Tung Sol 12ax7s - review (negative)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by DownByLaw, Jan 8, 2006.


  1. DownByLaw

    DownByLaw Supporting Member

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    Well, here is my review of my new set of Tung Sol 12ax7s. Amp is a VHT clx, tubes being replaced are EH ax7s, bought last year, which I loved, but went flat and microphonic.

    Have to say, don't like the Tung Sols in this amp. VERY bright, really to the point of ear piercing in this application. (used primarily with single coils) Almost like the presence control suddenly gained double it's range. Very stringy, seemed to amplify the negative aspects of a strat under gain, (thin, abrasive, spring noise, etc.) rather than the fattening effect of the EHs. I found the eq of these strange: decent, but not great bottom, ok lower mids (clear), and very high highs, but upper mids were nearly non existent, and the lower mids that were there were not particularly pleasant, or as complex as the EH. Even readjusting my eq to extremes could not knock off the edginess of these tubes. Perhaps they would work better with humbuckers, or in a more vintage style amp where the additional gain of these would be welcome. (these are VERY hi gain in comparison to any preamp tubes I have previously used) Guess I'm going back to the EHs.

    As a sidebar, I also bought a set of the reissue Mullard EL34s. These hold great promise. I popped them in, (briefly, as I need a re-bias) and loved what I heard. Crunchy, crunchy, crunchy, with a nice wide soundstage and great warmth and definition. I will give another review of these once I bias them up properly.

    Patrick
     
  2. playon

    playon Supporting Member

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    I'd like to hear honest reviews of the new "Tung-sol" 5881s. Personally, until I hear different I will consider the revived brand to be total hype. I can see just looking at the photos of the new tubes that the internal construction is different than the old ones.

    Buy an old familiar brand name that had a great reputation, and then use that name to market an inferior product. It's a business model of the last decade or so.

    :BITCH
     
  3. DownByLaw

    DownByLaw Supporting Member

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    In observing the internal construction of both tubes, (EH and Tung Sol) I noticed that they looked identical, (plate structure) other than the mirrored getters (?, I'm not a tech) of the Tung Sols. Reminds me of the much lauded Chinese AX7s with the mirrored guts, which I didn't care for either.

    Patrick
     
  4. Randy

    Randy Member

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    Have you ever tried any other preamp tubes besides the EH's in your VHT? I'm asking because I found the Tung-Sol's to be pretty comparably voiced to most other current production tubes. However I've always found the EH's to be uniquely dark and thick. So my findings are the opposite of yours - the Tung-Sol's are neutral yet clear while the EH's are dull and mushy. I guess because I'm used to a brighter tube.

    Not meant as a 'dis of your review, and as long as you have a combination that works that's all that matters.
     
  5. Boogs

    Boogs Member

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    I find them a little brighter than most, but by a degree only. This is in a Carvin X100b, a Classic 30, and a Valvetrain Po' Boy - my only amps.

    One possibility... Although each of the ones I've used (four) were similar tonally, one went microphonic very quickly. I also just got five new ones (only used one so far), and there is a lot more variation in rated gain than I've seen in other tubes just judging by the numbers (which I understand to be meaningful when relating to one brand and model of tube, correct?).

    Maybe they are an inconsistent, hit-or-miss affair, these reissues. Just a thought. I love what I've heard (a lot), but maybe "your mileage may vary" applies especially in this case.
     
  6. Fuchsaudio

    Fuchsaudio Member

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    Every tube in every amp will react and sound different. Not all amps use the tubes at the same voltage, circuit configuration, or operating points, so what works for one guy/amp/playing situation, might not work for others. I thought the new Tung-Sol 12AX7's sounded very nice in the amps I put them in.
     
  7. SuperReverb2

    SuperReverb2 Member

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    My current faves are the JJ ECC803 S, but the reissue Tung Sol 12AX7's are right up there as well. I certainly like them more than the standard EH 12AX7's. Interesting, that I find just about everything negative downbylaw described about the reissue Tung Sol 12AX7's, in the standard EH 12AX7's.

    Tone. It's SO subjective.....:)

    Chuck
     
  8. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Tung Sol too bright?

    I agree.
     
  9. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    Weird. I'm using them in all three positions (save the EF86, of course) in my Hayseed, after trying JJs, EHs and NOS RCAs and GEs, and I like them the best so far. To each his own, I guess.
     
  10. Ray Gianelli

    Ray Gianelli Member

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    They sound fine in my VHT 5012 (older 1X12 model w/ EL84's)
     
  11. GTRJoe

    GTRJoe Supporting Member

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    I'm using a couple in a Mesa MK III. I find them more even sounding than the EH's. The EH's seem a bit thinner sounding in my amp. That said I think either tube is quite acceptable sounding with a little bit eq adjusting.
     
  12. wsaraceni

    wsaraceni Member

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    i have ordered some to put in my hot cat and mini cat. i ended up with the tung sol in the mini cat preamp, the hot cat v2, and phase inverter. 12ax7m in v1 of the hot cat. best combo i tried. also liked the 9th gen chinese in the v3 position over the tung-sol. but the tung-sol definately sounded better in the phase inverter and tone slots. i think they'd sound great in a dual rec.
     
  13. fyler

    fyler Member

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    i haven't tried the 12AX7's yet, but the Tung Sol 6550's are phenomenal. not just hype.
    my current fave AX type is the new(ish) JJECC803S
     
  14. Dirge

    Dirge Member

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    In my Barber Echelon, I thought the Tung-Sol 12AX7's sounded balanced but kind of hard in the highend. The JJ 803S were brighter but had a sweeter highend. Both of them are ok but not my first choice for V1. I'm using the Tung-Sol's in V2 and V3 though and they sound fine.

    (edited to stay on topic)
     
  15. clunk

    clunk Member

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    Personally i prefer the Tung-sol over the EH in an Emerald Pro. The EH's were a little too dark for my liking in this particular amp in the V1. I liked the EI Elite in this amp too, although a little harsh in the high end and i am a little skeptical on their reliability. Still wish someone would make as good of tubes as NOS even if you have to pay twice as much.

    Clunk
     
  16. DownByLaw

    DownByLaw Supporting Member

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    Thanks to all for your replies. I realize preamp tubes are very amp specific, and tone certainly is subjective, so of course take what I say as my opinion only, and take into consideration my particular amp. (let alone my pickups, guitar, cord, etc.) Someone mentioned the hi end sounding "hard", I think that's a pretty good description of what I'm hearing. I found the EHs much darker of course, but the hi end much sweeter. I don't know, I have started to think that the VHT doesn't need or appreciate tubes that are too hi gain. (make any sense?) I always find that slightly lower gain pre's sound better in it. (within reason, of course) More open, crunchy, less sizzle, less peaky. Could be a got a less than great batch, but I did order from Lord Valve, who I trust. I suppose this isn't all bad news for me, as the EHs are considerably cheaper than the Tung Sol, and as long as I can get a well-tested set, I'm golden.

    Patrick
     
  17. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Down by law, Have you checked out the Shugnangs (Chinese)? These sound great in my Guytron. They are a little darker but evenly balanced across the eq spectrum, they are my overall favorite new tube. This si dissapointing to hear these tubes are overly bright, I really was hoping for something better. BTW, the EH's sound good but the upper midrange generally wears me out after awhile and they seem a little bright because of it.
     
  18. Lord Valve

    Lord Valve Active Member

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    Another eyeball guru with no hands-on experience pontificates.

    Yawn.

    Lord Valve
    Expert
     
  19. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    I've already posted a review of these here, and in my magazine
    (GuitarAmplifierMagazine.com), they're great, and as accurate
    as you can come to the original. Correct inards.
     
  20. DownByLaw

    DownByLaw Supporting Member

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    Uh oh, the Lord is here. I'm nabbed.

    Patrick
     

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