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I am thinking of switching to a belles pre amp which uses 12AU7 tubes. How does the sonic signature of these tubes compare to 12AX7 as far as presence, harmonics, weight, palable, 3-dimensions, soundstaging etc? How available are great tubes for under $200/pair.
I am currently running a quicksilver pre amp with raytheon windmills 5751. I love the tubes but they are getting hard to find.
I like certain amps that use 12AU7s, if I like it or not. My Jadis DA-60 it uses two quads of outputs which one can vary, I am using GL Russian KT-88s at the moment. The input tubes on this integrated are 2 X 12AX7s and 3 X 12AU7s. I sub 1950s Sylvania triple mica blackplate 5751s for the 12AX7s, and Amperex late 50s/early 60s Heerlen produced 7316s for the 12AU7s. No one has told me I could use a non 12AU7 sub. Yes Neff I own Brimar 13D5s but like the Amperex Heerlen tubes better, in fact I like them a lot and don't fully understand why people have such bad feelings about the 12AU7, granted the 7316 is no ordinary 12AU7.
If you are used to the Raytheon 5751 (or any 5751), then I don't think you will find ANY 12AU7 that will sound nearly as good. As far as the sonic characteristics you listed, IME, 12AU7's, in general, don't hold a candle to a good 12AX7 or 5751. I know it is easy to pick on the poor old 12AU7, but it basically sucks as an input/driver tube, IMO.
Now, if the Belles can handle the extra filament current draw of the E80CC/6085, then we are talking about something else entirely. That tube is in a class of its own!
Thanks for the feedback. Is it fair to say that, in general, the 12AX7/5751s "family" produces the best sounding tubes?
Is there any other group of pre amp tubes that are on par or better than the 12AX7/5751s?
I know it depends on the equipment and the specific tube but if I switch pre amps I want to make sure that I have decent tubes to select from.
All I'm saying is that, in my experience, 12AX7 and 5751 tubes are better performers than 12AU7's. I'm making a very broad, general statement here, though. I would imagine that there are some fine sounding preamps and integrateds that use 12AU7's as input/driver tubes. It just seems like a builder is shooting himself in the foot by designing a circuit based on the 12AU7 when there are much better choices out there. The E80CC is my favorite small signal tube, but there are none in current production. However, there are new-production 5751's, 6SN7's, 12BH7's, 6922's , etc. that will all better the 12AU7, generally speaking.
Vinyl + Tubes= Bliss
sorry, i am not an expert but how can you claim that amping via 12AU7 would not sound as good as through any other 12A*7? does sound performance not depend on correct design of the circuit a tube is put in anymore? my welter monos use 12AU7 as drivers and beat out any other world class tube amp designed this way. may be you had put 12AU7 in a 12AX7 position and were surprised about worse sound which must perform wrong then...
The times, they are changing...
I'm not an expert either, but I would know if I substituted a 12AU7 in place of a 12AX7. Or more importantly, I would know better than to do that! What I was communicating to the original poster was that if he is looking to go with a new amp in order to use a tube type different than a 5751, then I personally don't think that the 12AU7 as a TYPE will be an improvement over what he has. Are there some 12AU7-based circuits (or circuits that use 12AU7's in conjunction with other small signal tubes) that sound better than circuits based on the 12AX7, 5751, 6922, 6SN7, etc? I'm sure there are. But, if we are talking about the 12AU7 itself, well, I think it is a pretty crappy sounding tube and that even the best ones I've tried (including the 7316 and 13D5) are still handicapped by the fact that they are in the 12AU7 family and retain, to a certain extent, that vague, fuzzy sonic quality.
As always, just my experience and opinion.
Vinyl + Tubes= Bliss
The Mind has No Firewall~ U.S. Army War College.
Are there any other tube families that are know for superior sonics? (I tried a bunch of 12AX7s before I gave up for the 5751).
I don't use or like any of these tubes, but the least worst I came across in 9 pin dual triodes with a 12A*7 base was E80CC.
If you really like the 5751, then you might want to stick to that type. You aren't limited to only the Raytheon. GE TMBP and Tungsol longplates aren't exactly cheap, but they go for less than the Raytheon's and TMBP Sylvania's. I actually prefer the GE's in most cases.
Vinyl + Tubes= Bliss
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