Tips on identifying a NOS Mullard M8162 tube

Beard M8162 vacuum tubes

NOS tubes are a great way to improve the sound your system produces. If you are going to purchase quality NOS tubes there are things to look for to make sure you are getting what you expect.

This post is going to focus on the Mullard M8162 that is rebranded by Beard. You’ll discover over the course of this blog my favorite flavor of tube is the Mullard, so of course I like these!  I’ve got a set of them currently in my main tube amp that I just can’t get enough of. So let’s dive right in!

The M8162 will be called different names: CV4024, ECC81, but must most commonly the 12AT7 (WA). Many NOS tubes were made by one manufacturer and then branded/re-branded by another. Besides the silk screening on the outside of the glass everything else is 100% Mullard.

Model Code

You’ll also notice the code on the glass 654. This signifies it is an M8162 or CV4024.


halo getter

They have a halo getter that some will swear changes the sound. I’m not in that group. I think the getter does its job, but really only helps to confirm the era it was made when identifying tubes.


cross seams

These also have the Euro style cross seams on top of the tubes.

Ladder Plates

If you look at the picture you can see the double ribbed ladder plate that these tubes are known for having.

Plant/Year Code

For me, the numbers R3A2 on the tubes are the most important. They signify what plant they were made in and the year of production. In this case Mullard, Mitcham Plant year 1983.

The plant/year makes a big difference when selecting tubes. A different year means different runs of tubes. Quality of work and quality of materials can vary and can change the sound of a tube even if it is from the same plant and a different year.  Something I really like about Mullard tubes is a pretty consistent quality and tone from the Mitcham plant tubes.  If you’re interested in a bit of history on the plant here is a great video to give some insight and a side by side comparison of a Mullard label and BEARD branded Mullard.

My personal take on these tubes falls in line with how most people feel about Mullards. They have a nice thick midrange, and the highs are extended but not harsh. I run horns in my system so harsh highs are something that can happen easily, but not with this tube. They are very non-fatiguing even at high volumes. Of course, the lows are solid, accurate  and typical of Mullards of this quality.  Click on the picture below and grab a pair from VTUBEAUDIO!

Just remember tubes were relabeled/rebranded by plenty of companies. Know what you are getting before you buy. Make sure it’s from a reputable source and that the tubes are tested before you buy.  VTubeAudio has been my go to for tubes.  Here is a picture of my BEARD M8162 in my system.

Using Reissue (new) 12AX7 vs. NOS 12AX7

I love tubes and since I first discovered them I’ve been in the pursuit of the perfect tube sound.  I know that is every tube-o-file’s goal. There are so many options. For me, it seems there is always a new tube to discover; a manufacturer or model I never knew was available. I started like most enthusiasts by using the tubes that came with the amp I purchased. Rolling in some new tubes was over my head and I was thankful to just have my first tube amp. After all, the tubes in the amp sounded great! Initially….

Then I became aware of the things that seemed to be lacking in each song I listened to. So I did what you are doing now. I started reading online and doing research. I started asking questions on forums and found plenty of opinions to go on. Of course, I had to find out myself if there was a change in sound. So I did it. I purchased my first set of tubes. It was a Magnavox tube amp called a Maggie 8802 that I rolled those tubes into. I felt that the tubes in my system were very lean and the top end could be over-bearing at times. Doing research online, I found that Mullards are where I wanted to go first to help make the sound bigger, fuller, and less shrill. I found a pair of 1967 Blackburn Mullards 6EU7 that was listed at a cost I felt comfortable with based on reviews. After 4 days, I had them in my hand. I pulled the old tubes out and put the Mullards in and turned the amp on. I gave the amp 5 minutes to warm up and then I put on a record and started to listen. I won’t bore you with all the albums I use as reference albums, but I will tell you this. The soundstage opened up and wrapped its sweet sweet arms of music around me. I was blown away. I knew immediately I was hooked and had to have more tube options to roll in. I purchased a Primaluna Preamp to run into the Maggie to make the system completely tube driven and removed the solid-state preamp I had been using.

           

The preamp came with Primaluna tubes in all positions except the 2 inner tubes were reissued Tung-Sol 12AX7s. When it was connected it was not what I expected. I was not impressed and thought I had just wasted the money on a Preamp that wasn’t necessary. Taking a step back I started reading about reissue tubes and how they may look like the originals, but do not always share the same sound characteristics. I did what I had done before and read reviews and made another purchase.  This time I wanted to try a different manufacturer to listen to the differences I heard. Telefunkens, commonly referred to as Teles, were supposed to have a nice, open soundstage with a 3d sound. I jumped on a pair like these:

  

The worst part about these tubes was the waiting for them to arrive. The 2-3 day wait period was killing me. When they arrived I couldn’t wait to hear the difference! They delivered in a BIG way! The soundstage blended perfectly with the Mullards. It opened up even more and the reviews regarding the 3d sound were all accurate. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to find out if the reissues were the same or close enough that money could be saved. Another purchase and a pair of 12AX7 Telefunken reissues arrived.

           Reissue ECC83 on the left and NOS ECC83 on the right.         

They looked great. They were new, and they cost less than the NOS Teles I had been listening to. Same routine – warmed up the amp and then gave them a listen. As soon as the music started I missed the sound of the NOS ECC83 (12AX7) Teles I had been using. The magic was gone. To be fair I gave them a few weeks to break in and put around 50 hours of audio through them. After the 50 hours, it was time to listen critically again. Reference albums out, tubes warmed up and go! The music was better than I recalled from day one but still felt like it was missing the magic. I rolled in the NOS Telefunkens and immediately heard the difference. The magic was back. I was closing my eyes, tapping my foot and smiling. I missed the magic that can only be offered from NOS tubes. I’m a believer and love getting NOS tubes to roll in. Give some a try. Click on the picture below to see all of the options available. What are our thoughts on NOS vs. Reissues? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of Four Philips Miniwatt 4699 Power Vacuum Tubes on a table