What are El84 tubes?
El84 tubes are a tube amp we have never mentioned before. These tubes work with vacuum tube based amps and they help the sound of your system.
The intention of creating the EL84 was to provide more gain than average. Once it was created, it was common to see it in different audio systems. Its advantages include sound warmness, more power, and lower distortion.
Common applications for El84 tubes
El84 tubes can be found in guitars or radios. They are used as an alternative to bigger audio tubes. This is why a lot of radios transitioned to them. Switching to a smaller tube means less heat for the circuit, and it means more space to bring in more components for audio.
There is one brand in particular who built a successful product line thanks to the el84 tube, and that's Vox. Thanks to the el84 tube, Vox's guitar tube amps have never gone out of style.
The el84 tubes were found in radios first, and then guitar amps. Other than these 2, you won't find el84 tubes in many other places. Their scarcity in the market makes it a little harder to find a good one. This is why knowing the lifespan of one will help you get started on your journey to find another one.
How long do El84 tubes last?
There isn't an arbitrary number for how long these tubes last. Just like any other material object, it depends on how you treat them. We know someone who still has the iPhone 5, and while it looks ugly, at least it still works.
While we don't know how long the tubes will last, there are some precautions you can take to ensure they last a long time. One of the first things you can do is to turn the tube off right away when you're done using it.
Make sure to turn the amp on 30 minutes to an hour before playing music so it warms up. Turning the amp on and off takes a toll on the tubing.
It's important to remember the average life span for a tube is 1-3 years. The difference in time depends on how well you treat it. While you don't know how long an EL84 tube well last, there are signs that'll let you know when it's time to change.
If your tube makes a noise other than the one you're accustomed to, you might want to change tube. If your tube distorts your music, think about changing your tube. Finally, if your amp loses its high end, you should think about changing your tube.
Qualities to look for?
What do you want?
You have to figure out what type of tube you want. Each tube means different sounds. EL84 tubes are warm sounding. They're easy on the ears and go great with harmonies. If this is what you're looking for, then a EL84 tube is for you.
Next up is determining if your tubes will match your amps. You have to understand how much wattage power you need, and if it's compatible with your amp. This is critical when matching your speakers with your amplifiers. Too much power will overwhelm the amp leaving you with a broke tube and amp.
Another factor is pricing. Fortunately, tubes aren't ridiculous when it comes to money. But, like every marketplace, there are going to be more expensive products than others.
There are tradeoff you're going to make when choosing tubes. Some will be more expensive than other, but it might not fit the wattage power you want. One quality we advise you not to sacrifice is durability. Compromising durability just ruins everything else. Watts, tone, and pricing don't matter if it breaks right away.
Now that you know what to look for, it's time to introduce our top 5 EL84 tubes.
1. JJ Electronics Amplifier Tube (T-EL84-JJ-MP)
This tube is #1 because it's a great combination between pricing and sound quality.
It doesn't tip the scale in one direction too far. It has a balanced perspective between mid-range, lows, and high tones. Its reliability is also top-tier. You don't have much tradeoff when purchasing these speakers because it's great in every category.
A nice addition is you don't have to wait long to break them in. In comparison to other tubes, the JJ electronics amp tube has a short break-in period.
A small downside is the treble isn't as solid. Overall though, this is the tube you want if you're looking for the best deal on your dollar.
2. Vox AC30 JJ Electronics Amplifier Tube
The Vox AC30 is very similar to the tube up top. It sounds great and can rejuvenate your old amp.
If you're looking for rich overtones, this EL84 amp is perfect. It has a bright overtone that will bring vocal chords right next to your ears. It's like you're right next to the vocal performer if you work with these.A set of 4 doesn't cost much either. If you were to push it to its limits, it'll still sound solid. There are amps out there that are pushed to its limits, but sound horrendous when clipping comes through. You don't get that with these bad boys. In addition, when you're playing at low tones, they also sound clear.
3. Fender Blues Jr. Tube Set x2 EL84
The Fender Blues will give you the blues if you're looking for poor quality. Install these in your system and expect a lot of clarity. What you'll get in this tube is a lot of high tones because this is where it excels.
They're easy to install and their break-in period is super quick. Right out of the box, you'll notice it comes in a matching set. JJ Electronics doesn't play around with their matching sets if you haven't noticed by now.
One downside to this is their reliability. If you don't treat them consistently, they will burn out fast. Luckily, they're not crazy expensive so you won't be burning through your money quickly. But, who really wants to burn through that money. A tube amp should be considered a long-term investment.
4. Mullard EL84
These tubes also fit the description of the last 3. If you purchase this, what you'll get is a great sounding amp at a great price. Most of your needs are complete with that last sentence. If you do get these and install them, expect no burn time. They're ready to roll straight away.
The Mullard EL84 and a soft undertone which makes it under-appreciated. When you install them, you'll notice music playing softer than usual. Don't mistake that for low wattage, understand that this is what a smooth tubing sounds like.
One factor that affects its sound is its gold-plated grids. If you play this for a long duration, expect your sound to be affected. This doesn't mean it's not durable though, on the contrary, these will last a long time if you treat them right.
5. Sovtek EL84 Vacuum Tube
You can blast power into this amp with no hesitation. A lot of users are raving about its power output because they're experiencing no major problems while doing so. What you'll experience when you blast power in is clear high tones.
What makes it even better is they're dependable and affordable. To be honest, every amp on this list can be called dependable and affordable. Similar to the first JJ amp, it is balanced in its tones. Its clear in its high tones, but it can also shine at a low tone. Its balance across the sound range means it doesn't have any true weaknesses.The reason we rank it last is because its heating problem. You can blast power into it without any problems, but its liable to make a mechanical sound when doing so.