Warning: This post is a spectator view of laboratory experiments by an experienced engineer, not a DIY guide. If you try experiments like this, you do so at your own risk. It is YOUR responsibility to employ proper shielding and safety measures, and to stay in compliance with your local safety laws.
Vacuum tubes. What are they good for today? Believe it or not, they are not exactly obsolete, and can be a more efficient solution than more modern components in some applications.
Where exactly? The first thing that comes to mind is that these are good for making sound.
To start, consider an old cathode-ray-tube (CRT) TV. The CRT needs a stable voltage in the tens of kilovolts range, or the picture would flicker in size from the changes of brightness. In the early days they used a tube-based linear regulator to make it stable. For that end there were special triodes that could withstand these voltages.
Their time didn’t last, since at 20-30 KV they were in the soft X-ray range and putting X-ray emitters into TVs is a bad idea. I suspect that’s where the myth about cacti absorbing radiation from monitors originated.
Anyway, let’s use such a triode as an arc modulator (plasma speaker) to make our own version of “tube sound”.