Hi there, I’ve now listened and analyzed countless 12au7’s (and it’s equivalents) and thought I’d give my opinion on my current favorites.
1st Place Tie: Mazda 6189 Silver Plates 3-Mica and 50’s Valvo Long Plate Angled Getter
*these are somewhat similar to me in that they both have soaring/sparkling top-ends and beautiful midrange. Â Both have lots of detail. Â I think Mazda has better bass and is slightly more precise, forward and transparent. Â But Mazda is also more dry. Â Valvo is sexier and easier on the ears. Â To me, the Valvos are a bit light on the bass. Â Mazdas have maybe a larger soundstage, but Valvo is deeper and more intimate. Â Tie for first. Â If someone put a gun to my head, I’d choose the Valvos.
Second Place: Â Amperex 7316 Long Plate Foil Getter
*Amperex 7316 is almost perfect but it has some issues in the upper midrange and treble in my opinion. Â I little bit of sibilance/bloat that becomes irritating. Â Just this certain frequency range that it can’t handle without distorting a bit. Â Other than that it’s perfect. Â The lifelike thickness of notes/instruments, the balance, the soundstage, the flow, the warmth, the seductive vocals. Â I would have never noticed it’s flaw if it weren’t for Valvo.
Tie for 3rd: Â 50’s Amperex Long Plate Foil Getter (Bugle Boy) and Sylvania 5814 3-mica
4th Place: Siemens Chrome Plate Halo Getter
5th Place: Â Westinghouse 50’s Carbon Plate
6th Place: Â Mullard CV491 Long Plate Square Getter
7th Place: Â 50’s CBS 5814
Honorable Mentions: Â Mulllard CV491 Short Plates, Amperex Short Plates, Tesla ECC802s, Mullard Box Plates – these were all tubes i enjoyed at one time, and are significant upgrades from stock tubes, but don’t have knock out characteristics
The Rest: Â RCA Clear Top, Anything RCA, GE 6189 Black Plate, Tunsgram ECC82, Other Sylvania – to me, these were 1 hit wonders in that they maybe have 1 special characteristic but the rest of the tube didn’t impress enough to leave in