Preamp tube shootout

I always wondered if one tube could really change something in a signal path. The test unit was not a preamp but my Aguilar DB900 DI. This unit won multiple awards for its design so I figured it would make a good test.

I tested three tubes: stock Sovtec (that came stock in the Aguilar DI), JJ/Tesla JJ83S and "high gain" JJ/Tesla JJ803S.

Here's the result:

Sovtec clip 1 JJ83S clip 1 JJ803S clip 1
Sovtec clip 2 JJ83S clip 2 JJ803S clip 2

I recommend to download all the clips and put them in a playlist (in Windows Media player for example) in order to hear the differences between them.

To me the JJ83 sounds the best, followed by the Sovtec and finally the JJ803. I don't like the JJ803 because to me it distorts too easily which would make it better suited for guitar IMO.


Technical info:

The bass:

  • Kinal MK5-B. Custom 5-strings, alder body, flame maple top, pau ferro fingerboard. Bartolini soapbars and preamp (3-band).

The cable:

  • Bayou: 12', canare GS-6 cable, neutrik connectors.


  • Bass to Aguilar DB900 DI into probably Minidisc...don't remember as I recorded the clips a long time ago...