I've tried the JJ EL84s and the Electro-Harmonix EL84s and I thought the EH's had a better chimey tone to them at lower volumes. On the clean channel, cranked they the both broke up at about the same spot with similar compressed chime. On the OD channel I couldn't tell them apart. Both were run in a TwinTone with YellowJackets.
Interesting opinions...I've been replacing EL84's for some time and I have found the EH's to be somewhat more prone to what can only be described as rattle. Because of the kind of amps they're usually found in (combos) they are susceptible to this. This phenomenon can usually be heard when a note is left to sustain. A distinct almost loose spring-like sound follows the note or chord being played. The JJ's are also prone but less often in my opinion and the JJ's plates are slightly bigger than the EH's which probably gives them a slight edge in performance. Personally, I prefer the JJ's for overall reliability. Again, this is just my opinion. P.S. my personal favourite EL84 would be the Mullard.
Nowadays the tubes aren't as rugged and the amps keep running them too hot with high plate voltages!
All the talk about different tone is moot if the tubes can't stand up. Traynors pushed EL84's kinda hard but they were designed in the Golden Years of tube manufacture.
The two killers are voltage and heat. Peaveys and Voxes that use EL84's tend to have them start to rattle after a few months. It's all from getting real hot and cooling down, causing the internal elements to rattle. A small fan will make all the difference in the world for tube life in these amps.
If you own a VibroKing that uses an EL84 for the reverb driver you probably are lucky to get much more than 6 months out of it. That's because the engineer who designed the amp made a huge mistake! The plate voltage is ridiculously too high and the tube keeps burning out. They had a recall and put 6V6s in them but there still seems to be a lot of EL84 reverb VKs out there.
There's only one brand on the market rugged enough to last more than a year in these VKs and will also not rattle or at least not as bad in the Peavey type amps. That's the Sovtek EL84M. Not the greatest for tone perhaps but built like a tank!
As I'm not as familiar with the Sovtek EL8M, I can't comment on it. As for the regular issue (EL84R) Sovtek tubes I have encountered in the past, I find in many instances they are noisy right out of the box....I guess I'll have to order some M's and give 'em a try :smile:
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