Kings of the hill – 3 best 12ax7

Tesla, Genalex, Psvane 12ax7

How do these 3 tubes compare?

Having all 3 best of the best tubes in my hands, I decided to put them through – hand-to-hand combat.

The contenders:

  • Tesla E83CC – exact copy of Telefunken ECC803S tube. Same sound, same structure down to frame grid. Date of birth 1970s.
  • Genalex 12ax7 Gold Pins – the best new production tube from New Sensor, produced in Saratov, Russia. Date of birth 2013.
  • Psvan 12at7-T Mark II – the best new production tube from Psvane. Made in China. Date of birth 2013.

The stage – McIntosh 275 IV – all 3 12ax7 tubes were replaced with the contenders. That gave good testing for phase inversion and voltage amplification.

Good warm up – all tubes were given 48 hours burn-in time and ready for the challenge. If somebody thinks that a tube needs more than 48 hours – they should discard the tube – who can stand listening to a bad sound for much longer.

And there they went, our hearts skipped a bit in anticipation.

First went Tesla – reference must be established. Sound was as always, detailed, Dynamic with phenomenal texture and transparency. Every breath, every inflection, every change in singers voice were captured beautifully. The sound was full, relaxed extended at both ends and very pleasing. Darn it was hard to pull it out from the amp.

Next went Genalex, the sound became smaller – less holographic, texturing diminished, vocals became flatter. Still great bass – very tight and extended. Top end extension is great – smooth and transparent. Great fast performer – dynamic music sounded great, the more instruments the better, but then a lot of nuances of the music dissapeared (I swear there should have been a violin in that piece!)

And our final contender – Psvane. At first I was pleasantly surprised. Wow, details, details, details – I can hear so much. But then things went downhill. The sound stage is very large but flat. Top extension is superb, but sharp as a knife. Bass… Bass was the best of the 3. Very tight and strong. Vocals were well… not very good. You could hear everything, but at a price of a texture – no feelings – very clinical sounding. All in all, after a while, the tube had to be removed – too sharp.

So the competition is over and 1st place goes clearly to Tesla – I will be a super happy person if a better tube appears – that would mean a break through in technology. 2nd place – Genalex. 3rd place – Psvane.

Have your own thoughts on the topic? Share them.

 

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