Hi Greg P,
I've been listening to a great deal of said tubes over the last two years now. And the most refined versions which I've had the greatest pleasure to owning and/or listening to were as follows:
Sylvania/CONN Labeled 12AU7 Long Carbonized Black Plates with Bent Square Getter NOS 52/1957 as mentioned in a review @ 6moons.com in regards to Tube Rolling the Eastern Electric MiniMax Preamp and Art Audio Diavolo Power Amp from June 2004 or somewher around that period. These are quite simply the Tubes which I wish I'd known more about earlier on. I'd have loved to own 13 more pairs of these easily.................................... very nice sounding tube. Which I consider the most Human sounding to date. - PERIOD -
BEL ECC82S Made In India NOS 57/1968 - these can be found c/o Tubemonger.com
[ To my ears and in my system these have a sound which is much like those produced by either Philips - Holland or Mullard - England yet with a better balance overall and have a tad bit more detailing. ]
Tungsram ECC82 Mil.Spec or Industrial Grade NOS 62/1975 Made in Hungary - Also found @ Tubemonger.com
- These have what I call a very nice balacne throughout their entire spectrum. And indeed have a very uncanny way of allowing anyone whom knows what Music should sound like? to simply sat back back and smile knowing that some of this other stuff being offered is based upon nothing more then pure D' BS.
Amperex ECC82 Long Plate D Getter NOS 1950's Made in Holland.
- These are what i consider as the crossroads between either the Mullard and/or TFK flavors in tubes. They offer the refinement in their mids much like Mullards - but offer a better balanced and more extended high end and better bass detail then the Tele's. The reason most people in the know like them is based upon this very fact. These are meant to be the only alternate when one doesn't like either of the others. As one can in some systems come across as offering a very nice top end and lovely mids but lacking bass detail - while the other nice in the top end yet lacking in detail in the midrange and bass extension - as well as losing a sense of overall focus on Notes.
Last but not least are the - RFT ECC82 Made in East Germany NOS 65/1967 versions only. Again as with the two above can be found at Tubemonger.com - Labled as Tungsram ECC82 - this particular version will have a dual getter supporting rod which is often called fat dual rods. This is a means of telling which vintage one obtains. Most people have only had the chance to listen to the much later versions from the 70's/1980's - which sound nice -- But nothing even remotely close to these earlier versions @ all
Raytheon 12AU7 came in about 7 as my favorite pair. They are somewhat softer sounding then what is posssible from most EuroTubes yet just lack what I term as a more Human feel/nature that ones obtains with either of they others mentioned above. If you must own Raytheons look for their JHS - 5814 Long Black Plated Sq. Getter Versions NOS 52/1956
I am someone whom is more then most willing to share what I hear as being Music versus that of chasing Urban Legends for the sake of Prestige of adding something unworthy to my collection. Truth be told - many of your best sounding tubes where produced right here in the USA. It's nothing more then finding which Tube ofters you more insight into any/all recordings moreso then others. Chasing PipeDreams can only lead to a lack of funds for the Tubes more worthy of being the pride of someone enjoyment of what I consider of a more important factor.
Now there's an original thought to take at face value.
My opinions are based upon truth and nothing more - Yet as always - Others will feel quite different. It's on you to know what is possible? when you select truth over nonesense.
I'm not affiliated with Tubemonger.com in any way other then them being my primary Dealer when I began my quest at said time two years ago. They were/are some of the most knowledgable people whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know or dealing with. As I find Honesty to be very rare in this game -- much like that of finding those Best Tubes from those Golden Days of Old.
- This period was between 47/1962 in the Tubes Made in the USA. And between 52/1968 in many of those over rated European Tubes. $$$$$$$$$$$ Being wasted isn't an option here.
Learn what matters most - the Joy of listening to Music being reproducing in a manner as natural. As it was original was meant to be heard.