the company along with the Mesa shock mount rack)


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:59 pm 
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Triple Recto

Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:31 am
Posts: 3088
Location: North Carolina
I have read about some cryo tubes. Test showed no difference between tubes of same type cryo or not. Black Sable was the first cryo processed tubes I have seen.

Then there is this: https://blog.thetubestore.com/cryo-tube ... ing-truth/ (just one reference on the subject but there may be others).
It does not matter to me. If they sound better in terms of noise, great. The tone or gain characteristics will not change since they are not opening up the glass envelop to make changes.


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 Post subject: Re: TC50, tube talk
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:28 pm 
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Bottle Rocket
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:13 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Las Vegas
Interesting.
I have no way to do the testing myself...except for what my ears told me.
And the Cryotone preamp tubes that I put in V3 and V4 of my TC-50 completely changed the sound for the better.

But of course Wathen is a high-end audiophile company whose main focus seems to be all tube amps & speakers for super high-end stereo systems. I think they may have stumbled on the guitar amp market without even really trying to.
But that's just my theory.

As I said, I'm a believer now. And reading what tube competitors say about these tubes may be a bit...subjective to say the least. :)
I'm gonna go with my ears.

It cost me a couple of hundred bucks to replace the V3 and V4. Sounds like a lot...but hell, I've spent thousands and thousands on magic pedals over the years that never met my expectations. These tubes did!

Anyway, if anyone else gives them a try I'd like to hear what their results were. My own results were: a smile on my face!

_________________
-Robbie
Current Amp: 2018 Mesa TC-50 Rackmount

Past Boogies:
1982 Mesa Boogie MK II (ordered it from the company brand new)
1989 Mesa Studio Preamp and Simulclass 290 Power Amp (also direct order from the company along with the Mesa shock mount rack)


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