The Quest for the holy 300B by Western Electric

The Quest for the holy 300B by Western Electric

It has been what feels like a lifetime since I returned to the pure stereo HiFi sound which at some point after the golden era of the seventies was replaced by Surround systems.
The day I turned on my old Sansui G9000, it was true love all over again. What I had been missing in sound all these years was in my honest opinion an epiphany. Since that day SurroundSound was restricted to movies only and listening to music became some sort of audioheaven. At least I was under the impression that it was. In the following years slowly but surely the old transistors were not replaced. But my search for sound was more or less completed with a blind jump in the magical world of tubes. The LineMagnetic 219ia was bought on a hunch, a feeling. I never had heard this amp life. But boy when I turned this beast on, I fell in love for the first time.


So do tubes sound better than transistors? You have to deal with hums and bias settings so why bother?
This depends on your own ears. My ears found listening to tubes more relaxing than listening to transistors. I found this out by chance when I realized at one point I was listening more and more to tubes and less to transistors. Again this is no science, far from it, but strictly from personal experience. And the notion that you almost can see the electrons leaving the cathode to make sure you have a nice sound is crazy I know but still … I think it was Elvis Presley who once said that the best recording was the one that was not all perfect. Transistors can sound amazingly clean and I really do enjoy them still. But maybe this is not what I was after all the time?

My Chinese hunch turned out to be a succes. The sound of this 300B tube amp was so overwhelming that I did not need to seek any further. This was it, no more room for doubt in my ears. It was simply true that the sound of almost a century ago still was the golden standard of pure stereo sound. I upgraded the stock 300B’s and yes there was improvement. But to be honest the 300B’s that came with this amp are quite good. But how about some original 300B’s? So I went on ebay and what luck! A nice pair was offered for … Jesus?
Were these things cut out of big diamonds? In other words way out of my marital budget according to her.
My love however did not stop me from looking every now and then. I had accepted that owning a pair of 300B’s by Western Electric was and forever would be a dream.
In one of these dreamy moments I stumbled upon news from Western Electric and could this be true? A restart of the old factory to produce their legendary tubes again? And if it was true, this time (marital status or whatever) I would not, could not, let the oppurtunity pass to own a pair of 300B’s.

From what I have heard many of us audiofreaks began ordering. Production however was for what ever reason not up to it and a long wait began. At that time I did not order but let them know that when production was in swing I definitely would like to order a matched pair. Years passed and what were the alternatives if the grail was never to be posessed?
As said the stock tubes are great on their own as they came with my amp. These Full Music tubes nearly have it all.  There was however this little irritation in certain voices which tend to have a higher pitch. Different filtersettings have been tried but these minor irritations turned out to be constant.  Excuse my language, sometimes what I try to describe looses translation. Anyway this every now and then edgy sound that does not sooth the eardrums like it should remained. Replica tubes from Psvane were bought and yes they were an improvement. But still this little irritation did not go away.
Nowadays there are quit a few choices in the 300B segment. I could have tried Takatsuki or Elrog, but in the back of my head this edgy thing kept telling me that the 300B standard was once set a long time ago by Western Electric. And it is this standard that all others have been trying to reach. So despite these sometimes edgy peaks, overall I was content with my current tubes.

Recently a mail popped up in my box. From Western Electric!
By now the new plant was up to date and they were ready to take orders. I must admit I asked my wife. But this was nothing but a formality! I intstantly ordered a matched pair. And within the shipping time given, this beautiful wooden box arrived on a working day and I could not wait any longer to glance at an original 300B.

That night I listend for the first time in my life to original 300B’s. I was not blown away as I was so many years ago. This was a good thing. I had expected this. When you already are pleased with your configuration some sort of a miracle must happen to be blown away by a new component.
I was however full of joy to hear that this little irritation was gone! Straight out of the box these tubes solved my issue with ease. Naturally it is too soon to draw any conclusions. I can tell you this already. On day 2 the tubes are not fully open, but they amplifie slightly better than on Day 1. The bass seems to be more extended in a nice way. And the vocals sound like they are being amplified by a Western Electric 300B original!
So definitely not a disappointment, on the contrary! It is all that I thought it would be and I am only on day 2. Monday I will post my serial numbers back to the factory. This will ensure me of 5 year warranty. If you buy a car you get one.
And what is true for so many set-ups is also true with these tubes. Bad recordings sound even worse, but great recordings sound like the closest thing to audio heaven these tubes can give me right now.
So yes I think they are worth their money for sure and potentially more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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