I had a very specific need to fill when I considered ordering the Mullard 12ax7. This is a new production tube designed to replicate an old favorite NOS tube of the past. While I have no experience with the original other than to tell you that it is expensive and regarded as one of the greatest tubes of the past I can speak volumes about how its recreation has solved an age old problem for me. One amp I have owned for over fifteen years has always had one vexing problem that I could never solve and eventually just avoided. The clean channel was incredibly sterile sounding. I guess if I was a Jazz player this would have not been such a bad thing because the sound was pristine but to me unusable. I desired a clean sound with a different character, a shimmering clean with some sweetness. I had tried offerings from Sovtek, Ruby, JJ, Tungsol, and EH with varying degrees of MEH. Nothing truly impressive at all in that channel.
On my last order to retube some amps I decided to give the Mullard a chance and wow what a difference. The channel has become softer in a way and the tone has greatly improved. I find that the overall plainness of the channel has obtained a touch of that fender clean quality we all seem to seek in a clean sound. While the channel is still recognizable as the same I can say though that the sterility has been replaced with a full lush sound that is chimey and sparkly on top and pleasant throughout the full frequency response. It is still balanced in its reproduction but has developed a much more user friendly response to dynamics. I would not use this tube in a high gain situation as there are many other tubes that will out perform it sonically in that respect but the Mullard reigns supreme over most of the tubes I have encountered in its price range for a clean channel. It has effectively given me back a channel that I had always considered unusable to me for my style of playing and actually made me enjoy it for the first time in over 15 years. I highly recommend this tube to use in any clean or low gain situation and my high rating is totally based on that placing. I would not base a car on how it tastes and therefore would not expect this type of tube to be my go to gain tube.