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Old 15th November 2019, 10:55 AM
Richard Richard is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Notts
Posts: 5,025
Default Re: KEL84 Conundrum/advice

Hi Richard, a few thoughts, EL84s tend to last 1-2000 hours when run at their full 12W dissipation as in KEL84. (Remember they will be doing this even at idle regardless of playing music so switch off between sessions.) A year of regular use would seem about right to at least try a new set.

Old valves sound weak and lose top and bottom and a loss of top may cause you to focus elsewhere or feel something is missing. I used to like EI EL84's if you can still find them others may have other suggestions. The ECF80s should last longer but a pair of Mullards may improve the sound.

On the other hand, if you'd not done the comparison before it may simply be that you prefer the 306 and/or it happens to work better with your speakers and room. It certainly has more power and higher electrical damping. Bass problems are usually a room issue though, as you know, most UK rooms will have a resonance around 50Hz. Now you've noticed it you may be able to move the speakers a little or the seating position, as a resonance will cause a different perception of bass as you move around the room. More drastic measures would be speakers with less bass response or a pre such as the matching Quad 34 with a bass step/cut which does actually work. The problem though, ime, tends to be just with a few tracks and if so I live with it as I know what it is.

Move the speakers away from the wall and corners if possible and, if you've not already set them this way, try angling them towards your seating position which helps focus and imaging, and can have the effect of balancing the highs against the bass.

A head cold is also a (non!) favourite problem at this time of year, or fatigue or stress, leave it a few days and it may sound its old self again.
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