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Thread: Solid State vs. Tube Amps

  1. #46
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merkin Berfel
    Anybody A/B'd a Mac MC275 with an MC2100?
    Almost.... MC240 vs. MC2100. The MC240 sounds fairly lush in the mids with a bit of a mushy bottom. The MC2100 while tighter on the bottom end has a much harsher midrange.


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  2. #47
    Member Harkness's Avatar
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    i noticed a dramatic difference on my old alnico 16 ohm jbl's when i went from my quad SS amp to my 1950's tube ampex monoblocks. immediately noticeable was that the bottom end was very dramatically better (smoother and more extended lows) with the tube power, even though there were less watts available. i think horn loaded low end is somewhat different than reflex loaded drivers though. less power is required, and speaker damping is different.

    the monoblocks i am using are 6v6 push-pull amps designed to drive the 16 ohm JBL 12 that was used to monitor audio in the first video tape machines that ampex built in the late 50's. even with only 15 watts of clean power they shake the room incredibly. it's so transparently loud and clean that one has to try shouting to the person next to you to realize that it's as loud as it is. i also found that i was able to listen to higher playback levels for longer with the tube power, regardless of the source.


    i would venture to say that anyone with horn loaded low end would definitely not need more than 60 watts of tube power/ch. if biamping. unless perhaps your listening room is 2000 square feet or more.


    for my JBL's it's tube power all the way.
    C40/N400/150-4C/375/2397/2405 - D208 - LE8T

  3. #48
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    If those are the 6V6 amps from the Ampex suitcase speaker, my understanding is that they have EQ built in for JBL D216.

  4. #49
    Member Harkness's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Watt Street
    If those are the 6V6 amps from the Ampex suitcase speaker, my understanding is that they have EQ built in for JBL D216.
    those suitcase amps are not the ones i have.

    the ones i have are standard 19" rack mount with a single xlr input jack and a single output tap for 16 ohms. they have a front mounted power switch and an input attenuation volume pot. as i mentioned, they were specific to the first generation ampex video tape machines, which were enormous, and phenomenally expensive. they have a lot of input gain due to the EF86 at the input stage. makes them mate well with low output preamps, like the NAIM i use them with.

    found an old pic, you can see what one looks like..
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    C40/N400/150-4C/375/2397/2405 - D208 - LE8T

  5. #50
    RIP 2010 scott fitlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harkness


    i would venture to say that anyone with horn loaded low end would definitely not need more than 60 watts of tube power/ch. if biamping. unless perhaps your listening room is 2000 square feet or more.


    for my JBL's it's tube power all the way.
    I hear what you hear. Its always been said that 50 watts tube is as strong as 100 watts solid state. I know I also hear lower powered tube amps that just defy what their ratings say.

    I have also been told part of the reason tube amps are like this is because their power supplies run at much higher voltages that SS amps. A typical tube amp can have power supply voltages of 250v or more.

    I wholeheartedly agree that tubes give JBL, especially older JBL comp drivers, a sound that cant be beat!

    Unfotunately for me, in my system, its totally impractical to run tube amps, as my system runs many hours, in a hard enviroment, vibration and dust, and played at high SPL. But I heard a unit thats line level that utilizes 12AX7,s, and the magic coming out of the horns, and tweeters, as well as the bass was amazing! Clarity, and SMOOOTH and liquid, very natural and real. The dynamics were outstanding, drums sounded like drums, pianos had that twinkle and highs sparkle! Vocals just come into the room. And the mids have no edge to them, just smooth, realistic sound!

    What I really couldnt get over, was how a little tube in the signal path makes the bottom end sound, SO BIG and detailed sounding. I was able to hear the bassists fingers on the fretboard.

    Tubes got something special! They do.

    scottyj

  6. #51
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    Tube amps do sound warmer and are less dynamic, … it’s akin to putting a SS amp through a compressor …….. Some people just don’t like transients and prefer the sound of a tube amp. Great for guitar/musical instruments amps where colouration becomes part of the signature sound or for some muso to play flat out and then some, but in my view for faithful reproduction you just can’t beat SS, after all the name of the game is “faithful reproduction”. These self designated “top end manufactures” are constantly on the lookout for new fads and angles to market their junk, I take it all with a pinch of salt …I’ve even seen manufacturers using de-oxygenated mains cable ………. I mean honestly what a crock of shit, the trouble is they know that 99.99% of the public possess no technical qualifications, (an interest yes but qualifications no!) to be able to decipher this crap and they get away with it unchallenged. But if you prefer the sound/colouration of a tube amp Vs a SS amp ….then no problems that’s the individual’s choice, like some people like horns and others don’t …. no big deal …. But I think when you want to argue that tube is technically a more faithful reproducer of sound than a SS amp …. Well that’s a different kettle of fish, I mean how many half baked tube amps do you see in serious recording studio’s, how many de-oxygenated mains leads do you find in these studios, how many de-oxygenated signal cables do you see in there, how many “low capacitance” monster cables do you find ….. I’ll save you the time ….ZERO!! I have cabled a quite a few TV studios in my time and a quite a few high power Transmitter sites, I speak from experience.

    There are certain circuit topologies that work well and others that don’t, there is nothing startling about this fact, and I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    Tubes have their uses and are/were great for high power (10+ Kw) TV, FM and HF Transmitters because of their ability to withstand lightening strikes better than their SS counterparts (they are a lot more forgiving) …. But this is no longer the case, almost all transmitter design today use many SS paralleled HPA’s …. The paralleled HPA (High Powered Amp) approach is more desirable because of redundancy and the fact you don’t need large messy tuned cavity’s ...ie) you may take out 1 valve with a serious lightening strike and your TX is gone off air, where as with a SS transmitter you may only take out 1 or 2 HPA’s with another 10 or so still operating, so your TX is still on air although with reduced output.

    Now I know why 30 years ago I avoided a career in the audio field … I got sick and tired of the snake oil salesmen and the know everything/ know nothing bull shit artists that somehow everybody wants to listen to, I don't know of any other industry where hairs are split on an such a regular and neverending basis, where my ear is better and more well trained than yours, where imagination surpasses facts... I took up a career in TV/Radio Broadcasting … much more fulfilling where the bullshit artists are way out of their depth, although they still try occasionally.

  7. #52
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Great post Pete,

    I wish more could do the same.

    As many valve lovers say, "If it don't Glow it don't Go!"

    Technically the Tube amp probably has a much lower damping factor than the SS amp and so it will behave more like a current source than a voltage source at times. This is often noticable where there is a rapid change in impediance like the resonance peaks and dip in a reflex box and you get that mellow, warm and often extended bottom end and tappering hi end.

    People tend to warm to that sort of thing so whatever suits your fancy.

    Ian

  8. #53
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    Ian … I suppose where I was going with this is that do people want a system that is something to brag about or something to show off or something “technically” the best or do you want something that is actually nice to listen to. I’m not knocking valve sound at all and believe me my 4435’s with 2 bridged BGW250D’s for the LF and a JBL MPX300 for the top end can get pretty darn damaging on the ears because of the transients and I have heaps of headroom to reproduce those transients. My system is totally transparent … shit in … shit out!! ….and I can see that some colouration may be useful, I have often considered buying an Aphex 720 Dominator 2 to limit things down a little but not to colour it. I have followed the “keep everything clean” approach and most times I don’t use a pre-amp …. I have a diecast box with a 47K Log pot and a selector switch, CD or DVD straight out into this box (with no de-oxygenated cables ) then to an Aphex 10/4 then to the 5235 crossover and no I don’t use gold plated XLR’s either . I have a Proton pre-amp “which I found in the shed propping something else up” I put this into cct when my ears can no longer take the high transients, It’s medioka design ….. or should I say “typical” design, lashings of negative feedback and cheap Ic’s so the overall slew rate is poor … but it has the effect of a cheap compressor ……and it doesn’t “breath”.



    Everything has a use … even valves, I mean there is some professional stuff out there for recording studio’s (and I speak of real recording studio’s here with real engineers .. not some 20 or 30 something year old sitting in front of a PC running Pro Tools and employing no end of outboard toys so he can fiddle and screw with so as to get the sound right because he has no single clue on how to place a microphone properly …. And we wonder why many new CD’s sound like they have been mixed and put together by your 5 year old kid when he’s sleep walking and using his toes to adjust levels with) anyway …. I digress again .. Yes valves in pro gear, as an example is the Aphex Tube Mic Pre-Amplifier but you won’t find tubes in studio monitoring amplifiers because of the colouration factor….. so we are seeing that you can actually take advantage of the poor dynamics of a tube, (as I exploit the poor transient response of my Proton pre-amplifier ) great for mic pre-amps where the colouration factor and poor dynamics can be of great use to possibly provide a more natural limiting/control effect of a very dynamic singer and even enhance the tonal qualities of the voice and just to provide that “warm fuzzy” sound that for some reason people like.



    I would still maintain there is no argument or example to support the statement that valves produce a more transparent sound compared to a well designed SS amp with high slew rate, I don’t care what marketing spin they put on it, or how many heat radiating, glowing valves they put in it or how many shiny knobs or gold plated jacks they have on it, (my experience is that the morons who sell this stuff have their arrogant and ignorant heads shoved so far up their backsides that if you don’t walk in with 10 grand in your back pocket then you are “irrelevant” and most of them have no idea who JBL are or they reply "oh everybody calls their speakers studio monitors" ) they have just regurgitated the wheel again and called it something else … rearranged the spokes slightly different or something, which unfortunately happens just too damn often in this audio world and so many people fall for it ….. they just exploit the weakness and fact that some humans like to keep striving for the ultimate and most humans are competitive, and some even feel intelligent and important because they have this thing that looks like it belongs out of a 1950’s TV studio in their lounge room, even though they have no capabilities whatsoever to independently verify that rearranging the spokes in this pattern makes a better wheel, the fact that they are chromed and shiny are enough for them. ……. As I said before …. In no other industry does this nonsense exist to this extent.



    BUT valves do have their uses ….. But not in monitoring!!



    Please note: the reference to Pro Tools was not intended to be a negative one; this is a popular, legitimate and useful recording tool…. But it does make it easy for no nothings to enter the industry and produce “stuff”.

  9. #54
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Well what was a rant and rightly so!

    Can I just say although good in its day the 5235 crossover is possibly leaving your system wanting. The chips in it aren't exactly everyones favourite, they were introduced in 1978

    I find to pointless to be using a valve power amp (or a hifi SS amp) with a crossover like the above. Its just kills whatover the notion of audiophile/Hifi quality is about. Sorry but that is how it is.

    I have slapped my gums elsewhere on this topic so I will not elaborate.

    Incidentially, some of the finest amps and preamps use J fets. They do many similar things to Valves without the headaches. Sonically they sound very natural and resolve more information than an equivalent bipolar amplifier..and they are very quiet.

  10. #55
    norealtalent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Pete
    … I’m not knocking valve sound at all and believe me my 4435’s with 2 bridged BGW250D’s for the LF and a JBL MPX300 for the top end can get pretty darn damaging on the ears because of the transients and I have heaps of headroom to reproduce those transients. My system is totally transparent … shit in … shit out!! ….and I can see that some colouration may be useful,... I put this into cct when my ears can no longer take the high transients,...BUT valves do have their uses ….. But not in monitoring!!
    I've never experienced a live performance where "my ears can no longer take the high transients." If transistors reproduce source material in a manner less pleasing than the original while valves maintain the authentic listenability of a live performance, the obvious is clear. It seems to me that any "colouration" would be from the system that reproduces in a manner less consistent with the actual dynamics of the original performance.

  11. #56
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    Naw Ian .... I redesigned the front and back ends some time ago using OP275's ..... I only kept the filter section .... That’s all I wanted out of the original design.



    I always thought transients were a natural part of music …..Unless it’s through a valve amp

  12. #57
    Nightbrace
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    I choose not to lend my 2 cents to this AGE OLD debate, but I'll leave it at this, the BEST sounding Solid State and Tube Amps will sound the same, the difference is in the design. The same goes for the age old AlNiCo vs. Ferrite debate. The material doesn't matter so much as the design of the driver. Again, nothing more will I say, this is obviously a debate with no end in site.

  13. #58
    Nightbrace
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Pete
    I always thought transients were a natural part of music …..Unless it’s through a valve amp
    Transients can be heard through good quality tube amps.

  14. #59
    Senior Member Ian Mackenzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightbrace
    I choose not to lend my 2 cents to this AGE OLD debate, but I'll leave it at this, the BEST sounding Solid State and Tube Amps will sound the same, the difference is in the design. The same goes for the age old AlNiCo vs.Ferrite. The material doesn't matter so much as the deign of the driver. Again, nothing more will I say, this is obviously a debate with no end in site.
    About the Alnico thing try telling that to JBL.

  15. #60
    Nightbrace
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    I think they already know that there's no difference, why else would they continue using Ferrite in their drivers?

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