TubeDAC-11 Tube Rolling

Discussion in 'Grant Fidelity' started by iGrant, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. iGrant

    iGrant Grant Fidelity Forum Moderator

    Hoping owners will share their tube rolling experience with the TubeDAC-11 here and hope you will compare to stock what direction the roll went until you find your reference.

    If you haven't tried it yet, check out the DAC Direct out, this is a handy reference for me to keep a handle on detail and balance.

  2. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    I've been a happy DAC-09 owner for nearly a year but became even happier with this DAC when I rolled out the original tube that came with it from GF. In the last year Iève rolled in just about every NOS 396A, 2C51 and 5670 tube into the DAC-09from Western Electric to GE 5 Star to Bendix red label to Raytheon, Tungsol, RCA and GE 'US Army'. Every NOS tube I tried in the DAC-09 was a big improvement over the original, and an instant audio change.

    Now, I'm doing a compare of the DAC-09 to the DAC-11 and rolling in some different brand tubes as time allows.

    First up after 125 hours on the original tube is a Tesla ECC88. The result ten hours later with this tube: No significant audio difference from the tube that came from the factory! This is a real surprise. I still need more listening time on the Tesla before I move on to another NOS tube. Telefunken, Phillips and Mullard ECC88 tubes to come.

  3. keithpgdrb

    keithpgdrb AK Subscriber Subscriber

    VERY much looking forward to your further findings. you are clearly well practiced, and have a method!! :thmbsp:
  4. ssouci

    ssouci Active Member

    that seems very odd... all I've ever read is that "the stock Chinese tubes are terrible" on the DAC-09, so figured it would be the same for the DAC-11

    why the improvement?

    are these better quality tubes that can't really be improved upon? or, is the circuitry/design of the DAC-11 somehow different so that the tube plays a much lesser role? or, is the tube even hooked into the circuit or just there for show and the nice glow!!!???

    would love to hear some possible explanations, and of course any further tube rolling results for the DAC-11


    PS: I'm considering getting a DAC-09 (if I can find one used at a decent price.... no luck so far at all), or perhaps a DAC-11 then?
  5. iGrant

    iGrant Grant Fidelity Forum Moderator

    I never read where the stock tube in the TubeDAC-09 sounded terrible and for the past nearly 3 years all I have ever run them with is the stock tube, I still have the first one :) that has been left on almost constantly since day one.

    You have to remember that with any piece of tube gear , the stock tube was how it was designed and tested. Rolling of course can bring different flavours and with the 09 only 3 tubes seemed to stand out as being a worthwhile roll and try and get them now for the price they were before they became something to roll in the 09. Hmm, maybe that is why the rollers are being quiet so far, or they are just enjoying the stock tube sound or they haven't got it broken in yet.

    I tried all 3 of these tubes in my Rita Reference System (RITA-880, RBS-1, CD-1000 transporting to the TubeDAC-09) and they all sounded great, but the stock Military Grade Shuguang 6N3 tube sounded the way I wanted it to.

    Everyone's system and ears are different, so hopefully lots of different suggestions of what tube is great will come, the TubeDAC-11 has multitudes more rolling options that the 09 had, but my guess is that there will only be again a handful of tubes that rollers find hands down beat the stock tube, this time a Military Grade Shuguang 6N11.

    Finding a used 09 might not be as easy as one would think, I have suggested to many that for the price, hang onto it, it is a great sounding DAC, if you have the 11, the 09 still has it's magic full tube sound that works great with secondary systems and for many has found a nice home in their main system, especially vintage and all SS systems.

    Personally, I'd go for the 11, no contest to my ears in my reference systems.

    For those in Calgary, I just found three more 09 demos and one new in the box, drop by the showroom if you want one. Hmm, maybe I should auction off the new one.

  6. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    I found an instant audio improvement over the Chinese tube that came with my DAC-09 when I pulled it out and replaced it with a NOS Sylvania. The Sylvania tube I had on hand was the standard 1960's tube and not the Gold Brand. I then rolled that tube out and replaced it with a Western Electric
    396A tube which was subsequently replaced with a 5 Star GE (white label), then a GE US Army, then a Gold Brand Sylvania, a Tungsol, a Raytheon a CBS Hytron, RCA, GE 5 Star red label and finally a Bendix 2C51 Red Label US Military. All of the NOS 5670 type tubes were a significant improvement over the original tube. I've got hundreds of hours on the DAC-09 and only 55 hourds on the DAC-11.

    The Tesla ECC88 tube is now out and I've (just now) got a NOS Telefunken ECC88 tube in its place now. The DAC-11 audio characteristics was not significantly changed when I put the Tesla in. This does not mean that the stock tube sound is not great but just the opposite - it sounded great with the stock tube. To my ears the DAC-11 is a cleaner, less tubey sounding DAC then the DAC-09 with both the original tube and the Tesla ECC88. Tesla ECC88 tubes came from the factory in my mono-block amps and I replaced these tubes in the mono-blocks with Siemens, then Telefunken ECC88 tubes. Right now I had some gold pin Phillips in these amps and they sound great!

    I could live very happily with the DAC-11, as is, right out of the box, i.e. with the stock Chinese tube but I have a good stock of ECC88 and 6DJ8 in several brands and I enjoy listening to the different results I hear with different tubes and... it is fun looking for the Holy Grail of tubes!:music:

  7. ssouci

    ssouci Active Member

    if I'm after a more tubey sound (to tone down digital harshness), then would the 09 be better? or is the 11 still quite tubey and also better overall?

    (note: I would be feeding the DAC out of my Oppo 980H DVD player into a SS receiver (Marantz 2275)

  8. keithpgdrb

    keithpgdrb AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I am finding the stock tube to be a "little" light in bass impact and fullness. It sounds great, but I would like to try rolling something in. Having said that, I might be slightly outside the additional 50 hours burn in on the stock tube.

    For those of you with lots of rolling experience, suggestions on what might give me a but more on the bottom end? I'm actually pretty pleased with the highs and mids.
  9. hibuckhobby

    hibuckhobby Well-Known Member

    while not a DAC...I just tried some vintage RCA cleartops in my GF 2A3 integrated and went back to the stock Shuguang 12AU7's...far more bass weight and a more balanced midrange.
  10. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    To my ears the DAC-09 is the more mellow laid back tube sounding of these two DAC's right out of box; better yet with an upgraded NOS tube. If you are looking for a good unit to use to with headphones, even only occasionally, buy the Dac-11. The DAC-11 is more expensive to purchase, but this reflects the fact that it is built with better components and cost quite a bit more to manufacture.

    After a few hours into listening to the DAC-11 with a Telefunken ECC88 tube installed I'm (no surprise) happier with what I'm hearing. The change is not as audible to my ears as compared to upgrading the 5670 tube in the DAC-09 but this is the best I've got the DAC-11 sounding so far.:thmbsp:

  11. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    After 20 hours with the Telefunken ECC88 I've installed an Amperex ECC88 'pinched waist' gold pin tube. Initial impression of this combination is also very favorable!

    Update to follow. :music:

  12. ssouci

    ssouci Active Member

    Wb (or anyone):

    I'm wondering if using one of these DACs (-11 or -09) will make much of an audible difference in my setup?... is it worth the cost and extra complexity (extra box, wiring, etc.)?... what would be the biggest difference I would notice?

    my setup is not high-end (perhaps "mid-fi"?), but last night I was listening to a good recording on CD and man it sounded very nice! I don't have too much to compare it to (except hearing systems at friend's homes, etc. over the years), and I'm not a fanatical audiophile, but I surely can tell if sound is good or bad

    my system:
    - Oppo 980-H DVD player
    - receiver: old Marantz 2275 solid-state (fully recapped/restored)
    - speakers: old DCM Timeframe TF-500s (refoamed, recapped)
    - basic, thick stranded copper speaker cables

    I would be playing standard CDs and feeding the DAC from my DVD player (via digital connection) then connecting to the receiver

    any comments or advice greatly appreciated, thanks!
  13. GrantFidelity

    GrantFidelity Active Member

    The DAC-11 should improve upon the source - you will bypass the internal DAC in the Oppo to get less jitter, better clarity etc..

    We sold many DAC-09 to Oppo DVD owners and they are very happy with the results. DAC-11 is superior on sound quality than the DAC-09 by design.

    Hope this helps.
  14. keithpgdrb

    keithpgdrb AK Subscriber Subscriber

    ^this doesn't really belong in he tube rolling thread. And are you really asking GF who's dac is better? Mabey the mods can move this.
  15. iGrant

    iGrant Grant Fidelity Forum Moderator

    Moved it to a new thread.

  16. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    With more then 20 hours of listening to music through the DAC-11 and Amperex ECC88 'pinched waist' tube combination I've (almost) reluctantly moved on to a Mullard gold pin (relabled Phillips) E88CC-01 tube in it's place.

    The pinched waist Amperex was a step up from the Telefunken it replaced. I found it to be more detailed and revealing then the Telefunken and a really great match for the DAC-11! Unfortunately I only have one of these tubes and I could certainly be satisfied to listen to this combination for a long time.:thmbsp:

  17. keithpgdrb

    keithpgdrb AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I'm finding your testing very helpful Wolfbane! keep it up!!
  18. iGrant

    iGrant Grant Fidelity Forum Moderator

    I've been running a Mullard (RCA labelled) ECC88 for a few days now and it a very nice tube in the TubeDAC-11, mid-range is more refined and the big surprise came with Paul McCartney's Jets album (24/96), one of the songs the guitar had so much more tone to it than the stock 6N11 tube. I don't think this one is uber expensive, on loan from WolfBane.

    I'm using the tube out into my Sennheizer 540s as a reference.

  19. Wolfbane

    Wolfbane What's going on?

    More then 20 hours in with the DAC-11 and Mullard gold pin (relabled Phillips) E88CC-01 tube in it's place. This was developed and sold in Europe as a super-premium ECC88 tube. It is another sweet tube and also a good step up on both the original Chinese tube and the Tesla. It sounds as good as the Telefunken but it did not unseat the Pinched waist Amperex that it replaced.

    I've had a matched pair of these tubes (the Mullards) in my SET monoblock amps and they also sound better to my ears then the Telefunken and Siemens tubes that I had tried previously.

    I'm going to leave this tube in place for a couple more days before replacing it with something different in a US made 6922.

  20. mboldda1

    mboldda1 Member

    will the tubedac-11 take a 7dj8 (pcc88) tube?
    is it best to get triode matched tubes when rolling?
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011

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