So far for the last year and a half or so, mine has been the Amperex Bugle Boy. Been thinking about giving the Mullard a good ride lately. Would like to hear a GEC as well, but havent got my hands on one yet.
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I don't know much about EF86's, I've had my RxJR only for about 5 months, but I do know 2 things about EF86's...
1) ANY NOS EF86 will sound better than ANY new-production EF86. Apparently, the new EF86's just aren't up to spec.
2) I replaced the Dario Miniwatt that came in my RxJR with an NOS Telefunken, and could tell little to no difference whatsoever. Altho the RxJR doesn't use the EF86 in V1 like the Stangray & other amps do...
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Mullard for me in my Z-28. I tried a Dario Miniwatt, and it was fine but it went microphonic in a pretty short time. Got the NOS Mullard when Mike was running a great price on them, and never looked back....it's a GREAT tube.
I have a JJ in my RX ES at the moment. I had a nos valvo in there before that, keeping the dario as a backup. I really like the valvo, is a little warmer than the dario, but that also works against it in a bigger venue. I think the JJ is not bad. Has all the ef86 qualities, i think maybe in the long run, how long it will last is gonna be the criteria for comparison, as it sounds ok.
I can't answer your question yet, but I'll be able to tomorrow. I just picked up two NOS EF86's, a Mullard and a Siemens. But I havent been able to swap them around yet. I'm 100% confident that my Route 66 will be much happier tomorrow. It has a new production EF86 in it at the moment. (Sovtek, I think.) My Stingray came with a Dario Miniwatt stock. So I may not need to swap that one.
I will say my Route 66 came with a Svetlana....and I went and purchased a NOS Dario Miniwatt.
I was VERY disappointed in the DM, in that I couldn't tell the difference.
"Every note sounds like you're rattling a bunch of tin cans and old chicken bones around inside a plastic paint bucket."...Flealux ---------------- I have a very impressive set of 6-pack abs...but I keep a layer of fat on them so they don't get scratched or dented.
I'm just counting the minutes until my daughter wakes up from her nap so I can try the tubes out.
I got the Siemens because I read that it has the least noise and microphonics of all the NOS EF86's (as a rule). And the Mullard is supposed to be THE classic EF86. I'm going to swap all of the 86's in the 66 and the Ray, and hopefully be able to pick a favorite for each amp. Otherwise, I've blown a lot of cash.
I also purchased some old 12ax7's. I bought two Telefunkens because they're widely considered to be the best of this type. And I bought 6 Mullards because they have a great reputation as well.
I know for a fact that I'll hear a difference in tone with the preamp tubes because I've played "Swap-a-Tube" with my Marshall Plexi and my Trainwreck. And the difference between some of the tubes were like night and day. I just hope it's a difference I like, cuz these suckas ain't cheap!
I also bought two GZ34 rectifiers: a Mullard and an Amperex Bugle Boy. I've read that I won't hear a tone difference, but will notice a different feel. I just like the fact that these will last a lot longer. My Z's came with a Sovtek and a Chinese rectifier, neither of which have a sterling reputation. So I'm sure this is a worthwhile upgrade.
Sounds good, DC. My results were a bit more dramatic though. My stock EF86 was a Svetlana "Winged C". Both the Mullard and the Siemens were noticeably louder. The difference I noticed was that the Mullard had just a tiny bit more gain. The Siemens had just a little bit more clean headroom. But they were both superior to the Svetlana to my ears. I'm really looking forward to the arrival of the other tubes now.