Great sounding 5881's?

Discussion in 'Tube Gear' started by Prime Minister, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    Just curious to know if anyone can recommend any great sounding 5881's. And what makes the ones you recommend so great? :)
  2. airdronian

    airdronian Junior Member

    Heh. I just wrote a comment in your other thread along these lines. You can still get old stock Tung-Sol 5881's although I haven't tried them. They may be the gold standard.

    I don't think there's that many 5881's out there. JJ now has an offering, but based on the notes at I am not interested in trying them. I tried the Psvane Hifi Series 5881 and they are ok. My amp came with rebranded Shuguang 5881 and they were actually decent. Problem with those is getting a set with decent QC.

    I really like the new stock Tung-Sol reissues from New Sensor. There's an excerpt of their review on the listing at thetubestore. . I would repurchase these.

    Once my original 5881's wore out (took about 18 months in daily usage, no failure they just couldn't reach the bias point any longer) I went to my dealer for replacements - they provided Sovtek 5881WXT. Installed them and frankly they just sounded wrong. Pulled them after a few months and bought something else. They are good solid well matched tubes and sound like dreck (in my amp). Now this doesn't mean you'd get the same result, but they will not be in use here. (psst hey buddy, wanna buy some tubes ?) :tongue:

    I've tried some 6L6GC's with varying results, generally good. The other one I quite like is the 80's Russian 6P3S-E, which were a bargain but stocks have dwindled. Coin base tube.
  3. Thermionics

    Thermionics Post Whore In Training

    I've got a (theoretically) matched pair of brown-base-with-yellow-logo Sylvania 5881 (which might actually be early rebranded Tung-Sol) tubes from one of my W4-AMs. I can't tell you what the measurements are on them as my tube tester died, but if you are interested in trying them as loaners, let me know.

    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
    Celt likes this.
  4. BH


    Forgive my saying so, but someone telling you that a particular tube sounds good to their ears in their equipment is analogous to being told that you will like Limburger cheese because they do (I use that analogy because I can't get near the stuff because of its smell).

    Given the hugely different operating parameters we encounter in different amps, a tube which sounds really great in one may sound less appealing in another. So, the only way to make a judgment is to roll tubes yourself and draw your own conclusions. There's also the danger of getting sucked into mechanical features of a tube being able to change its sound. One popular misconception is that the shape and location of the getter exerts a profound effect. Another is the color of the heat dissipation coating on the plate.

    With some tubes of a given type, there can be differences in inter-electrode capacitance which could possibly affect frequency response a little. Also, there can be differences in plate/screen current which could possibly shift operating points enough (which can change distortion characteristics) to be audible to some with sensitive ears.

    And there's always the possibility of expectation bias. I often run into guys who tell me that the tube that they just dropped $300 on is the best sounding of all they tried.
    Fran604g likes this.
  5. paulbottlehead

    paulbottlehead Active Member

    Is this for a guitar amp or hifi amp? In either case, which one?
  6. Celt

    Celt Peanut Head

    I agree...the 50's era Tung Sol's have to be the best 5881's I've ever heard and owned!
  7. airdronian

    airdronian Junior Member

    Now you're tempting me. :(
  8. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    Amp is a Audio Innovations Classic 25, tweaked to run 5881's. 20 wpc class a pp amp.
  9. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    Another vote!
    I may have to hunt up a set!
  10. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    Another vote for the new Tung Sols. Damn, what a fine sounding tube. The difference is just incredible.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
    fiddlefye likes this.
  11. airdronian

    airdronian Junior Member

    Nice ! Glad you like them.
  12. TubeHiFiNut

    TubeHiFiNut Administrator Staff Member

    Been awhile but the Sovtek 5881 sounded pretty good and was quite reasonably priced.
  13. Golden Gate ER

    Golden Gate ER Senior Member

    My go to tubs brand is Valve Art. They make amazing sounding 5881 and they are inexpensive too.
  14. rogerfederer

    rogerfederer Junior Member

    I did some research a while ago for my W4AMs and bought the tung sol reissues from jim mcshane. just bought 2 more for the other monoblock.
  15. Prime Minister

    Prime Minister Site Owner Staff Member

    I've been very happy with them. All around a great tube.
  16. airdronian

    airdronian Junior Member

    Well how about that. I traded email with Jim back in July and he didn't stock the tube at the time, citing lack of demand. I guess he changed his mind. Which is welcome, he's one of the good guys in the tube business.

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