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Great 'n cheap NOS 12AU7s's : CBS 5814A, RCA 5814A


I use 6 12AU7's in 5 pieces of gear, all vintage. The reason I mention that my 12AU7 use is all vintage is that I believe I tend to choose tubes for vintage that counteracts the slowness, darkness and warmness that I love so much.

My favourite 12AU7s:

Philips/Amperex/Valvo 7316 / ECC186
Siemens triple mica 5814A / E82CC
CBS 5814A- blk plate- stirrup getter (1957)

These are the three 12AU7 models that I bought enough to place everywhere I use 12AU7s- plus two spares!:

12AU7 [6] 1, 2, 2, 1 TOTAL: 67

Philips SQ/ by Siemens 5814A -3 mica- DE- NOS
Brimar ECC82 cleartop- GB- NOS
Sylvania JHS 12AU7WA- 6189- NOS 66
HP/ Amperex-- NOS
HP/ RCA- cleartop- NOS
RCA- 5814A- black plate 2 mica- NOS
RCA/ Textronix 2-matched prs cleartop NOS
Valvo/ Philips ECC82- dimp disc-Holland -NOS
Valvo/ Siemens E82CC- NOS
CBS 5814A- JHS blk plate- stirrup gtr- NOS 57
RCA cleartop- USED
Amperex Bugle Boy 7316- Holland- NOS 64
RCA “Command” 5814A- NOS
CBS 5814A- blk pl- sq gtr- NOS/Used?
Sylvania 5814A- USA- c.1970
National by RCA- 5814WA- black pl- US- NOS
Siemens- E82CC/6189- 2mica, halo- DE- NOS
Siemens 5814A -3 mica- USED [25
Valvo 6189- RTC- France- db gtr sup- NOS (17,17)
Valvo ECC186/7316- Holland- 1965- NOS [21
Siemens/H E82CC/6189- 3 mica- DE-NOS [13

1. The Philips 7316: is for me the solver of all 12AU7 problems- it does everything really well and like the Siemens has a great, transparent bass- you can hear detail and sounds differentiated far into the bass. Very quiet.

2. Siemens 5814A/ E82CC: The premium Siemens tubes I find consistently energetic, dynamic and punchy. The Siemens, like the much-discussed RCA "cleartop" might, in my view, be too aggressive in modern equipment, but certainly can help wake up a McIntosh MC240. I also use the triple mica E82CC in the MPX section of a McIntosh MR67 tuner.

3. The CBS black plate 5814A is in the fairly wonderful category, and like the 7316, I can imagine working well both old and new stuff. A bit "fuller" sound than the 7316.

Unfortunately, the 7316 and Siemens triple mica 5814A were discovered to be wonderful and/or wonderful by the guitar amp crowd so they're expensive now- $75+, but I think that with a little patience, you will find good CBS 5814A's under $20, and I'd recommend trying for those first.

RCA 2- mica "Command" 5814A: After the CBS, firmly within the $20 category is the very good RCA 2- mica "Command" 5814A: well-made, articulate, smooth, quiet. The "Command" designation I believe was the RCA version of the Amperex "Bugle Boy" brand- selected tubes that tested above standard- matched triode sections, gain, and low noise,and etc. Very nice, and if I weren't putting a pair of the CBS 5814As in a Scott 330D tuner (mono, 1958), I would use the RCA's. I think the last 4- NOS RCA "Command" 5814A's cost $20 all together in about 2005. These are so good, it's difficult to believe they are cheaper than current production. In my view, RCA small tubes- except the 7025 and I think some of power tubes- are sometimes overlooked as to their high quality as many people rush for Telefunkens and Amperex.

Happy Hunting! Let us know what you end up using.


Bambi B

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