As I look out my office window I see tufts of melted snow, bare trees, a busy highway of squirrel traffic gathering whatever it is they store for the winter, and our cute, red, neighborhood fox keeping those same squirrels from overrunning the place.
It is fall and soon to be winter.
That’s the perfect time for me to run through Music Room Two and Three and change out all the tubes in the BHK amps and preamps. I use the cold of fall as a reminder to swap out the year-old vacuum tubes for new fresh ones.
Over time, vacuum tubes tend to lose some of their life, vim, and vigor. It’s a slow loss, one you don’t notice until a year has passed.
The fun of upgrading the tubes comes with the first listen. Wow! Time to go through all that new music you accumulated over the summer and relisten with the new fire bottles in place.
If you have tubes in your equipment, it might be worth thinking about changing them out for a fresh pair.
Fall is Tube Time!
Finding just the right spot
Most preamplifiers have a zone on their level controls where they sound best; typically higher on their dials.
Finding that perfect spot on the dial isn’t too hard, but getting there can be because much depends on the loudness levels of the source and the sensitivity of the speakers.
Most sources don’t have level trim controls to help match their gains to the rest of the system.
If you have a DAC, like our DirectStream, then it is an easy task to set the gain to match the sweet spot on your preamplifier. For example, depending on the system I am using, I like to set the DirectStream at around 80 on its level control. This places most tracks in the upper 40s and 50s on the BHK preamplifier, and the softest tracks bumping into the high 70s.
It’s tempting to think preamps sound the same at any level setting, but it isn’t true. Not for most preamps, anyway.
Finding just the right spot on the preamp level dial can bring hours more enjoyment to your system.