Apos Ray 12AU7 Tubes

I’m giving the new Apos Ray 12AU7 tubes a spin in my BHK pre and I am quite impressed so far.

https://apos.audio/products/apos-ray-tube-12au7

Apos / Ray are cagey about their provenance (China, most likely) and they claim to only accept the top 4% of production, whatever that means.

At $180 per matched pair, they are priced near the top of new production tubes (e.g., Gold Lion), but much cheaper than almost any worthy NOS 12AU7s, and believe me, I have a ton of them in my stash.

WIth only about 30 hours on them, they are already quite impressive compared to the NOS Ciftes that preceded them, which were smooth and inviting, a bit on the warm side and not particularly incisive.

The Ray tubes are a different animal altogether–big, dynamic and quite detailed without any hardness or edge. They throw a huge soundstage, with powerful, yet tight and textured bass.

Worth a try…

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Well, I’m looking for a new tube that can compete with the best of NOS. I may give it a try. Thanks!

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Update: These Apos Rays 12AU7 tubes are really terrific in my system. The first pair in the BHK pre sounded really good out of the box, but they have developed further in terms of soundstage, transparency and yes, slam. They are dead quiet in my already very quiet system with a full Synergistic Research Active Ground Block SE deployment).

Based on my success running them in my BHK, I bought two more pairs for the gain tubes in my Primaluna Dialogue Premium amps run as monoblocks to replace the NOS 1960s Brimars which I really liked.

I was a little concerned that they might be too muck of a good thing, but no, they amplify (pun intended) everything I like about the first pair. They’ve only been in place for about five hours and I just finished playing Patricia Barber’s live performance of Black Magic Woman from the “Companion” album and I have goosebumps. They are fast, very quiet and throw a remarkable soundstage in all dimensions, but particularly in terms of depth and coherence of the overall image being thrown.

It is honestly like I suddenly have much better amplifiers, and I was not in any way displeased with the sound before this inexpensive ($180 per pair from Amazon) upgrade…

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Darn, looks like I have to order a pair because I’m a sucker for this kind of treats. Great to know Amazon has them because I can return them if they do not workout for some strange reason. I can compare them to my NOS Telefunken. That will be fun.:man_dancing:t2:

But these have to wait for a couple of weeks because I will be testing some grounding tweaks, plus a pair of Puron Ac plug-in conditioners first.

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I just got a second pair of NOS Telefunken 12AU7 Berlin plant production and they are pleasant, but not life changing. These, so far, are.

Star grounding my entire system using the Synergistic Active Ground Block SE was life changing.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the Puron AC conditioners…

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Always good to have alternatives, glad that you are liking them

They look a lot like Psvane S/Art Series which would originate from the Psvane plant in Shenzen

Seems a little bit shady that they won’t discuss where they are made. Do they not want people to compare the prices to other tubes made at the same factory? Are they just cherry picking the best testing tubes and charging a premium?

Not saying any of this is a bad thing, it’s just curious, I may add a pair to my stable of 12AU7 variants to give them a spin

Best,
-JP

It appears that, I stopped this thread in its tracks…

Unfortunate, I always look forward to a lively tube discussion, especially 12AU7 variants, which my preamp utilizes, to great effect, in its gain stage

Meanwhile, if you get a chance at a pair of these, jump on it. They provide all the goodies in spades!

If I recall @vkennedy61 has a pair, or maybe the Siemens branded chrome plates in his VTL. Same flavor…

Best,
-JP

In one preamp I LOVE the Amperex 6085. These are as tall as EL84 so they don’t literally fit in every instance, but their sound is big and bold and rich.

Most NOS 12AU7 types have been eclipsed for my usage by the Wathen/Cryotone 12AU7-WCL tube.

The (very different from the usual) cryo treatment of these JJ tubes make them sound amazingly rich and yet detailed. I wasn’t happy until a few hundred hours were on them, but after that no other tube I’ve tried (and I have about 60 NOS 12AU7 types and brands) will do.

Decwares tube of choice👍

Yes, I was really skeptical of all the praise there for so long, and first tried the 6SN7 and hated it, but have to admit that trying the 6922 type floored me. . . I was finally won over, and went for the 12AU7 which was as good. I use their 300B type as well, which surprised me as besting the Takatsuki in my amp. These tubes elevated the sound of my system to a surprising level.

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Okay, curiosity got to me. Now my system has never sounded so quiet and nice (thanks to the Puritan PSM-156 and their grounding devices), I am ready for some adventure in new brand of tubes.

I ordered a set of Apos Ray 12au7 tubes from Amazon. They will be here on Saturday (one thing I love about Amazon). It was reported here they sound better than GL and stock tubes in 30 plus hours. If that is the case in my system then this tube may finally be the one that beats NOS. Okay, they are not cheap, but compares to NOS they would be a bargain. The ultimate test will be against Telefunken “Mazda” 12au7 NOS in M1200 since I have yet to find a tube that I liked better.

I will report if they are worthy.

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Currently running E188C 7308. I have a pair of the Apos waiting in the wings. I have been busy with a few other projects lately so I haven’t gotten around to listening to them.

However, I will say they look and feel very well made. That’s clearly not a good way to judge them, but it’s a good sign.

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I’ll be interested in your impressions of the tubes. I love them in my BHK and in the gain tube positions of my Primaluna Dialogue Premiums run a monoblocks…

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Will do, they should be here tomorrow.

I found them to sound good and very quiet out of the box, but it took a while for soundstage depth to fully develop…

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Apos Ray 12au7s were installed a couple of hours ago in BHK pre, and you are right that they are super quiet out-of-box. In fact, they sounded quieter than G.L. already, which is incredible since G.L. are on the quiet side of tubes.

It is too early to tell, but the early impression is these tubes are very neutral sounding with excellent frequency extension. They came with a nice box and instructions too. It says 6 hours of burn in is needed to show its strength. I may be in a nice treat this afternoon. :tumbler_glass:

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Apos Ray 12au7 tubes in BHK pre are the best current-production tubes that I have heard. Their clean, open, and full body sound has no match, and they excel in soundstage and frequency extension too. At this point I had about 60 hours in, and they are a clear winner over my previous GL tubes already.

Amazon sold out when I wanted to buy one more pair, but they are still available from their own site. When my 2nd pair arrives, I will put them against Telefunken NOS in M1200.

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I ended up rolling the dice and ordering two sets to try out in my BHK Pre and M1200’s from some of the positive feedback from @dchang05 and @andynotadam. I grabbed them off of their site and later received an email saying they increased all their tubes warranty’s to 12 months, not too bad just in case. I’m currently using GL tubes all around, we’ll see how the Apos Ray fair.

-Rob

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Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them!

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