Originally Posted by ferencvaros
Makes tube rolling such big differences in sound ?
I didn't have chance to try it, I built my soha only with gold pin JJ tube (I am from Slovakia, where JJ tubes tubes produces) and it sounds very good.
Which tube should I try in your opinion ? With which tube should I expect biggest difference ?
IMHO, the GE 5963
is far above the other tubes that you might put in the SOHA. The GE almost acts like a transistor - very, very tight - with no "backlash." That gives it an outstanding imaging, like a three-dimensional effect. The frequency response is quite sweet as well: lots of clear highs. It is also the one tube I've tried - out of 14 different types of 12AU7's - that seems to have a bit lower gain than the rest. You can actually adjust the volume a littl more than an off and on in 1/4 turn.
I have tried several GE 5963's and some will vary slightly on the high end, but in general, the performance is consistent.
Some others to try that may be better than the JJ (IMHO):GE 6680
Outstanding frequency response, better than the GE 5963, but without some of the outstanding imaging. This tube has perhaps the sweetest highs with a typical "liquid" performance - as opposed to the transistor tightness of the 5963. It also exhibits slightly less gain than the typical 12AU7, but is not as tame as the 5963. Note that this tube is somewhat rare, but affordable for reasonable prices at some places ($10-$16). This is unlike the 7316, which is quite rare and one that I cannot afford to try on a whim.Raytheon CK5814A
This one is pressing the 6680 hard. It has perhaps the best construction of the NOS 5814's and 6189's - robust upgrades from the typical 12AU7. The highs are almost as outstanding as the the GE 6680, but with all the power of a typical 12AU7. You can't go wrong with this tube.Sylvania Gold 5814A
Both of these are very close to the Raytheon. I would rank them slightly less.
BTW, I have both GE "5 Star" and RCA "Command" (black plates) 5814A's (and some JAN's) - they do not sound up to the standard of the three 5814's listed above. I keep changing my opinion on the RCA "Command" - next week I may like it again. The GE 5814A - afraid not. It has given no indication of performing as well as the others - tried two of them, too.EI 12AU7 Gold
This has the best response of new production tubes, IMHO - better than the JJ and the EH below. I have read reports that the regular version of the EI tube is not stellar. I would never credit gold pins to making a sonic difference, but perhaps they took greater care elsewhere, too. It's a very nice tube.ElectroHarmonix 12AU7
I am currently having a love/hate relationship with this tube. I keep giving it more time, but with contradictory results. It sounds outstanding on some headphones - with piercing, metal highs. It also sounds positively awful on my HD580's. In either case, it possess huge POWER, especially bass - almost overwhelming on some phones (to me, that's good!).
It has very high-quality construction, and is much fatter (larger circumference) than any other 12AU7 I've seen.
One final note - if you are using a pair of Sennheiser HD580/600/650's, you should try jumpering the output resistors. The sound impact and dynamics will improve greatly. Keep in mind that will make it almost uncontrollable with low-impedance phones, however.
P.S. If it follows form, your gold-pin JJ may be much better than the plain JJ I have. I think that is the same case with the EI.