300B review by Thorsten Loesch
300B TJ Premium
300B TJ Premiums (cutout with blue back ground)
click for bigger product pic  300B TJ prem
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This Valve is rather new, the units I tested where some of the first series units. They are being made in China in the Tianjin Province, the supplier being somewhat coy about more details. The Factory specializes in early WE Replicas and has build up quite a reputation in Japan. Their products are available from a number of sources under the Full Music and All Music label.

In terms of build quality these Valves are easily the best in the whole group, with thick glass, substantial internal structures and a superb consistency. These Valves have a number of features that set them aside form the usual, not at least the perforated anode, globe glass envelope and a very different structure for suspending the filaments. Also, the filament wires extend past the Anode structure, a feature claimed by another manufacturer that uses it to improve linearity. No specific claims are being made for any of the features in the Valve and a question on performance elicits a dry "WE Spec" reply.

Sonically this valve was a revelation. In one of my amplifiers I can switch between many Valves including the 45. I always have liked the 45, but itís limited power meant that often the 300B was preferred, despite itís slightly thick, overly warm and slow sound. Well, this valve "out 45ís" the 45! It offers that clarity, directness and openness I know from my 45ís but adds power and even more resolution. I love it. The tonal balance is very even-handed, the soundstage is ridiculously extended and opened up. Detail, especially these little background things are exceptionally well resolved. Okay, hand me the drool towel. The fact that the valve glows very, very prettily in the dark is a distinct bonus (see "lit up" picture), but itís the sound that counts.

While not cheap this Valve to my ears is the highest 300B game in town. I personally would, given the choice (and I have the choice) use nothing less.

    performance (out of 100)
  • Overall: 90
  • Tonality: 90
  • Bass: 85
  • Midrange: 90
  • High-frequencies: 90
  • Resolution: 90
  • Soundscape/imaging: 90
  • Fit and Finish: 95

 
300B Svetlana
300B Svetlana
click for bigger product pic  300B SV
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This valve was previously marketed by Svetlana USA, who in recent times seems to have suffered finical difficulties. The Svetlana factory in St. Petersburg still seems to make the valve though, current stock is still in the dealer channels. I have been told new production runs will be made, so I consider this Valve very much current.

In the past Svetlana 300Bís have suffered from quality control issues and had a tendency to develop grid/cathode shorts when the cathode/filament supports deformed after running the Valve hot. Internal structures match the WE style very closely, the glass is quite thick and heavy. Still reliability is an issue with this valve.

Tonally the Svetlana 300B is evenly balanced with a beautifully delineated midrange and gorgeous sound staging. It has been a longstanding favorite of mine for itís sound which is classic 300B, close in fact to the reissue WE 300B. While great in the midrange the bass and Treble are only very good. The soundstage depth is very good. Microphonics of the Svetlana valve are perhaps a little above average, but not much.

All in all this Valve stands a good deal above much of the competition at the budget end and offers superb sound. The history of poor reliability however makes good backup from a reliable and reputable dealer a must, so a recommendation with some question marks is on order.

    performance (out of 100)
  • Overall: 70
  • Tonality: 70
  • Bass: 70
  • Midrange: 75
  • High-frequencies: 70
  • Resolution: 65
  • Soundscape/imaging: 75
  • Fit and Finish: 60

 
300B Electro-Harmonix
300B Electro-Harmonix
click for bigger product pic  300B EH
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Electro Harmonix is a relatively new Brand for Valves (it is well known for guitar effects) owned by New Sensor who also own the Sovtek brand name. The valves are actually rebadged Reflector units, made in the Saratov Factory in Russia. I briefly tested before "real" EHX units, in this test I used the Reflector ceramic base 300B that is the same Valve as re-labelled EHX. The test samples where purchased directly from Russia. Manufacturing was reasonable and consistency good. Other than the ceramic base there is no external clue to any differences to the Reflector/Sovtek 300B which seems identical but for the Plastic base. Internal structures look common and but the filaments are supported on coiled springs different from the Western Electric type valve.

This valve offered a very balanced sound, perhaps slightly dark but with strong bass. The midrange had good detail and delineation with a slightly subdued high frequency content. Compared to the plastic base Reflector 300B the sound is slightly brightened up. In terms of three dimensionality it did not match the best yet this Valve was quite likeable and even-handed sounding giving much of the bloom and warmth of the 300B. Not the last word in refinement or detail, but a good allrounder with better than average resistance to microphonics too.

This valve is more than a little at the high price side and does not offer the same kind of balance and sound as some others at similar prices. Sound is good all-round and the valve will give a good account of itself in most systems, especially those that are perhaps a little on the bright side tonally.

    performance (out of 100)
  • Overall: 58
  • Tonality: 60
  • Bass: 65
  • Midrange: 60
  • High-frequencies: 60
  • Resolution: 50
  • Soundscape/imaging: 55
  • Fit and Finish: 55

 
300B JJ
300B JJ
click for bigger product pic  300B JJ
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Made in the Slovak Republic in the former Tesla Valve factory this Valve has been around a while. The Valve has a substantial ceramic base and in general appears well made. Internal structures are a little different from normal. However the connection between Glass Bulb and base was worryingly loose and lacking in rigidity.
I felt distinctly unhappy handling these Valves. While no valve with a separate base should be pulled out by its glass bulb this lack of solidity is worrying and possibly has an influence on the sound too. Both valves where identical so I do not think this was an isolated fault. The valves where pretty new but run in for around 100 Hours.
Sonically this valve failed to convince, sounding bright, harsh and edgy. Soundstaging was lacking too. One positive side, the bass was quite strong and well defined but the overall tonal balance was subjectively objectionable and faintly unpleasant. This valve may have needed "burn in", however my experience has so far been that few valves change their sound dramatically after burn in. Moreover, the friend who bought them still reports similar sonics many 100 hours later. Microphonics are about average.
    performance (out of 100)
  • Overall: 50
  • Tonality: 50
  • Bass: 55
  • Midrange: 50
  • High-frequencies: 50
  • Resolution: 50
  • Soundscape/imaging: 50
  • Fit and Finish: 50