Favorite Tubes 12au7

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. Both have lots of detail. I think Mazda has better bass and is slightly more precise, forward and transparent. But Mazda is also more dry. Valvo is sexier and easier on the ears. To me, the Valvos are a bit light on the bass. Mazdas have maybe a larger soundstage, but Valvo is deeper and more intimate. Tie for first. If someone put a gun to my head, I’d choose the Valvos.

Second Place: 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. I little bit of sibilance/bloat that becomes irritating. Just this certain frequency range that it can’t handle without distorting a bit. Other than that it’s perfect. The lifelike thickness of notes/instruments, the balance, the soundstage, the flow, the warmth, the seductive vocals. I would have never noticed it’s flaw if it weren’t for Valvo.

Tie for 3rd: 50’s Amperex Long Plate Foil Getter (Bugle Boy) and Sylvania 5814 3-mica

4th Place: Siemens Chrome Plate Halo Getter

5th Place: Westinghouse 50’s Carbon Plate

6th Place: Mullard CV491 Long Plate Square Getter

7th Place: 50’s CBS 5814

Honorable Mentions: 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: 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


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5 thoughts on “Favorite Tubes 12au7

  1. I haven’t…don’t know much about them. Any good? I’m just about off the 12au7 marry-go-round, and pretty much bounce back and forth from Amperex Long Plate Foil Getters and the Valvo’s (as they “fit” my system just right). Dipped into 6922’s, and feel Siemens CCa’s reign supreme (even over the Amperex Pinched Waist and Philips SQ 7308). For 12ax7, I’ve settled on the Tesla Frame Grid and Sylvania 5751 as my fav’s. The 12au7’s and ax7’s are in a VAC preamp.

    • I haven’t managed any of the super tubes in the list, but I do have a set of Raytheon 5814 double mica black plates and I think they are superb, very warm but still plenty of detail. My other fave is a set of Tesla ECC802s bought from tubemaze 🙂

      Slightly similar tastes in 12ax7’s, current favorite 2 sets are tungsram ecc83’s and RCA 5751’s. Had some GB 5751’s but too forward for me and the RCA’s dialed that back a bit.

      Now I’m also entering the 6922 section, but boy do they get expensive quick… Currently my best is a set of 66 bugle boy 6dj8 and a set of voshkod 6n23p’s – actually very similar in sonics

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