For several years the original Svetlana 12AX7 tube from St. Petersburg (Winged “C”/SED) tried to develop a good 12AX7 and mostly failed. The current production Svetlana 12AX7 is a New Sensor product and is a member of 12AX7-EH and Tung-Sol 12AX7 family. All three of these tubes is virtually identical. The biggest difference seems to be in plate coating, gain and sound quality.
I find the tube to sound a bit smoother than the EH and it has less gain than the Tung Sol. If you are not inspired by the Electro Harmonix and also find the Tungsol too grainy then this is the tube you want to give a chance. It has everything you want in a good pre-amp. Low noise, no Microphonics issues and very clear and open without being too bright. The construction is on par with the more expensive Tungsol. The price point on this 12AX7 tube is great because it will hold its own with more expensive options. Samples seem very reliable. If you like the JJ ECC83S but want something with a litter more glimmer this is where you should put your money.
My reply is in no way connected with the rhetoric in this review page; but in direct response to my own trial of the new Svetlana 12AX7:
I found it to have considerably “less” gain than the Sovtek (Groove Tubes) 12AX7; as well as “less” gain than the Tung-Sol 12AX7; … with still MORE GAIN than what is needed (for Classic Rock / ’80’s Metal).
If I could endeavor to describe it’s sonic performance; I’d say: It wasn’t as “MUSICAL” as the Tung-Sol 12AX7; but yet… was exactly what I wanted. IT SOUNDS PERFECT. Perhaps a hair more ‘unclear’ than that the Tung-Sol.
I prefer an array of sonic capabilities that vary from “mellow 50’s Jazz to 80’s L.A. Metal). The New Svetlana 12AX7 is a great contender for such a variety of sounds! The break-up is incremental with plenty of gain stages with the use of your amp’s gain knob. There’s a plethora of overdrive stages to be worked-with! Overall, it’s got a great Vintage tone. Very clear; yet not overly bright; no harsh sounds at all. Very quiet. Strong bottom-end; plenty of mid-range; sweet savory highs; IT’S ALL THERE!. (Used with a 7189 Preferred Series /EL84 Output Tube).
Give it a whirl! If you’re looking for Classic Tones; this tube can BRING IT!
I just ordered the Svetlana with the intention of installing it in my Blackstar HT-1R 1watt amp. It originally came with a 8″ blackbird speaker which I changed out to a Celestion 8-15, and it had TAD tubes for the pre-amp and power section. I read in another forum: “My experience with changing the tubes in my Blackface HT-1R” that a JJ12ax7 and a 12au7 Sovtek were his recommendation, but after reading all the great reviews about the Svetlana – I ordered the JJ and opted for the Svetlana instead. I don’t know if these tubes need to be matched, or biased – I don’t even really know what that means, so if anyone wants to chime in with info. it would be appreciated! I’m excited to see what the outcome will be and will report my findings next week so stay tuned :)!
The 12AX7 and 12AU7 do not require matching and there is no bias adjustment required in your amplifier. In regards to others recommendations you must take them with a grain of salt. Since tone is very subjective and there are so many other factors aside from the amplifier, there is no guarantee that what works for Peter will also work for Paul. Until you have a listen for yourself there is no way to be sure. The JJ and Svetlana brands are both excellent choices.
New production Russian tubes? They are Junk! Most microphonic of all makers, The Chinese are great if you buy 30 of them and test each one til you get the silent “good” ones! Great tone Triple Mica design. The JJ’s are the least microphonic but smother the harmionics. The original older silver plate Svetlana Winged C 12ax7’s sounded phenomenal in the V1 and v2 positions for crunch tone harmonics and clean organic overall richness! Langrex UK has them for $25.00 each right now until they run out as of Feb, 2018.