THE   KARMA (not Kama) SUTRA OF DIRECTLY HEATED TRIODES
BOOK ONE: The 300B

THE PLEASURE PRINCIPAL

The P word is taboo in the audio tribe, because almost all audiomaniac’s mothers washed their mouths out with soap when ever they screamed...”I want pleasure”, so we grew up and became big strong unemotional audio professors who express our most profound feelings by arguing over the impedances of different types of cathode followers, and other arcane nonsense...but let’s be honest...all men are hedonist pigs in search of pleasure...men are at their best when they are dogs in heat...hunting for you know what..... and that is a good thing. The pleasure principal, our lust for pleasure, our pumping stations that gush forth high octane testosterone is why the 300B is virusing the world. If it will help, just think of the 300B as the porn queen of tubes...if you are that crude...and don’t yet get the subtly of erotic thermionic directly heated triode pleasure.

Clearly the 300B with all of its exotic/erotic variants is the Karma (Not Kama) Sutra of Triodes; learning about all of the subtle variations of the same old classic primal sexual pleasure; all in the service of liberating the inherent beauty of the male spirit for a higher purpose: playing with audio gizmos. Studying the Karma Sutra and the 300B is exactly the same activity of practicing the rituals of pleasure. This is important work because by refining our sexual/musical energy our mind/spirit will expand so that we radiate the sound of One Triode Clapping.

As  Woody Allen says, “There is no such thing as bad sex or bad 300Bs”, and he is right, especially compared to the more modern pentodes. This is partially explained because of the “circuit imperative”: 300Bs are usually used in ultra simple, class A, no feedback circuits. This tube’s lofty reputation was established in modern versions of ancient 1930s single-ended circuits...which took advantage of better quality parts, better transformers, and better power supplies Yet, paradoxically there are qualities of this tube that are still unknown in America, because we are just beginning to come out of our thermionic closet. For example, only Cary Audio and VAC are manufacturing 300B push/pull amplifiers, but have not yet taken these circuits to the level of refinement we see in Japan. And of course David Berning’s new ZOTL SET 300B circuit is a completely new window into this tube’s full erotic potential. My point being that if we want to know the true erotic nature of this tube we must explore it in many different positions, and we must go deep, deep into its hot dark quivering liquid soul.....that screams out...”Take me Big Boy, I am yours”.

                                           THE WESTERN ELECTRIC 300B

You are not a real red blooded American audiomaniac unless you own a Winchester, drive a Hawg and experience this tube while the Star Spangled Banner is playing and you are having sex with the blonde, blue eyed head cheerleader whose hot nubile body reeks from the smell of hot apple pie. How can you know the soul of America if you don’t cruise the music superhighway of your soul with this classic totem of native American genius that captured Japan’s imagination in the same way that Playboy center folds captured ours? That’s right..for decades adolescent Japanese audiomaniac went to bed and wanked over their fantasy of one day growing up and owning Western Electric 300Bs, and they did grow up and with their hard earned Yen they compelled Charles Whitener to do a licensing deal and restart Western Electric tube manufacturing at the Lucent Plant in Kansas City. Japanese men wanted their luxury toys and tube entrepreneurs responded.

Do you get my point? Our Japanese brothers hankered for the purity of the thermionic harmonic whole-osity that was first created in the 1930s to bring the ultra-glam of silver satin blondes to life on the big screen while our fathers were selling apples for a dime. Smoke that paradox. How did this industrial tube, one that was completely unknown and unappreciated in a pentode dominated 1990s America reappear with such force?

Not to bore you now with my hyperhorseshitrantingbrilliantdialecticalthinking...it is because the American midrange, in spite of Harry Pearson’s praise of its choclatey liquidity, had turned into a turgid mess of harmonic mush. Big high horsepower, meaning complicated circuits with lots of feedback, and huge high inductance output transformers had caused a plague on our beloved midrange, and it took about 30 seconds of listening to flea powered 300Bs to know that truth, which was very difficult to swallow...it was like admitting a small dick just may be better than a big one....could Howard Stern be right?

The pendulum of art never stops swinging. The tube amplifier pendulum had swung so far in the direction of  wretched excess that it was swinging back to elegance and that is where the 300B has command, and more and more Americans (you) had enough ego strength and well developed tongues that we didn’t care how big our dicks or our amplifiers were....pleasure has nothing to do with size.

Because all audio systems are so wretchedly imperfect, (Remember...only the deaf and the brain dead say....” It was totally neutral”)  the developed man knows he must make choices and more and more of us were willing to give up the frequency extremes for the hot cream pie midrange we got from our 300Bs...because without that hot midrange cream...music is a dry hump with heavy woolen pants on in the back seat of Studerbaker with a girl wearing a wire mesh girdle...That’s right .....give me five great octaves of midrange glory and I will gladly trade in ten octaves of overblown discombobulated push/pull/pentode harmonic mush.

When we experience a Western Electric 300B we are experiencing the totem that started the revolution back to the roots of the audio arts, where Tone is King, and the pieous midrange rules.

Put a Western Electric in a crude single-ended amplifier where there is no feedback, class A operation, an ultra simple circuit...a slightly upgraded version of what was available in 1938, and compare that to our most modern push/pull pentode amplifiers, and you will be dancing in the middle of the great audio paradox of the last decade of this century.

So when I listen to new Western Electric 300Bs in all of the edge of the art amplifiers I have described I am experiencing a force of beauty that literally caused the audio industry to change direction. So we must examine the erotic power of this tube to change the sexual habits of the American male. Do you remember your first time, the time you first did it and popped your cherry? That is not the feeling of the WE 300B. No, you had to have more practice and be more relaxed and open to the mystery behind the panting, groping gymnastics....you have to travel to a time forward in your erotic development when you felt confident enough to approach the head cheerleader with her perfect pouting smile, her creamy white skin, her shinning blue eyes underneath those blonde bangs, but it was the heat that was underneath her sweater and skirt that you ached to know in the Biblical sense, and if you were lucky and you didn’t drool and if she got how really cool you were...because you had a great stereo...she may have let you, for the first time in your life, enter the sacred midrange of love of a high triode priestess and know the eternal mystery of sacred pleasure....and after that initiation you were a transformed human...that is what it is like listening to a new Western Electric 300B, made in the heartland of America where the first Americans, the Indian tribes lived and hunted buffalo.

No other “classic” 300B can compare to this objet d’amour’s perfect young silky thighs, her pristine hard butt, the smooth contours of her back, or the aroma of her young longing. This will be the permanent reference point burned in your male soul for the sublime perfect young passion of purity. Other brands of 300Bs will seem coarse in comparison to this now eternal breakthrough to a higher place of your musical eroticism. And that is a good thing because we need a reference point, a marker deep in our soul from which to judge our sensual progress.

The Western Electric 300B is head cheerleader, and not everyone can afford this expensive erotic adventure, and I am not suggesting that it is the best,  if you are ready to spend the money. The Western Electric 300B does not have the full erotic maturity of the KR 300BXL, which is what happens when our cheerleader goes to Hollywood and becomes a more complex and more passionate women. But when it comes to a classic expression of the midrange tonal high ground, nothing can compare, and the price we all gladly pay is its inability to plunge deep, and its lack of ultimate scope.

I shall repeat this theme over and over again...in spite of the expanding universe of the 300B tubes and more and more single-ended 300B amplifiers I have not yet, other than the WAVAC 300B (and even that had some serious shortcomings) heard a truly edge of the art “store available” 300B amplifier. This will not occur until Americans are exposed to high quality output transformers, and the type of advanced circuitry that is available in Japan and Italy, and NO ONE has yet exploited tube regulated power supplies for these amplifiers. What I am saying is that we are just at the very earliest stages of truly grasping the beauty of this tube, and much of the criticism of it, is related to the mediocre amplifier implementation and not the fault of the tube. I am sorry for hounding you....but this tube demands the best quality power supplies, and few in America tube manufacturers yet use the simple choke!

And it is unfortunate that there are not yet highly refined push/pull 300B amplifiers generally available in America (chrome chassis do not equal circuit refinement), because in the Sun Audio of Japan’s amplifier I was introduced to a dimension of the Western Electric 300B that few have experienced in America because this tube almost always appears in single-ended circuits. I am talking about a wider, more dynamic, lower distortion...better bass dynamics and extended frequency....our perfect cheerleader shows us a deeper more interesting side of her soul that is irresistible...and forcing me not to listen to my single-ended circuits.

Because this tube is the ultimate midrange device it reveals any shortcoming and limitations in power supply design and driver circuit. When listening to this tube in the Berning ZOTL it was obvious that much of the distortion attributed to this tube, including a low midbass turgidness is power supply /transformer related. This was confirmed with my own retro-fitted custom SET, which at its higher level of clarity,  revealed another dimension of this tubes miraculous, though limited, capability. The Golden Tube 300B Stereo amplifier, because of its superior EL 34 driver circuit, showed an extraordinary ability to bring the WE to life.

For the serious triode savant this tube is essential self-knowledge because it establishes a reference point from which all of your judgments should be made of all other directly heated triodes. This is the directly heated triode epicenter. If we were Copernican I would suggest that you build a Copernican model of the directly heated triode universe and put the Western Electric in the center. To go further, you must know this place of beauty.

Which brings me to the ultimate paradox of this glorious American classic, and that is the man who is responsible for its return: Charles Whitener, who is both a Great American Hero, but because of that greatness there is a dark side to this man’s soul...just like Bill Clinton. Charles gets an “A” for the renaissance of Western Electric tube manufacturing in America and an “F” for communicating the glory of this tube and selling it to gifted listeners. Charles is making a near fatal error...he is not taking responsibility for insuring that his pride and joy is being properly demonstrated to the public, and is relying instead on available and less that optimal amplifiers. Inexcusable that he should give such a poor showing of this tube. Charles listen up!.... create an ultimate high performance Formula One amplifier to demonstrate the potential of your tube...it doesn’t matter that you can’t buy this amplifier at your local showroom...put on a great show...you are in show business....not in the hardware business.

 If there is one man on the world wide thermionic horizon to assume a leadership role it is Charles Whitener, and instead he has hunkered down, during the Asian flu, in his Atlanta bunker, and has not been energetically interacting with our tribe, and quite frankly this failure of leadership pisses me and many others off in a major way...but the Guildmeister of the Triode Guild, America’s one and only authentic audio critic has a responsibility to speak out...Charles Come Out Of Your Bunker, and do your dance!
 

                                                       SOVTEK 300B

You know the feeling. You are getting close. You are making progress little by little. The dry humping with your favorite pentode is fast and furious. You are getting lots of bare output transformer, and there is an aching in your soul to finally do it, to break through the ancient door and finally reach manhood, to know that the power of our passion can blast through the steel doors of denial. And then it happens and it happens so fast that you, now laying spent wondered how such nonsense could have been so enormous, so totally dominated your being.  You have finally popped your triode cherry. You have finally possessed your own 300Bs. You have finally and permanently left your pentode pubescence and made it through the other side, and there is no going back ever again. Today you are a man..... you now own Sovtek 300Bs.

There is a big smile on your face. Yes, it is good, and it is impossible to think that there could ever be anything better, because this is so much better than anything else you have ever experienced...you can go on forever just doing this over and over again..so you think.

That is how good the Sovtek 300B really is. It was inconceivable just a few years ago, when audiomaniacs were wanking over the Centron 300Bs, that very soon the lowest rung on the 300B ladder would soon be higher than the highest rung that most Americans had experienced....including me.

It took enormous dedication and years of hard work, but Mike Mathews made it happen and it is on his shoulders that thousands of dry humping pentode lovers broke their 300B directly heated triode cherries, sending cascading falls of triode cream all over his hair, which is really a disgusting metaphor.  The Sovtek is the most affordable and crudest of the all the 300Bs I tested, but it is significantly better than the Centron 300Bs that completely captured my imagination only a few years ago and made me into a quivering 300B maniac. Let’s be accurate...crude sex can be an uplifting experience. But...even this..the basest 300B, has far greater music cream potential than the most advanced EL 34 or 6550, and this brings me to the big unrealized opportunity in America...reinventing the push/pull amplifier. The future is affordable push/pull amplifiers that fully exploit the Sovtek 300B. In push/pull mode this is a kick butt tube!   An amplifier that uses four Sovtek 300Bs could reliably produce 60 watts of directly heated triode beauty, and what sane audiomaniac needs more power than that? Why doesn’t Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, Jolida, Golden Tube, Sonic Frontiers, wake up to this opportunity? The answer is......Why did it take Detroit so long to give up big fins, and why did it take IBM so long to wake up to the PC market?

You do get that 300B midrange mystery with the Sovtek, and if no other 300B existed you could live happily ever after. And I don’t mean to be cynical, but....if you don’t yet own very high efficiency speakers you may not be able to hear the benefits of the more expensive 300Bs. Let me assure you that with the B&W CDM mini monitors these tubes were great performers in the Golden Tube amplifier and this combination will bring triode bliss to legions of non-Trump gifted listeners. And like all 300Bs they reveal the subtle differences of rectifier tubes and input tubes.

                                                 THE SVETLANA 300B

We are ascending the ladder of our erotic potential. We are now engaging in a long term committed relationship where we are getting beyond the hormonal haze of first love and we are now searching for more subtle and meaningful forms of expression....you know...bondage, S&M, orgies,...the kind of erotic pleasure that only has meaning in the context of commitment. George Badger of Svetlana has done a magnificent job of raising the 300B ante, and I return to the central proposition: are you really ready for the more expensive spread? Do your speakers truly reveal the qualities of the most expensive 300Bs?

What we gain here is a great harmonic integrity in the midrange, better bass dynamics and a more whole-istic dynamic wave front. At twice the price of the Sovteks are you getting twice the beauty? Hey stupid, rational economics don’t apply to beauty or expensive boy toys! Yes these are better tubes than the Sovteks and they look like they are made at a higher level of quality, but your ability to realize the virtues of these tubes is completely dependent on your audio system. So I will say it again, because it applies...if this was the only 300B available we wouldn’t need to complain...compared to the available pentodes.

Like all of the other Russian tubes, these tubes are climbing their own learning curve and getting better and better...this is a very high quality tube.
 

                                                THE JJ/TESLA 300BS

Both VAC and Triode Electronics are importing this tube and at different prices. Triode is selling these tubes at $99 and VAC is selling the same tube at almost twice the price, so I suggest you check with both. This tube is made in the Tesla factory in Czechoslovakia and I am getting a sense that this tube factory is turning out the best tubes in the world because this is where the KR tubes are being made.

These tubes look like the KR tubes in terms of their extra heavy duty glass bulb and their white ceramic base, and they have the traditional “300B inner guts”, and they are amazing. These tubes are worth $200 each because they take the classic 300B aesethetic and move it closer to the KR magic. After recommending this tube on this web site, many bought this tube and Emailed me that something was wrong with their system...the tube wasn’t working right....then a few days later I received Emails saying that it wasn’t the tube, it was the system that needed adjustment...the paradox of ascension.

What you get here is that unique Czechoslovakian midrange cream which is very rich, full bodied, with full high breasts, hard nipples, and a bottom that loves to get down and shake with the thunder of love. This is  big love with big appetites for pleasure. You have now graduated to a screamer, a triode that is not embarrassed to bare its naked bombastic soul. This is a very athletic tube and requires an advancement in circuitry to support it, and again, and again, and again...in the Sun Audio push/pull amplifier it is a stunning new form of triode eroticism. And to appreciate its serene low distortion nature you need the Berning ZOTL.

What does this all mean...it means that shit happens...you settle down for a long lasting loving relationship with your objet d’amour and into your life walks a new passionate energy that obsoletes your male metacontext and that wild dog in your soul starts howling (metaphorically) at the moon...and you feel guilty, but it is impossible to resist millions of years of male DNA driving you into action. Is there any way to turn off the heat, when you are hot?

AT $99 these tubes are an irresistible bargain, and I think that Triode Electronics are about to raise their prices...but at $200 each these tubes are also a bargain....so if there is cunning in your soul, you know what to do...horde these tubes.

                  YOU HAVE ALREADY READ MY ARTICLE ABOUT THE KR TUBES
 

                                         WHAT DO THEY REALLY COST?

Here is a perfect example of what tube entrepreneurs don’t know...and that is how to sell their tubes...Both KR and Western Electric claim that their tubes are good for 40,000 hours of use...but who can live that long to know if their assertions are true. It is true that there are thirty and forty year old Western Electric tubes still in use, and the KR tubes look like they are made at a higher level of quality than the Western Electrics!...so let’s take a close look at the real cost.

So let’s do some cost analysis:

If a tube cost $350 (KR & WE) and lasts only 20,000 hours how much does it cost to use on an hourly basis? Is it possible that it cost less than two cents an hour to use this concrescence of triode coolosity? And if they last 40,000 hours they will cost only one cent an hour?

If a tube cost $150 and it is good for only 5,000 hours how much does it cost on an hourly basis? It cost three cents and hour!

Now let’s look at the cost from another point of view...if you listened to music for four hours a day every day of the week, then you will get ten to twenty years of use out of the best tubes!...making them the best value and least obsolete audio object you own.

While the 300B family of tubes costs more than their pentode cousins there can be no contesting the fact that they are all bargains.

This is my closing:

(1)Buy the best you can afford, and be assured of this: none will be obsolete because it will take years for American tube amplifier designers to catch up with their inherent potential. Never any obsolescence here. If you buy the less expensive brands you will use them in the 300B amplifier kit you build for your den or kitchen or boat.

(2) Tight ass audio professors must die: This art is all about the mysterious erotic pleasure of music, and directly heated triodes are the Karma Sutra of our audio tribe, so give up your guilt, go with the mad dog in your soul and howl at the moonlight....you are in heat when you are directly heated...and that is good thing.

 

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