HIFi Tube Review: PSVANE 845 WE. Magic or Overpriced Dud?
By Steve Huff
It’s been a while since I have penned a HiFi review. I have been so happy with my system, that I have been focusing on upgrading some of the cabling only which DID bring some improvements. In case you missed it, I now have a Line Magnetic 219ia again (My fave amp ever after retube) along with a PS Audio DirectStream JR DAC and Klipsch Heresey III Speakers.
BTW, as of May 25th 2018 I have also added a pair of Klipsch Cornwall III which are even better than the Heresy III.
This is the most enjoyable system I have owned, far surpassing the exotic more costly brands of speaker and even amps. The Line Magnetic is a PERFECT match for the Klipsch Heritage Line, and in my room I have PLENTY of Bass, highs are crisp and imaging is amazing with a nice large soundstage. Gorgeous LIVE sounding music in my room with an intimacy that is not so easy to obtain. But with a SET amp and highly efficient speakers it is a match made in heaven.
I was looking over tubes recently to retube my 219ia, as it can be GREATLY improved with new tubes and a power cord upgrade, and I gave it both. It took the amp up to a new level in sound, and even volume. By adding new tubes and an Audioquest Thunder Power Cord (which I did first to my DAC and AMP and noticed an immediate energy to the music that wasn’t there before, quite a shock for a PC upgrade) it brought this amp up another 15% in sound quality and magic and presence and intimacy.
As for tubes, I have tried three sets of 845 tubes ranging from $300 a pair to $800. I now have three sets here and what I kept in the 219ia are the PSVANE 845 WE tubes. The “WE” stands for Western Electric and while Western Electric never made an 845 PSVANE says these are more of an RCA 845 replica mixed with some WE flavor. The Psvane WE845 is a hybrid creation by combining the characteristics of both RCA845 and WE284A tubes. They are beautiful in construction, style and sound. In fact, I have never had an 845 that appeared this beautiful in construction.
The RCA 845 are HIGHLY regarded in the NOS world, so I had high hopes for these 845 WE tubes. I will state now, they did not disappoint.
Compared to the stock 845’s that come with the amp, these tubes give the amp a quieter background, louder volume (used to listen at 10AM, now its 8AM) and a much much BIGGER sound. The highs have opened up and the bass grew some balls. The clarity is up quite a few notches and instruments are now so clearly heard it’s like night and day.
While some of that softer organic sound is gone, any hint of darkness or softness has gone. The WE 845’s do offer a tad bit of a “dry” sound but this lasts for about 50 hours, when they open up DRAMATICALLY. Out of the box they sound fantastic, after some use they sound bigger, wider, and just flat out AMAZING. These are a perfect match for the 219ia amp as it takes out the softness we can hear with the stock 845’s.
I also changed the 300B’s, 12AX7’s and have some NOS WE 310A’s on order. But the 845’s, for me, made the biggest difference, then the 300B, then the 12ax7.
With a full Audioquest loom for cabling (Thunder and Tornado for Power, Gibraltar for Speaker, Colorado IC’s, and a Niagara 1000), and the DirectStream JR dac, I have never in my life had better sound in my home. With 25 years of audio systems, this is my fave ever, and cost wise it is about 1/4 of what I once had in here. No need for exotic speakers as they cost a fortune and what I have here, with speakers that cost me $2k for the pair, sound better in many ways than speakers that cost $30k that I used to own. Expensive does not always mean better.
I do want to say when you have a dedicated room, and get that nailed down, the one thing that has improved my system the most has been cables (Power 1st, IC’s 2nd, Speaker 3rd), and then DAC (PS Audio JR is the only DAC that gave me a big improvement DAC wise, and is the most analog sounding DAC I have heard) and then tube upgrades.
As I was contemplating on what 845’s to go for, and realizing I did not want to spend thousands on NOS tubes, I took a chance with the PSVANE 845’s. I also have some Treasure 845’s and they are very good but not close to the WE’s as they are a tad too warm. I looked all over for reviews and found just a couple user reports on these WE’s. Knowing how system dependent everything is within the HiFi realm, I knew I had to just bite the bullet and go for it.
So I did, and I am happy that I did.
If I had to describe the sound between the stock tubes, and these WE tubes…
A MUCH bigger sound. A more focused sound. More powerful sound. The imaging has now locked on, with voice coming out a little more into the room, yet still dead center as it was some magical illusion. Instruments are separated much better as well, and more crisp with more energy. Guitar strings..you can hear the pluck of each string clearly and they sound alive. The sound is pushed out more in the room with more energy but is never ever analytic. Bass has more authority, and some slam but never bloated or fat. Mid are a tad, and I mean a tad drier but still gorgeous. The Highs have come alive as well, but again, never harsh. The soundstage is big as well, as is space. If I had to nitpick, the only thing I have found is there is a slight dryness to the sound, but it is SLIGHT. This is compared to the more muffled and “slow” stock tubes. The WE’s are a HUGE HUGE upgrade over the stock tubes.
These tubes were well worth the cost, and I bought them from PSVANETUBE.COM
I paid the $25 for faster shipping and they arrived within 2 days after order. If you own a Line Magnetic 845 amp, these are a HUGE upgrade from the stock tubes. Add I the WE 300b’s and you take it up another notch with more delicacy. My system plays ALL music beautifully. NO matter the genre. That’s rare in the HiFi world, and I accomplished it with speakers that look right out of 1973.
Hopefully some of you can get something out of this review, as I know tube reviews are hard to find. I highly recommend the WE 845’s and psvane.com had them in my hands within 2 days. Awesome experience, and love the product. Thank you!