Western Electric 300B (New Production)

Many Western Electric 300B tube fans will have been aware that a new venture started a couple-or-three years ago to start manufacturing new 300B tubes, under the Western Electric brand, to the same specification as those produced going back to 1938.

Pre-orders for these new-production tubes opened on 1/11/2019. My order was placed, and confirmed, at 07:50 PST. My tubes shipped on 10/23/2020. That’s an ~18 month gestation period. I believe I was among the first to receive units from the initial shipment.

For now, I will just say that at $1,499 for a matched pair, they were well worth the wait. And, as of right now, you can order a set, at that same price, with roughly a 30-day lead-time. I ordered my second set within a few hours of receiving my first set, but I will come back to that in subsequent posts.

Anyway, for 300B fans, especially those without tube-testers and/or an appetite for gambling on “NOS” tubes from 70+ years ago in mid four-figure price ranges, this is an exciting development.

And this is the spot to discuss the new-production WE300B …

16 Likes

I wonder how these compare to a NOS pair?

2 Likes

I’ll get to that … in some detail, when I get a chance …

Since I have a couple of pairs of original NOS WE300Bs (a pre-war and post-war set).

But I can say that at $1,499 for a matched pair, vs. more than $4K per tube (and requiring caution, knowledge, luck and a proper tube tester to be safe about) for NOS … they’re quite remarkable.

5 Likes

I’ve had these tubes since late October last year, so this is not “new” information for me, and I’m going to post it as I think/feel/want to.

Initial thoughts … again, going back to October last year …

These are true WE300Bs. Same size, construction and appearance. So, if you’re used to modern 300B interpretations/clones you might be surprised at how compact they are. There’s limited glow, as they are solid-plate. Mildly annoyingly … the labels face the rear of my amplifier, though that’s been a crap-shoot with other tubes anyway. More an amp issue than a tube one.

Packaging was lovely, as you can see from the pictures in the first post (those are all mine). The boxes are highly reminiscent of the originals, just in way better condition than you’ll likely have ever seen them. The outer wooden box is beautifully stained, nicely finished overall, and an unexpected touch.

The original “This theater is equipped with …” metal plaque, seen in the background, was an unexpected inclusion from WE due to the long delivery time for the first batch of tubes. At some point, I’ll take a dedicated picture of that. I don’t think you get that if you order now.

At a very high level, the initial sound, from cold, with no burn-in, was unmistakably WE300B. And a high-tier 300B at that. It took a good few hours of comparisons for me to place them, provisionally, vs. the Takatsuki 300B, the older 1998 “WE300B”, and the genuine NOS 300B. But that’s an assignment that hasn’t really wavered much since …

The true NOS tubes, in good shape, hold a slight edge (which is probably mostly preference driven), but at a massive price delta, and a lot of complication and effort to secure.

You can have 3 matched pairs of the new-production WE300B for the price of ONE NOS WE300B.

If you can find one.

Burn-in with 300B tubes is a real thing. Perhaps even a bit more so with these vs. NOS.

Out of the box, overall sound here was mesmerizing. It was also accompanied by comparatively high levels of spurious tube-artifacts. Both mechanical/thermal (microphonic tings and pings, audible both through the headphones and ambiently) and electronic.

The mechanical/thermal issues went away in the first 40 hours of use. Which was across 8-10 listening sessions. I suspect that this was less about time-in-use and more about the number of complete thermal cycles on the tubes, letting the physical components settle due to expansion/contraction.

Electronic spuriae were rather more apparent. Whistles and “swirlies” persisted, albeit with decreasing frequency of occurrence, over the next 150 or so hours. You could sit, with nothing playing, and be “treated” to a 30 second course of decaying whistles, or “swirlies”. Which would come and go, somewhat randomly, in 5-15 minute cycles.

I can think of 50’s era sci-fi movies that might have tried to make a soundtrack out of those.

But somewhere around the 200 hour mark (could be more, or less, for any given tube, mine certainly had some differentials) all the artifacts had cleared up. And now I would say they are among the quietest tubes I own. I can’t remember the last time I got whistles or the artifacts. It’s been at least three months.

I’m about to order a 3rd set …

I’ll have more specific sound comparisons in the near future, mostly just as a requirement to find the time to write something up.

13 Likes

Hi, how do they compare to the takatsuki 300b tubes? I’m looking to tube roll my cayin 300b headphone amp. Thanks

1 Like

At a very high level (more specifics/detail will be coming, once I get time), I would say the Takatsuki’s are leaner/cleaner and the new-production WE300B are more “classic” 300B, with a richer, and more prominent/impactful low-end, more lucid/sonorous mid-range and smoother, if slightly more rolled, extreme treble.

Both are fantastic.

Takatsuki = more neutral, NP WE300B = enjoyable.

This in the context of a Woo Audio WA-234 MK II Mono setup. Other amplifiers may respond differently.

If I had to rate them, my pre-war WE300B would take top spot, my post-war(1950. 1953) WE300B would come second, then the latest WE300B (2018 pre-order, 2020+ delivery) third, and then the Takatsukis.

But that’s for me, in my setup and preferences …

(I don’t plan on selling my Takatsuki’s … both 274 and 300B … while very similar to the 2A3’s I have, they’re still unique and interesting … always assuming I don’t follow my current plan and unload everything and just keep the HE-1).

4 Likes

Just ordered my pair of WE300b new production for my Cayin HA-300. So excited for this!

7 Likes

Hello Western Electric 300b!

Since my Psvane Acme 300b tubes flashed white and sent my Cayin Ha-300 amp to repair (replaced a wire-wound resistor) last month, I thought might as well upgrade my tubes, and the Western Electric 300b was the obvious choice.

Took almost 3 weeks to have one allocated and shipped straight from the factory, but it’s worth having.

Compared to the stock TJ Full music, this is already a much more dynamic, musical tubes. Better mids, open treble, tight bass, wider Soundstage, and much better image separation are what I noticed right out of the box.

This is also a better tube than the Psvane Acme 300b tubes, at least out of the box, but not by a substantial amount. I’d be willing to bet the sound will continue to get better after a few hundred hours, though.

What I also noticed at first power on, though is a lot of clicks, pops, and pings, which freaked me out, but they disappeared after a few minutes. I did read this is common with these new tubes, so crossing fingers.





16 Likes

Hello,

I just received my new production WE300B a couple of days ago. Straight out of the box the sound is amazing. However on day 2, listening with Susvara and SR1a, there’s this popping sound on one of the channels (left). So I tried to swap the left channel WE300B to right and vice versa, and the popping sound also move to the right.

I also notice that the tube that’s making the popping sound has more blue glow than the other, and the blue glow occassionally flashes and that corresponds to the popping sound. If the blue glow is not flashing (and the tube stays glowing), there’s no popping sound.

Is this normal? Btw I’m using the 300B with Manley Neo Classic Preamp.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:

Thanks

Blue glow, or more specifically a glow that is more violet than blue, around the glass of the tube can be a good thing. If it’s around the elements of the tube, and is more towards a true blue, that is generally not a good thing with power tubes and can indicate a higher level of air in the tube.

How does the getter look?

Tubes flashing on power-up is not uncommon. Them flashing (rather than subtly pulsing in time with large low-frequency transients) once warmed up and running is another matter, and if that flash is blue and/or bright then it might be arcing - which would explain the pop - and indicates a bad tube or an incorrectly setup amplifier (bias wrong, power supply issues, other factors). In this case, it is probably the tube, since the issue follows it rather than the amplifier channel.

Short version, I’d get in touch with WE and stop using it until then.

8 Likes

I had that issue before and Western Electric replaced it. Glow is exaggerated by my Huawei phone’s amazing night shot capability

My replacement looks like this now, but other than a few times in the beginning, hasn’t made strange noises.

4 Likes

Thanks Torq. The getter looks normal, and the glow is indeed more of a true blue.

I managed to reach WE and they said it could be what they call a “leaker” or gassy tube. So they advise me to fill out a return/repair form and send back the tubes to be checked.

2 Likes

That’s exactly what WE support told me too. Love that they have a 5 year warranty. Unheard of.

2 Likes

EML has such a warranty if you register your tube. 5 years is still rare and impressive for a tube manufacturer though.

I somehow missed your earlier post. Yeah now I’m waiting for the RMA number from WE. Too bad I have to send them back, since it’s gonna cost me quite a bit, shipping from my country to US. But I guess it’s inevitable.

Actually the glow in my tubes are not as bright as yours, but the color is more of true blue as opposed to violet blue.

Oh in real life mine are not bright at all but my phone is just insane with low light sensitivity

1 Like

I wouldn’t worry that much about the blue glow, seems to be a trait of western electric.

My NOS 1950s engraved base WE VT52 do the same and on my tester they test new and no gas detected. If someone would sell their blue glow new production for cheap I’d buy in a heartbeat.

Here’s another NOS globe tube from the 1930’s with the same blue glow. The key is for it to be clear transparent and more on the dark/indigo side, any hint of haze is a sign of trouble.

4 Likes

Does the blue glow in your tubes flashes every 2-3 seconds? Mine does and makes a popping sound whenever the blue glow disappear for that brief moment.

I just put in my order last night for a matched pair. Planning on using in my brand new ampsandsound Agartha. Will report back once I receive them and have formed an opinion.

1 Like

Don’t give me any ideas Eric lol!! @hmss007

1 Like