Newb Tube question

Having recently acquired a Pro Ject Tube Box S2 phono stage, I'm liking what I hear and am wanting to learn more about tubes.
I see reference to the plates inside the tubes... "short plate", "long plate", "smooth plate", etc.
Is there any sonic difference with the different plate characteristics, or is the quality and manufacturer more important?
Are there brands to seek or avoid?
Just curious... Don't know if my lower-end *system or my 65 year old ears are capable of resolving the difference between tubes anyway.


Emotiva BasX PT-100 preamp, Emotiva BasX A300 power amp, Zu Libtec speaker cables feeding Maggie 1.6's, Morrow interconnects, Technics sl-1200 mk2 w/ Nagaoka mp-200 cartridge and before-mentioned Project Tube Box S2  phono stage.
There is generally not a sonic advantage to a particular plate design. Plate design can be used to differentiate a specific tube in a manufacturer’s line that some people consider superior, though.

For example, Telefunken smooth plates are thought to sound better than Telefunken ribbed plates by some. Other people think there is no difference.

To someone who wants to get into tube rolling (trying different tubes), I’d recommend talking to a couple of reputable tube dealers and telling them what you’d like to hear from a new set of tubes and then decide what you want to buy based on their recommendations. This will save you a lot of money and time because there is a lot to learn about various tubes and many pitfalls along the way.  It's better to find a seller you trust and rely on his knowledge rather than try to relearn it all on your own.

When you’re buying for a phono stage, it’s important to get phono grade tubes (low noise, closely matched tubes and triodes within each tube).

Here are a few good dealers. You can google them.

Andy Bouwman at Vintage Tube Services (he can be slow but many people swear by him)

Brent Jessee

Kevin Deal at Upscale Audio (some people find his personality abrasive)

Jim McShane

I hope others will chime in with those I’ve forgotten.

NOS tubes are vintage tubes which sound better than new production which mostly come from Russia, although these tubes have been improving over the past few years.

The Project website states that the Tube Box S2 phono stage uses ECC83 tubes which is the European designation for 12AX7 tubes. These are widely used in audio components.

The following website provides good info on the different manufacturers and a description of how the tubes sound. Lower down on the page are the tubes for sale. There are many versions of 12AX7’s which include different plate types and internal tooling.