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Tube Amplifiers and your opinions.

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  • Tube Amplifiers and your opinions.

    Hello TechTalk!

          To keep our products a balance of what the consumer needs but also what they feel has been missing, we would like to ask your opinion on tube amplifiers. What are some of the things you enjoy about a tube amp? Also, what is missing from most tube amps on the market? Feel free to get as detailed as needed so we can fine tune upcoming products to fill the voids that have been left by other companies. Some things to think about while gathering your answers: Inputs/outputs, streaming options, phono preamp, preamp tubes vs power amp tubes, e.q. options, and so on...

    Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to hearing everyone's ideas and opinions to aid in our never-ending quest of perfection.​

  • #2
    Interesting query. My perspective is very electronics engineering based, not necessarily the broader market so keep that in mind.

    Off the bat, I have no use for tubes in a HiFi listening scenario. Solid state can achieve better linearity and lower distortion quite easily, and in a playback situation the goal should be no coloration at all. Since I don't use PE for pro audio input / performance stuff (instrument amplification, recording mic pre-amplifiers, effects etc.), I can't see a need to look for tube equipment here.

    Tubes are useful when distortion is requested or required. That's what makes them completely unbeatable in a guitar amplifier where you intentionally push them into non-linear operation. The resulting distortion is just night and day more pleasing. This is true for slight overdrives too, like a microphone preamp driven hard to compress and give some grunge to the input track.
    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
    Wogg Music
    Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus


    • #3
      I have no use for tubes, please make a 6-8 channel USB DAC of decent quality. Maybe include a pin header for direct I2S connections for DIYers.
      I'm not deaf, I'm just not listening!


      • #4
        The nostalgia is cool. So the tube amp needs to look the part. An integrated phono preamp would be nice. No leds and tiny push buttons. Hide the bluetooth connectivity buttons. Model the design from old tube amps and you should do well. I like the Dynaco and Heathkit designs. For that matter, why not offer some kits? There are some highly desirable kits that PE could help make available.
        Last edited by jhollander; 11-16-2022, 07:46 AM.
        John H

        Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower


        • #5
          Is a tube amp really that profitable in the modern age of digital media?


          • #6
            What jhollander said. Tubes are old school, I think. I built a tube preamp and a Dynakitparts ST-35. They look cool. I think there's a market. I mean I spent a lot on tubes. Just something I wanted to do for years.

            OTOH, look at Schiit tube products. People seem to like them. For the PC sound and headphone guys. Lots of long winded youtube reviews.


            • #7
              I'll mirror the above comments, for home hi-fi I don't have a use for tube amps. My main thrust has been on active dsp and the high amp channel counts that requires for multi-channel audio.

              That said, I did enjoy tinkering with a tube headphone amp years ago and I have done many guitar tube amp modifications to personal equipment. I personally see a greater market for the tinkering/kit side of tube amps, including small guitar amplifiers (5w Fender Champ clone style). There are a number of online retailers already in that space though, so the business case for trying to break into that market might not be there.


              • #8
                Watch this starting at the 3:20 mark. Then go back and watch all of it.


                • #9
                  The desire for tube audio equipment depends totally upon how you get satisfaction from your audio equipment. Granted, you can obtain better distortion specs and power from solid state equipment. But the qualitative improvement is very slight and not really noticeable to most listeners. Some listeners prefer it. The satisfaction that comes from looking at and listening to 70 year old tube technology is akin to driving a '65 Porsche having a 75 Hp+/- engine and quirky styling. The machine, used as intended, is demonstrably inferior to modern products in every quantifiable measure. Yet, to buy one today in good condition will cost something above $100k. As the Harley riders say, If I have to explain to you why I want one, you wouldn't understand anyway.


                  • #10
                    I'll probably never purchase a tube setup of any type, but something about Tube preamps and Class D amp section seems off to me. I certainly don't have anything against Class D, but for the tube 'Vintage Sound' type of setup, I'd think regular old Class AB would be a better matchup. Part of the 'old amp' charm for me was always the smell of the electronics and the slight warmth of the amp in operation.

                    Oh yeah, and make it run off of six 18650 lithium batteries.

                    Zarbo Audio Projects Youtube Channel: * 320-641 Amp Review Youtube: *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                    *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF


                    • #11
                      This appeals to you or it doesn't.

                      Click image for larger version

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                      • MisterD
                        MisterD commented
                        Editing a comment
                        It appeals to me.

                        I have a serious, 100W class A SS amp in good condition (Krell KSA-100). There probably aren’t many SS amps which sound as liquid. However, I still prefer the sound of my 1960’s Harmon-Kardon Citation V tube amp. The H-K is detailed with a great sound stage, and plenty of power (but not as powerful as my amp-sucker Krell..). It does not sound syrupy or “tubey”; it’s an awesome tube design with massive “iron” and a true classic, on par with the vintage Fisher SA-100 and SA-300, Marantz 8b and ‘60s McIntosh amps.

                        Nobody wants junky, cheap tube hybrids except for people who haven’t heard a quality tube amp. A well designed push-pull that sounds good (accurate, not gooey) and is priced fairly - will sell well. BTW - I also like a good, SET tube amp - but those have a more limited appeal than a quality push-pull.

                    • #12
                      I enjoy designing tube amps and preamps and building them point-to-point. A tube amp kit where all the parts are soldered to a PCB wouldn't be appealing to me.

                      I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.


                      • #13
                        I'm not likely to buy any new amps, but if I was, I'd need digital input(s). Maybe even a hdmi input, and output. I bought a Roku, and there's no audio out! Most disc players lack analog outputs.

                        A switchable high-pass filter would be useful.


                        • #14
                          What do I want in a tub amp? I'll admit I have your HTA100BT tube amp. It's actually a pretty decent amp. My only complaint would be the way it reverts back to bluetooth every time I cycle the power.
                          The question that you should really be asking is what we want from an amp period. Parts Express pretty much already sells the amp I want, but only in chip kits. I would love to see a budget friendly active amp that is complete. An amp with 6-8 outputs with full DSP. I've been into speaker building for a years, but I'm still struggling with passive crossover design. I have yet to design I passive I've been happy with and I know I'm not alone in this struggle. If there were fully built budget friendly amps out there I would have purchased at least five times as many drivers. hard to start new builds when your stuck on old ones.



                          • #15
                            Like many above my interest in purchasing a tube amplifier is zero. About 20 years ago for simplicity I did consider using a tube for a plasma speaker project (not hi-fi use) that didn't happen. Before that was in the 70s when a replacement tube was purchased for an old radio now long gone. I rather suspect that the knowledge and outlook required to DIY speakers will tend to inhibit the appeal of valve amplifiers making the population here rather unrepresentative of the audiophile population in general.