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The issue, of course, is that when you put them in a contemporary design with much wider bandwidth and a more neutral '90s kind of balance things can go over the top.Now before any Tele lovers who find them ideal in their new gear freak out and tell me how wonderful they sound - I believe it. I have found a few that sound quite nice and they generally are warmer than Teles, but in my rig they never quite make it to the top of the heap. Well, every 12AX7 I've ever heard has a common sonic character that's drives me to distraction.There is a system out there somewhere that's the ideal match for any tube. Posted by Joe S on March 17, 1999 at : Well, here's the promised second installment of my tube odyssey into the world of small signal NOS tubes. There are significant differences in the way in which individual components, systems and tastes interact with individual tubes so my experience may not predict yours, in other words - "Your mileage may vary" - but hopefully this may help separate some of the gems from the dregs for your own personal evaluation short list.... This is the ubiquitous small signal triode, they are probably about as commonly used as 6DJ8/6922s and in my humble opinion they are widely misunderstood. Because the hype surrounding a few specific supposedly invincible NOS brands is way out of proportion to their true quality and their likelihood to mesh with any given system - but more on that later. Specifically, they all sound a bit fuzzy, unfocused and hazy with a subtle sense of a soft sonic haze permeating a soundstage populated with large unfocused images.Just to get the formalities out of the way here first - Yes NOS tubes do sound different from current production tubes. My opinions are based on using this type in my system in 4 different preamps over the years - most recently in the output stage of the Thor. Brands and versions I have on hand include: Amperex 12AX7 Bugle Boy Holland I've also owned and heard the GEs in the past but thankfully don't have a pair on hand at the moment ;-) Now, regarding nomenclature - the CV numbered tubes are British military tubes labeled according to the British Military numbering system - they are still just 12AX7s. Added to this are other sonic artifacts unique to each tube.You wont see these too often at hamfests even though there were a ton of them made - audiophiles have been snapping 'em em for years and they are getting scarce & expensive.Oh, and by the way, stick with Holland made tubes for these - Amperexes are labeled by country of manufacture and the Hollands are clearly the best.
Then again my system is very transparent & I'm pretty anal when it comes to the sound I like. If to a tube doesn't phase you then it's no big deal, but if you don't like the idea of spending that much then there is you're rate limiter, because they are desirable and priced accordingly.Mullard CV4004 box plate - very extended at the extremes, great frequency response overall in fact, but maybe even more fuzzy than the usual 12AX7.