Since I currently don't have a demo amp which uses 211 or 845 tubes, I visited my friend Ralph in Munich to finally give the ELROG tubes a listen. Ralph uses a big 211 amp which I built in 2009. It is a 4 chassis amp, mono blocks with separate power supplies. Tango X10S output transformer, the output tube is driven by a 801A DHT through a Tango NC20 interstage transformer. This certainly is an adequate amp to compare ELROG 211 against General Electric 211 / VT4C.
Ralph has a large and impressive installation with three (!) big horns on each side. The bass part is taken care off by Phonogen cabinets. This installation sounds very different as it's impressive looks would suggest. It sounds very detailed with good tonality and is capable of a holographic soundstage projection.
First we listened with the GE 211 installed in the amp.
Very nice and detailed sound as I know it from these amps which I used myself for quite some time. A little harshness which I thought was due to the digital source which we were using. After we listened to several tracks we turned the amps off to let the tubes cool down a bit so we could switch to ELROG 211s:
After turning the amps back on and listening to the same tracks again we were up for a big surprise. Big difference! We went through all the tracks again we listened to through the GEs. We both had a similar impression. That little harshness we heard with the 211 was completely gone. All rough edges got smoothed out without impacting the resolution. Well maybe the resolution is impacted a tiny bit, but some harshness in the sound can give the impression of artificial resolution.
But even more remarkable are the tone colors these tubes reproduce. Very lively and beautiful. The soundstage turned into a canvas splattered with colours. Tracks which were a bit annoying to listen too through the GEs turned into fun with the ELROGs.
Readers of my blog know that I am usually quite reluctant with sound descriptions. I am especially not a tube roller. But what I heard at that evening was very exciting. These tubes represent exactly what I am looking for in terms of sound character.
Ralph gave a very interesting comment: The amps know sound 'small' in a very positive way. Not like big monster amps any more (these are more than 100kg total weight). In fact these amps with the ELROG 211 sounded like my 45 amps but with 10 times the power. As much as I like the sound of thoriated tungsten tubes, the flea power 45 amps are my favorites so far. Everybody who heard those 45 amps with 10Y driver was fascinated. I was often asked if I could build an amp with the power of a 211 but the sound of those 45s. Well, now I can!
Several pairs are currently being sent out to different people to test these tubes. Another good friend who built a similar 211 amp as Ralphs, based on a kit from me, compared the ELROG tubes against United Electic 211. He reached very similar conclusions and was as positive about these as I am. Needles to say he wouln't want to send the ELROG tubes back. Here a photo of one of his mono blocks:
Of course it still needs to be verified if the same sound characters are present when these tubes are used in other amps. The two amps these have been used in are very similar in circuit and parts selection. But they are beeing used with very different speakers. Here a picture of Ralphs impressive system:
I am expecting feedback on the sound of the ELROG triodes in 211 monoblocks with 6HS5 driver. I will report about sound results as I get more feedback.
If you are interested to try these: I offer full money back guarantee. You can try them for two weeks and return them to me if you don't like them. Please email me for inquiries: thomas -at- vinylsavor -dot- de.
Of course I am now highly motivated to build an ultimate test amp for these tubes. Output section switchable between 211 and 845 and another 211 as driver tube. Stay tuned!