the ultimate guide to tube-rolling: 12AU7

A medium-gain small-signal tube

Small signal tubes: 12AU7 / ECC82

A medium-gain dual triode tube with many names for identical variants, or others that are designed for certain characteristics such as long life. They are still in production, made by New Sensor in Russia, Shuguang in China, and JJ Electronic in Slovakia.

Tung-Sol 12AU7W / 6189

Tung-Sol 12AU7W / 6189

The W and 6189 denotes a military spec or a premium industrial tube, and this reissue is quiet and dependable, all the while offering a no-grain sound. 

Customer reviews

Harmonic and tonal balance, "utterly silent", and many mentions of clarity and neutrality. Several reviews mention that there is no grain at all to the sound, but the sense is that this smoothness doesn't come with excess warmth.

Mullard New Production 12AU7 / ECC82

Mullard New Production 12AU7 / ECC82

Quiet and dependable.

PrimaLuna 12AU7

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GOLD LION ECC82 / B749 / 12AU7

Gold Lion ECC82 / B749 / 12AU7

Incredible current production re-issue of the legendary Genalex. Very low noise and microphonics. These tubes have beautiful and dynamic midrange texture, airy highs, controlled, tight bass. Excellent resolution.

Customer reviews

Better dynamics, better extension, great clarity, more separation. Lots of reports of more detail and ambience, a more precise and bigger soundstage. Customers like that there's detail and high-frequency extension without any harshness. 

Brimar CV4003 / 12AU7 (NOS)

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Radiotechnique 12AU7 / 6189 (NOS)

Radiotechnique 12AU7 / 6189

Radiotechnique was the French arm of Philips Holland, and this tube shares many sonic characteristics with its Dutch cousins, most notably its holographic soundstaging and open, airy top end. May be one of the more dynamic 12AU7's.

Customer reviews

Three-dimensional and dynamic, described as the tube to give your system a dose of "PRaT". Natural and realistic, "nimble", "crisp transients" and "nice punchy" bass  that caused one reviewer to report that he "almost fell out of his chair".