Jump to content

Do 12AX7 (EEC83) tubes need to be matched? And which are 'best'?


Recommended Posts

I read recently that preamp tubes do not need to be matched. As I am on the lookout for new tubes for my all-valve phono stage (Icon Audio PS 1), which takes three 12AX7 / EEC83 tubes, this is of some interest to me. I contacted Icon Audio who told me that the tubes DO need to be matched, although the reply was from 'sales' not from 'tech'.

 

So, if they do need to be matched, which tubes would suit me best? I have also read that these small preamp tubes can suffer from noise and microphonics. I hate both those characteristics, and the tubes currently in my PS 1 (Harma Retro) exhibit neither, being hissless and silent on gently pinging them with my fingernail. 

 

So first off, I need quiet tubes. At least a half-decent gain would be useful to me. And the kind of sound I like is 'tubey', by which I mean warm, smooth, beautifully liquid mids, detailed but smooth top end and mellifluous (as opposed to 'accurate') bass. IOW, a nice euphonic sound. Music I listen to most is female jazz vocal, acoustic instruments, jazz combos, 60s soul. Not much rock or 'complex' stuff.  Think Diana Krall, Ben Webster, Etta James, John Coltrane etc. I like a realistic and natural presentation of the human voice and, for me, the more emotional connection I have with the artist the better. I very much dislike 'strident' or 'grainy' or 'scratchy' or 'harsh' top end.

 

In my amplifier (Willsenton R8) I have a combination of NOS and current production. I believe that older tubes were better made, from better materials, with greater levels of QC, but I don't rule out current production tubes.

 

I have no particular budget in mind, but would welcome suggestions that won't require me to sell a kidney. And I need three tubes (probably matched and balanced).

 

Thanks to anyone who replies.

 

Zed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at the PS1 circuit online, I can see that matched tubes are likely required for the left and right positions at the front but the single tube at the rear can be different. When I mean matched tubes here I mean the same brand, version and revision of tube that also has matched dual triodes.

 

You may want to purchase a pair of tubes from this vendor for the front 2 tubes.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Brimar-CV4004-ECC83-12AX7-CV492-NOS-Valve-Tube-/265067318035

 

Edit: This one for the rear position.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/VALVO-SIEMENS-E83CC-TRIPLE-MICAS-ROHRE-RED-See-my-original-ECC803S-TELEFUNKEN-/174146442391

 

Edited by xlr8or
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Looking at the PS1 circuit online, I can see that matched tubes are likely required for the left and right positions at the front but the single tube at the rear can be different. When I mean matched tubes here I mean the same brand, version and revision of tube that also has matched dual triodes.

 

Thanks. For the avoidance of doubt, do you mean that the two tubes inside the single bottle must be matched and/or the two bottles themselves must also be matched? I have taken to referring to the two conditions as 'balanced' (where the two tubes in one bottle are matched) and 'matched' (to signify the two bottles must be matched) but I have no idea if this makes sense to experienced tubists.   IOW, could I buy a 'balanced' tube from one place and another 'balanced' tube from another, so long as they are the same brand, version and revision of course? Or must I buy two tubes from one vendor so they can have been 'matched'. Sorry for the naive questions - as you know, I am learning as I go along.

 

22 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

You may want to purchase a pair of tubes from this vendor for the front 2 tubes.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Brimar-CV4004-ECC83-12AX7-CV492-NOS-Valve-Tube-/265067318035

 

Wow - that is some site. 100 million different items in stock!  

 

22 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

 

Thanks again. I feel more cash slowly draining from my bank account :) 

Link to post
Share on other sites


12 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

Thanks again. I feel more cash slowly draining from my bank account :) 

I hope not as I can’t see any indication that those tubes are matched, balanced, let alone tested 

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

I hope not as I can’t see any indication that those tubes are matched, balanced, let alone tested 

 

I was thinking in general terms rather than those specific recommendations. I am a newbie when it comes to tubes (although experienced with hifi equipment, over many years). When I started down the tube route, I told myself I would not get drawn into tube rolling. Yeah, right. That lasted all of 5 minutes. Now, my tube collection is worth more than my amplifier ;) Good fun though and I am gradually learning the ins and outs. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

I hope not as I can’t see any indication that those tubes are matched, balanced, let alone tested 

I think the trick is to ask that seller for a matched pair, he does have 10 or more of them and they are NOS.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Both sellers have very high creditable when it comes to selling tubes. The first vendor is the famous Chelmer Valve Co in the UK that has one of the world's leading reputation in selling valves fully tested and matched. The other seller has tested and matched the tube, and if you look through his other listings (Telefunken ECC803S), you'll see that there is also a nice tube tester that is being used. 👍👍👍

Edited by xlr8or
Link to post
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, xlr8or said:

Both sellers have very high creditable when it comes to selling tubes. The first vendor is the famous Chelmer Valve Co in the UK that has one of the world's leading reputation in selling valves fully tested and matched. The other seller has tested and matched the tube, and if you look through his other listings (Telefunken ECC803S), you'll see that they also have a nice tube tester that you and I want. 👍👍👍

 

I am pleased that you have introduced me to Chelmer Valve Company, since it is in the UK and has such a stellar reputation. Sadly, in 2018 they decided to get out of the audio business altogether and invited bids for their remaining stock of millions of tubes. This might explain why they have no EL34s (to take just one example) anymore, as one assumes that the most popular tubes were easily sold off. Nonetheless, what stocks they have left are certainly worth exploring. And for me, being in the UK, it is a pleasant change to not have to pay a fortune for carriage. 👍

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a collection of NOS 12ax7 I use but a tube that was recently recommended was the JJ E83CC 

It is based on the old Tesla E83CC/Telefunken ECC803S)
Made for audio to be less microphonic and noisy. And has good gain. What your were asking for and cheap. I’m currently using these over NOS RCA, Raytheon, etc, and instead of new Gold Lion. 
Anyway it’s an option you can try and you’ll get 3 for a NOS price of one 😉

 

https://www.evatco.com.au/jj-e83cc-12ax7-low-noise-microphonics

Edited by Jack Goff
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jack Goff said:

I have a collection of NOS 12ax7 I use but a tube that was recently recommended was the JJ E83CC 

It is based on the old Tesla E83CC/Telefunken ECC803S)
Made for audio to be less microphonic and noisy. And has good gain. What your were asking for and cheap. I’m currently using these over NOS RCA, Raytheon, etc, and instead of new Gold Lion. 
Anyway it’s an option you can try and you’ll get 3 for a NOS price of one 😉

 

https://www.evatco.com.au/jj-e83cc-12ax7-low-noise-microphonics

Most importantly these are a frame grid tube as well 

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, muon* said:

I think the trick is to ask that seller for a matched pair, he does have 10 or more of them and they are NOS.

Fair enough. I just hate EBay for tubes generally.

It is loaded with scammers and junk. It’s fine if you can test them upon arrival

Being NOS is no guarantee of being balanced or matched

Edited by Gryffles
Link to post
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, Gryffles said:

Fair enough. I just hate EBay for tubes generally.

It is loaded with scammers and junk. It’s fine if you can test them upon arrival

Being NOS is no guarantee of being balanced or matched

Yes true on being NOS, just figured he might have the ability to test and match them.

 

Yes, ebay can be a bit of a mine field, really have to take care picking your sellers, I'm still waiting for some caps......only been 7 year :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, muon* said:

Yes true on being NOS, just figured he might have the ability to test and match them.

 

Yes, ebay can be a bit of a mine field, really have to take care picking your sellers, I'm still waiting for some caps......only been 7 year :D

Yeah indeed Ian you have to be very careful. I have received valves that test as completely worn out before. 

 

Your caps will be vintage mate. Hope they are Jensens and you can sell for double lol

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Gryffles said:

Most importantly these are a frame grid tube as well 

 

Could you please explain the benefits of that?  Feel free to speak as if talking to budgie ;) 

11 hours ago, Jack Goff said:

I have a collection of NOS 12ax7 I use but a tube that was recently recommended was the JJ E83CC 

It is based on the old Tesla E83CC/Telefunken ECC803S)
Made for audio to be less microphonic and noisy. And has good gain. What your were asking for and cheap. I’m currently using these over NOS RCA, Raytheon, etc, and instead of new Gold Lion. 
Anyway it’s an option you can try and you’ll get 3 for a NOS price of one 😉

 

https://www.evatco.com.au/jj-e83cc-12ax7-low-noise-microphonics

 

Interesting - thanks. And cheap enough to try just for sh*ts and giggles anyway. Seen some nice reviews online . . . 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Zed Zed said:

Could you please explain the benefits of that?  Feel free to speak as if talking to budgie ;) 

Frame grid tubes are a superior design. Google is your friend

 

If you can find some legit Tesla E83CC you will be in a happy place

Edited by Gryffles
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, Gryffles said:

Frame grid tubes are a superior design. Google is your friend

 

 

This is what my friend tells me:

 

"Frame grid is a method of construction which uses a prefabricated metal frame to hold the grid posts together. This allows the use of much finer wire as it's not a structural element. It was one of the last innovations in receiving tubes, and it hold some serious advantages - better gain, lower noise, less audible microphony."

 

Now you guys know this already, but in case this thread attracts any other newbs, like me, here is a photo - the frame-grid is (of course :)) on the right:

 

2021-04-30_12-09-39.png.646a1fde8c59269e06fa7b0cd3bf9463.png

 

I like the idea of these, and the reviews are good, so before I splurge on those beauties that @xlr8or recommended (now bookmarked), I think I will give a matched trio of these a try. If nothing else, they will serve as a basis for comparison for me, and add to my slowly-increasing tube knowledge. 👍

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

 

This is what my friend tells me:

 

"Frame grid is a method of construction which uses a prefabricated metal frame to hold the grid posts together. This allows the use of much finer wire as it's not a structural element. It was one of the last innovations in receiving tubes, and it hold some serious advantages - better gain, lower noise, less audible microphony."

 

Now you guys know this already, but in case this thread attracts any other newbs, like me, here is a photo - the frame-grid is (of course :)) on the right:

 

2021-04-30_12-09-39.png.646a1fde8c59269e06fa7b0cd3bf9463.png

 

I like the idea of these, and the reviews are good, so before I splurge on those beauties that @xlr8or recommended (now bookmarked), I think I will give a matched trio of these a try. If nothing else, they will serve as a basis for comparison for me, and add to my slowly-increasing tube knowledge. 👍

Good stuff. Are you saying a matched trio of Tesla?

 

If so forget EBay and buy from a reputable source. And remember there are no bargains with NOS tubes. 

Edited by Gryffles
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

And for those who love the smell of nostalgia in the morning . . . 

 

 2021-04-30_12-31-04.png.551f323d7c56e59720275122152d5701.png

 

Edited by Zed Zed
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

Good stuff. Are you saying a matched trio of Tesla?

 

Steady tiger :)  I was saying a trio of the JJs. Baby steps . . . ;) 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Zed Zed said:

 

Steady tiger :)  I was saying a trio of the JJs. Baby steps . . . ;) 

Haha, go for it. Try one Tesla in the trio if you can. 
 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

 

If so forget EBay and buy from a reputable source. And remember there are no bargains with NOS tubes. 

 

Good advice. I have used eBay and got away with it, but I don't risk it any more. Too many dubious sellers and way too little knowledge on my part - a bad combination. Nowadays I use the reputable online sellers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear you've had bad experiences buying tubes off eBay. I've had the complete opposite experience where recognised tube vendors have sold me absolute crap and mismatched junk that is also overinflated in price. I gave up on a lot of these vendors a decade or so ago. Most of these vendors now also appear on eBay. I'm not sure how you're able to bypass them. If you're feeling insecure purchasing old stock just stick with new production tubes.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, xlr8or said:

Sorry to hear you've had bad experiences buying tubes off eBay. I've had the complete opposite experience where recognised tube vendors have sold me absolute crap and mismatched junk that is also overinflated in price. I gave up on a lot of these vendors a decade or so ago. Most of these vendors now also appear on eBay. I'm not sure how you're able to bypass them. If you're feeling insecure purchasing old stock just stick with new production tubes.

Yeah, one of my go to tube suppliers has an ebay store, bloody awesome he is, and his tubes!

 

Just have to find the better ones like in any market.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, xlr8or said:

Sorry to hear you've had bad experiences buying tubes off eBay. I've had the complete opposite experience where recognised tube vendors have sold me absolute crap and mismatched junk that is also overinflated in price. I gave up on a lot of these vendors a decade or so ago. Most of these vendors now also appear on eBay. I'm not sure how you're able to bypass them. If you're feeling insecure purchasing old stock just stick with new production tubes.

 

My eBay experiences have been, so far, OK, but I always feel like I am taking my life in my hands. I have only used eBay where the seller has numerous tube sales and good feedback, and the tubes I have received have been genuine (judging by appearance and sound). But it is easy for newbs like me to be ripped off by unscrupulous vendors.  I feel fortunate to be guided by experts such as yourself and several others on SNA. That is why I was so pleased to receive your endorsement of the two sellers linked above in the thread, which I have bookmarked.

7 minutes ago, muon* said:

Yeah, one of my go to tube suppliers has an ebay store, bloody awesome he is, and his tubes!

 

Care to share?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

Care to share?

Err...give me a moment :ph34r:

Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way if anyone cares to know most tube vendors also lift heater voltages beyond spec for a short period of time to 'reactivate' NOS/UOS tubes to burn off any dormant cathode poising on the filaments/heaters. It's called the 'bump of life' and instantly activates the tube to perform strongly. A 72+ hour burn in is all that is needed to achieve the same outcome and precondition the tube emitter before testing.

 

It's amazing also how many vendors also miss the inclusion of the critical service life test by dropping back the filament voltage to test how new a tube is.

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

 

My eBay experiences have been, so far, OK, but I always feel like I am taking my life in my hands. I have only used eBay where the seller has numerous tube sales and good feedback, and the tubes I have received have been genuine (judging by appearance and sound). But it is easy for newbs like me to be ripped off by unscrupulous vendors.  I feel fortunate to be guided by experts such as yourself and several others on SNA. That is why I was so pleased to receive your endorsement of the two sellers linked above in the thread, which I have bookmarked.

 

Care to share?

 

Audio Tubes Brent Jessee and Tube World Express Brendan Biever.

 

Edit: Langrex and Billington Export in the UK.

Edited by xlr8or
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, muon* said:

Have a read of this, should keep you busy ;)

 

http://www.tubebooks.org/books/army_theory.pdf

 

OMG. 230 pages! I have just skimmed it, mostly looking at the illustrations ;)  I will try to tackle the more relevant (to me) parts. Hint: don't hold your breath waiting for me to finish it :) 

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

 

OMG. 230 pages! I have just skimmed it, mostly looking at the illustrations ;)  I will try to tackle the more relevant (to me) parts. Hint: don't hold your breath waiting for me to finish it :) 

It's a good read, I mostly read it while on the throne :D

 

Edit: I did skip over a lot of the math formulas because of my lack of understanding of advanced math.

Edited by muon*
  • Haha 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, muon* said:

It's a good read, I mostly read it while on the throne :D

 

And to think, all I wanted to do was gain a bit more insight into Diane Krall's vocals :) :) 

 

I like the little tests at the end of each chapter. Must pay attention!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Zed Zed said:

And to think, all I wanted to do was gain a bit more insight into Diane Krall's vocals

Just ask Elvis :ph34r:

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Zed Zed said:

 

OMG. 230 pages! I have just skimmed it, mostly looking at the illustrations ;)  I will try to tackle the more relevant (to me) parts. Hint: don't hold your breath waiting for me to finish it :) 

 

@muon* has prepared a 2 hour online quiz ready for you to undertake @ 10:00 hrs UK time. You need to pass it in order to be able to continue to post here. Hint: the first question is sketch the grid post construction for both triodes used on a frame grid Telefunken ECC803S made in the Ulm factory in 1966. Good luck!

Edited by xlr8or
  • Haha 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, xlr8or said:

 

@muon* has prepared a 2 hour online quiz ready for you to undertake @ 10:00 hrs UK time. You need to pass it in order to be able to continue to post here. Hint: the first question is sketch the grid post construction for both triides used on a frame grid Telefunken ECC803S made in the Ulm factory in 1966. Good luck!

If I constructed a test it could be done in 15 seconds.

 

On the Throne!

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Zed Zed said:

Care to share?

 

13 hours ago, muon* said:

Err...give me a moment :ph34r:

Kirk mentioned the one I was thinking of, I got my Svetlana Winged C's from him, Langrex.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 01/05/2021 at 5:48 PM, crankit said:

RFT ecc83 made in Germany, can get these for $37 a pop NOS/NIB single tube

I bought 2 of and tested them myself with very strong specs and -/+5% matched both tubes and balanced triodes

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/274654935889?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

How long was the shipping?

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, mloutfie said:

How long was the shipping?

 

About 20-25 days if recall not great but at height of covid I had 2 tubes from Russia take 3 months, plus customs can drag on a bit as well 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...