Why We Don't Sell Certain Brands; and Our Tube Prices

People may think, that because we don’t sell certain brands or models, that we don’t have them available to us. Nothing could be further than the truth.

In China, tube manufacturers have gotten hip to the fact that they are making some good stuff. They want to capitalize on that fact, but they can’t just triple their prices. What they do instead, is spray some grey matter inside the glass, call the tube “blah blah Treasure,” and jack up the price. Is the tube different? Yes... It’s three times the price. In some cases, many times more expensive than some of the finest new old stock (NOS) we sell. We're not going to bullshit you, and have you feel creepy crawly about making more purchases later at Upscale Audio.

In Eastern Europe (Slovakia and the Czech Republic to be a bit more precise), there are tubes being made and sold at very reasonable prices. The same factory makes tubes that sell under another name at super high prices. In either case, they are not high quality tubes. Though truth be told some sound pretty good. These tubes have multiple documented instances of minor nuisances such as too-big or too-small pins, to catastrophic internal failures that cost you a big repair bill. With great new old stock tubes from the classics like Mullard, Mazda, La Radiotechnique, Siemens, Telefunken, as well as fabulous current production Russian tubes being made, why take a chance? If you put in a sketchy KT88 and it fails, the result can cause hundreds of dollars in damage.

Over the last six months, I went on tube hunting expeditions to Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Holland, Austria, and Hungary to get the rare and un-findable. It would be easier for me to make a simple phone call and get these lesser quality tubes, hope they don’t blow up, and pocket some bucks. But I don’t run Upscale Audio like that. Any tube I sell here I would use in my own amp. We are the only specialist that sells both the gear and the tubes that go in it.

Now on to tube prices: Most people who sell tubes don’t even test them, and if they do they don’t tell you how. And they never (at least that I have seen) tell you how they select for noise and microphony. The tubes will most of the time work just fine. But to save what….two bucks? The tube is the heart and soul of your system. It is the amplifying device. Every tube we sell…and I mean every single one, goes through the best testing in the industry. That’s why you have a choice of different grades. If a small signal tube is good for maybe 10,000 hours, and costs $20 more…how much is that per hour? Two tenths of a penny?

Sadly tubes are a perfect economy. Nothing goes to waste. My rejects that test fine on a standard tube tester but fail my standards will go elsewhere….sold cheap…and end up on ebay or another website.

You can count on me to sell you the best and not sell you BS.