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Thread: EL34 v KT88

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Lincolnshire, Home by the Sea

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    I'm Shaun.

    Default EL34 v KT88

    OK, a small review/comparison between my stock EL34 valves and Johnjo's borrowed set of JJ KT88's

    Where to start...?

    Treble
    Really improved level of detail in the high frequencies with masses of control and precision. No glaring brightness as there was with the EL34's which I have to say bordered on hardness and glare. KT88's really are a massive improvement

    Midrange
    A really laid back midrange via the KT88's in which it is so easy to hear the stop and start of synth pads on George Michael's Older album. It is also much easier to hear the multi layering of synths as well. The stereo effect with the KT88's is truly massive and much better defined but vocals now sound more distant which adds a degree more depth. On Bowie's Blackstar the drums/drum machine is extemely tactile with an easy to hear skin decay on the lower frequency drums. The midrange has much more 'pop' to it in a propulsive way

    Bass
    The bass extends about another octave and this extra bass is really obvious but in a well controlled way. Very tight, extended bass just the way it should be. Much more propulsive than with the EL34's with amazing clarity and power

    The KT88's have amazed the most with their phenomenal detail and resolution

    Incredible really

    Massive thanks to Johnjo
    Among the many: Ozric Tentacles early years - Genesis early years - Pink Floyd - Brand X - Camel - Shpongle - Younger Brother - The Peaking Goddess Collective - Deadmau5 - Trentemoller - Kiasmos - Acoustic Alchemy - John Coltraine - Hank Mobley - Lee Morgan - And Oasis...!

  2. #2
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 680
    I'm John.

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    Glad you're enjoying them Shaun

  3. #3
    Join Date: Dec 2008

    Location: Lincolnshire, Home by the Sea

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    I'm Shaun.

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    Well, having tried the KT88's for a week or so now, I have noticed little squeeks and warbles and farts emanating from the system on power up and power down so my only conclusion is that maybe the natural choice for my amplifier is the original EL34's. Having put them back in the power amp everything is now back to how it used to be and sounding very quiet. I'd still love to thank Johnjo for the loan of the KT88's though as without his generosity I would have had no knowledge without actually buying a set.
    Among the many: Ozric Tentacles early years - Genesis early years - Pink Floyd - Brand X - Camel - Shpongle - Younger Brother - The Peaking Goddess Collective - Deadmau5 - Trentemoller - Kiasmos - Acoustic Alchemy - John Coltraine - Hank Mobley - Lee Morgan - And Oasis...!

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Belfast/Northern Ireland/UK

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    I'm Neil.

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    5881 are worth a try too, if your amp will take them without an adjustment, 6L6 also interesting alternative as well.
    Regards Neil

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  5. #5
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

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    I'm Peter.

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    Your amp sure does have a lot of valves! If you ever get the chance, try some KT120 valves. I preferred them to the 88s, seeming to me to be a 'best of both worlds' solution.
    “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” - William Bruce Cameron

  6. #6
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

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    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petrat View Post
    Your amp sure does have a lot of valves! If you ever get the chance, try some KT120 valves. I preferred them to the 88s, seeming to me to be a 'best of both worlds' solution.
    Agreed, or KT150s which this amp will also take.

    Shaun, did you flip the bias switch for the KT88s?

    Don't think you can blame squeaks and farts on the hifi

  7. #7
    Join Date: Aug 2012

    Location: Sunny Portsmouth

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    I'm TheMostHonestPersonYouWillMeet.

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    I had one KT88 based amp, I think it was a YAQIN MC-100B integrated, and for some reason I didn't get along with it at all

    Strangely for a valve based amp I found it rather harsh sounding but I don't know if it was that particular amp (Chinese made of course) or that I am used to the SET sound but it just didn't gel with me

    I have to say though that the amp was fantastically made and a really heavy lump

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  8. #8
    Join Date: Dec 2008

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    Yeah, flipped the bias switch on the side of the amp but there were just too many electronic noises for me to ignore them. I think that for the time being I shall stick with the original EL34's simply because they aren't even run in yet and because they have always been my favourite valve. I appreciate that there is a huge gulf of difference between single ended and push pull or at least there has been in my past experience. My ultimate amplifier type would be 300B single ended but this is the real World and such things are simply not practical but at least I have owned a few of them in the past. I hate Chinese amplifiers with a passion. I have wasted a good deal of money on Chinese amplifiers and CD players and like most human beings, I learn from mistakes.
    Among the many: Ozric Tentacles early years - Genesis early years - Pink Floyd - Brand X - Camel - Shpongle - Younger Brother - The Peaking Goddess Collective - Deadmau5 - Trentemoller - Kiasmos - Acoustic Alchemy - John Coltraine - Hank Mobley - Lee Morgan - And Oasis...!

  9. #9
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: Northern Ireland

    Posts: 680
    I'm John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haselsh1 View Post
    Yeah, flipped the bias switch on the side of the amp but there were just too many electronic noises for me to ignore them. I think that for the time being I shall stick with the original EL34's simply because they aren't even run in yet and because they have always been my favourite valve. I appreciate that there is a huge gulf of difference between single ended and push pull or at least there has been in my past experience. My ultimate amplifier type would be 300B single ended but this is the real World and such things are simply not practical but at least I have owned a few of them in the past. I hate Chinese amplifiers with a passion. I have wasted a good deal of money on Chinese amplifiers and CD players and like most human beings, I learn from mistakes.
    These are a new matched quad Shaun and were dead silent in my amp, wonder if there is an issue with your amp

    I'll try them when they return and let you know

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