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Best 5687 Tubes

Electronic_Enterprises_5687_03

Are the Tung Sols loosing the battle ??

During last two weekends I had the time (and the stuff also) to carry out an interesting comparison test about the 5687 tubes..

The results so far are very interesting and I have kept detailed notes of the listening sessions hiding big surprises, which will be posted here..

The 5687 is a very high quality double triode described as a general purpose nine-pin miniature tube, profit with high performance and huge reserves of emission.. Because of these properties they were widely used in military applications, computers and also in very successful audio applications..

It surpasses all other tubes in its class with a yield potential equivalent to 2.5 times that of 6SN7!! The 5687 was known by Mr. Hiroyasu Kondo of Audio Note Japan..

 

Best of all 5687’s

are considered the Gold Brand - Gold Pin NOS Sylvania GB5687 (GB = Gold Brand) with next to NOS Tung Sol with ribbed plates circa 1950-1960 or black plates and D getter or otherwise Horseshoe getter.. The Tung Sol produced in large quantities also with bronze plates, which sound equally well with the black plates..

Here are the Sylvania’s GB5687 Gold Brand and Tung Sol’s 5687 D getter black plates 1955 and D getter ribbed gray plates 1951

 

The 5687 tubes in my system are six(6) in total, three (3) on each channel, driving the two (2) 211 in the final stage.. The particular embodiment Parallel Single Ended is good to give us plenty of power, but all five tubes on each channel must be perfectly matched.. The 5687’s used until yesterday was the leading in sound and quality (in absolute assumption) NOS TUNG SOL black plates D getter..

The matched 5687 tubes sextets waiting to be auditioned in this test were..

1) a sextet of NOS Amperex 5687WA with black plates and O getter (gifted from an ACA friend)

 

2) a sextet of NOS Siemens 2387WB with black plates and D getter

 

3) a sextet of amazing NOS Tung sol JTL5687 (1950 - 1960) with bronze plates and O getter

 

4) a sextet of excellent Raytheon 5687WB with bronze plates and O getter

 

5) a sextet of unknown NOS Electronic Enterprises 5687WB with bronze plates and O getter, bought from the internet just for fun.. By a close look, there is a big possibility to be custom made Western Electric, RCA or Raytheon

 

The music stuff

Quite a lot records were auditioned, but in the end the next four (4) tracks were chosen for the final comparison

  • Laura Pausini - Laura Pausini / Tutt'al più
  • Nina Hagen - Unbehagen / African Reggae..
  • Fred Hunt Trio - Yesterdays / All Our Yesterdays..
  • Antonio Vivaldi - The four Seasons / no1 Spring(P241)

5687_LAURA_01 5687_NINA_02 5687_JAZZ_03 5687_VIVALDI_04

 

In this point I would like to mention a few things about:

the test process..

Each time tubes were rolled a visual inspection was done, installation in the bases in proper order, turning on the amps, warming about 20 minutes and after rising the volume potentiometer to determine how 'quiet' they were.. After, tapping intensity given by a screwdriver in the area of the chassis near the tubes and the tubes themselves, for determining some presence of noise, some loose parts or microphonics..

Generally all tubes gave excellent results, performing in very high levels of quality and music pleasure.. So let’s see one by one more detailed..

 

5687 Tubes Performance In Detail

1 - First in the queue, the NOS AMPEREX with black plates and O getter.. These tubes were found the most musical with the deepest lows.. Beautiful complexions, good image, good performance in heights ..

BUT ! they were in a small manner microphonic.. Even heated, reacted to small bumps on the chassis of the amplifier or direct on them by whistle.. Maybe that gave them the extreme musical character.. so they did not get the 'gold' but remained in the ear as very good sounding..

 

2 - Second sextet were the SIEMENS 5687WB .. German Company never constructed such a tubes, just ordered them to other manufacturers.. But whom ?? The provider says Raytheon, but I had my doubts..

Started searching in the internet, found no reference for the SIEMENS 5687WB, so photos were taken nearby and started the ‘interrogation’.. Black plates, D getter.. TUNG SOL?? Why not?? Let’s listen to them !!

Beautiful tubes, the incandescent cathodes were protrude and beautifully illuminate the chassis.. the sound was flawless, quiet, atmospheric, detailed .. TUNG SOL?? Perhaps.. I’d rather stay with the question.. Anyway great sounding, so logically earned one position above the Amperex..

 

3 - Third And then, it was the turn for the Americans divas.. 6 * NOS Original Tung Sol 1958 - 1961!! Bronze plates, O getter.. triple micas..

Rite on opening the boxes, marking, positioning, turning on, heating ..

Woooooo .. It’s not true that hi-end is vague and there are no standards.. The Americans began to sing raising the bar to heights.. pianos, complexions, voices, echoes, tents, musicality! Unbelievable performance and realism on vocals, dynamics, limitless, unbridled and abysmal bass, violins and orchestras for red carpet walk.. everything in place in tone and in quality..

Tough and robust, with flawless construction and military specifications, brought no response to knocks on the chassis of the amplifier or on the tubes themselves.. no difference .. no sound .. no microphonics, absolute silence ..

At this moment, the comparative test listening normally must have been finished.. What more to ask and what more to get.. but it would be unfair.. up on the table were waiting two other sextets of 5687’s.. The Raytheon 5687WB and unknown Electronic Enterprises 5687WB .. Should typically to be auditioned..

 

4 - Fourth Raytheon are very robust constructed with quadruple micas and bronze plates.. No microphonics but not and absolute quiet, like all other competitors till now.. Also had a kind of shiny heights but in total one little step above the Tung Sols. I decided to give them some 50 hours to burn in so they return with great musicality and control, with warmth and toughness, with great bass and mids.. Generally, great Tubes, the first in line till now..

 

5 - Fifth So, Let’s go to the last sextet, Electronic Enterprises.. There aren’t many available sources for someone to find information about the strange and unknown brand Electronic Enterprises.. the truth is that the company had undertaken to supply exclusively the U.S. state with the highest quality standards electronic warfare equipment .. Searching the web someone can find a document circa 1951, which is a treat of Electronic Enterprises against the U.S. government for breach of an agreement of ordering tubes!

What we now know is that the rectifier tube 274B Electronic Enterprises manufactured by Western Electric, is considered sacred and as the absolute rectifier, surpassing all others.. This company therefore was giving big electronics companies to manufacture stuff (mainly electronic tubes) for her.. It is therefore very likely that specific 5687WB be made by Western Electric or RCA...

 

Examine more closer

Touching in hands and examine closely the tubes someone understands immediately their quality... excellent and uncompromised construction.. Rigidness, solidity, quadruple micas, bronze plates, O getter..

And how they sound those rare and strictly constructed tubes?? Has their excellent workmanship repercussion regarding the sound performance?? Do they have their own character?? Do they sound like, or even close, the queens TUNG SOL??

Those tubes were no_1 in quietness, the quality of construction and the lack of noise.. That thing, as we shall see below, had repercussions regarding the excellent resolution and the formed imaging..

 

Let's Listen

First record on the platter, Laura Pausini - Laura Pausini / Tutt'al più.. The first work of the beautiful Italian Young pop singer..

Mama mia, mother of God, Mother of pearl.. What is this!! Darkness, quietness, details, atmosphere, the young singer’s voice eerily poignant, electric guitars and bass more furled and strictly controlled by any other hearing and also the presence of a disk scratches much louder .. The measured bass slaps and the short timed electric guitar solo with attack and complexions for Oscar.. it cannot be possible.. let's go to the next track..

 

Nina Hagen - Umbehagen / African reggae.. Very difficult track with demanding vocals, dynamism, complex instrumentation with electric and physical instruments and the priestess of punk be singing in absolute way.. The stereo imaging and the focus of instruments clearly in higher levels than their competitors Tung Sols.. The brass be nailed in place and the guitar solo flangered and Wowed giving beautiful and rugged feel of the music that Nina represents..

 

Next, the jazz turn.. Fred Hunt Trio - Yesterdays / All Our Yesterdays.. Jazz trio, all instruments acoustic.. this is an audiophile direct To Disc record (D2D) with clearness, atmosphere and pace.. Everything here was under control as needed but also irresponsibly and freely, so that one instrument to complement but also to oppose each other .. all the difficulty in playing jazz piano to be rising as music fun ..

 

And lastly the classical track of the test.. Antonio Vivaldi - The four Seasons / no1 Spring(P241) from the early reissue SPA201 (1971) of the classic Decca SXL 2019 (1958).. Here 's an incongruous and incompatible fact I confirmed.. While those tubes were stricter , more quiet , more compressed , more 'monitors' would someone say , the musical event instead comes cold and detached , it was more real , more emotional , exciting , enjoyable ! You can watch and enjoy every note, every nitriles, each peak or lull loveliest work of Baroque music..

Here, the harpsichord stood out clearly playing right on stage, the Celli and violins of the small chamber orchestra in an interpretation that is considered worthy of the best - if evener rather closely to the original party Italian composer ..

 

The Verification

When the audition ended, I gave some couple of hours for the mind, ears and emotions to be relaxed.. Then I called Lina the musician for listening and evaluating the first three sextets in the queue.. Listening to the music is an emotional issue so I always want to confirm in some point what I have hear.. Total procedure was done strictly like my listening.. same records, same levels, half an hour from session to session for relaxing and swapping - warming the tubes..

Lina’s conclusions were that Electronic Enterprises tubes were more clearly and detailed, voices were truer, the scratches were more obvious(track no1), the total music was more strict and relaxed and was absolute revealing the punk atmosphere (track no2), the piano, drums and bass were true-life and there was total quietness (track no3).. in the listening of classic track no4, she just asked me to leave all the record playing even if I wanted to stop after the 1st round.. ‘This is Fantastic music’ she said..

This listening is more ‘piercing’ she said.. It’s cleaner, more creepy, more penetrating, like the music trying to get into the brain not just from hearing, but to pierce the whole body and get in from a thousand ways!

 

Conclusion

So, the absolute winners of this comparison test are the Electronic Enterprises 5687 WB made in USA.. in all the points and the sites of view.. Maybe someone could call the Tung Sols and The Raytheons more musical, but that someone could explain and prove to us how the music was written inside the tracks..

Electronic Enterprises 5687 WB were one step front of all others. Their quietness was giving us the ability to rise up the volume and hear more details from the deep of the records grooves, but also hear the sense and the emotions of the music itself..

And here are all the competitors in the their physical order

5687_ALL_05

Finally I sat down and thought if it makes any sense, in the digital and computers age, someone dealing with comparative tubes that representing 'ancient ' technologies..

The most of the test tubes are the 1950 - 1960 and the power tubes are GE 211 circa 1943 ! 50 and 70 years old items, fueled by hundreds of volts and glowing to produce sound.. Objects that designed to provide telecommunications to warships and planes.. and yet to play music so beautifully and correctly !

at last, let's say 'every thing that shines may be gold'

by Manos Bits

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