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Different brands:Is there any difference?

Hi everyone,

I'm building a hi fi tube amplifier that requires two couples of EL 34:
I found them from Mullard and from Electro Harmonix.
As I'm pretty new about tubes,I'd like to know if there is any difference between the two brands as sound quality and/or applications;

As regard to the different possible applications in fact,I heard from somewhere that Electro Harmonix tubes are more suitable for instrumental power amplifiers such as guitar amplifiers than for HI FI ones,but I'm not completely persuaded of this.
From other hand I also heard that Electro Harmonix are the "very best" for HI FI applications...
So,I'm a bit confused, you see?

Are you aware of such type of "limitations",or,in your opinion could I theorically use indifferently Mullard or Electro Harmonix EL 34 vacuum tubes in a HI FI power amplifier?

Thanks for your kind reply

Sincerely
 
If they are original British Mullards, from the 1960s, they will be fantastic and last a long time, but will be very expensive.

If they are new Mullards, made in Russia, they are made by the same company as the ElectroHarmonix EL34. I think they are built differently though. The E-H EL34 has a pretty good reputation I think.

Google for some reviews, I guess... I would buy the new Mullards just because I like the logo!
 

ray_moth

diyAudio Moderator Emeritus
2004-01-27 8:55 am
Jakarta
If you can afford "new old stock" (NOS) Mullards in good condition, I don't think you should hesitate to choose them. I haven't tried Electro Harmonix EL34s but I've had bad luck with both Sovtek and also with "ersatz" Svetlanas (which some say come from the same stable as both Sovtek and EH), so I'd hesitate to choose EH, personally. BTW, I'm assured that the genuine Svetlana "winged C" EL34 tubes are very good.
 
ray_moth said:
...I've had bad luck with both Sovtek and also with "ersatz" Svetlanas (which some say come from the same stable as both Sovtek and EH), so I'd hesitate to choose EH, personally. BTW, I'm assured that the genuine Svetlana "winged C" EL34 tubes are very good.


A friend of mine put Sovtek EL34s in his guitar amp replacing some winged C tubes (not because he had to, he just likes trying different things). He claimed the Sovtek tubes were "crunchier" in distortion (which he apparently thinks is a good thing).

I swear I listened as carefully as I could and we swapped tubes back and forth for two hours. They sounded the same to me. The difference might be more apparent in a hifi application, but maybe not to my iron ears. :D
 
Not only are there variations in sound between manufacturing facilities, variations occur in different production runs from the same plant.

Genuine Mullard NOS EL34s (not "reissues") are HIDEOUSLY expensive. In current production (affordable), the EL34 varieties that get good feedback are the SED EL34 out of St. Petersburg, Russia and the JJ E34L out of Jamona, Slovakia. Reports indicate that the JJ performs best when biased a tad on the "hot" side.
 
An interesting story?
2 nights ago I took delivery of one of those cheap chinese "Music Angel" Amps. This one is the EL34 version (I already have a 845 SET version). These amps are not the worlds best BUT ARE fantastic value for money.

As an exersize I pulled the chinese EL34s and substituted Winged C Svetlanas - it immedaiately sounded better.

On a whim I pulled those and tried some old FAT BOTTLE chinese EL34S - which I'm fairly sure are actually beam power tetrodes not proper pentodes like a real EL34 - they sounded very good as well, in fact in some ways I preferred the sound.

On the idea that maybe beam power tubes might sound better I dropped in a matched quad of Sovtek 6550s and was'nt too sure about the sound until I rebiased the amp. The Sovtek 6550 biased at 75mA each easily sounded better than any of the EL34s at 50mA.

I'm very happy listening to this "EL34" amp with 6550s in it.

Cheers,
Ian