E83CC versus 12AX7 comparison
Review of the JJ Electronics E83CC (12AX7) Frame Grid Tube
This recreation of the E83CC has been designed with a frame grid to help ensure low noise and microphonics. Specifically designed for audio uses, the E83CC is a super quiet 12AX7 so you place this tube anywhere you find a 12AX7 being used.
First a few questions I have been asked.
Is this tube a 12AX7 / ECC83?
Absolutely, this tube is definitely a 12AX7 and can be utilized anywhere a 12AX7 is found.
Is this tube for HiFi or Guitar amps?
Both, The E83CC (12AX7) is designed to provide excellent gain with low noise and therefore is great for not only Guitar amps and HiFi but is ideal for recording equipment.
What’s the real difference?
JJ has designed the E83CC with a frame grid which essentially utilizes a solid frame grid and box plate that provides a different level of stability allowing for better gain and low noise. The same technology utilized in the Amperex 6922. Don’t overpay for NOS tubes, grab this tube and hear the difference.
How did I test these tubes?
The tubes were tested against top comparative tubes on 2 tube testers for both gain levels and noise. I found a significant difference over some tubes for noise and microphonics. These tests allow the user to increase levels to see how the tubes handle noise, the difference found was in the level we could turn the noise parameter up. The E83CC was able to handle a lot more noise when compared to a standard 12AX7.
The next part of the review was performed over several weeks. I placed the E83CC tube in the following amps, playing through a Strat Deluxe with Vaughn Skow custom wound single coil pickups
Custom built Tweed Champ 5F1 Clone. (I tried this amp several times as it is the most basic of circuits)
This amp was a reasonably quiet build with some slightest of background noise at idle with the difference from the E83CC being only slight. I found that the benefit came as I turned up the volume on the amp. There was definitely less noise with a cleaner output, I felt it was a more defined / punchier signal but this is likely to be confidence bias as I was really enjoying the impact the tube was making.
Marshall DSL 40C
This is the amp I found the biggest difference in, (Placing the E83CC in the V1) I found much like the 5F1 test that idle wasn’t so different but as I increased the volume the benefit was a cleaner, quieter result, Note: I have a Mullard CV4004 in this Marshall already to try and help with unnecessary noise (not that it’s a noisy amp). The result is that this is now where the E83CC remains and I will be ordering more.
Custom Built Dumble OTS Clone
This amp saw the least benefit, the reason is that the build on this amp is one of the quietest amps I have ever made and over time it has received the best / lowest noise tubes I have tested. I was definitely happy with the result and this amp will receive an E83CC when I next order.
There is a common theme to this tube, at idle a slight benefit but when the volume knob is turned up you see the benefit. The Marshall JTM45 (in my opinion) only sounds good at volume and this tube was a great addition, for some reason when I pop the top off I found an EH 12AX7 in V1 which is unusual for me as I have a preference for some other brands (Nothing wrong with EH). At volume, this amp was the biggest difference and part of this would be the brand change, in saying that, the original tone wasn’t bad at all but I felt this tube was a better tone (tone is subjective).
So a disclaimer before my final thoughts: I am pretty fickle with my amps and expect a reasonably quiet amp and therefore I wasn’t really ever starting with a noisy amp, also, I felt that I believed in the tube and therefore this was, in fact, driving a bit of confidence bias. In saying that, I am also pretty picky with my tone and will not go backwards.
I am a believer. I found that this tube was worth every cent of the extra $11. The V1 socket of any amp is the most important and I would recommend that you don’t skimp out and take the time to ensure you give your amp its best chance to shine and the E83CC is a great option.
The gain levels were as good if not better than the standard 12AX7s / ECC83s I had in the amps and I felt the sound was more defined / punchier when pushing the volume.
Finally, your amp and tone preferences are not something I can pretend to know, tone is personal, however, this $11 test has to be on your radar for the future. The structure used in this tube has been proven to provide lower noise and microphonics and JJ has taken the time to build this into an ECC83 / 12AX7 so its a low-risk option when considering your tone.
My Verdict. This is my go-to tube for V1 in my guitar amps from now on. Click here to buy one now