Shuguang Black Treasure KT88-Z Posted on July 3, 2012 by tubemaze (49 votes, average: 3.73 out of 5)Loading...“Smooth clean highs, strong deep bass and all the other audiophile words we so endear.” ReadShare this post:
The mysterious tube from Shuguang. There is a lot of talk and a lot of speculation about the tubes. It looks great with black glass covering the majority of the plate and exposing only top mica and the getter. Sound wise the tube definitely didn’t disappoint. It have very wet and inviting sound with fantastic mids and superbly sweet treble. Vocals with this tube sound incredibly inviting and open. Sound stage is also fantastic wide and deep. With all the pluses, this tube has two issues: 1) Bass – bass is no where as solid and controlled as with EH or Penta tubes – which is easy to explain due to it’s soft sounding nature; 2) Price – it sells currently for $450 and at that price point costs 2-3x of other good and great KT88 tubes. It’s hard to say if it’s worth it since each should make that judgement for themselves, but if you can hunt it down slightly used on Ebay or Audio Asylum for around $250, I would recommend that you get them – you are for a very different and great experience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The Shuguang Treasure KT88 and its “sister” tubes, the Psvane KT88, and the Fuller KT88 (not the Full Music graphite plate KT88; that is another review!) … these are all the same great KT88 tube and they are really the top of the field of KT88s on the market. The magic of the Shuguang Treasure KT88s is mainly its eerily “real” sounding 3-D midrange and the delicate, extended but never harsh treble response. Wonderfully extended bandwidth, too. All the typical audiophile adjectives really do apply here, so I will simply say that the Treasure Black Glass KT88 makes MUSIC, not mere SOUND. Expect to hear all the complex layered harmonics and subtle sonic shadings present in the best recordings with the Shuguang Treasure KT88. I like ALL the Shuguang KT88 versions (KT88-98, the solid plate KT88 SC) better than ANY of the Russian KT88s; I find all the Russian KT88 tubes by New Sensor to have acceptable transparency and passably fine detail and bandwidth extension… but they have a stereo image that is flat as a pancake! I think the New Sensor Russian KT88s can make even the best tube amps sound a bit like solid state, but that is just an opinion. In my custom monoblock amplifiers, the Shuguang Treasure KT88s sounded better and better as I cranked up the plate current by adjusting the bias; the Treasure KT88 really comes into its own when running fairly hot. Vintage amps like the Harman Kardon Citation II, the Dynaco MK III, and the Quicksilver monoblocks modified to use KT88s all run the KT88s HOT and are all great matches for the Shuguang Treasure KT88. Modern amps made by Ming Da and Conrad Johnson would be a great match for the Shuguang Treasure black glass KT88, too. On the other end of the spectrum as far as plate current are the McIntosh MC60, the MC 275 (both original and reissue) and the various VTL amplifier designs that bias very cool… at low to medium plate current. These are great amps; this biasing aspect is just a facet of their design that makes the art of matching the right KT88 tube to these great amps more critical. The Shuguang Treasure is OK in these amps, but I would recommend for best performance in a KT88 the solid plate Penta/Shuguang KT88SC or even better, some NOS Tung Sol 6550s–NOT the Russian T.S. 6550 knockoffs– for a better sonic balance.. especially in the lower midrange and bass. Cooler biasing and lower plate current operation seems to “lean out” the sound of the Shuguang Treasure, tilting the audio spectrum to make the midrange and treble more prominent. Some listeners may actually like this effect; it is magic with classical, jazz, and solo vocal oriented music… but for rockers with Mac 275s.. the solid plate Chinese KT88 or the Shuguang KT88-98 may be just the ticket. Overall, the Shuguang Treasure is a fantastic tube… with the one small advisory that it can be “picky” about amplifier matching as detailed above. Great KT88, though!!