MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

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MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by dlwilladsen »

I've searched far and wide for some suggestions on tube rolling for my MK VIII SE, with no success. Can anyone provide some options or suggest a website for same?

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Joined: Oct 7th, '11, 02:50

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by davideterribile »

Hi there, I've done probably 100 of experiments so I can give you some tips. Naturally we're talking only of the pre tubes. For the power tubes the only other two options are the DR version or to apply the cryo process to them, thing that I've not done yet.

Pre tubes: about the pre tubes the Little Dot accept any kind and any brand of 12ax7 12at7 12ay7 12av7 12au7 and their variants like 5953 5965 6060 7062 ecc801s 6414 etc... Still I've to try the 5814, which is a quite different variant of the 12au7 and the 6350, which is supposed to be a variant of the 12au7 but on my tester doesn't look even a 12au7, so it's better to consult David for these. The good thing of the Little Dot is also that it accepts low emissions old tubes and they still work fine. In terms of compatibility is really exceptional.

And now the tubes. I want to start with a comment on the stock tubes the 12at7 eH. These in fact are completely different from any other 12at7 I've tried and if you want the same sound signature you simply have to buy / keep them. They've lean bass, a forward and ultra detailed mids. They fit acoustic music (guitar and voice in particular) or dolby headphones films in particular if the film is heavy bass or you're using a Denon D7000. They don't fit the Beyerdynamic T1

And now the alternatives. I'd like to start with the 12at7 RCA. This is a no brain purchase, you can find for cheap and they deliver a very neutral a bit warm maybe, rich and detailed sound. The bass here has the body and the slam you may look for, but also mids are clear and highs very well extended. They're very good for music in general and for films with Beyerdynamic T1 or Senn HD800.

The 6060 Brimar, yellow shield and normal are probably the best choice. You pay for them but they're very good. Similar are the 12ax7 Bugle Boy but I've a preference for the Brimar. Still I've to compare them better to understand all their differences.

If you want instead something that is clearly different go for the German ones: the Telefunken 12at7 or better the Siemens ecc801s which are very cheap right now could be great. They deliver a dry and fast bass which can go anyway very deep in the films, deeper than the stock tubes, but with music you'll find the bass too much dry. The good of these tubes are the highs, absolutely amazing, ultra detailed and clear and the overall sound signature without colour. With films they're probably the best option with Beyerdynamic T1 and possible also with classical music. With rock and pop... maybe with the Denon otherwise the body of the bass doesn't give enough satisfaction.

Other tubes: the 12at7 Sylvania with triple mica, they're very full body on the bass like some ECC81 Mullard, I don't remember if the yellow or the M8162.

There're also other good tubes: if you want something smooth probably the 6201 or 5695 IBM (probably GE) should be considered as well the 6414. I remember something good also for the 12ax7a RCA but not that different from the 12at7 RCA (which are cheaper) and if your headphones / system have too much mids you should check out the 12ax7wa Sylvania.

The 12au7: I've tested them but used only the Sylvania which are not better than the tubes above. The 5963 RCA could be again a must try.

SUMMARY: 12AT7 RCA just buy them. 6060 Brimar even the white shield are a must buy (an alternative are the 12ax7 Bugle Boy but my over all preference is for the 6060). And a pair of German is another must, currently the ECC801s Siemens are incredibly cheap, but this is not going to last, and great value.

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Joined: Feb 8th, '12, 05:59

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by lentilka »


I have just bought the VIII se second hand with Tesla E83CC tubes and think they are really good. My setup is fully balanced with balanced HD800 at the end. I am very happy with the sound. Is there anyone who tried tube rolling with HD800 balanced? What are the best tubes for HD800?

Many thanks in advance!

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Joined: Oct 7th, '11, 02:50

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by davideterribile »

Try the Brimar 6060 Yellow Shield (probably the best over all) or the ECC801s Siemens (highs like the Telefunken and after 100h with deep bass as well). For a warm sound there're some Sylvania but better Mullard ECC81 Yellow.

I would stay in general on the 12AT7 ECC81 kind: they're cheaper than the 12AX7 and Little Dot has been optimized for these kind of tubes. The 12AX7 loose a bit on the midrange maybe with the exception of the Bugle Boy, and the HD800 doesn't need to loose on the midrange, in particular if you're using a silver plated cable like the Cardas.

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Joined: Jan 24th, '15, 06:49

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

Hello I will add a few comments as I am now trying tubes..

I find the 12au7a to be sweet and laid back a bit too much,
so not enough immediacy or focus for me...

I thought my miniwatt Dario 18ECC was my best overall, but still a bit laid back than my
tung-sol 5751WA , but the Tung-sol was too bright sounding almost splashy or glassy highs at times and a bit too forward with less bass.

I still have my RCA 12at7,
but found some RCA 12av7,
and I have to admit these have the clarity plus large soundstage without being laid back.

SO I would recommend the RCA12av7 so far my favorites.
It is the most immersive and nuanced just as sweet as others but more distinction in the trebles..
The only issue is that it seems sensitive to the volume knob and you can hear noise when turned.
I do not have that issue with other tubes..
Ok I tested and found the RCA12at7 a tad thicker and almost as nuanced as RCA12av7 and almost as delicate Dario 18ECC, as it it was a combination of both to a lesser degree.
I would choose this as tied as my second best alongside the 18ECC,
yet it has weight but not as large soundataging as 18ECC. probably because of more lower mids.

So the 12av7 RCA black plate to me is my best.
Last edited by Maxx134 on Jul 19th, '15, 05:47, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Redge »

What I have right now :

- EH 12AT7 : (coming with the MK8SE)
- MULLARD CV4024 : (playing) large upgrade from above
- RCA 6201 (Black Plates) : just arrived, no burn-in yet so no real opinion on them.
- SIEMENS ECC801S ("WBW" military grade) : not received yet.

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

Very interested inthe siemens as I also forgot to point out that I havent rolled more tubes and expect yours to be an upgrade from mine

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Joined: Jan 24th, '15, 06:49

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

Hello update to my last post from the past tubes I tried.

I had settled on the RCA 12av7 black plate as my fav,
Not only was this tube was alot cheaper than the other tubes, which were more euphoric or bassy or romantic sounding, but those others were not as clear.

Actually, I was surprised my more expensive tubes did not sound as good as my cheapo RCA 12av7..(!)

So I needed more tube testing to find out whats going on...

I also tried more of same RCA, and then the Sylvania 5965, which also was nice (rich) but was still not better than my cheapo rca12av7,
untill I got a GE6414...

The GE6414 was surprisingly similar yet bigger and better ..
Then I found out that the 6414 family is supposed to be the industrial/military version of the 12av7 (!)

So more research and I found this:

From Watford valves:

"This 6414W was made and tested by Raytheon U.S.A for National Electronics as part of their premium selected Gold line range.

This is high grade valve was selected for computer circuits and was used extensively by IBM and the American Military.

The 6414W was only made in the U.S.A and has a 10,000 hour heater rating.

The 6414W Raytheon was selected as the factory of choice by National Electronics USA as It is a more ruggedly built, offers long life rating and is made to full military specifications.
National Electronics then after a burn in process then selected the valves and then marketed them as their premium Gold line.

This valve is used by Manly Labs in a number of its studio products such as Voxbox, Massive Passive, ELOP, Mono and Dual Mono mic pre, SLAM, and Pultec EQ.
Manley also use the 6414 in audio products such as Stingray amps and MAHI monoblocks"

So this is a top quality military tube!
Just like the russian DR,
And turns out military tubes are made to be the best!

So I went ahead and bought the Raytheon6414 tubes!

At first, they sounded SUPER clear, yet lacked some bottom end weight,
Compared to my GE6414 which at that time was more rich, yet the best tube I had..
But the GE6414 as good as they were over all my past tubes,
Still was not as resolving overall in relation to the Raytheon...(!)

So I kept these in as I was told they will get better(!) With more burn in..

After about a week burn in, the tubes actually grew in both clarity and bottom extension, and they now are amazing just how good they are..

They are leagues ahead of all the tubes I tried now.
They are a bit taller that standard sized 12at7.

So to me, nothing beats the Raytheon.
Only the GE6414 came close to the Raytheon6414 excellent sparkling clear detailed sound.

So to me, The Raytheon 6414 black plate triple mica tubes are what I found to be the best at clarity & resolution, while the other tubes have more sonic tube characters.

and the best part is that they are not super expensive like most other popular tubes out there...

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

Update to my findings...

I was able to aquire the best 12a*7 tubes.

The 1950s mullard, long plate, square getter, blackburn factory made tubes...

They are rare, and cost at this time from $250-300US dollar or more US dollar,For a matched pair...

THE sound was, of course the best I have heard overall.
The most holographic and natural sounding tubes...
The Raytheon was not far behind and amazingly similar...
The Mullard had a touch more holographic mids and smoother tone,
But the Raytheon had a more neutral presentation with a touch more top end clarity and was the more accurate one...
It only lacked a touch less weight and slightly less depth.
But it had more treble clarity(!)

So, which is really better?
Would I want to spend $250-300, or just $60 for the Raytheon..

The answer is neither.
After spending easily over a thousand on buying many many more tubes.

I have settled on three top tubes:

1- the phillips e80cc pinch waist SQ gold pin tubes

2- Second best is e180cc pinch waist

3- Third best is Silvania black plate 12BH7A.

Those are my top three choices in what is a sea of mediocre tubes

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

I update my findings on best tubes I found for the MKVIISE

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by DavidZheZhe »

Awesome, thanks for the valuable feedback. I'm sure many owners will use your guide as a reference in their own tube rolling journey :)

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Joined: Jan 24th, '15, 06:49

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Maxx134 »

After spending a lot of monies and trying almost everything I am liking tube in this order:
E80cc pinch waist
12BH7A tallest plate version
Brimar yellow T 6060
E180cc pinch waist
GE5751 black plate

There are many others more expensive and less that can match the last one, but almost all fall below these in overall sound quality.
I will not put, for instance a gec here as too expensive for similar performance.
Or a Mullard Blackburn tube which is too expensive for similar performance.
I tried them all myself
A lot of money spent more than the amp to try them all out.

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Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by fluidusmisticus »

Hello Everybody. I have a question: Are Gold Lion ECC83 (12ax7) tubes directly compatible with MK VIII SE? Can these tubes directly replace the stock 12AT7 tubes?

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Joined: May 22nd, '16, 01:13

Re: MK VIII SE Tube Rolling Options?

Post by Bruch »

On the back of Maxx134's recommendations I bought a pair of E80cc's.

I don't have anything else to compare them with, other than the stock tubes, but I am very pleased with the sound.

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