After my previous post outlining how I found that I had a bad output tube, I naturally needed to replace them. My 50W 2004 has two EL34 tubes in the output section, so I must replace them as a matched pair. As I haven’t bought tubes since ’94 I know nothing about the best places to get them. Here’s what I found online:
- Tube Depot – Wow! Their prices range from less than $30 for a pair of Electro Harmonix to more than $450 for a single Mullard tube. That’s just ridiculous.
- Tubes and More – Much more reasonable, and they have Groove Tubes too.
- The Tube Store – Not many in stock, but good prices
- Sweetwater – All kinds of tubes, with ‘larger company’ return policies.
- Audio Tubes – More insane prices.
It looks like the market for “vintage tubes” suffers from the same bizarre and irrational pricing justifications that I’ve only ever seen in vintage guitars and so-called high end audio components. There are plenty of snake-oil salesman trying to get us to pay stupid prices for a green marker pen to colour in the sides of your CDs. Or the type that’ll argue that analogue technology as a recording or playback medium is objectively better than digital recording. Here’s a great rant about those types.
In this case I’m going to go with what Mitchell recommends in this book, and get a pair of Groove Tube EL-34M from Sweetwater. They’re supposed to be a “reproduction” of “the classic” Mullard XF-2 “design”, which is apparently “much sought after” (here’s the press release). Let’s face it, my 2204 sounds incredible with the so-called crappy Russian tubes it’s had since ’94, but what do I know.