What are some favorite NOS 12AX7s for phono?

I recently bought a new phonostage here on Audiogon. I wanted something made right here in the States like my last tube preamp,so I pulled the trigger on one made by Jenison Audio;the Perpetuum model. I checked and he(seller: dividebytube) doesn't have one listed for sale right now, but I have been really happy with it. I have a VPI table w/ SME 309 arm, and right now I'm running a Dynavector 10X5 high opt. MC phono cart. I have tried Sovtek LPS 12AX7 tubes and liked the treble detail and "crisp and clean" sound they offer, but I am definitely looking for more of a 3-D sound. I am open to suggestions for NOS (or modern production) 12AX7 tubes that balance detail and warmth, sort of an "updated vintage" sound. I welcome any suggestions.
Amperex 12AX7s. I am on the road now but have some unused ones, I think that I purchased from Kevin Hayes at VAC when I owned his Phi Beta 2.0 Pre amp. I sold the equipemnt but kept the tubes; they are valuable. Brand new. Don't know what they are worth, but email me if you're interested and I'll check on thursday when I get hom.
Hifi-- Thanks for the input! I will definitely try to drop you a line in a couple days to get some additional info about your Amperex tubes. Thanks again!
Try some 5751 tubes instead of the 13ax7.Speak with your mfg to see if they are compatible first.Good luck.
I have tried Telefunken ribs, Sovtek LPS, Mullard reissues, Gold Lion, Mazda, Sylvania, Tungsol gold pins, and the pair I have come to cherish are Psvane Treasures sold by Grant Fidelity. Be sure and get the premium grade tubes for phono use.
I am using the RCA and Sylvania 5751 NOS tubes in my Aesthetix Calypso pre amp replacing Mullard and Telefunken 12ax7 tubes, quite an improvement in my opinion. Three things to condsider, can you phono pre use 5751 tubes, 5751's provide about 70% of the power of 12ax7, need high quality to avoid microphonics. Good luck.
Wow-- a lot to mull over. Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge and experience. I have a pair of RCA 5751s that the seller told me are very early production, with shiny black plates, "RCA" in tall white letters & extra mica spacers, but they sound SO different from 12AX7s in the Perpetuum that I emailed Kevin at Jenison Audio and he said that using 5751s won't harm the unit but absolutely will change the RIAA EQ in this type of phonostage. Maybe after I gain some more experience I can revisit the 5751 vs. 12AX7 issue. The Psvane tubes caught my eye, along with the Tianjin Full Music 12AX7s; both are interesting... but pricey! Thanks again to everyone for much to consider.
Siemens 12ax7's are very quiet in phono
3D Sound stage, lush mids and extended highs:

CV4004 Brimar
Philips Miniwatt Holland
Amperex Bugle Boys Holland
Philips Holland
Mullard Long plates (early 50s)
Sylvania green label
GE five star
I've tried all manner of 12AX7's in my Hovland HP-100 phono including a number of NOS' and the overall best that I have found so far are the Sophia Electric (have not tired the Psvane yet though). Of course get their "A" grade for best results. Of course, YMMV!
Stickman-- I actually was curious about the Sophia; is this a selected version of the same tube also sold as the Tianjin Full Music? Does the Sophia have box plates, kind of like the pictures of CV 4004 Mullards I have seen? Is there a particular vendor to get them from? THANKS to all! C. James
You must relegate to the fact that if you want a quiet phono stage (especially a MC stage) cheap tubes are not the way to go. I suggest to email Jim McShane and get his take on what you might need. He ha never steered me wrong.
Check out Sophia's website for more info; they are located in Virgina I believe. Supposedly they go to the Chinese factory and cull-out the best testing 12AX7's as they come off the assembly line. They are a little pricey in my opinion but overall they are the best 12AX7 that I have run across. My Hovland eats phono tubes for lunch so I am replacing them quite often; gets a tab bit expensive. I am in the hunt now for an end-all top shelf tubed phono; I've tried the Audio Research Ref Phono 2 several times and it was very good. Looking at trying the EAR 912 also.

And, I've had mixed results with the NOS 12AX7 Mullards; sometimes they are very good, other times they seem to go 'noisy' really quick. The Sophia's go noisy in my Hovalnd too but it takes significantly longer. The HP-100 does use a third tube in the phono, a 12AT7 and at the moment I am using a NOS Mullard there; best that I have found. Unfortunately, Sophia does not carry the 12AT7.
I've heard various 12AX7s and 5751s in my own phonostage (Viva Fono), and that of two friends (a Tron phonostage and Hovland HP200). The closest to a "universal" 12AX7 (sounds good in all applications) was the Amperex Bugle Boy. That delivers a warm sound, but is not overly muddy and lacking in speed and dynamics. The Mullards tended to be mixed bags--in some applications it sounded phasey and muddled. 5751s are also reasonably universal, though they have lower gain than 12AX7s (about 70% of the gain of a 12AX7).

The tube I settled on for my Viva Fono phonostage is the Telefunken ECC803S. This is NOT a universal tube. It is extremely fast, clear, dynamic and tight sounding -- probably too much so for most applications.

not to high-jack this forum, but what's your run-down on the basic differences between the three phonos that you mentioned above? I am looking for a replacement for my HP-100 which I love but is just not quiet enough. I've auditioned the AR Ref Phono 2 and thought that it was very good; big, bold, plenty of detail, and lots of what I call grunt; extremely quiet too... Have you ever auditioned the EAR 912; that's on my listen-too short list?
Stickman 451,

The Tron 7 is a very good stage for the money. I heard it with a Transfiguration Orpheus cartridge and an Ortofon Per Winfield cartridge. Noise was not an issue with either cartridge.

I heard the Hovland HP-200 with the Orpheus and a Lyra Titan. Noise was only an issue when the factory default loading was used. It turned out that the default setting is 100k (essentially unloaded) and the noise sounded like radio frequency interference. With more loading (lower numeric value) noise went away. The Hovland is a very decent phono/linestage sonically. My big issue is that I don't like stepped attenuators with a small number of steps--the "right" volume seems to always be between steps.

My Viva Fono is dead quiet and easily the best of these phonostages. It is vivid, harmonically dense and capable of throwing a huge soundstage. It has also become crazy expensive. The last I heard, it goes for somewhere around $16k. It is also not easy to make loading changes with the Viva. One has to open the case and solder resistors across the RCA input jack (primary side loading of the step up transformer) and that is a touch tricky given the small space and abundance of tiny wires nearby.

I haven't heard the EAR 912.

I know it appears that I only like tube-based phonostages. That is not the case. I think that one of the best stages I've ever heard is a Lyra Connoisseur. This is an extremely dynamic sounding phonostage that does not have the sort of mechanical sounding and artificial hardness to the attack of notes that is often found with solid state phonostages. It is too bad that it is no longer made (not that I could afford one of these).
Thanks to all for many interesting answers with much food for thought. I am going to test the waters with a pair of Dutch Amperex phono selected ECC83; they are the I65 variant and have a "delta" factory code etched. (I'm quoting the vendor here!) I got a good deal on these; not ebay prices but much less than some I have seen. I chose these because of the HUGE amount of praise they receive on every tube forum I logged onto. Perhaps when the Sophia and Psavane tubes get wider circulation and thus are more widely evaluated I can think about trying a new production tube. Again; many thanks. I look forward to posting listening impressions shortly.
I would avoid the 1980s Russian "Rocket"Voshkods 12ax7's. They are usually quite microphonic in my experience. I have some Philips Miniwatts which are identical to the Bugleboys and sound good. I also have experimented with rectifier tubes and found they play a role as well.