User Feedback for Sophia Electric™ 300B Mesh Plate Tubes - By Mr. Rob Cherry (2002)
I'm not an audiophile, well, maybe a little.
I purchased 2 pairs of the Sophia Electric 300B mesh plate not really expecting them to challenge my break-in WE300Bs. I'm using Merlin VSM-SE, Manley 300B retros and a Mark Levinson CD player. The new Sophia Electric tubes were SUPERB. I mean that in direct comparison to the WE300Bs.
In fact, I have not replaced the WE's since the Sophia Electric tubes went in. My system, set up for nearfield listening, is very transparent and this is what I heard. The tubes are very quiet with minimal tube rush. Outstanding low level detail with excellent timbre. Listen to Blue Highway. The banjo, dobro, fiddle and mandoline are striking. Banjos and mandos are more plangent with the Sophia Electric than the WE. The soundstaging was superior in that the front to back had better delineation. Moreover, in listening to several voices at once, which with the WE often sound as though one voice with different pitches, the Sophia Electric tubes better separated the voices. In fact, the presence of human voice was uncanny. The Sophia Electric tubes bring a simply extraordinary presence borne of exquisite timbral accuracy, excellent detail and outstanding dynamics. Initially, there were several loud bursts from the left channel due strictly to the new tubes. However, after 30 hours of play I have heard no further problems and the tubes hold their bias very well. In fact, in discussions with Richard at Sophia Electric, he offered to immediately send a replacement tube just in case. I received the replacement today along with an additional quad(in case I want a new quad instead).
I cannot vouch for the reliability or longevity of these tubes but I have no desire to return the WE's to the Manley sockets. Another detail I was able to hear reverb trails never before heard on Kelly Joe Phelps and Lorna Hunt. Miles' JVC XRCD Relaxin is simply astonishingly good. At times I thought I noticed a very slight dulling of leading edge transients such as picks on guitar strings or the slap of a doghouse base Roy Husky, Jr. on Steve Earle's Train A ‘Comin. Upon a second listen the details were, in fact, present. There seems to be a sonic filigree surrounding stringed instruments that simply sounds exquisite. A very fine, hell, I don't know what to call it. Some sort of...shit, I don't know how to describe it and I've been giving it much thought. There is also no doubt that voices enjoy a more spherical dimension coming, as they do, from, well, spheres, i.e., human head. Because I was expecting a product inferior to the WE's I listened until my ear muscles gave out. Look, I don't pretend to be a golden eared know-it-all. I don't give a shit if anybody acts on this review. I have received nothing from Sophia and I have asked for nothing in return for this missive. I simply believe that an honest product, fairly priced, deserves laudatory comment. If these tubes prove reliable I won't return to WE300B's. I have been a music lover for over 25 years. I listened to the above system everyday for at least one year. I know how the system sounds and the only change I made was replacing the 300B's. Make of it what you will.