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SPL Charisma tubes
Old 9th March 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
SPL Charisma tubes

Hey everyone, I recently bought an 2 channel SPL Charisma Model 9733 with JJ ECC83 stock tubes. And I would like to buy a separate set of tubes for it. But I read somewhere here, that it has to be some special tubes.
So, does anybody here have an Charisma and can give me some advise/info about fitting tubes?
Old 9th March 2014
  #2
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Rob Coates's Avatar
 
19 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Bowie's your man on anything tubes. He can advise on what would be best for the particular flavor of sound you want.
Old 10th March 2014
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hey Rob Coates, thanks for your answer! I wrote him a message.
Has anybody else experience with changing the charisma tubes?
Old 10th March 2014
  #4
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🎧 10 years
I've tried quite a few tubes in the Charisma, both NOS and current production. I settled on NOS Amperex 12AX7. They definitely sound more open/detalied than the stock tubes and distort very nicely, which is pretty important in the Charisma. Perhaps a little upper-mid forward compared to the stock tubes but not in a bad/harsh way, just more open sounding.

The stock tubes in my unit were Sovtek 12AX7 LPS and they actually weren't too bad, at least much better than the other Sovtek varieties I've tried. I never tried the JJ ECC83s in the Charisma but based on how they sound in general I don't think they would be the best choice. For a cheap option I would probaby go with the Sovtek 12AX7LPS.

Nice NOS tubes are in a different league though. Like the previous poster I can also highly recommend Bowie for anything tube related. I've gotten 95 percent of my tubes from Bowie for the last couple of years and I have always been very happy with the results. In fact, I got the Amperex 12AX7s currently in my Charisma from Bowie. I originally got them for something else so I don't really know what Bowie would recommend for the Charisma (would be interesting to know though... ) They just sounded so great in the Charisme that I had to keep them there once I'd tried them.
Old 10th March 2014
  #5
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hey S.F.Sorrow, thanks for this info!
I know, for stereo tracks you have to have the same tubes in each channel but do you know, if it is possible to put two different tubes in there? So each channel has a different flavour? Or do they have to be the same?
Old 10th March 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
You can put two different tubes in there and get different flavours, no problem. But if you are going to use it for stereo you really need to use the same kind of tubes in both channels, preferably a matched pair.

I would wait for Bowie's response before making any decisions. He knows WAY more about tubes than most people and will guide you in the right direction.
Old 10th March 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I think I should add one thing about getting "different flavours" from different tubes in the Charisma:

We are talking about minor differences here. The sound of the Charisma itself is very dominant compared to the comparatively small differences you get from different tubes. I find the difference to be slightly smaller than changing tubes in most micpres. Probably because the Charisma has such a distinct sound of its own.

There IS a difference though and I definitely think it's worth getting some nice NOS tubes but personally I wouldn't bother to get different tubes for the two channels. It just isn't worth losing stereo capabilities over it. If you're NEVER going to use it for stereo... Get a nice NOS tube for Channel 1 and experiment with different cheap current production tubes in channel 2. Then you'll get an idea how much different tubes matter and if it's worth getting something else for channel 2.

In fact, it could be kinda cool to have a cheap tube in channel 2 for a slightly more lo-fi/grainy/mid-oriented sound. I would try some of the Russian ones for this: Electro-Harmonix or even the cheapest Sovteks for fun.

Just my humble opinion of course...
Old 10th March 2014
  #8
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WunderBro Flo's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
One technique makes the charisma much more useful than it is with stock or exchanged tubes: dip the bass with a lowshelf EQ before sending it to the charisma and boost it back up after processing, values around 8dB work well. the charisma breaks up bass way early, too early in my opinion. With this method you get less grainy saturation on everything, it makes the charisma a saturation machine instead of it´s natural "distortion box" characteristic imho.
Old 10th March 2014 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Hello Patrick

Quote:
Originally Posted by WunderBro Flo ➡️
One technique makes the charisma much more useful than it is with stock or exchanged tubes: dip the bass with a lowshelf EQ before sending it to the charisma and boost it back up after processing, values around 8dB work well. the charisma breaks up bass way early, too early in my opinion. With this method you get less grainy saturation on everything, it makes the charisma a saturation machine instead of it´s natural "distortion box" characteristic imho.
Hmmm, I was about to post regarding the type of distortion I get from the spl charisma 2.
I bought it thinking it might be tape like. Fantasising of fluffy bass sounds. Like that tape overdriven sound that kind of sounds natural but makes stuff louder. And drums to sound more tape like. 70s breakbeats to be exact.

But when I put bassdrums through it, I got a distortion I can only describe as the techno 909 distorted bassdrum type of distortion.
Buzzy. I wanted the smoother tape like saturation. Even if it was a little bit. Even if it was more sensitive than tape.
The charisma has a smaller range of natural sounding saturation than tape I guess.
To soften sounds for the digital realm.
I found on hihats it smoothed things nicely. Shaving off some transient peaks.
It may be a very subtle thing. Because I can get the drive lights flashing without obvious techno distortion (which is what I don't want).
Maybe tracking all tracks through it with maximum drive before it become ugly distortion, would create a different sound cumulatively. I still haven't tried it like that I am ashamed to say. Must do that.

But Patricks suggestion of reducing the bass before the tubes and boosting after makes sense. That is what Gabe Roth of Daptone does with tape for drums. He cuts bass to tape to get more tape compression on the mids and highs.

Buuut, if there where different tubes that could give me a fluffier, spongyier, tape like saturation than the stock tubes, I would do that swap.

Less techno bass drum distortion and more grungy thick tape like saturation.

Possible?
Old 12th March 2014
  #10
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hey everyone, thanks alot for your answers! WunderBro Flow; will definitely try out this trick, sounds promising.
BOWIE answered me; he recommended and offered me a few tubes. But the high shipping cost from the US to belgium is holding me back right now from buying tubes in the US. I will think about it and will also look for tubes here in europe. If I change them I will share my experience here.
Thanks again for your answers!
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman ➡️
Hmmm, I was about to post regarding the type of distortion I get from the spl charisma 2.
I bought it thinking it might be tape like. Fantasising of fluffy bass sounds. Like that tape overdriven sound that kind of sounds natural but makes stuff louder. And drums to sound more tape like. 70s breakbeats to be exact.

But when I put bassdrums through it, I got a distortion I can only describe as the techno 909 distorted bassdrum type of distortion.
Buzzy. I wanted the smoother tape like saturation. Even if it was a little bit. Even if it was more sensitive than tape.
The charisma has a smaller range of natural sounding saturation than tape I guess.
To soften sounds for the digital realm.
I found on hihats it smoothed things nicely. Shaving off some transient peaks.
It may be a very subtle thing. Because I can get the drive lights flashing without obvious techno distortion (which is what I don't want).
Maybe tracking all tracks through it with maximum drive before it become ugly distortion, would create a different sound cumulatively. I still haven't tried it like that I am ashamed to say. Must do that.

But Patricks suggestion of reducing the bass before the tubes and boosting after makes sense. That is what Gabe Roth of Daptone does with tape for drums. He cuts bass to tape to get more tape compression on the mids and highs.

Buuut, if there where different tubes that could give me a fluffier, spongyier, tape like saturation than the stock tubes, I would do that swap.

Less techno bass drum distortion and more grungy thick tape like saturation.

Possible?
No, changing the tubes will change the basic sound of the Charisma but will have very little effect on the type distortion you get. You will still get the buzzy, aggressive distortion when pushing it.

Great tip about from WunderBro Flo about the low shelf. I'll have to try that! I've always found the Charisma to have a rather narrow sweet spot so this might help. One important thing though: Always ignore the lights!!! They can be very misleading on the Charisma.
Old 12th March 2014 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murdok ➡️
Hey everyone, thanks alot for your answers! WunderBro Flow; will definitely try out this trick, sounds promising.
BOWIE answered me; he recommended and offered me a few tubes. But the high shipping cost from the US to belgium is holding me back right now from buying tubes in the US. I will think about it and will also look for tubes here in europe. If I change them I will share my experience here.
Thanks again for your answers!
I'm also based in Europe and have had mostly dissapointing experiences with Europeans NOS tube dealers.There are places to get NOS tubes in Europe but I haven't found anyone I can really trust. In my experience testing of the tubes has been poor or non-existant and I've even gotten fake/re-labelled tubes from one of the largest dealers. I'd rather pay for US shipping than get a noisy/microphonic/fake tube.
Old 23rd March 2014
  #13
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WunderBro Flo's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Just for fun I dug out my charisma 8 today to give it another chance...using stock tubes from spl which I bought two years ago. I have to say I actually totally loved the results, even without bass emphasis and deemphasis. used it on an acoustic drumsubgroup and another pair on the main mix of a retro rock track. when set right it totally kills. I am pretty sure I was not experienced enough back then when I bought it first 10 years ago. Wonderful stuff. I will implement it in my mixes of acoustic and rock material a lot more than I did.
Old 7th November 2019
  #14
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denork's Avatar
I just bought one of these and it comes with tesla e83cc tubes, I haven't found information related to Charisma and these tubes, does anyone know them? In the first tests that I have done, I feel that it saturates the area of serious and medium-serious a lot and I turn off the treble a lot.
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