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Musical Paradise MP 701 Mark II - Tube rolling recommendations


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Hi Guys ,

 

Recently I've been on an upgrade spree to curb my itch in isolation ... and that leads me to hunting for a tubes preamp to match my newly acquired Modright KWA 100SE.

 

After many days of consideration i went with the Musical Paradise MP701 mk2 over the Schiit Freya , given its ability to roll different tubes and caps , i know i'm in trouble of venturing too deep into this rabbit hole!!

So i'm now here to seek for some tube gurus' wisdom on what tube i should try/upgrade to from the stock tubes . 

 

This Preamp can take tubes with a flick of a switch to alter voltage :

 

Rectifier:

1. 6.3V filament rectifier tubes: 6Z5P, 6X5.

2. 5V filament rectifier tubes: 5R4, 5U4G, 5AR4, GZ33, GZ34, 274B, 5Y3, 5Z3P.

 

Signal Tube

3. 6.3V signal tubes: 6N11, 6N1P, E88CC, E188CC, CCA, 6922, 6H23, 6H6, 6H30, (6SN7 with 6SN7 to 6922 adapter).

4. 12.6V signal tubes: 12AU7, 12BH7, E80CC, (12SN7 with 6SN7 to 6922 adapter).

 

 

Experience of the delivery: 

Ordered this directly from Musical Paradise website (Canada) but it was shipped from their China manufacturing site. Took Fedex 2 weeks to deliver due covid situation... but it was here safe and well. The pre-amp was packed really well (double boxed) and tubes were shipped intact. 

 

 

Initial impression: 

 

it really opens up the sound stage and clarity of the music , it really make a massive difference when compared to the pre-out from the topping D50s DAC. Wide holographic sound stage , detail and smooth , i cant imagine how well i might sound if i throw in some premium tubes. 

 

The built of this thing is amazing , for alittle over $1k AUD delivered , this thing is super well built . 

 

 

Question/advise :

 

1) upgrading the signal tube alone should be good enough?should i care for the rectifier for now? 

2) what is the pro and cons of going 12.6v signal tubes versus 6.3v? 

3) ultimately what tubes i should go for first to get the maximum impact on sound to further widen the sound stage , i also prefer vocal and warmth . 

 

Some photos:

 

 

 

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OK - a few quick comments about valve rolling here. If you reduce the filament voltage then you have more tolerance on the filament current draw. This means you can run higher current draw without ove

I'm old enough to remember a TV set tinkling on shutdown.  It's all part of the sonic bliss.

I am not a guru but I am a tube lover! For your stated musical preferences you would like to maximise the musical effect of this MP circuit via tube-rolling. I don't know the particular difference the

I am not a guru but I am a tube lover! For your stated musical preferences you would like to maximise the musical effect of this MP circuit via tube-rolling. I don't know the particular difference the 2 choices of signal tubes make here. Likewise the choice of rectifier tube 'might' be less impactful sonically (or not)? I do think tube selection makes a difference in amplifiers, and it can be massive.

 

What I can tell you over three decades of experimenting with tubes is that the NOS Mullard small signal tubes tick all your boxes (and mine)--generally speaking. I find myself coming back to these time and again (often after spending quite a bit on other types of tubes that I didn't then wish to use again). I can't think of a single occasion in the past where Mullards 'failed' me--they have been consistently great. Nor one where other tubes were so superior that the Mullards were completely discarded. I look at all my tube gear now and Mullards are sitting happily in much of it. Sometimes other tubes like Telefunken, Siemens, Brimar, Raytheon, RFT, Amperex, Psvane have an advantage in some aspect/presentation of sonics but this is purely a matter of personal taste for any music lover (and, possibly, the particular circuit or system). Mostly I am looking for NOS but the recent Psvane and Shuguang efforts have impressed me; however, they are around the same price as NOS!

 

If you adore vocals and atmospheric mids (generally speaking) the Mullards must be on your short list. Of course, it is a matter of suck it and see, and tube-rolling can be a slippery slope indeed if you are seeking the Holy Grail...I hope others will chime in here on SNA and wax wise on your behalf.

 

Without paying silly money for collector's items you are looking at around $100 per tube for UK-made originals that are not too early. This is expensive to me BUT I think these would elevate the performance of your unit very considerably--and cure any audio nervosa for some time. I wouldn't pay half of this for for lesser tubes with less than stellar performance, giving you niggling doubts--which is the real question to me. Typically they are long lasting (many thousands of hours).

 

I like this website for fair pricing and very good customer service:

http://tubes.tw/shop/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=12au7&sort=3a&page=2

 

I would insert some Mullards into your new toy and settle down with a single malt and some favourite tracks--and relax. Isn't it all about the music?

 

Just my 2c worth.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you David for your insight and recommendation!

 

Definitely will have a look at that site if i need some exotic tubes . 

 

what do you think of Genalex GL 6922? thinking of picking up some this weekend to have a first taste of some fine tubes.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, demoiree said:

Thank you @doogie44David for your insight and recommendation!

 

Definitely will have a look at that site if i need some exotic tubes . 

 

what do you think of Genalex GL 6922? thinking of picking up some this weekend to have a first taste of some fine tubes.

 

 

 

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I like Genalex in some applications. They suited my Line Magnetic 2018iA Mini EL84-based pentode amp as 12AX7 input and EL84 drivers--especially when I was playing FM radio all day every day. These are the Russian reproductions of the famous name. I think of them like I do the JJ brand from Eastern Europe, or much of the Shuguang base range--very good 'middle tier' tubes, in my opinion.

 

But not in the same class as my favourite NOS British or USA or European  tubes. 

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As a relative infant in the tube realm myself, it has been fantastic to get David's experienced perspective on valve rolling. I can certainly testify to the sheer depth of this rabbit hole.

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Hi demoiree

 

Thanks for sharing the lovely pics of the  MP Mark 701 Mark II preamp and your initial thoughts. The pics look really great. I am looking to get this preamp for my system. I own Klipsch 6000f speakers a marantz CD player and node 2i for streaming. I have an XTZ class D power amp.  It sounds good open, clear and detailed with a good punch in bass. I am now considering a tube preamp for more lush refinement without losing the clarity openness in terms of soundstage and bass reproduction. I have not owned a tube preamp before so its an experiment  for me. Like you, I am considering the Schiit Freya + or this MP preamp.  It comes at a better price point than the Freya. I am unable to audition this amp though. And there dont seem to be much reviews on this model.  However the MP tube Dacs have great reviews.  Hence, opinions from users like you really do matter. Could I have your thoughts on how you find this amp in terms of sound signature using stock tubes as I dont intend to tube roll at the moment. You think its a worthwhile investment. Would I have good rich tube feel withput comprising on soundstage,  details and bass? 

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OK - a few quick comments about valve rolling here. If you reduce the filament voltage then you have more tolerance on the filament current draw. This means you can run higher current draw without overheating the power tranny.

 

The real question you should be asking here is what are the ideal valve operating points for the circuit design to determine the linear operating range of the valves to use. Forget tube adapters converting some 9-pin mini valve to another octal-pin valve - it doesn't work.

 

Go for a 5V rectifier and get yourself an original Western Electric 274B if you can afford it. Mega bucks here. Alternatively, a GEC U52 from the Hammersmith factory in the UK would work for about $200 - can be found on ePay local from time to time For the signal tube go for an early 1950's Eindhoven Philips pinched waist open '4' coded D getter E80CC valve. Again mega bucks but worth it. I made a critical mistake of sharing with the world how good this valve was on audioasylum many years ago, which inflated the price. I don't make posts there anymore unless I get requests to identify valves, tubes, toobs  rohren, lampres, coppia etc. I have accumulated close to 20,000 valves now since 2008 and are still growing strong!

 

Happy to share further insights on other valve rolling experiences and sound signatures as required. I agree the early Mullards from the Blackburn and Mitcham factories are also great. The first generation 7L0 R-number-letter coded British Made very late 1950's and very early 1960's with tall getter supports and gold pins are great for E88CCs. My favourite though are for the late 1955 and very early 1956 7L0 pink 66-letter coded Eindhoven E88CC toobs. CCa toobs are a gimmick and are just a cosmetic print.

Edited by xlr8or
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No advice on tubes from me, but it appears they have made it easy to try different film caps in that kit, very nice touch for cap rollers :)

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Congrats on the new pre amp! I am thinking of getting this myself. 

 

I can chime in on tube rolling for you as I've been doing quite a bit lately on my Musical Paradise MP-D2 Deluxe DAC. Mine uses a similar setup of tubes to your preamp.  

 

My fav combo so far is Mullard Gz32 rectifier and Philips Miniwatt 12au7. Very sweet and holographic soundstage. It does lack a bit of bass but it's a very enjoyable setup. Changing to the Wards Airline 5u4gb rectifier makes the bass a lot more present and hard hitting but loses out on the sweetness of the previous combo. 

 

I just received rocket 6299 and had a quick test last night and at first hand these little babies give the best bass with the gz32 rectifier. However the highs and midrange detail are gone. I'll let them burn in and report back to you. 

 

I have read great things on the Psvane 12au7 MK2 but they are 110 for a pair. I might try them next. The next rectifier purchase is a Psvane We274b replica or the Sophia Princess 274b. 

 

I do find that the rectifier has a huge impact on the sound. Get rid of the stock tubes immediately. If you're in Sydney I can loan you some for testing :)

Edited by tntman
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10 hours ago, tntman said:

Congrats on the new pre amp! I am thinking of getting this myself. 

 

I can chime in on tube rolling for you as I've been doing quite a bit lately on my Musical Paradise MP-D2 Deluxe DAC. Mine uses a similar setup of tubes to your preamp.  

 

My fav combo so far is Mullard Gz32 rectifier and Philips Miniwatt 12au7. Very sweet and holographic soundstage. It does lack a bit of bass but it's a very enjoyable setup. Changing to the Wards Airline 5u4gb rectifier makes the bass a lot more present and hard hitting but loses out on the sweetness of the previous combo. 

 

I just received rocket 6299 and had a quick test last night and at first hand these little babies give the best bass with the gz32 rectifier. However the highs and midrange detail are gone. I'll let them burn in and report back to you. 

 

I have read great things on the Psvane 12au7 MK2 but they are 110 for a pair. I might try them next. The next rectifier purchase is a Psvane We274b replica or the Sophia Princess 274b. 

 

I do find that the rectifier has a huge impact on the sound. Get rid of the stock tubes immediately. If you're in Sydney I can loan you some for testing :)

Please try 2 of the E80CC pinched waist valves below .... @dwbasementcan confirm how good they sound. This valve has the most refined top end - no 12AU7 comes close.

 

If you are wanting to stick with a 12AU7 go for an early 1950's USA Hytron 5814 with white print. These will give significant warmth and ambience to the sound. I can post a photo if required.

 

Leave the GZ32/5V4G as is and keep rolling those signal valves. I can loan you a pair of both for a listening session if you are close to the inner west part of Sydney.

 

IMAG1275.jpg

Edited by xlr8or
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44 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Please try 2 of the E80CC pinched waist valves below .... @dwbasementcan confirm how good they sound. This valve has the most refined top end - no 12AU7 comes close.

 

If you are wanting to stick with a 12AU7 go for an early 1950's USA Hytron 5814 with white print. These will give significant warmth and ambience to the sound. I can post a photo if required.

 

Leave the GZ32/5V4G as is and keep rolling those signal valves. I can loan you a pair of both for a listening session if you are close to the inner west part of Sydney.

 

IMAG1275.jpg

Yep, Kirk is right. E80CC would be the best replacement for 12AU7, and with the pinched waist, you can put all the 12AU7 in the bin...

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1 hour ago, xlr8or said:

Please try 2 of the E80CC pinched waist valves below .... @dwbasementcan confirm how good they sound. This valve has the most refined top end - no 12AU7 comes close.

 

If you are wanting to stick with a 12AU7 go for an early 1950's USA Hytron 5814 with white print. These will give significant warmth and ambience to the sound. I can post a photo if required.

 

Leave the GZ32/5V4G as is and keep rolling those signal valves. I can loan you a pair of both for a listening session if you are close to the inner west part of Sydney.

 

IMAG1275.jpg

Thanks for your advice! The ones you have are made by Valvo? I briefly searched on ebay and the prices on the Valvo ones are sky high.. What's an ideal price for these tubes? 

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59 minutes ago, tntman said:

Thanks for your advice! The ones you have are made by Valvo? I briefly searched on ebay and the prices on the Valvo ones are sky high.. What's an ideal price for these tubes? 

$200-$300 each but you need to wait as they do come up now and then. All the gold pin versions were made in Holland (Eindhoven and then Heerlen) so don’t worry about the labels from the other factories. Feel free to message me if you have any questions regarding any that are advertised on eBay. ???

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Hi All

 

I am gonna purchase the MP 701 Mark II tube preamp. I have been asked if I wish to upgrade the caps from stock Obligatto Gold 2.2 UF to Mundorf Supreme Gold Silver Oil 2.2 UF caps.  According  to the distributer its more transparent, detailed and more neutral  with a tight bass punch.

 

As I am unfamiliar with caps. I hope to seek views from more experienced audiophiles if the upgraded caps are worth it and if the sonic signature of the upgraded caps are accurate as the distributor says. The upgrade costs $300 more where I live so just wish to check things out.

 

Appreciate the advise which would help me make the decision.

 

Thanks heaps

Ram

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Sorry, just to be exact,  the upgraded caps my seller asked me to consider  is the Mundorf MCAP Supreme Gold Silver Oil 2.2UF version. 

 

By the way, I run Klipsch 6000f speakers-  8ohms; node 2i as a streamer and Marantz CD/SACD player with an XTZ 150 watt stereo power amp and 2 Klipsch subs.

 

The Musical Paradise 701 Mark II tube preamp will.be the latest addition. Hoping to get your views on the upgraded caps.

 

Appreciate your views

 

Thank you

 

Ram

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On 06/07/2020 at 2:04 AM, Ram18 said:

Sorry, just to be exact,  the upgraded caps my seller asked me to consider  is the Mundorf MCAP Supreme Gold Silver Oil 2.2UF version. 

 

By the way, I run Klipsch 6000f speakers-  8ohms; node 2i as a streamer and Marantz CD/SACD player with an XTZ 150 watt stereo power amp and 2 Klipsch subs.

 

The Musical Paradise 701 Mark II tube preamp will.be the latest addition. Hoping to get your views on the upgraded caps.

 

Appreciate your views

 

Thank you

 

Ram

Hey Ram,

Just food for thought.  Why not just try the preamp in stock mode first, let it run in and see where the shortfalls are (if any) in your system.  Its all about synergy, like tube rolling, cap rolling can be hit/miss depending upon all your sources,amp,speakers etc.  As this pre allows for tube rolling and cap rolling, you can do this anytime if you feel that its needed.  On another note, those mundorfs are pretty good caps, but need to be run in for a long time to - over 100 hours to break in.  Then you have the likes of VCAPs, Jupiter beeswax, or Duelands, but they are not small caps..

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Hi 

 

Thank you for the measured advise and tips about the mundorf. I will be taking your suggestion. Will try the stock - Obligatto Gold  which apparently is quite good  and then see if I need to upgrade caps or tubes down the road. Thanks once again. 

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21 hours ago, Ram18 said:

Hi 

 

Thank you for the measured advise and tips about the mundorf. I will be taking your suggestion. Will try the stock - Obligatto Gold  which apparently is quite good  and then see if I need to upgrade caps or tubes down the road. Thanks once again. 

No worries Ramesh.  If it was me, i'd be upgrading those power caps to better one's like Elna Silmics first if you know a good local tech that can do it for you, then the input/output capacitors and lastly tube roll.

Something worth reading re:caps - http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Cap.html

 

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Thank you for your views. Yes I saw the site and it is rather informative. Am new to tubes; so this will be a learning experience for me in terms of tube and cap roll. I would need a competenet tech to help me with this for now. Meanwhile am trying to upgrade my own knowledge too. Tks for letting me know the sequence. Once I have had a feel of the stocks will consider the suggestions.

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On 24/06/2020 at 7:34 AM, Ram18 said:

Hi demoiree

 

Thanks for sharing the lovely pics of the  MP Mark 701 Mark II preamp and your initial thoughts. The pics look really great. I am looking to get this preamp for my system. I own Klipsch 6000f speakers a marantz CD player and node 2i for streaming. I have an XTZ class D power amp.  It sounds good open, clear and detailed with a good punch in bass. I am now considering a tube preamp for more lush refinement without losing the clarity openness in terms of soundstage and bass reproduction. I have not owned a tube preamp before so its an experiment  for me. Like you, I am considering the Schiit Freya + or this MP preamp.  It comes at a better price point than the Freya. I am unable to audition this amp though. And there dont seem to be much reviews on this model.  However the MP tube Dacs have great reviews.  Hence, opinions from users like you really do matter. Could I have your thoughts on how you find this amp in terms of sound signature using stock tubes as I dont intend to tube roll at the moment. You think its a worthwhile investment. Would I have good rich tube feel withput comprising on soundstage,  details and bass? 

Hi @Ram18 

 

Sorry for the late reply , haven't been checking my thread lately! 

 

The stock tube sounded ok(massive difference moving away from my DAC preout) , but with a quality tube like Genalex GL 6922 , it quickly elevated it to another level in terms of resolution and sound stage! 

 

I'm sticking with the Genalex for now, as i want to get used to the sound signature before getting another set . 

 

I've also upgraded the rectifier to Electro harmonix 5U4GB , from my untrained ears , i still yet to hear a difference between the two rectifier.

 

Hope this helps

 

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On 06/07/2020 at 1:47 AM, Ram18 said:

Hi All

 

I am gonna purchase the MP 701 Mark II tube preamp. I have been asked if I wish to upgrade the caps from stock Obligatto Gold 2.2 UF to Mundorf Supreme Gold Silver Oil 2.2 UF caps.  According  to the distributer its more transparent, detailed and more neutral  with a tight bass punch.

 

As I am unfamiliar with caps. I hope to seek views from more experienced audiophiles if the upgraded caps are worth it and if the sonic signature of the upgraded caps are accurate as the distributor says. The upgrade costs $300 more where I live so just wish to check things out.

 

Appreciate the advise which would help me make the decision.

 

Thanks heaps

Ram

Hi @Ram18

 

I Agree with porkbuns' suggestion to try stock first, i think it is part of the fun to actually listen the stock and upgrade the caps at a later stage , it can be swapped out easily anyway. 

 

From what I read , better caps could provide better sound stage , will definitely look at upgrading that later down the road.

 

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Hi @tntman

 

Thanks for the insight! i did upgrade the rectifier to EH 5U4GB from the stock , i still yet to hear any major difference yet , probably i need to try higher end rectifier!

 

Too bad im in Melb , otherwise would definitely take up your offer to try out some rectifiers. 

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On 24/06/2020 at 11:23 PM, xlr8or said:

OK - a few quick comments about valve rolling here. If you reduce the filament voltage then you have more tolerance on the filament current draw. This means you can run higher current draw without overheating the power tranny.

 

The real question you should be asking here is what are the ideal valve operating points for the circuit design to determine the linear operating range of the valves to use. Forget tube adapters converting some 9-pin mini valve to another octal-pin valve - it doesn't work.

 

Go for a 5V rectifier and get yourself an original Western Electric 274B if you can afford it. Mega bucks here. Alternatively, a GEC U52 from the Hammersmith factory in the UK would work for about $200 - can be found on ePay local from time to time For the signal tube go for an early 1950's Eindhoven Philips pinched waist open '4' coded D getter E80CC valve. Again mega bucks but worth it. I made a critical mistake of sharing with the world how good this valve was on audioasylum many years ago, which inflated the price. I don't make posts there anymore unless I get requests to identify valves, tubes, toobs  rohren, lampres, coppia etc. I have accumulated close to 20,000 valves now since 2008 and are still growing strong!

 

Happy to share further insights on other valve rolling experiences and sound signatures as required. I agree the early Mullards from the Blackburn and Mitcham factories are also great. The first generation 7L0 R-number-letter coded British Made very late 1950's and very early 1960's with tall getter supports and gold pins are great for E88CCs. My favourite though are for the late 1955 and very early 1956 7L0 pink 66-letter coded Eindhoven E88CC toobs. CCa toobs are a gimmick and are just a cosmetic print.

Wow @xlr8or, thanks for taking time to respond to the thread , im sure a lot here values insights like this :) definitely will do some research on what you just recommended 

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4 minutes ago, demoiree said:

Thanks for the insight! i did upgrade the rectifier to EH 5U4GB from the stock , i still yet to hear any major difference yet , probably i need to try higher end rectifier!

 

Too bad im in Melb , otherwise would definitely take up your offer to try out some rectifiers. 

For what it's worth, I haven't found different rectifiers affect the sound at all in my preamp, so you're not alone. Some designs don't seem to be sensitive to rectifier changes.

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7 minutes ago, Raphael said:

can't wait.. getting mine this Wednesday (hopefully no delay)

Speaking of Fedex "express" ,mine stuck in Singapore for good 3-4 days then arrived in Australia, another 3-4 days before they decide to deliver .. , nothing express at all... the wait was well worth it though!

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9 hours ago, demoiree said:

Hi @Ram18 

 

Sorry for the late reply , haven't been checking my thread lately! 

 

The stock tube sounded ok(massive difference moving away from my DAC preout) , but with a quality tube like Genalex GL 6922 , it quickly elevated it to another level in terms of resolution and sound stage! 

 

I'm sticking with the Genalex for now, as i want to get used to the sound signature before getting another set . 

 

I've also upgraded the rectifier to Electro harmonix 5U4GB , from my untrained ears , i still yet to hear a difference between the two rectifier.

 

Hope this helps

 

Tks demoiree for your response.  Will check Genalex out. 

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11 hours ago, demoiree said:

Hi @Ram18

 

I Agree with porkbuns' suggestion to try stock first, i think it is part of the fun to actually listen the stock and upgrade the caps at a later stage , it can be swapped out easily anyway. 

 

From what I read , better caps could provide better sound stage , will definitely look at upgrading that later down the road.

 

Thanks demoiree. Its indeed reasonable to try the stock tubes before making changes and this is what I intend to do. 

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11 hours ago, Raphael said:

can't wait.. getting mine this Wednesday (hopefully no delay)

I share your feelings. Expecting mine next week!

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Will do. Mine just arrived Singapore. I hope it won't stuck there for few days. FedEx scheduled to deliver it by tomorrow which is hard to believe since its not even gone through Aussie custom yet. Fingers cross but I'm not getting my hopes too high.

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If anyone is in Sydney, I'm glad to lend you some tubes to roll. I have a bunch of line and rectifiers! 

 

With this pre, I'm curious of how it would sound like with 6sn7 line tubes! 

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9 hours ago, Raphael said:

Will do. Mine just arrived Singapore. I hope it won't stuck there for few days. FedEx scheduled to deliver it by tomorrow which is hard to believe since its not even gone through Aussie custom yet. Fingers cross but I'm not getting my hopes too high.

Sorry to say but Thier estimated delivery date was flawed , they kept giving you hopes that coming today but it is actually not... Also when arrive in Australia there is a chance that they get Thier subsidary(TNT) to deliver , it happened to mine. 

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Btw , just noticed some strange high pitch beep beep sound from my speaker after moving my equipments to a rack , thinking if it caused by some wifi or cellular signal, picked by the tube preamp ?

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4 minutes ago, demoiree said:

Btw , just noticed some strange high pitch beep beep sound from my speaker after moving my equipments to a rack , thinking if it caused by some wifi or cellular signal, picked by the tube preamp ?

Oh no, this is where the process of elimination needs to be done.  Check that no interconnects and power cables are overlapped, switch off some sources, power amp and leave the preamp on and hear if the same noise is there or not.  Sometimes could be a bad tube, swap tubes around? Just some ideas thrown in.

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