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Tube rolling 12AU7s- what your favorite?

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  • Tube rolling 12AU7s- what your favorite?

    The past month or two has been mainly an exercise in tube rolling in the VTL 7.5 III preamp which uses a single pair of 12AU7s. I've methodically gone through many of the great NOS tubes that are out there: Telefunken's (mid 60's smooth plate, 1956 military long box plates, the revered 802s), Philips/Amperex (12AU7 Bugle Boys, 7316) Mullard (military CV4003, plain 12AU7, CV491 and last but my favorites of all, NOS Mullard long plate with "D" (or "square") getters from Blackburn circa late 50's (truly outstanding). It's amazing how different they all are. It's really like trying different preamps. Or more accurately, it's a system voicing exercise since there is no perfect tube of course. What sounds best in one system may not be everyone's cup of tea since system fit and compatibility is what will determine preference more than any "absolute" performance metric. What's your preference?

  • #2
    The smooth plate 60's Telefunkens. Last long too. My linestage uses a pair of 12AU7s.
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    • #3
      I've gone through a bunch of them, head to head, and the best I've found, by far are ones labelled "Baldwin" which are actually RCA or Raytheon black plates I believe.


    • #4
      Senior Member
      Last edited by Dr.Ears; 02-08-2018, 03:01 PM.


    • #5
      Yes, you hit the nail on the head. Tremendous amount of variation in sound. When my Altis DAC was in use, I used Sylvania 5814s. Warm and dimensional (probably a blessing then with early digital recordings) though I'm not sure the low end on them was up to snuff. I got some Teles to put in (as well as 7316s and a few others) but never used the DAC again so don't know how they worked. My problem with many tubes including the 12AU7 is that you never know--unless you know the code lingo--who actually made the tube.
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor,

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      • JCOConnell
        Premier Club Member
        JCOConnell commented
        Editing a comment
        with vintage telefunkens, legitimate samples have a diamond embossed in the base glass.

      • MylesBAstor
        MylesBAstor commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes and if you go online a couple of tube dealers have the codes for different tube manufacturers.