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12AX7 shootout; Mullard or Tele?

8/24/2000 7:51 PM
Ricky 12AX7 shootout; Mullard or Tele?
I am contemplating getting some really nice 12AX7's for my amp. I have been considering either Mullard or Telefunken. I get a lot of gain/distortion from the preamp so I want a good sounding tube. are the Teles worth the money? also, what would a good tube for the PI be? BTW, this amp has a P-P cathode biased 6V6 output section.  
8/24/2000 8:28 PM
ken gilbert
well, i've got a couple of both types, and you know what i plug in and use?  
i will part with my unobtanium 12ax7's for too much money, if you're interested.  
8/25/2000 1:27 AM
Peter S

Chinese???????????? I can't them to sound worth a damn in any amp I've tried them in. The only ones I found that are even usable are the Silver specials, and they only work in cetain amps. Just shows ya' different strokes.  
Peter S
8/25/2000 11:31 AM
Ken Gilbert

"....Silver specials, and they only work in cetain amps"
ahh, there's the key..  
i've got a little stash of those still hanging around, probably about 10 or so of them, in various stages of life. when i designed my own preamp, i used those tubes. thus, it sounds best with those in it!  
those ARE the best chineese tubes out there.  
8/25/2000 12:42 PM
Peter S

Well that explains it! Had me scratching my head there for a minute. The Silver Specials are the best Chinese tubes for sure, and there's ALOT to be said about designing an amp around a specific tube. That's how I voice my amps......usually for a specific tube, transformer and speaker combination.  
Peter S
8/25/2000 5:51 PM
Ken Gilbert

unfortunately, pete, it seems that as soon as i design and voice an amp for a particular tube type, it becomes unavailable:  
first it was the silver specials... ruby says they're coming back, but WHEN???  
then it was the KT90's... no need to say any more.  
next svetlana will stop making the wonderful 6n1p. god forbid!  
8/24/2000 8:32 PM

Are the Telefunkens or Mullards worth "How Much" money?? That's the question. Which tube version and what price? Does it have balanced sections (critical in some fine audio applications) or not? Is it certified to be low noise? All these parameters enter into the cost equation.  
The latest Vacuum Tube Valley magazine features a comprehesive testing article on 12AX7s. It's worth getting a copy of this mag. Listening tests were done with guitars & guitar amps. Tube types graded accordingly. A lot of info for education and reference.  
The best tube for the job in PI service really depends on the circuit, and how the rest of the amp sounds. I like to use heavier-duty tubes in this position because they need to produce current when the output tubes are overdriven. So a good old US tube is what I prefer. Balanced sections is more important with a differential circuit, like a long tail pair, but invenerial if the PI is a single section split-load/cathodyne arrangement. Signal balance is pretty much independent of tube condition for the cathodyne. Another thing to consider is, it seems that with simple amp topology, only a few tubes in the total circuit, each tube has more individual effect on coloring the sound. Multi-tube high gain monsters (aka boogies) with a high level of resistive gain attenuation between stages seem to be less sensitive to tube characteristics, other than microphonics.
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