from what i gathered searching this site the tesla ec (forget model #) seems to be what i'm looking for, just wondering if anyone has some general suggestions/links as to the tonal tendencies of different preamp tubes.
unfortunately the defualt OH pre-amp (manely) is finding a new home at the new studio, as studio 'b' is slowly being pillaged. since studio b is still gonna run too, the current OH pre is my ART. I have realistic expectations of a slight improvemtn at best, but my only real complaint about the ART in this role is it sounds a bit 'brash' in the mid range, somewhere between snare/cymbols. instead of a more smooth tttsssssssss it's more like a sssccccchhhhhuuuuu, if that makes sense. to me it sounds similar to the sound of a cheap interface pre and an expensive interface pre.
anyway that's what i'm looking to do, smooth it out as much as possible, cuz it's not a terrible pre, and honestly for vox/acoustic guitar i wouldn't even bother w/ new tubes, but in this role, it seems to be exploiting it's shortcomings. I'm sure its the overall design, components, etc, but since i'm unlikely to be doing circuit mods anytime soon, unless it's a chip i could just pull/push in, the tubes are the only practical upgrade i see. looking to spend about around 50 bucks more or less, no more than 100.
I had bought a pair of JJ ECC83's to put in my ART VLA after doing a bunch of research but alas I haven't had time to put them in. Everything I read says that the JJ ECC803's have a smoother character and have been said to break up nicely when pushed. Mullerds have been described as "darker" and not as high of db output. I know CoyoteTrax and others have some experience so hopefully they'll chim in too.
I've had good luck with the Mullards. It isn't a huge difference but one worth looking into.