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amplification = to tube or not to tube ,that is the question

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  • #16
    Originally posted by djg View Post
    It just got out of hand. I was going to build one of those little Tube Depot amps but it escalated.
    It looks sweet.
    http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...khanspires-but
    http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...pico-neo-build
    http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...ensation-build

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    • #17
      That picture is from Bob Latino's website. He makes Dynaco based tube amps and kits. I built a Dynaco ST-35 kit and a preamp kit from there.

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      • #18
        The best analogy I have is with cars;

        SS amps are like a new car.
        All the power you want, no hassles, just works. Even a cheap one is likely to out perform an old classic. You're not going to impress anyone unless you get something very exotic.

        Tubes are like a classic car.
        Visually interesting, never ending maintenance and tweaks are required. Putting up with the idiosyncrasies is necessary. Even a layman will recognize it as something cool and unique.

        It very much depends on your tolerance for reliability, and acceptance of the downsides.

        I go through phases, where for a while I really want to run my tube amps. I'll clean them up, check wiring and specs, re-tube, and fire them up. I enjoy them for a while, then get tired of the hassle, and then throw a reliable and affordable SS amp in the system. The tube amps get shelved for a year or two. Repeat the cycle.

        I'm fixing up my old Dynaco ST-70 right now - new tubes are on the way. I'll get tired of having a space heater after about 6-months, maybe re-tube my SE 300b amp, maybe just hook up a little class D-amp and call it good.

        As far a sound? - I think they sound warmer, and take the edge digital sources (especially compressed digital.) Do they sound better? - I dunno. Depends on what mood I'm in.

        This is all a hobby, after all.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by donwc View Post
          tube equipment always seems to be the choice at audio shows , music only applications , what's the reason ?
          surely there are high end companies out there that make pre-amps and amps that could compete with or possibly outperform tubes !?
          donc
          Do some comprehensive listening, that way you can make your own decision. Personally, I love the "sound" of a great tube amp and if it were within my budget I would probably buy a pair or at least build a pair, there is just something special about 60 watts of Class A tube power. Of course I'm sure I'd be perfectly happy with a pair of solid state Krell monoblocks too. Trust your ears, if you can hear a difference, then you know why, if not then you know why too.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by LewisGoudy View Post
            I have read that solid-state amplifiers usually employ negative feedback which serves to control loudspeaker motion in a way that tube amplifiers do not. The example given was to tap a loudspeaker with your finger and then tap it again with the input terminals shorted with a screwdriver held against them. Supposedly with the screwdriver, the cone would make a dull thud but without the screwdriver, the cone would sound like you had tapped a drum. Is this baloney or does it have something to do with how amplifiers and loudspeaker mechanisms interact and consequently why tubes might be favored by "audiophiles"? (who have more money than sense, and whose appreciation of the difference between a recording of Ella Fitzgerald and Ella Fitzgerald in concert has nothing to do with the fact they could afford the tickets and caught her act six times)
            There are tube amps that employ feedback and even feed forward. I knew one manufacturer who took his feedback tap directly from the output transformer, so that there was plenty control over the loudspeaker.
            Last edited by AEIOU; 08-19-2019, 03:00 PM.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by AEIOU View Post

              An amplifier is an amplifier and tube designs employ feedback and even feed forward. I knew one manufacturer who took his feedback tap directly from the output transformer, so that there was plenty control over the loudspeaker.
              Not always true. The whole mystique with some of the SE triode designs is that certain tubes are very linear (maybe not perfectly linear - but close enough). Not only are they pure class A, but there is no feedback circuit at all.

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              • #22
                Something I have not seen pointed out yet: tube amps need matched tube replacements after a while. Unlike SS, tubes degrade over time, and will require periodic tube replacements to keep sounding like they did new. Unless capacitors degrade and fail (which happens in the same way for SS and tube), an SS tube can last a much longer time with no maintenance.

                On the good side, degradation is gradual, and some people might even like the sound of older tubes. After all, tube amplifiers are all about "pleasant distortion", and the changing characteristics of a tube over time might add to the appeal of tube amps

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                • #23
                  I think the whole thing about "pleasant distortion" is often played up a bit too much. Especially when looking at cheap Chinese-made headphone amps on Amazon etc, where it is often touted as the whole reason for getting a tube amp. I'm no golden ear, but at moderate levels, I cannot perceive much difference between any of my tube amps and solid state stuff. The bass isn't as deep or tight (see negative feedback stuff above) and maybe there's a sag in high-end beyond what I can hear. The distortion is only discernible when the amp is pushed toward clipping. The tube amp will compress the signal in a more graceful way and allow you to tolerate pushing it a bit over the top, where SS will give you the hard clipping and nastiness. But if a tube amp is driven within it's means, it can sound every bit as clean, transparent and distortion free as transistor stuff (technical measurements being ignored.)

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by chad1376 View Post

                    Not always true. The whole mystique with some of the SE triode designs is that certain tubes are very linear (maybe not perfectly linear - but close enough). Not only are they pure class A, but there is no feedback circuit at all.
                    Caveat Emptor.

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                    • #25
                      Have a look at this, starting at the 3:20 time marker:
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
                      www.billfitzmaurice.com
                      www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                        Have a look at this, starting at the 3:20 time marker:
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
                        So all amps sound the same?
                        http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...khanspires-but
                        http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...pico-neo-build
                        http://techtalk.parts-express.com/fo...ensation-build

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Kornbread View Post

                          So all amps sound the same?
                          Only if you are an EE.
                          craigk

                          " Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors " - Pallas

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                          • #28
                            I agree with the video, when viewed from a hard analytical standpoint. But sometimes "style" counts too. Again, this is all a hobby, and should be something that brings the owner joy. Tubes just have more style than a box of transistors (plain and simple.) If that style makes someone genuinely enjoy their time listening to music more because of it, then what's the harm? Of course the caveat is, the listener should have some basic of sense cost -vs- benefit, and know if they are audiophooling themselves into oblivion.

                            I enjoy my tube equipment because I built them, understand how they work (mostly), can fix them if their broken, and they look cool. The little Dayton Class D amp I normally use sounds just fine, but the tube amps have more style.

                            The purely analytical mind says a Prius with a warranty is just fine, but who doesn't think a '32 Ford with a flathead V-8 has more style?

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Kornbread View Post

                              So all amps sound the same?
                              That's not the point of the video. Confirmation bias is.
                              www.billfitzmaurice.com
                              www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                                Have a look at this, starting at the 3:20 time marker:
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
                                There is certainly bias. But The tiger amp is well regarded by some.

                                I'm no golden ear but can tell the difference between an SAE, Ashly and Class D amps but it takes me a while.

                                AS for tube amps, I've used them for decades and enjoyed many, many an hour listening and working on them and still have a few. Also, the systems in other environments I liked the best were powered with tubes. I don't think compression is a problem with a good tube amp but do realize some people confuse compression with dynamics and think that if an instrument stands out in the mix that it's dynamics when its really compression.

                                Anyway, it's all about personal enjoyment. That's all.

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