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Thursday, October 16, 2014

ELROG ER-300B, First Impressions

Hi!

After having the tubes for about a week now and after various listening sessions and measurements, I am ready to share my first impressions.




As was expected, Elrog would not just merely try to copy the Western Electric 300B. There are already various 300Bs on the market trying to achieve that. Some of them actually not bad at all. So the intention was to create something which has the potential to be better and yet compatible with existing 300B amplifiers.

When I had my initial discussion about a 300B with Dr. Schaffernicht during my visit in 2013, I mentioned that a 300B with thoriated tungsten filaments would be something really new and cool. People who follow my blog probably noticed my preference for these bright filament tubes. Dr. Schaffernicht liked this idea a lot, since he already has plenty experience with thoriated tungsten filaments from the 211 and 845s.

Initially it seemed impossible to do that and keep the spec for filament voltage and current. So first experiments were started using oxide coated filaments which I helped to get from one of the large tube manufacturers. But Dr. Schaffernicht wouldn't let go of the initial idea to use thoriated tungsten. He finally came up with a design which enables the use of the bright filaments as can be seen on the photo above.

Here another photo of the tube operating in an amplifier:




Filament voltage and current are exactly to spec. The filaments draw 1.2A at 5V which is the same as the Western Electric 300B consumes.

So how does it sound? The famous question every audiophile wants to get answered. This puts me in a conundrum for several reasons. First I am distributing the Elrog tubes. So I have a commercial interest involved. Please take this into account when reading my findings. Second I never was a big promoter of the 300B. Always seeking different tubes which are less hyped by the mainstream. Like 45 or 801A. Instead of the 300B I often suggested a triode connected 6CB5A as cheap and good sounding alternative. See also my post about that here.

The Elrog ER-300B changes the picture for me. This is the best sounding output tube I ever listened too!

Many might think now of course he is saying that, he wants to sell the tubes. That's why I am very open about this and ask you to take it with a grain of salt. Especially since I have a preference for thoriated tungsten. Also the findings so far have only been done in a single amp. The one I showed in the previous post.

What does 'the best tube I ever heard' mean? After I plugged the tubes in, I was confronted with an almost shocking realism. Gone was the slight softness in the bass which I heard with other 300Bs. The resolution is increased considerably. The beauty of the voices and tone colours of the WE 300B are fully retained.




Since one can easily get carried away in the first moments of enthusiasm, I waited with positing my findings and see if the impression stays after listening for some days. And it did!

One could argue, that it is not really a 300B anymore and I agree. You could call it a transmitting style 300B. The only 'real' 300B is the Western Electric in my opinion. There is also another aspect: The use of the thoriated tungsten demands a compromise. Amplification factor and plate resistance needed to be slightly altered. Amplification factor is a bit lower and the plate resistance a bit higher which results in lower transconductance. Yet the tube will work in any 300B amp. The maximum available output power will be slightly reduced. But that is well worth it, because it makes it a better tube in my opinion and in my ears.

The sound of the tubes sparked several ideas for new stuff. A variety of 300B amps, both SE and PP, and maybe even a 300B line stage.

I am in the process of characterising the tubes to create a data sheet which will reflect this. It is important for Elrog and for me to be very open about this. Detailed updates and figures will be published in future posts after I had a chance to run measurements on more tubes.




The tubes I have in the moment are pre production samples. Elrog is working hard to finalise series production which will take a bit more time than expected. I hope to be able to deliver the first tubes to customers before end of November. The first batch of tubes is already sold out through pre orders. Place your pre order now to get tubes from the second batch which should be delivered in December.

UPDATE : I am not taking pre orders any more at this time since demand is higher than the expected production capacity. I will notify when I can accept pre orders again.


Stay tuned for further impressions and updates

Best regards

Thomas



13 comments:

  1. Hi Thomas
    Thoriated tungsten 300B !
    Excellent news !
    German touch of innovation
    long life Elrog and VinylSavor !
    Big thanks Thomas and Dr. Schaffernicht :)

    It be great if other audiophile 300B veterans & passionate share us sound descryption too ;)
    Best regards
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Thomas,

    Yes indeed, the thoriated tungsten filaments on a 300B it is never done. You are the first and I applaud you!

    I am also certain that your subjective evaluations are honest and measured. Big fans of the triode and especially the 300B I would not fail to listen and of course get one pair to complete my collection!

    See you soon, and live the power triode

    Best regards. Tony

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Thomas,

    I'm wondering maybe you know if there are some plans to make ELROG 2A3 tube?

    Regards,
    Rolandas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!
      For now all resources at Elrog are tied up to get the 300B to market. This will take some more time until the production volume will be enough to satisfy demand. If the 300B is successful then may be other types will follow. But this will be not before about 2 years time until another type is ready to launch

      Best regards

      Thomas

      Delete
  4. Ah, so many questions. I wonder what an 801A would sound like, if it was made by Dr. Schaffernicht? Dare we hope that the EC-8020 will someday come back into production? Would an Elrog 300B be a better driver for itself than the 10Y?

    My compliments on being forthright about your potential conflict of interest regarding Elrog tubes. It is refreshing to see intellectual honesty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!
      There will never be a new production EC8020. The investment to restart production of such a tube would be huge and the tubes would have to be sold at astronomical prices very few people would be willing to pay.

      Delete
  5. Hi Thomas,

    Really cool bright filaments.. Maybe in a couple of years Elrog could make an ST "coke bottle" version with the same internal structure and thoriated tungsten filaments (if possible design-wise..) Aesthetically, I like the traditional curvy glass..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice, congrats for this achievement!

    I am always really sceptic to assertions in these subjective world of audio. I do understand your complicated position to give an opinion about these tubes avoiding predisposing listeners. Even more when the name B300 is on the table with so many hardying fans and endangering "blinded ears" with shinning heaters. But, let me put a note of humor to this article, your phrase “This is the best sounding output tube I ever listened too!” remind me to that Simpsons episode in which Krusty was trying to sell that mastodontic 4x4.

    I always like to test new stuff in the bench and in my systems. Giving a try to these newcomers would be awesome but are out of budget.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If I understood correctly, the Elrog 300B sound is a mix of 2A3 and 211. Am I correct? If yes that could be the perfect tube, at least for my taste. Reading your blog I feel you don't like to talk about the sound of the tubes too much but I need to ask. What would be the sound differences between a Elrog 300B driven by a 10Y and a 801A? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Such sound descriptions are quite meaningless and subjective because different people perceive this differently and it also depends on the amplifier. You can't rely on sound descriptions on the internet but need to listen for yourself if you want to know what a certain tube or combination sounds like for you in your system. How a 10Y drives a 300B sounds like depends on many more factors than just the tube

      Delete
  8. Maybe you could get the good Doctor to make some EC8020's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!
      This will never happen the investment needed to make such a tube again is huge.

      Delete
  9. I recieved my Elrog 300b's today. My amp, Alieno, revealed the shocking truth to me of how extreemly good thes tubes really are. I have been using the Takatzuki 300B's ( a great tube ) but this was something else. All the desireable parameters that we lace our conversations with in the highend eg.space,air,timberal accuracy,speed,tonal balance etc etc became manifest in the expression of this tube.....simply amazing. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete