Aric Audio Super 2A3 owners - favorite tubes?

Hello all,

I've been enjoying my new set of Aric Audio amps (the Super 6SN7 linestage + Super 2A3 amp) and have been playing around with different tubes. I am curious what tubes anyone who owns either of these prefers.

I swapped from the stock 5U4GB to some NOS RCA 5U4Gs, but not sure if there's anything better out there that owners may prefer rectifier-wise. Asking Aric, he said GB or G works fine, but beyond that didn't offer any other alternatives as far as compatible tube options.

For my 2A3 tubes, I have a set of NOS Svetlana SV-2A3 (2C4C) and EML 2a3-S Meshplates and prefer the EMLs. The Svetlanas sound nice - they are a little more 'warm' sounding to me - but they lack the detail and wide holographic soundstage that the EMLs produce.

For the 6SN7 tubes on both the pre-amp and the amplifier (3 total), I've tried Sylvania JAN 6SN7GT VT-231 2 Hole Bad Boy, Black Plates an d NOS RCA JAN 5692 6SN7 (red base) tubes and prefer the Sylvania's by a mile. Swapping from the Sylvanias to the RCAs, bass thinned out quite a bit. Detail was great, and mid/highs were nice, but the Sylvanias are overall much nicer.

What have you tried and liked / tried and kept?


I don't have your amp but have used a lot of similar tubes.  I am a big fan of EML and the mesh plates.  You might try the 300B 2.5V Mesh--a 300b tube with 2.5 V heaters.  I had a pair that were my favorite tubes in a previous amp. Check the specs and make sure it is compatible with your amp.

I also have the EML 5U4G Mesh and it is my favorite rectifier right now.


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@carlsbad2 Thanks. My amp is 2A3 only, so 300B is not going to work in it.

I'll check out the EML 5U4G though!

@tvad I'll keep an eye out for those!

@mmcgill829 don't be so sure.  the 300B 2.5V is designed to be used in 2A3 amps.  the ones I had were in my 2A3 amp.  They won't work in a 300b amp.

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@carlsbad2 oh interesting. I'll take a look at those. I didn't even realize that was a thing!

@tvad AFAIK 5U4G and 5U4 are one in the same. The G just refers to it being glass and the NOS G's tend to be the 'coke bottle' shape, with the GB being the straight bottles. Forgive me if I'm incorrect though. I currently have NOS RCA 5U4G (coke bottle) rectifiers in, which replaced the 5U4GBs that were in there stock (don't remember what they were off the top of my head though - nothing fancy).

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@mmcgill829 I think that is why they don't sell a lot of them.  the name makes people not realize what amp they are designed for

@carlsbad2 that and the fact that they are near $900/each, which is probably an even bigger deterrent. Lot of money to spend for a test! 😅 I assume they'd likely be pretty difficult to re-sell too, if they weren't the right fit preference wise.

Linlai 6sn7 are great. I also have and used Ken Rad vt231 black glas. I liked them  a lot. But Linlai are even better. 

I also like Linlai 5u4g. They are affordable and really good, comparable to vintage Ken Rad and Brimar 5u4g. I didn't have EML 5u4 and Sophia Electric 'Aqua II' 274B. I am not ready to spend such amount of money for rectifier tubes. I tried once 5u4gbRCA it was the worst 5u4 I had. I don't recommend any 5u4gb.

The EML 300B/2.5's sell for <$900/pair.

Not familiar with them, just an FYI on the listed selling price.



300b won't work at it best in 2a3 amplifier. 


1. Load resistance 2.5k , need 3.5k

2. Different self bias resistance value.

3. Different plate voltage. 

4. Need more voltage swing for driver tubes.


The EML 300B discussed specs 2.5 filament voltage.

Not certain why it's named 300B/2.5 unless it's because of the larger (glass envelope) size.

There was also a 300B/2.5 made in China, but I forget the manufacturer (same larger glass envelope).




Hi @dekay 

You are right. I read about this tube on the EML site. Yes it is designed to work in 2a3 amplifiers. It is more like 2a3, just more powerful.

@alexberger I have actually looked into the Linlai e-6SN7. From reviews, they seem to be superb tubes. A bit spendy for new production, but if they have the performance to back it up, then it is worth it. In the Aric, the pre-amp tubes make an enormous difference in the overall sound. There's also plenty of space to accommodate those larger tubes from Linlai. I'll have to see if Grant Fidelity will do a trio for a deal versus buying a pair + overpriced single.

@mmcgill829 If you are interested I have a pair of the Linlai top grade from Grant Fidelity. Maybe 75 hrs on them. I didn’t like them in my Super 6sn7 line stage. YMMV.

@evank Interesting! What didn't you like about them? What tubes do you prefer personally?

Also side note - how do you like those spatial speakers? I heard their new Q3 at SWAF in March and was entranced, to say the least.

@alexberger  i typically like to stay away from grey market or ebay for tubes (especially new production) unless they are cheap tubes. Like I'm not going to be upset if a $10 DHT tube for my DAC is bad but I'm going to be upset if $150 preamp tubes are. Just personal preference though!



I just didn't find them too musical. I ended up sticking with the CBS ones that Aric had supplied. I also Like the Sylvanias but just not as much as the CBS. I tried some RCA's which had great midrange, but the lower end was too sloppy.


The Spatials are very transparent and dynamic and love the fact that they don't interact with the room as much as a conventional speaker.

@evank Interesting! Well I might be interested should you choose to move them, depending on cost.

That's good re: the spatials. The new Q3 models (pretty huge) threw out one of the most 3D soundstages I've heard in person. Pretty magical!

Has anyone used the KR 54UG or Sophia Electric 54UG? Bonus if you've used them and compared with EML Mesh 54UG or NOS RCA 54UGs.

NOS 5U4G RCA is not something special. I like Ken-Ran 5u4G. But Linlai 5u4g are on the same level and very cheap. I had a U52 GEC/Brimar brown base. It was really great, better than other stuff I had but it is crazy expensive now. I bought it when it was already used, and after 3 years it died. But to buy one today is too expensive.


If I were you, I'd reach out to Brent Jessee to discuss your needs. He has a ton of hard to find 2A3, 6SN7, 5u4G tubes; and has great insights. He does not give away his tubes, but he does stand behind them with a warranty


You are most welcome. I have purchased from Brent quite a few times, and the tubes and his recommendations have always been spot on......sometimes even recommending less expensive tubes, if he feels they are a better match. Happy listening

@alexberger said: "NOS 5U4G RCA is not something special. I like Ken-Ran 5u4G. But Linlai 5u4g are on the same level and very cheap. I had a U52 GEC/Brimar brown base. It was really great, better than other stuff I had but it is crazy expensive now. I bought it when it was already used, and after 3 years it died. But to buy one today is too expensive."

The GEC u-52 is my preferred rectifier for my Allnic phono stage. I too had a Brimar branded brown base in box, fresh old stock as far as I could tell. Still has some life in it, but I retubed the entire system a few years ago and found an earlier iteration- also a "cup base" but black. I've read various things about these- that they were the industrial version, that they were earlier than the brown bases, that they don't have the finesse of the brown base. My experience has been that the black base is comparable. The tube has far more air in my set up than the Mullard metal base, which is another "grail" rectifier. 

Mmcgill829 and all,

I recently received an Aric Audio Motherlode XL preamp, and an Aric Audio Transcend "Push Pull" amp.....they have only recently been installed and are breaking in. The Motherlode takes one 5U4G and two 6SN7s, the Transcend takes three 6SN7s and 4 EL34s.

The Motherlode XL preamp came with an RCA 5U4GB Tall bottle black plates, seem to be of nice quality...but obviously Aric likes them, so good with me. Additionally I spoke with Brent Jessee and he recommended the NOS 1943-1945 JAN military spec VT244 (5U4G equivalent) National Union black plates....not at all cheap at $200, but I trust Brent, so I bought it.

I had Aric upgrade to pair of NOS Sylvania 6SN7GT two rivet "Bad boy" tubes. For 6SN7s Brent recommended a matched set of the NOS 1950s 5692 JAN military spec CBS-Hytron. Here again they are not cheap at $350 for a matched pair, but I bought those as well. Damn this hobby is expensive!

Additionally I did quite a bit of research and bought some Chinese tubes as well: a matching quad PSVane EL34-PH (Philips reproduction) and matching quad of EL34-UK (Mullard reproduction) tubes. I also purchased a matching 3 tube set of Linlai E-6SN7 tubes.

I won't get around to tube rolling these in for a month or so, so can't give any impressions....other than the fact that they all seem to be well thought of for their respective categories.

@vthokie83 Congratulations! How are you liking them so far?

I just finished trying the Linlai e-6sn7 tubes vs my sylvania 6sn7GTs and I actually wound up preferring the Linlais, believe it or not. In my system, they just sounded more open and airy with a slightly larger sound stage. Pleasantly surprised and will likely pick up a couple more sets to have as backups.

Swapping from the 5U4GB to the 5U4G was an improvement for me - mostly better bass presence. I’ve yet to determine if there’s much sonic difference between brands of 5U4G just yet.

I’ve looked into PSVane tubes in the past, but have heard horror stories about the QC on them, with a large % being DOA or lasting not long at all before burning out. Grant Fidelity had big QC problems with them - even among their supposed pre-screened tubes - and ultimately stopped selling their tubes all together for a variety of reasons. Hopefully you have a better experience with them.

YMMV compared to my findings, but thought I’d share!

EDIT: should get some photos up on your virtual system page :)


I'm all out of superlatives for my latest purchases: CODA S5.5, Aric Audio Transcend "Push Pull", and Aric Audio Motherlode XL....I won't even try anymore, as I feel more like a fanboy that a reviewer. As Michael Jordan says "Just do it" if someone is considering CODA or Aric Audio equipment, they are ridiculously good.

Tube rolling is going to have to wait a month or so, so not much I can say other than the stock tubes for the Aric Audio stuff is really good.....but Brent Jessee always has a passion for NOS tubes, so I'm sure there is more to be gained there.

I did a LOT of research on the Chinese tubes, and I agree that there was a past issue with PSVane (and several brands of Chinese tubes), and it's been weird with the incestuous relationship between Shuguang, PSVane, and Linlai.

Most recent reviews for the PSVane El34s have been positive, especially the EL34-PH and EL34-UK tubes, but the 6SN7/CV181 lines appeared to have had quality issues. By all accounts the Linlai E-6SN7 is stellar, and happy to see your experience is the same. We'll see.

I found a reputable (by reviews) Chinese supplier who seems to take testing and matching seriously, but that's a leap of faith and only based on other's experience.

@vthokie83 haha! I totally get what you mean. Huge amount of value from Aric's gear.

Interesting notes re: chinese tubes. I know that Shuguang is basically gone since they had a plant fire or something, and Linlai folks left PSVane due to a dispute and they have a...not great relationship. Lot of drama in the tube world haha.

Have fun tube rolling! It's an expensive endeavor for a while until things get settled, for sure. I'm still not done trying things out myself, and have spent almost as much as an amp in tubes alone 🤪

Huge fanboy of Aric’s electronics here.... I own his "near" Motherlode preamp for a few years now (works great with SS amps!), and now also have his 300B PSET amp since Sept. After being in this insane hobby for over 30 years, this is the heart of my "end game" system.... and I have heard / owned a ton of great gear! Anyways my point here - surprised nobody brought up Svetlana Winged-C 5U4Gs from the mid to late ’60s (aka 5C3S). They are cheap too. I have them on my Aric gear (1 on the preamp, 2 on the amp), and they beat all the 40s, 50s NOS 5 v rectifiers that I have used. I did order a Linlai 5U4G to play with since I use the Linlai Elite WE300Bs and love them, but don’t over look those Svets!

I had many different vt231 from 40x. (Ken-Rad black glass, transparent glass, Sylvaniya, RCA)

I don't have Tung-Sol and Sylvania 6sn7W, because they were crazy expensive, even 18 year ego when I bought most of my tubes.

Ken-Rad VT-231 black glass was my favorite for many years. I think  Ken-Rad VT-231 black glass is one of the best 6sn7 ever produced.

I also preferred old tubes because new tubes I tried always lose to vintage.

But I found Linlai 6sn7 sounds even better than Ken-Rad VT-231 black glass.

I also like Linlai 12ax7. I compared it to my favorite Telefunken smooth plates and Sylvania 7025. And Linlai competes very well against these great tubes.

@1markr Will keep my eyes out for any of the Svetlanas. I've been waiting for the Linlai 5U4G to come back in stock with Grant Fidelity. Hopefully sometime soon. They're nicely priced. I have the opportunity to get some KR 5U4G tubes, but they are SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive.

@alexberger The Linlai E-6SN7 was a bit of a shock - and still is - since in my experience NOS was pretty much always better. But here recently, I've been especially impressed with these Linlais and the EML mesh plate 2a3s I got. I am glad that there are some contemporary producers making high quality tubes that sound fantastic. NOS will run out eventually (and continue to shoot up in price until they do), so can't rely on them forever!

Alexberger and Mmcgill829,

Thanks for the updates, I'm feeling a bit more confident in the Linlai E-6SN7s....but most reviews are really positive.

I was torn between the Ken Rad VT-231 Black glass and the CBS-Hytron 5692, and they virtually the same price.....but excited to hear they compete with the Ken Rads.....that's exciting

The only bummer for me is that the Super 2a3 amp from aric has the 6SL7 and 6SN7 tubes too close together to accommodate these larger tubes. I'd love to experiment with using the linlai tubes in the amp as well. I could get away with replacing just one, though, so I may get 2 matched pairs when I order more and keep two for the amp - one for use and one for backup. Worst comes to worst and it doesn't work as well in my amp, I'll just have an extra set for my pre-amp and be set for the forseeable future. Never hurts to have extra tubes around.

I'll be getting some KR 2A3s in the near future and am interested in seeing how they compare to the EMLs.


I read that some users have used a tube extender, basically a second tube socket; to offset them.....allowing them to clear each other. Not sure if that would work for the 2A3 amp though

@vthokie83 The problem is they are aligned right in front of each other rather than side to side, so its a front/back distance that is the issue and it's quite close. I'm not sure I'd want to put anything but standard sized tubes there from a cooling perspective. It would really need to be either significantly higher or offset by a couple inches.

I'm still using the bad boy 6SN7 tube there, plus a fairly expensive NOS RCA 6SL7/5691 red base that was something like $200 for just the one. I may swap the 6SN7 for a linlai just to test, but that's probably it I think! The NOS 5691 is pretty excellent.

Worth a shot, best of luck. I may come back here in a couple of months once I've had a chance to try the tubes

@vthokie83 Please do! Would love to hear your thoughts (plus could be beneficial for others who come across this thread with the same questions).

Power tubes and rectifiers can alter the sound of an amplifier from 10% to 30%.  The driver tubes (6SN7 & 6SL7) can impact the tone and presentation by up to 60% - depending on your system and ears.

I like the VT231 Raytheons - although the Sylvanias are very nice as well - a little more laid back, middle of the theater presentation compared to front row Raytheons.

6SL7 tubes - try the 6SU7GTY Tung Sols...just the best in class by a good margin.  Brown base, dark glass version .  The 5691 are nice as well - but the TS are amazing.





@paul_lindemann I'll see if I can track down one of the Tong Sols. I only need one 6SL& tube for my amp, so it shouldn't be too difficult, I'd imagine!