How are Mullards supposed to sound?

System: Rogers Studio 7, Prima Luna Prologue One, Marantz SA-8003

The stock (Chinese?) tubes in my Prima Luna Prologue One finally wore out after two years. The stock tubes sounded really excellent.

I decided to "upgrade." First to Electro-Harmonix tubes, which sounded decent but not as good as the stock tubes, and now to Mullards.

I know that tubes take a little while to "burn-in" but these Mullards sound awful.

They have a hard, clangy, echoing (microphonic) quality that none of the other tubes ever had. The soundstage seems to have receded backwards by a hundred feet. Everything sounds small and far away.

Is this how Mullards sound? I thought they were supposed to sound romantic. Is this all part of the "burn-in" process?
Are they NOS Mullards or Reproduction..Normally Mullards sound Rich and Organic, Lush...At least the ones I have heard...Tubes do not take long to break in so if you have 24 hours logged on them,they probably are where they are going to stay sonically........
You have experienced one of the pratfalls of tube rolling.You probably read about the "Mullard sound" and was expecting this with the tubes you installed,which are I suspect,reissues.The warm,lush "Mullard sound" comes from NOS or used old(original)tubes.You also found out you don't like the EH sound.I suggest,if you want to spend the money,trying some used or NOS Mullards.If you don't want to spend that much,and you already know you like the stock tubes,go with them.If you don't watch out,you will find yourself spending tons of money on tubes(I know this from experience).Good luck.
The cost of the NOS Mullards, if you can locate a quad, will set you back significant dollars these days, though possibly worth the investment. In modern production EL34 tubes my expermentation has repeatedly led me back to the SED "Winged C" EL34 tubes. A matched quad will set you back a little more than the reissue Mullards but are reveiwed to be closer to the original (NOS) Mullards than other tubes presently produced. I have tried the new production Mullard Svetlana, Tung-Sol, Gold Lion KT-77, and JJ and in the context of my system the SED tubes have sounded the best. There is also the option of the new Treasure 6CA7 (EL34 equivalent) that you could search the threads about as an additional option that I have no direct experience with.
Drrsutliff's post raises a question. It is logical to assume you are referring to the Power tubes as these usually wear out first. Are you referring to power tubes or the 12AX and 12AU's? Personally I select power tubes first and then fine tube the amp/speaker combo by selecting appropriate matching tubes.

FWIW I use SED EL34's recommended by Drrsutliff and I use EI 12AX7E's and JJ 12AU7's. For me it is the best combo for a warm yet fairly clean sound. A nice compromise using new production or with the EI's recent production. If I wanted to brighten it up a bit I'd try Tesla E34L's (now out of production) or their successors the JJ E34L's. Caveat - they may not be as rugged as the SED's. If you want something more linear with less mid-range warmth typical of EL34's but with better bass and highs you could always consider SED 6L6GC's. Depending on what I'm using for sources I've like these as well as the EL34's.

Hope that helps a bit.

Quack, quack, oh, you said Mullards, never mind.
The easiest and cheapest way to solve your problem would be to contact Jim McShane or Kevin Deal. They are tube dealers who are known for their knowledge and integrity. Kevin Deal sells the Prima Luna amps and has access to more NOS tubes (I think).

Either one will discuss with you what kind of sound you would like to hear from your amp and will suggest tubes that should get you there.
Thanks for the responses everyone.

Just to clarify...I changed all the tubes to Mullards.

The El-34's and 12AX-7's are the new Svetlana Mullard reissues and the 12AT7s are NOS.

I suspect (though I could be wrong) that it's the NOS tubes that are not to my liking, so I think I will replace them with the Electro-Harmonix.

As for Kevin Deal...I bought the amp from him but since then he has seemed impatient on the phone and unwilling to provide advice. He always seems to either rush me off the phone or fob me off on an underling. So...I have given up on asking for his advice and have decided to experiement on my own. It's starting to cost a lot of money.

Thanks everyone. Thanks to your comments, I now realize that I goofed.

I ordered NOS Mullard 12AT7s rather than 12AU7s. That could explain the weird sound.

When I get home this evening I will replace the 12AT7s with 12AU7s and see how that goes.

Thanks a lot.
As for Kevin Deal...

I have had similar experiences with Kevin. I know that there are a lot of folks here on A'gon that give Kevin high marks, but every time I have called him (and actually been able to speak with him) he has basically shoo'ed me away.

Ex: I called Kevin last year to see if I could arrange to demo of a Manley Steelhead. Kevin asked me about my other gear and inquired where I had been buying my audio gear. He then asked if I ever bought gear off of Audiogon, and upon answeing him truthfully ("occasionally") he proclaimed that he didn't waste his time with low-ballers who shopped on Audiogon and hung up on me.

Incredible but true!
Why are you surprised? As an Audiogon seller I regularly ask potential buyers if they ever bought gear in a Brick & Mortar salon. If they they admit that they have, I tell them that I don't waste my time with high-ballers and hang up.
Attaguy, Unsound! Thank goodness there are ethical sellers like you left in this hobby. It both serves as an example, as well as provides hope for the rest of us.

By the way, Mullard (the real ones - from the past) small signal tubes like 12AU7 and 12AX7 should sound warm, rich, full-bodied, and easy to listen to overall. The EL34 should sound very well balanced from top to bottom, with a combination of great bass, midrange clarity/sunny disposition, and a nice top end. Never biting or glary, but definitely not veiled, muddy, or rich, either. EXCELLENT EL34.
George Carlin cried for the blue food. I'm crying for the blue font.
I suspect that Kevin has dealt with many people who like to get his advice or a demo unit and then buy elsewhere. I'd guess he's gotten very good at detecting these people in a brief conversation. If he's wrong some of the time, that's just the price he pays for not having to spend the whole day on the phone with people who just want to chat. If he passes you off to someone else it's probably someone he thinks is perfectly capable of helping you.

I'm not implying anything about anyone on this thread. You may have had every intention of buying from Upscale.

Running a business is incredibly time consuming, especially a business like high-end audio. I'm sure Kevin could put in 16 hours a day and still have plenty left to do if he didn't keep his attention focused on just the tasks that require his personal attention. Or he may be a terrible guy. I don't know him personally.
Tom, I understand and, to some extent, agree with your thoughts. But I too run a business selling very expensive equipment and services. While there are always folks that want to waste your time; you simply cannot make snap judgements, demand preconditions or blow people off like that. That is a sure way to ruin your business.

I won't/don't need to spend any more time about the Kevin issue. I have probably already said too much. This should probably be moved to another conversation lamenting the sad state of high-end audio dealers. I don't want to highjack Layman's thread.
Incredible as it seems...replacing the (NOS)12AT7's with 12AU7's made no difference at all.

I have changed all the pre-amp tubes back to the EH tubes that I had before I decided to "upgrade."

So, I must therefore conclude that I don't like the sound of the Svetlana Mullard reproduction EL-34s.

I am disappointed but I guess this is all part of the "tube rolling" experience.
Original Mullards are hard to find, some dealers are selling old and used 4004s with labels and Nos saying that are new. Better get them from someone you trust.
Tom, absolutely! While I don't actually dedicate all my professional time to earn a living selling audio gear, I just fill out the forms, cut and mail in my checks to buy my ad space, list all the details, take photos, etc., in effort to sell my stuff. After all that effort I can't be bothered wasting any more time on people that just kick my proverbial tires only to end up spending much more money on a brand new item, complete with box, manual, accessories, and warranty at some Brick & Mortar salon. I'd much rather just take my chances just holding on to stuff longer and pay for more/longer ad space with the hope that my right kind of buyer might eventually come along. Without fail anybody that has ever purchased audio gear at a B&M, never, ever actually buys stuff on Audiogon. Every single last one of them is just the same, a contemptible lot that should be shunned at first chance. In this economy I can't be bothered wasting time for money.
Before buying tubes from Kevin, he asked me what equipment I was using, not where I bought it. With that information, he told me which tubes would be best for my gear and I followed his advice. Since I didn't buy my equipment from Kevin, I didn't get the 50% price reduction that Layman would get. I have read both negative and positive remarks directed towards Kevin, but he was great with me and I am glad I bought the tubes from him.
Layman, yes tube rolling is a roll of the dice, especially if you are buying tubes say on Ebay. Those tubes that look like they just came off the production line may be all used up.

It takes a lot of study, purchasing a tube tester (another adventure)and quite a few bad purchases to become knowledgeable about tubes as you have found out buying new production Mullards that you thought were the same as new old stock Mullards.

I think the best way to go for people new to tubes is to find a reputable dealer and take his advice.