EL84 vs EL34: The Better Option & Differences

EL84 vs EL34
EL84 vs EL34

Music and guitar enthusiasts are well aware of the importance of power tubes in the production of sound and voltage.

When compared with the preamp tubes, these tubes have a larger size. Whenever you dial the signals in, the power tubes preamp them and perform the amplification following the speaker levels.

The overall tone generated from the coming signals requires smoothness and shaping, provided by the power tubes. In simple words, the latter has the job of bringing control on the overall output resulting from the amplifier attached to the guitar.

One cannot deny the impact of a power tube on an amplifier’s sound. Most of the listeners cannot differentiate between two tubes at low volumes. In order to notice the differences, you need to push a little air and let the amplifier show off.

That’s when the distinguishable characteristics of the power tube are revealed. The tone of your guitar will not be alright unless you have a quality power tube.

A huge variety of power tubes exist based on their own unique tone-shaping features. Some of the fine power tubes include EL84 and EL34. Their properties stand them top on the list of power tubes in the market.

However, people cannot decide which one of these tubes to buy to meet their needs accordingly. A comparison between EL84 and EL34 can set things straight for you.

EL84 vs EL34 Power Tube

Comparison Between EL84 And EL34

Features EL84 EL34
Headroom Less More
Wattage Required LowMore
Suitability for apartment studios More Less
Volume LowHigh
Warmth YesNo
British sound association No Yes
Breaking speed Less More
Size SmallLarge
Compressed Volume More Less
Crunchy sounds More Less
Gets hot with normal use YesNo
Versatile More Less
Purity More Less
Powerful Less More
Extensions More Less
Speed More Less

EL84 Power Tube

Commonly found in lower wattage amps, EL84 power tubes are popularly known for British designs. The range of watts can vary from 15 to 30. Their tone is enriched with chimney quality. Vox AC30s and AC15s have EL84 power tubes.

In addition, these tubes are also found in the DSL combo series and a few other smaller Marshall amps. The output volume and headroom provided by the EL84 power tube are low.

Marshall DSL Amp

There is plenty of bite upon pushing the EL84 amps. However, some players might complain about the harshness and stiffness of the designs.

One of their most important functions is to hold distorted tones together. The sonic flavor of EL84 is similar to that of EL34 tubes. It won’t be wrong to call the EL84 power tube a ‘scaled-down’ version of the EL34 tube.

The low-end sound produced from EL84 is as bright as EL34 but more powerful. However, both of these power tubes exhibit a similar mid-range punch.

If you are looking for an amp that is perfect for giggling and practice, EL84 is the one. You can get ample tube saturation at medium ranges.

The choice of EL84 power tube is also related to your playing style. In case there is a lot of gain in your playing style, the EL84 power tube should be your first choice.

EL34 Power Tube

Known for the British sound, the EL34 power tube is quite popular. It is used very often in guitar amps. You can see these tubes on amplifiers from Marshall and Hiwatt, which are quite legendary. Amps over 30 watts usually feature these power tubes.

A high output wattage and quite high headroom alienate EL34 power tubes from the rest. You can expect the pair to push around 50 watts in a typical class AB amp configuration.

EL34 power tubes have a classic Marshall tone like no other power tubes. You will notice that particular crunch tone with multiple low-end and beefy midrange as soon as they are pushed. The aggression in the sound and a strong midrange are its salient features.

If you have distorted guitar tones whose requirement is a lot of grit, you can opt for EL34 power tubes. Their working mechanism is great with distorted guitar tones.

The size of amplifiers employing EL34 tubes is quite large. They will sound best when the volume is loud. Therefore, it’s better not to purchase them if you want an amplifier for your studio apartment.

Comparison Between EL84 And EL34

There is a striking similarity between the sound of both EL84 and EL34 power tubes. However, you can see notable differences in the headroom and output features of the two of them.

  • The wattage and headroom of EL84 are lower than that of EL34. The EL84 tubes are commonly used in small amplifier designs, but EL34 requires high output wattage and power to give a decent sound out.
  • The suitability of EL84 lies in the apartment studios, but the same is not true for EL34 tubes because they produce higher volumes.
  • EL84 is good at sound production that has low volume and warmth. On the other hand, volumes produced by EL34 are very high.
  • Unlike EL84, EL34 has its association with British sound. EL84 is not easy to break, while EL34 takes no time to break.

  • The size of EL84 is smaller than that of EL34. The volume coming from EL84 is more compressed than that of EL34.
  • If you analyze the sounds of EL84, they are not as crunchy and crispy as that of EL34. Being used under normal circumstances, the temperature of EL84 takes a raise faster than EL34.
  • The use of EL34 is more versatile with a variety of guitars as compared to the EL84. If you compare the speed of both EL34 and EL84, you’ll see that the latter is faster.
  • There is more purity from EL84. It has its own musical touch that comes with the proper sound settings. EL34 doesn’t share these properties.
  • EL34 has the power to reach the heart of the listener straight away with its lush and warm sound. EL84 wins with more extensions, and EL34 has a type for mid-range.

How To Extend The Life Of Tube Power Amplifier

Certain measures can extend the duration of life of your tube power amplifier. Before you use the amplifier, warm it up by turning it on a few minutes before.

If your analysis revealed that some output tubes need to be replaced, you better replace the whole set altogether. Be careful while dealing with the tubes and avoid mixing them.

If you have to move the amplifier from one place to another, make sure it is cooled down before you make a move.

The quality of signals and speaker leads must be very good. When you are done using the amplifier, store it in a dry place. Humid conditions can cause potential damage to the unit.

For the amplifier to match the cabinets you are using, set its impedance correctly. Check if the voltage you are getting has the correct value. Dirt and dust can affect the tone produced by the tube power amplifier, so keep cleaning the unit.

The Bottom Line

Designed for a different range of wattages, both EL84, and EL34 top notch power tubes. Using EL84, you get an output of low and warm volume. On the other hand, EL34 produces high voltage.

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