Best 12AU7 Type Tubes for a Preamp

I am hoping for some help finding good quality and good sounding 12AU7 variant tubes for a preamp – I need two tubes. A price of around $100 each or less would be great but I would pay a bit more (150 ea.) for something that is likely to sound better. The unit came with JAN PHILIPS ECC82 (12AU7/5963) and I also own a pair of reissue/new Mullard ECC92 tubes. Both sets are quiet but I am wondering if there is something even better sounding at a moderate price.

Readily available NOS options I have seen include:

  • NOS RCA Blackplate or Clear Top at about $100-150 EA.
  • Amprex 7316/ECC186 at around $150 each, and
  • Mullard CV4003/12AU7 $150ea.

New options I have found (in addition to Mullard) include (among others):

  • Genalex - Gold Lion B749 / ECC82/12AU7, $70 ea.
  • Psvane 12AU7-S Art Series ECC82, $55 ea.

Thanks for any help.


the PSVANE ART-S series are pretty tough to beat sonically.

If you are looking for more midrange warmth, the RCA black plates are a great choice. 


Brimar CV4003 from Upscale worked great in my Rogue RP-1 and RP-5.
The RCA were brighter.
Genalex Gold Lion we’re pretty good as well. 

In my Backert Labs Rhythm 1.3 I use NOS 12SN7’s with the proper adapters in place of 12AU7’s and the results are wonderful.

It's really circuit dependent how a tube will sound.  While asking for others' advice is a good starting point, this is something that you will have to experiment with first hand.  Buy a bunch of tubes and switch them in and out.  You may have a strong preference, or you may not.  Sell the ones you don't use.  Brent Jessee is my go to tube guy.

RCA clear tops and new issue Mullards sound good and have worked well for me.