the ultimate guide to tube-rolling: 12AU7

Dummy DUMMY TEXT Dummy Dum Dum

Small signal tubes: 12AU7 / ECC82

A medium-gain dual triode tube with many names for identical variants, or others that are designed for certain characteristics such as long life. They are still in production, made by New Sensor in Russia, Shuguang in China, and JJ Electronic in Slovakia.


Tung-Sol 12AU7W / 6189

Tung-Sol 12AU7W / 6189
$19.95

The W and 6189 denotes a military spec or a premium industrial tube, and this reissue is quiet and dependable, all the while offering a no-grain sound. 


Customer reviews

Harmonic and tonal balance, "utterly silent", and many mentions of clarity and nuetrality. Several reviews mention that there is no grain at all to the sound, but the sense is that this smoothness doesn't come with excess warmth.

Mullard New Production 12AU7 / ECC82

Mullard New Production 12AU7 / ECC82
$24.95

Quiet and dependable.


PrimaLuna 12AU7

PrimaLuna 12AU7
$29.95

PrimaLuna tubes are quiet, long-lived, and perform well in all areas. They come stock on all PrimaLuna products. 


GOLD LION ECC82 / B749 / 12AU7

Gold Lion ECC82 / B749 / 12AU7
$39.95

Incredible current production re-issue of the legendary Genalex. Very low noise and microphonics. These tubes have beautiful and dynamic midrange texture, airy highs, controlled, tight bass. Excellent resolution.


Customer reviews

Better dynamics, better extension, great clarity, more separation. Lots of reports of more detail and ambience, a more precise and bigger soundstage. Customers like that there's detail and high-frequency extension without any harshness. 

Tungsram ECC82 / 12AU7 (NOS)

Tungsram ECC82 / 12AU7
$65.00

Great low noise tube with a more neutral and smooth presentation, and great bass.


Customer reviews

Customers really love the bass they get from these tubes. They also talk about a "huge soundstage" and smoother and rich "analog-like" sound that will flesh out thinner systems with "unequaled authority".

RCA Cleartop 12AU7 (NOS)

RCA Cleartop 12AU7
$70.00

They have lots of detail and sparkle, especially on top. If your system is already a little bright on top, this is not the tube for you, but if you want to liven up a somewhat relaxed top end, this may be the ticket.


Customer reviews

That top-end extension leads into a liquid midrange, and a then a bass that's "firm, tight, and fast". 

Brimar CV4003 / 12AU7 (NOS)

Brimar CV4003 / 12AU7
$80.00

Incredibly pleasant, wonderful, pleasing mids with zero harshness. 


Customer reviews

This is the tube for which customers hesitate to leave reviews, because they don't want them gone! Again, reviews are filled with words such as magic, glorious, beautiful, special... one customer felt he had a whole new music collection because of them. 

Radiotechnique 12AU7 / 6189(NOS)

Radiotechnique 12AU7 / 6189
$95.00

Radiotechnique was the French arm of Philips Holland, and this tube shares many sonic characteristics with its Dutch cousins, most notably its holographic soundstaging and open, airy top end. May be one of the more dynamic 12AU7's.


Customer reviews

Three-dimensional and dynamic, described as the tube to give your system a dose of "PRaT". Natural and realistic, "nimble", "crisp transients" and "nice punchy" bass  that caused one reviewer to report that he "almost fell out of his chair". 

Cifte 12AU7 (NOS)

Cifte 12AU7
$145.00

If there is such a thing as 3-dimensional vacuum tube this is it. This tube has such wonderful clarity and musicality. They are quiet, and they have a wonderful 3D sense of space and nice top end sparkle. Not super warm... so if that's your bag go with a Mullard instead. 


Customer reviews

Natural, clean, clear, authoritative, with a soundstage described as "3D projection", and an ability to "open" the sound of your system. Review after review is about how this tube makes it seem as if the band is in the room with you.