Phono preamp tube rolling.

As upgrade rush bites again, planning to perform some tube rolling on my Rouge Ares Magnum. Please share some experience with tube rolling on pure tube circuit topology phono preamps. Practical experiences are preferred. Theoretical options are welcome too.
@lowrider57 Sorry, I’m not really interested in suggestions based on my components or system analysis. What is really interested  is other people experience in the topic. 
OK then. Phono preamp is an extension of cart, arm, table. I'm sure you will be asked this question again.

In general, I am not a fan of tube rolling.  Listener bias makes it almost certain that you will be certain you hear differences right away.  (Because you spent money on the new tubes.) But those impressions tend to fade over time, unless you are replacing truly worn out tubes, in which case you will inevitably love any fresh tubes. Given the fact you have supplied no further information, that is about the extent of any response I can conjure.
OK then. Phono preamp is an extension of cart, arm, table. I'm sure you will be asked this question again.
Totally agreed with first part of your statement, but no offence, I’m pretty sure I will not ask any questions, cause I like my own experiments and conclusions. Just wanted to hear other people experience.
Lewm say it isn't so.  You really believe  we are dealing with a pyseabo here.  Of course  without knowing  what OP thinks is a upgrade  is, how could one even begin.  We also do not know what tubes he is using,  brand and type.

Enjoy the ride

I understand. I like to tube roll, however, the sonic characteristics of a tube or set of tubes will depend on the circuit being used.
I can't find which tube type the Ares Magnum uses, but there is a constant in selecting tubes for a phonostage; only use low-noise tubes. You often need to request they be noise tested by the dealer, or you state that they're for use in a phono preamp.
 The reason is the high amount of gain used to boost the signal from the cartridge. If using MC, you may need a high amount of gain which will increase any noise in the tubes. If using MM, not as critical.

Considering that the preamp accepts 3 different types of 12 volt tubes which will affect the overall gain considerbly it would be best to list your entire setup.

it almost certain that you will be certain you hear differences
 :))))))) that is funny one. 
In fact I could hear the difference almost right away, however to realize which one is better to my ears take some time. Could be several days.  
I don’t understand why you guys so desperately want to analyse some thing,  give a suggestions or answer some questions. It was no questions in my post. I just wanted to hear other people experience and stories rolling phono preamp tubes. Again my post did not contain any questions. 
Joe mentioned Mullard CV4003 box plate as the best of the rest…. Did you personally tried that tube?
My experience was good.
What kind of tubes did you rolled? Components? plz..
outcome on best choose?
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Mullard Blackburn longplates are very good. I also like the CV4003 boxplates, although the 12AU7 long plate square getter and large O-getter are cleaner sounding with excellent imaging.

I love the Brimar CV4003 boxplates, similar but more  transparent than Mullard with very good highs.

For phonostage I mostly used 1950's RCA black plates. Not as warm as Mullard. More transparent with great dynamics. Need to request low-noise.
By the chance, did anybody tried Japanese stuff? ….Hitachi 12AX7, NEC 12AU7, Toshiba 12AX7 or Matsushita 12AX7 ?
Rolling some 12AX7 tubes in my Sun Valley phono pre. I found the Genalex Russian tubes to be way too bright and glaring. Brent Jesse turn to be on to some RCA vintage gray plates and those were pretty perfect. My music is mostly rock and roll. Jazz and classical folks might go with something a bit more nimble and musical like Siemens or Telefunken. 
Lewm is right, tube rolling will drive you crazy. The most important characteristic for a phono preamp is low noise. Both RAM Labs and Upscale Audio test their tubes. It is better to spend more on the super low noise tubes or Kevin's stash which are also superior in other parameters. Tubes are quite variable in these regards. With tube testing you know what you are getting. It's a good investment as preamp tubes can last a very long time. I change my phono stage tubes every 5 years whether they need it or not and my unit stays lit 24/7 (when I have a turntable:-(
Tom, What is “pyseabo”? Is it another word for “placebo”? Or did autocorrect do damage to your intentions?

to the OP: I try to use high quality tubes. Once or twice I’ve paid extra to RAM or Kevin for matched or low noise tubes. However tubes age at different rates, so what are matched or low noise tubes today might not be so in a month or 6 months. Still it’s hard to argue not to start with low noise for the input and any other gain tubes in a phono stage. Beware that boutique or NOS vintage tubes sold these days are very likely to be fakes. I have some Telefunken and Amperex tubes that I bought in the late 70s; I believe they’re real but I have no gear that requires a 12AX7 or AU7. I don’t “roll” tubes with any expectation that SQ will improve because of the brand or provenance. I replace tubes that I suspect are near the end of their lifespan.I own a good tube tester, but the real way to test a tube is to measure how it is functioning in the equipment. To do that you need a knowledge of electronics and how to read a schematic.
NOS vintage tubes sold these days are very likely to be fakes
Fakes, you mean like really fakes, made faked under popular brands and models or just low quality NOS described as something very special?
Yes, testers gives you basic useful info, but of course not guaranteed that equipment won’t change tube function right after a tube being installed. Common vacuum leak could happen too specially during vintage NOS installation. 
Yes, tubes age at different rates. It is however my experience that tubes that start off low noise continue to have relatively low noise over their life span. I undoubtedly change tubes prematurely. I change my oil prematurely also. Makes me feel better.
surfmuz, What I meant is that there are nefarious persons who change the markings on tubes that otherwise look very much alike, so as to make inexpensive versions look just like rare and more valuable NOS tubes.  So, before shelling out big bucks for a Telefunken or Amperex or etc, it is wise to equip yourself with the expertise necessary to tell them apart regardless of the labeling on the tube.  On the other hand, I would totally trust Upscale Audio, Jim McShane, RAM, and certainly others with whom I am not directly familiar.  I would NOT buy expensive tubes off eBay.  Also, there are current manufacture tubes that do sound excellent and are reliable, made by JJ  and Sovtek, for two examples.  There you have good quality at reasonable cost.  In my experience also, some of the Chinese made tubes sound great but have a shorter than average lifespan, way too short.
Tube Rolling is a great experience.
Learning how certain Brands and Production Era's interface in a circuit and deliver into the Downstream of the System is a something that is worthwhile undertaking.

Trusting the Supplied Tubes is the issue.
I have come to terms with the fact that Tubes will make music happen, and to the inexperienced such as myself, I would not know whether one is of the ideal measurement.
An asking price from a Vendor can suggest it is Factory Spec and certain supplied measurements will suggest the Tube is Factory Spec.
Give such a Tube to a Time Served Valve Individual with Testing Kit  and a full knowledge of testing and the supplied Tube can be proven to fall short of the Factory Spec by quite a margin.

I only purchase Tubes today that come with the right to return if a secondary measuring  at my end does not match the vendors advertisement.

I have returned Tubes for the above reason, both  NOS and New.   

As a result of being vigilant with a purchase, I have Vintage Tubes in a DAC, Phon, and Power Amp.
I have selected these over New Tubes as a result of Tube Rolling experiences. 

Lewm  I should  proof read more.  Grammar  has never interested me but you got the drift.   I have done lots of  tube  rolling and  changing of tubes in the years.  Your system is revealing  enough  that if you rolled you could hear the difference.   Noticed  I said difference  not upgrade , better a cross the board etc.etc. etc...  

My latest  diy  phono pre I tried 20 to 30 different  tubes in number 1 position.  Wide range of sound difference.   12ax7 is normally at the bottom of list.  So I am not much help to the OP.  In regards to noise 12ax7 is normally one of the best but then comes the sound  well  you can  not  always have everything. 

Was reading the Rouge  manual  and it said if  you want to use  12at7 you can and get less gain.  This would be the first  thing  I would try.  Just  get a cheap pair and see if he likes the sound.  Of course if gain is a issue  it may be better with the 12ax7. 

The one thing I did notice is that mullards tend to be full body and in the right circuit quite musical.  The OP is at least willing to trust his own hears  so  he can roll  and get what he wants out of the equipment  he has.

Enjoy the ride
lewm, I know that tricks with re stamped tubes… they use acetone to tear off original stamps and than put on a new signs. About five years ago I bought NOS rectifier MULLARD GZ34 from eBay faked like that :) fake signs just smeared off right away right in my hands after opening. So, no eBay that for sure…
I do trust Upscale Audio and TubeDeapot….
regarding Chinese tubes, I had pretty good results with Sophia Electric Blue Glass 6SN7 using them with my preamp…never tried others.  
tomwh, I tried to replace 12AU7 with 12AX7 ones, and it gave me a little bit more gain, not significantly, but noise increased too.. so SQ didn’t benefit from that switch. 
When I first got Super low noise 6922's from RAM Labs I was flabbergasted at how much quieter they were than the stock tubes. This is an ARC phono stage! Every set that I have gotten have been just as quiet. They are so quiet that with the volume cranked to the max I have to put my head up against the speaker to hear anything.

surfmuz, it is always best to use the specified tube.

I’ve done a ton of tube Rolling over the years on the Ares Magnum. The 12ax7 slots make a huge difference. My 3 favorites, from most favorite to less favorite:
1. Mazda silver plates - These have a little extra energy on top, so maybe not the best fit for systems already leaning bright, but they far exceed the next 2 choices in all other respects. Almost as good as a component upgrade. 2. Telefunken - Ribbed plates if you want a little extra zing up top, smooth plates if you want warmer or smoother. Smooth plates are more neutral overall, ribbed can be a little more exciting. Both great tubes, and plentiful if willing to buy used, so don’t overpay for supposed NOS from a dealer.
3. RCA tall black plates. Good overall tube, close to neutral with a touch of warmth and sweetness.

The 12au7 slots, eh I never liked 12au7. You can sub 12ay7 or 12at7 in here. I’ve also subbed 12bh7, which is what I ended up suing the most - MUCH better sounding than typical 12au7’s. The best 12bh7 are 1950s Sylvania black oval plates with D or square getters. RCA of any kind are also good (warm) and Tung-Sol are decent (leaning a bit bright). The real problem with 12bh7 is their noise and microphonics in this application. But the Ares isn’t really the quietest phono stage anyways, so I just went through a bunch until I found a pair "quiet enough" and went with that. For a strict 12au7 sub, the GE 5814 gray plate triple mica were decent enough sounding (warm), easy to find quiet ones of, and affordable.

Rogue OK’d the 12bh7 sub for me, several years ago. These tubes draw 0.3mA more current on their heaters. I’m not sure if Rogue would say they OK it today (they seem to be getting more conservative in their recommendations over time), but I never had any problems.

In all 12ax7-based tube phono stages I’ve had (Hagerman Trumpet, VAC, Herron), those lead 12ax7 make a huge sonic difference. The follower tubes also make a notable difference, though not as much as the 12ax7 until you start trying type substitutes (e.g. 12au7 to 12bh7 / 12ay7 / 12at7) - then the difference can get almost as big.
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Looking at the manual again it looks like the 12au7  position  is the position  which you  can  sub the tubes.  Which seems odd , but  you  tried it with  12ax7 and  know , 1st hand ,  it not for your system.

Enjoy the ride
tomwh, it’s not odd to me…12AU7, 12AT7 and 12AX7 are pretty much the same tube with a little different gain settings. 
is always best to use the specified tube.       
Could be exceptions, but I general you right…. I always return to specified tubes. 
thank you… it’s a quite impressive experience. What was following upgrade replacement for your Ares?
The 12 ax7/ ay7 / at7 aren’t really the same thing with different gain. They have very different plate resistances and drive capabilities, for starters. The Ares’ 12au7 slots are mu followers with a lot of flexibility - one element per tube used for gain and the other for output - so any of those tubes will work, but the 12ax7 is by far the worst choice here. It’s not a good output tube. That’s why I suggested at7 / ay7 / 12bh7.

I upgraded to a VAC Renaissance phono stage. Way more musical and organic, quieter, much better bass, and more detailed too. I used "way better" a lot because it’s all true - including the VAC’s sticker price! If I have one critique it’s that I actually like the CineMag blue-label SUT in the Ares Magnum more than the Lundahl LL1931 in the VAC (personal preference). But I bypass the VAC’s Lundahls with my choice of outboard SUT anyways - even sometimes with a CineMag Sky blue (great combo).
The Impact of an SUT or Head Amp on the downstream of the system can be just as impressive as a change to a certain Tube can offer.  
Surfmuz, You wrote, "…12AU7, 12AT7 and 12AX7 are pretty much the same tube with a little different gain settings." As mulveling already intimated, this statement could not be more wrong. The only thing these three tube types have in common is that all 3 can be run off either a 6.3V or a 12.6V filament supply, depending upon how the socket is wired, and all the other pin connections (to grids, plates, and cathodes) are cross-compatible. But that does NOT mean you can freely switch among them. Any listening impression you get or got by substituting one for another type is as likely due to harming the performance of the substituted tube by subjecting it to too much or too little current, or too much or too little plate voltage, or usually both, as it is to any inherent sonic differences between the types. As a general bit of advice, I would suggest that if you don’t understand tube electronics, you ought not to replace one tube type with another different tube type.
As to the 12AU7, I dislike the sonics of this tube when it is used for gain. If it is used as a cathode follower or as a phase splitter (in an amplifier), that’s OK, because those two functions do not add gain to the circuit. 12AU7 can be replaced by 6CG7, 6FQ7, 12FQ7, or even 6SN7, which requires a change of tube socket, but only if you know what you are doing and can re-wire the existing 9-pin socket (or replace it with an octal socket for a 6SN7) to suit any of those tube types. All of those tube types are very similar electrically, if not identical, to the 12AU7. But don’t just plug them in; you need to re-wire the socket.

Mijo, ARC products are notorious for driving the tubes "hard", which causes them to wear out faster than typical. So you are well advised to do what you do.
By the chance, did anybody tried Japanese stuff? ….Hitachi 12AX7, NEC 12AU7, Toshiba 12AX7 or Matsushita 12AX7 ?

Vintage Japanese tubes are excellent and I will give you one unique example from my vaults (images taken by myself, use links below before they will be expired).

These are very interesting preamp tubes from Japan (new old stock from the ‘60s). The wonderful "sleeper" in the world of 12AT7s for me are old Japanese tubes. National is a trademark of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. If you’re set on the sources and still want more tubosity- nothing beats old National (Matsushita) with pinched waist glass and gold pins.

The most well known pinched waist tubes are from Philips Heerlen and Valvo Hamburg. They were made mid to end ‘50s and have the glass pinched around the top mica spacer. I assume this was done to fight microphony. Pinched waist tubes have an indented ring around the middle portion of the glass tube. They’re quite expensive, but not overpriced like Mullard or Telefunken tubes from the same era. I’ve noticed that tubes from 1958 and earlier have a bigger pinch then tubes from around 1960. Personally. I haven’t seen tubes after 1960 with a pinched waist.

P.S. Tube rolling was fun in my integrated amp (I do not use tube phono stages). I’ve been looking for the best 12AT7 type (but not the most expensive as I already had genuine ECC801S Telefunken with diamond glass base).

Japanese tubes are normally cheaper and cheaters do not try to fake them! Most people know nothing about Japanese tubes. If you want to find something use Tube Asylum forum.

Matsushita tube factory in Japan was set up by Mullard!  

Yes, some “Japanese” tubes are re-labeled Mullards or other Euro or US brand, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

I figured the last tube was  a cathode follower  or how could you get away with a 12 ax7 output impedance into the next stage.  Well  you and Lewm at least  helped him out with  there is a huge difference  between  12au7 and 12ax7.  The 12at7 in the middle.  Explaining how tubes work and how to read their data sheets,  is really  not  what he is looking for.

Enjoy the ride
IME, Mullard preamp tubes are best. They are hard to find but worth it. I got 12 12AT7s from a collector. Upscale may have some.But they are rare.
@tomwh The ares manual suggest that switch between 12au7, 12ax7 and 12at7 in case to play with the gain…. I did it successfully with no any problem.
My priority is listening to music and I’m not really interested in deep technical details of the tubes, it’s required lot of time. maybe I’ll explore this when I’ll retire… for now I just want to listen and roll, listen and roll :)…to figure out what I like the best…when I’ll be interested in tech questions I’ll post that… my current post is about something else as you could see. 
Andy at Vintage Tube Service in Michigan.

i was hoping @mulveling would weigh in also, he has a wealth of experience and some great phono stages as well. Where did you end up w the Herron ? 

on ARC , i got some serious hours out of the 6H30 in my REF5se, but keep changing the oil !
Fortunately, these small signal triodes tolerate a lot of abuse and can still sound”good” while being abused, if you don’t measure anything and are subject to listener bias. Which is all good. But it’s best not to draw conclusions like A is better than B based on a blind substitution of one for another type. If you think it’s fun and rewarding to tube roll, I submit its even more fun if you do some reading to gain a better understanding of what you’re doing. The science is fascinating.
thank you for a lot of useful info.
You right that Japanese tubes are not discovered well. It wold be interested to hear from people who tried them.  
I tried the National brand 12AT7, and I did not like them compared to at least four or five other brands of European or US origin. In fact a Chinese made tube was the best of the bunch in my 12AT7 survey, but it had a very short lifespan which I considered unacceptable. The next best were GE gold star and Mullard. ECC81 is the Euro equivalent. ECC81= 12AT7.
When I Tube Rolled 6SN7 and Variants of this Tube.
I did this without support or loans of tubes from experienced owners.

In comparison to other Tube Rolling experiences, it proved to be the most difficult to make a selection, as some tubes choices, once with a little run time sounded like competitors to go on to a Short List.

When longer evaluation periods were used for the tubes, certain tubes became very different in their SQ and had to be removed, as the deterioration was very obvious.
There was a concern that the tube was developing a fault. 

I would say best to stick close to the advice of others with worthwhile experience as the selection for the initial investigations.
A Benchmark can be set for any other experiences to be had down the line.