EL84 review/comparison: Gold Lion, JJ, and TAD

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by strtdv, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. gitargris

    gitargris Member

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    This is really interesting. I tried a pair of Gold Lion EL84s in my Koch Studiotone, and on my first practice session after putting them in one of them crapped out, and took some caps or something with them, so I had to have a tech repair my amp. Seems they aren't that reliable. Think I'll stick with my JJs:)
     
  2. mcdes

    mcdes Member of no importance

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    Everyone is talking about new production golden lion tubes right?
     
  3. dinglehopper

    dinglehopper Member

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    in my head
    the mullard re-issues worked fine. seemed to have a bit less clean headroom.
     
  4. Doug's Tubes

    Doug's Tubes Gold Supporting Member

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    You would think that, but then why were there just as many microphonic Gold Elite 12AX7's and sketchy EL84's? These weren't marketed by Ei, they were just ordinary tubes purchase from Ei then rebranded and plated by PM Components. Ultimately, it's the tube seller that does the final tube screening. Gold plating has no effect on tone, it's on the outside of the tube! Conductivity? Tube pins make good contact with a socket or they don't.....how would gold plating solve that? And why do manufacturers insist on wasting money on this and all the fancy packaging instead of just building a better tube?
     
  5. mcdes

    mcdes Member of no importance

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    Word!
     
  6. my.name.is.timo

    my.name.is.timo Member

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    I did similar experiments to what the OP did. Bought 3 pairs of EL84s for my Reinhardt 18 thinking that i would see if the Gold Lion's were really a good value.

    For anyone wanting to get the most out of a marshall-18-watt style amp, i would say yes, absolutely worth it. My two cents.

    Like the OP, i rolled thru all three sets while they were still fresh out of the packages. All three tested well when shipped (AND an extra $.02 right here - part of SOURCING your tubes from a reputable retailer is that the retailer should test them, imo... and you get what you pay for when you go with a retailer that will back their tubes with some kind of guarantee. You always pay for that kind of customer support, but worth a few extra bucks. Talk to an online tube distributor and tell him what you're looking for even. Or at least buy from someone with a reputation for selling good product) Anyway. So for the 3 pairs i bought, i felt that since they were already bench tested i would be getting the best that each line could offer.

    I went in the order of price... probably skewing the results by building up the suspense and tricking myself into liking it... but i dunno... this is all relative to sound and feel anyway.

    Sovteks - bland. Better dirty than clean, but not very nice either way. What you've got is a fairly adequate back-up pair of tubes.

    JJ's - much better than sovteks. The marginal cost difference is well worth it. For the average ear, they make the grade.

    Gold Lions - PUNCHY with awesome clarity. Was the sound all that different? no, because they're all el84s... but what these do is highlight all the sought-after things el84's ough to do: chimey clean, and smooth singing when pushed. Ideal tone in my opinion. If i was buying a quad, it might be a little too steep, but a pair? I'd buy again for sure. FOR SURE.

    Now i have played with those gold lions for several months. Still loving them. I ought to switch them out for the fresh set of JJs that i had then... and if they are still better than the fresh jjs i will let you all know. I have a hunch that they will still beat all others.
     
  7. vr6pilot

    vr6pilot Member

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    promises, promises
     
  8. Humble Texan Fan

    Humble Texan Fan Member

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    Odd that the Mullards hold up whereas the GLs from the same plant don't. GLs should be better built and thus any difference in longevity is supposed to be the other way around. Odd indeed...
     
  9. Dr.Picklebottom

    Dr.Picklebottom Member

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    el84s have such a short life span id never (again) pay a premium for 'high end' el84s. i bought a mullard el84 for twice what i get JJs for and honestly prefer the JJs.

    for 12ax7s mullard 4004s are amazing tubes, though.
     
  10. Humble Texan Fan

    Humble Texan Fan Member

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    The Marconi company of old never made a true pentode EL84, but a tetrode based compatible one (the name of which seems to have slipped my mind). There might have been some Mullards sold under one or more of Marconi's brand names though.
     
  11. GT100

    GT100 Member

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    The point abut JJ's not holding their tone long parallels my experience with a number of pairs.
    They suddenly sound "sour" and that's the end of their useful life.

    Lloyd
     
  12. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    All Vacuum Tubes go south after some time especially 6BQ5/EL84S, they seem to go faster as a whole.
    A Sovtek is a Sovtek is a Sovtek no matter what kind of ink you put on the bottle. Someone mentioned Lipstick and a Pig........
     
  13. vr6pilot

    vr6pilot Member

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    Just picked up some old Sylania blackplates to replace a pair of current run Sovteks. Can't wait to get some time on them.
     
    Timbre Wolf likes this.
  14. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Just read this old thread. Some cool info here. I haven't used new production EL84s in some time. Last set were JJs. They sounded good. I've been using NOS ever since and haven't looked back but, wouldn't mind trying some new production stuff again one of these days.
     
  15. Teh RedWizard

    Teh RedWizard Supporting Member

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    I just bought a pair of the Gold Lions for my Hiwatt C20....Hope they'll be alright!:(
     
  16. stargazer747

    stargazer747 Member

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    I too have been doing some online reading into tubes from various manufacturers and have recently did a full re-tube of my Orange Dark Terror. It being the oldest of my 5x Terrors and the one that has seen the most activity at full volume for vey long time frames during rehearsals, it was beginning to show signs of sounding a bit dull and slight loss in volume. Orange ships these Terrors stocked with JJs both preamp and power but I decided I would experiment a little and so I hand picked these myself. I looked online at various tube resellers and chose these brands based on what I read describing their qualities and performance ratings, does it matter that they are different brands for preamp tubes, I read mostly no to that but I do know that the power tubes should be matched of course. What I put in:
    Preamp-
    V1 = Mullard 12AX7 high gain rated
    V2 = Tung-Sol 12AX7 Standard high gain rated
    V3 = Sovtek 12AX7WB
    FX Loop = EHX 12AT7
    Power = TAD EL84-STR Premium Select Matched Duet
    There appears to be some more clarity in the harmonics that I can hear from what I recall in sounded with the original tubes and slightly more gain as well. All in all it proved to restore the amp's performance, maybe its a combination of both the preamp and power tubes replaced that has restored the amp and improved a bit in tone, I'm not an amp technician to say but my ears are pleased. I do still love JJs as well and keep a full set of spares for all my Terrors. I might experiment further with some other brands soon enough.
     
    classicplayer likes this.
  17. Jr Deluxe

    Jr Deluxe Member

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    You guys who are getting short life from JJs: what are your volume habits? Crank on 10 2 or 3 hours a day? Crank on 5? I think even an el34 would have a short life if it was pushed to the max 2 or 3 hr p/day while you squeeze out all the positrons untill they are all used up.

    edit. Sorry to look ignorant. I meant to say negatrons.
     
  18. classicplayer

    classicplayer Member

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    I've talked with two owners of the Dark Terror amps and both have two years on their compliment of tubes without issue. One is a studio and recording type of player, the other I'm not sure of how his is used. My point is that most sellers warranty their tubes for 90 days which is not a long time frame and there are valid reasons for such a short period.

    I plan on swapping new power tubes in my own Dark Terror at a one year intervals....just to prevent problems that I endured with one power tube after just a few months into ownership of the amp. These types of amps run hot enough to get those glorious gritty tones. VOX is another make that can be hard on tubes. I may change out the 3 preamp tubes at two-year intervals, or if I detect a degrading of the amp's tone. Even though I don't crank this amp, I'm sure those EL84 tubes are giving their utmost for the tone. It's like buying a compact car with a four cylinder engine. You save up front, but the engine is
    usually working quite hard.


    classicplayer
     
    stargazer747 likes this.

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