12AU7 tube recommendations

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jaylevine

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12AU7 tube recommendations
« on: 19 Sep 2018, 11:35 am »
Hi,

I have a Bob Latino VTA 120 amp with the stock driver tubes. Overall love the amp, but after a year of ownership am getting the 'tube rolling' bug.

Have already swapped out the output tubes with KT88s--overall effect was not that noticeable if at all (from stock 6550s).

I'm now looking for recommendations for the driver board, in particular the center tube which I understand to be the tube most affecting the sound.

I'm looking for a version of this tube that is reliable, affordable (under $50 USD) and emphasizes high end 'details/clarity' vs 'sweetness and mellowness'. I'm fairly limited in my upper range hearing so I tend to favor tube and SS amps that emphasize transparency and detail, (or even over emphasize those characteristics a bit) vs neutrality and balance.

Thoughts?

Thanks--Jay

timind

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #1 on: 19 Sep 2018, 12:04 pm »
Sylvania 12AU7WA is what you're looking for. The WA is the designation used for mil spec tubes which were built to be rugged and reliable. I also find them to have the sound you're looking for.

My suggestion is to find a NOS tube which should come in a plain white box with the federal stock number as well as other information. I have a couple I bought as NOS and this seemed reliable information as the box had obviously never been opened.

Tyson

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #2 on: 19 Sep 2018, 04:53 pm »
Sylvania is a good rec.  I also like the Siemens 12au7 for very good detail retrieval.

paul79

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #3 on: 19 Sep 2018, 04:54 pm »
Find you a good long plate Valvo.

mick wolfe

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #4 on: 19 Sep 2018, 05:02 pm »
Tubemonger has an extensive stock of NOS 12AU7/ECC82. Check out his site. ( Tubemonger.com) Should be able to find something within your budget. No affiliation, just a satisfied customer for years.

richidoo

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #5 on: 19 Sep 2018, 06:38 pm »
Shuguang 12AU7 is the best low cost tube I've heard. No vintage warmth or smear. Clear, strong, detailed, good bass and smooth extended treble. I used them 10 years ago, they came as standard tubes with Eastern Electric MiniMax preamp. I liked them much more than the many vintage tubes I tried. No telling if the new ones are still as good as those old ones, but cheap enough to try. Find them on EBay.

I love Gold Lion tubes for their great sound and reliability. I personally would just get those and be done, but they are over your stated budget at $45 each.

Have fun rolling!

JakeJ

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #6 on: 19 Sep 2018, 06:41 pm »
You might consider the JJ ECC802S and Tube Depot can test and match them (if you need pairs) very thoroughly.  No affiliation with TD other than good experiences.

Cryoset tubes has them too and cryo'd but no matching for some reason.

The Tube Store has them and offers matching but no cryo.

The ECC 802-S is a military version that is ruggedized and designed for low noise.  Very linear, smooth mids and extended top-end with bangin' tight bass.  This is my fav tube for a 12AU7.

Emil

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #7 on: 19 Sep 2018, 07:02 pm »
Just to add more confusion......

I ordered a pair for my LTA MZ2 preamp.
Nothing to complain about


https://www.upscaleaudio.com/products/brimar-cv4003-12au7

JakeJ

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #8 on: 19 Sep 2018, 07:13 pm »
Kevin is a great source for tubes.  He's picky about what he sells and stands behind it.  I haven't bought any tubes fron Upscale because I usually find the same tube elsewhere for a few bucks less.

jaylevine

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #9 on: 19 Sep 2018, 08:33 pm »
Hi,

I have a Bob Latino VTA 120 amp with the stock driver tubes. Overall love the amp, but after a year of ownership am getting the 'tube rolling' bug.

Have already swapped out the output tubes with KT88s--overall effect was not that noticeable if at all (from stock 6550s).

I'm now looking for recommendations for the driver board, in particular the center tube which I understand to be the tube most affecting the sound.

I'm looking for a version of this tube that is reliable, affordable (under $50 USD) and emphasizes high end 'details/clarity' vs 'sweetness and mellowness'. I'm fairly limited in my upper range hearing so I tend to favor tube and SS amps that emphasize transparency and detail, (or even over emphasize those characteristics a bit) vs neutrality and balance.

Thoughts?

Thanks--Jay

So far I have the following suggestions (including some input from another board):

Sylvania 12AU7WA
JJ ECC802S
Tung Sol 12AU7
Shuguang 12AU7
Siemens 12au7
BRIMAR CV4003 / 12AU7
Gold Lion ECC82 / 12AU7
and several others.....

Embarrassment of riches I guess, but difficult to make an informed choice with so many options.

Tyson

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #10 on: 19 Sep 2018, 08:38 pm »
Brimar and Tung Sol will lean toward warm-ish, I'd skip them based on your initial post.  JJ's too.  The Sylvania, Siemens and Gold Lion will lean toward greater clarity and dynamics.  I've not heard the Shuguang 12au7s.

jaylevine

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #11 on: 19 Sep 2018, 08:44 pm »
Brimar and Tung Sol will lean toward warm-ish, I'd skip them based on your initial post.  JJ's too.  The Sylvania, Siemens and Gold Lion will lean toward greater clarity and dynamics.  I've not heard the Shuguang 12au7s.

Thanks. I am going to run this by the person I purchase my tubes from re: he is recommending the Tung Sols (he is a well respected supplier and I generally would go with his suggestion).

If he shares your POV on this I am sure he will gladly supply with with one of the alternatives.

Best--Jay

Tom Bombadil

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #12 on: 19 Sep 2018, 08:52 pm »
Kevin is a great source for tubes.  He's picky about what he sells and stands behind it.  I haven't bought any tubes fron Upscale because I usually find the same tube elsewhere for a few bucks less.

I'd be wary of placing 100% trust in him.  There is a long thread in another forum where numerous people have related experiences where tubes were misrepresented by that company.  I experienced this too some years ago when I was sold a set of relabeled tubes where Kevin personally told me that they might be Siemens.  When received it took me all of about 2 seconds to recognize them as Sovteks.   No doubt, no question.  They were okay tubes but not at all what I was told. 

Tyson

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #13 on: 19 Sep 2018, 09:20 pm »
Thanks. I am going to run this by the person I purchase my tubes from re: he is recommending the Tung Sols (he is a well respected supplier and I generally would go with his suggestion).

If he shares your POV on this I am sure he will gladly supply with with one of the alternatives.

Best--Jay

Tung Sols IME are slightly warm, but the one thing they do that other tubes have a hard time matching is that they sound big.  Which is pretty darn cool.  I'd recommend trying some Tung Sols regardless of what other tubes you end up with.  Vintage Tung Sols, not new production Tung Sols.  I find that vintage Tung Sols are my favorite brand, regardless of tube type. 

jaylevine

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #14 on: 19 Sep 2018, 09:30 pm »
Tung Sols IME are slightly warm, but the one thing they do that other tubes have a hard time matching is that they sound big.  Which is pretty darn cool.  I'd recommend trying some Tung Sols regardless of what other tubes you end up with.  Vintage Tung Sols, not new production Tung Sols.  I find that vintage Tung Sols are my favorite brand, regardless of tube type.

That is what I'm going to do. To be honest, there is such a range of opinion with little consensus (or even a simple majority) that I guess I'm stuck rolling several over the course of the next year and storing the also-rans as back ups.

Sometimes too much choice can be frustrating (I know, 1st world problems).  :|

Thanks to all for the input--I'll report back later this year after putting some hours into my final choice.

Jay 

Tyson

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #15 on: 19 Sep 2018, 09:38 pm »
BTW, I have the Bob Latino STA 70 amp and it responds quite well to tube rolling.  Mine has the octal front board though. 

Once you get the new tube, run it in and get familiar with it, then after that you might try switching between the 6550s and KT88s again.  You're preferences may change with a different input tube.

rotarius

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #16 on: 19 Sep 2018, 10:17 pm »
The Sylvania 12AU7 is a very nice tube and cheap.  Raytheon black plates are great too.  Plenty on ebay usually.  GE 5814 are also quite nice.  I have the JJ long and short plates and a few other new production tubes.  The vintage ones a step up IMO.

jaylevine

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #17 on: 19 Sep 2018, 10:27 pm »
The Sylvania 12AU7 is a very nice tube and cheap.  Raytheon black plates are great too.  Plenty on ebay usually.  GE 5814 are also quite nice.  I have the JJ long and short plates and a few other new production tubes.  The vintage ones a step up IMO.

Pretty sure Bob Latino ships the VTA 120 with Sylvania 12AU7s (just checked--yup, that is what I'm running now).

To be honest, nothing wrong at all with the way my unit sounds today, just been a year with the stock driver tubes and I'm feeling the urge to experiment!


Tyson

Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #18 on: 19 Sep 2018, 10:55 pm »
Yeah, if you already have Sylvanias, then vintage Tung Sols are good, and I 2nd the Raytheon rec (and the Siemens rec).  All are great tubes with tremendous amounts of clarity.

I wish I liked GE tubes more, but they are always just sort of a middle-of-the-road tube IME. "Good" in every category, but only good, never great. 

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: 12AU7 tube recommendations
« Reply #19 on: 19 Sep 2018, 11:26 pm »
Here's a chart of 12au7s from a tube dealer site.