About 6 years ago I had some NOS vacuum tubes cryo-treated as an experiment to determine if the cryogenic process had any effect on the performance of audio tubes. I was very scientific about the experiment, which spanned 5 years. Initially, I passed a pre-recorded bit of audio through the originally, untreated tubes (installed in an amplifier) and recorded that passage directly out of the preamp back into the computer. I sent the tubes off and when they came back a couple weeks later I ran the exact same passage through the same preamp with the same settings. The audio would sound identical if the treatment process did nothing. The passages actually sounded quite different. The tubes exhibited a lower noise floor, crisper high frequencies and a cleaner sound. None of these audible differences were huge, but they were enough to justify the $5 per tube price of cryogenic processing. BTW, thats what the price works out to be when I send 30 tubes out for treatment.
Fast forward 5 years. Vacuum tubes definitely don't last forever. Modern tubes really don't last very long at all when compared to the good old vintage tubes, but even those awesome old school tubes don't last forever. Biggest problem is the dwindling world-wide supply of quality NOS vacuum tubes. With my tube tester I'm able to see if a tube has been used via the "life test." Typically, after about 1 year of regular use a tube will show signs of usage or in the case of modern tubes it could be on its way out. I tested the cryo-treated tubes from 5 years earlier, which had seen daily use (30-40hrs per week) for that 5 year period. One would expect the tubes to show some signs of usage on the tester, but the cryo-treated tubes actually tested the same as brand new tubes.
Fast forward to today. I have finally decided its worth cryo-treating ALL tubes used by Lightning Boy Audio. This week I'm sending out the first batch of Lightning Boy tested and approved premium NOS vacuum tubes for cryogenic processing. All equipment manufactured by Lightning Boy Audio will not only feature NOS vacuum tubes, but those tubes will also be cryo-treated to ensure they last the rest of your life.
About the Author
Mike Congilosi II, Owner/Designer/Electronics Engineer at Lightning Boy Audio and Owner/Audio Engineer/Music Producer at LBA Studios.