Great article on the subject, " Why tubes sound better "

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by rjtwangs, Jan 9, 2021.

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  1. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Been screwing around with electric guitar for 40 years now. I've found the common denominator to great tone is the person playing the guitar.
    But I'll give up my tube amps when they pry them from my cold dead fingers! Which almost happened when I went into a burning building to pull out as many as I could. :)
     
  2. joebloggs13

    joebloggs13 Tele-Afflicted

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    As long as the wives think it sounds better...means we can keep buying gear! It's a Win Win situation....:D
     
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  3. donrichfan

    donrichfan Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    This topic is reminding me of one of the beat sounding amps I’ve ever plugged my p90s into. I cannot remember what brand, but it was a head/cab SS with a dial distortion. This rig was a back line in the Jungle Room at Baltimore”s Lithuanian Hall for Night of 100 Elvises several years back.
    If anyone knows what amp this was, please chime in.
     
  4. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

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    It is interesting since the article mentioned has a lot of gibberish in it. For instance,

    NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!!!! What a poor understanding of the term harmonic distortion. The definition of harmonic related to this is (lifted from Webster)
    So the non-pleasing odd order harmonics are “harmonic distortion” as well.

    I actually like Ken Rockwell’s website and his take on cameras is one I pay attention to. But this article is just “I like old tube stereo amps” wrapped in mumbo-jumbo and half truths. I like stereo tube amps as well; they often make mediocre recording sound good because of the added pleasing distortion. OTOH, for some audiophiles, the accuracy of analog semiconductor circuits makes for a better judging of the recorded material.
     
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  5. robrob

    robrob Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Wrong thread.
     
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  6. stormsedge

    stormsedge Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have both and think I can hear a difference some days...on others "meh". I think my tube amps will eventually succumb to my impatience and wonky practice routine...stby...wait two minutes...on...play thirty minutes...stby two minutes...off...repeat an hour or two later.

    The photo of the McIntosh 240 (at the head of the article) is worth the price of admission...very cool.
     
  7. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    I worked for a very short while at Velodyne Acoustics, which makes servo controlled sub woofers. One guy there I talked to said "some people don't like these as they don't have as much distortion as they are used to hearing".

    Please note, the context of the following remarks is "tubes in hi-fi".

    I get the distortion and the "warmth" argument. I get it without necessarily agreeing with it. One presumes that in the case of recorded music, the artists and producers made it sound the way they wanted it to sound in the studio. Did they subtract "warmth" so that when the final amplifier put it back in, it would balance out OK? Because one thing I cannot stand is music that is too warm. You know, you move your legs or whatever and you get a shin burn from your pants in the front.

    My honest take on the whole tube "warmth" thing is that, simply, this is the way tubes behave unless you go way out of your way with super linear designs to prevent it. However, manufacturers are as a whole not keen on talking about aspects of their products as "shortcomings", so now distortion is "good". And for sure, come transistor amps of the 1960s or so, they sounded OK until they started clipping at which point they sounded awful. "Ah-ha!" that proves it!

    Sorry, this rant has been building up for about 40 years. Don't mind me.
     
  8. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Great article on the subject, " Why tubes sound better "

    I think a better way to put this is: Why do tube amps sound like they do?
    Because "better" is subjective. I've worked for leaders who thought a clean Polytone sounded better than a "warm" Princeton. At Jazz gigs, true. It's a reasonable opinion.
     
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  9. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Afflicted

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    I miss my Mac 240. I have 2 Mac 30 watt mono blocks I haven't connected yet.
     
  10. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Can't. Make. It. Thru.
    The Tedious opinion minutiae!!


    Oh my
     
  11. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Afflicted

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    I like my three tube amps. Do they sound better than SS? I don't know. But they do sound good.
     
  12. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Holic

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    And of course, a vintage tube amp collector and aficionados of high-end tube audio wouldn't have a vested interest in the matter...
     
  13. jaxjaxon

    jaxjaxon Tele-Meister

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    So is it the Tube amp that gets the better sound or is it the speakers you use. There is more up keep to a tube amp. And what if you change to different Tubes, or change the voltage bias wont that change the whole amps sound. Oh why did they start putting fx loops into the amps could it be that the pre amp tubes add too much distortion.
     
  14. Euphonica

    Euphonica Tele-Meister

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    Hey, tubes are “euphonic!” Who knew?!
     
  15. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Afflicted

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    Until you can tell the difference from behind the curtain, and ascertain without knowing which is which, that tubes sound better than SS, it is all emotional bias.
     
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  16. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    What is it about human nature that makes people feel the compulsion to discredit those who have another preference? Solid state amps and tube amps do sound different. They’re designed differently using different types of components. Why wouldn’t they sound different?

    Some people like solid state, some like tubes, some don’t care. Just because someone has a preference that differs from yours, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

    As for me, I own both. I find the latest versions of solid state amps to be very convincing in emulation of tube amps. Only thing is, amps like the Roland Jazz Chorus have been around since the seventies, and they have their own sound and it’s wonderful. And clean? It would make a Twin Reverb blush. When it comes to hard driving rock or blues, only a cranked tube amp will do for me.

    Anyway, all the “science” in the world isn’t going to convince me that solid state and tube amps sound exactly the same under all conditions. They just don’t. Neither does one sound better than the other in every circumstance. There are certain applications where- to my ears- one sounds better than the other. It depends on what you’re looking to accomplish.
     
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  17. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Holic

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    I don't think anyone is criticizing another persons preference here. The criticism is about the article not providing a factual argument to support the claim 'that tubes sound better'.

    I have a nice valve amp collection but I don't think I could pick a valve amp from a transistor amp from a digital modeled amp, just by the sound.

    But I like to believe valve amps sound better! :)

    Cheers
     
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  18. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    I can hear right away, even with high end solid states, the difference between tube and ss.

    SS has a thinner, crisper sound. Tubes have a rich, deep sound... Commonly referred to as warmth.

    To each their own. I prefer tube any day, even at a budget level.

    That said, I just witnessed a guy burn down the house with a blonde tonemaster, which sounded great. And your ears do adjust to the sound, and it is less noticeable and you focus on the playing and not the tone anyway.

    Essentially, usable sound is achieved and our brains tone out the small difference in tone anyway...

    Yes SS are lighter and more portable, but that shouldn't trump sound quality. And I am not really sure if they are more reliable... My tech told me that solid states represent more of his business in repairs than tube amps... I thought he was kidding, but he made it clear twice that solid states, especially budget amps are not really more reliable anyway.

    Tube replacements aren't much of a big deal, and a little repair every 5 years won't kill anyone, especially once they turn it back on after it's done and enjoy that rich sound again.

    I've listened to countless videos comparing tone and quality of high end tube amps like matchless and carr, and maybe they have an edge on Fender, but if they do it is almost negligible. Fender makes some of the best tube amps I have ever heard. Between the hot rod junior circuit, and the princeton, and the deluxe reverb and twin sounds, there is quite a lot to choose from as well. I bought a budget friendly blues junior 5 years ago and am still amazed at how much I love it.
     
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  19. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Bias is hard to escape.. I agree there might be some here... Either way, one side may get their feelings hurt, but I don't see why... The SS amps are just as expensive now, so maybe they are the new corksniffers. :)
     
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  20. cigarman513

    cigarman513 Tele-Meister

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    My experience with SS amps is limited. They do sound great, my Super Champ X2 was great, but it wasn't as touch sensitive as my valco and tweed style amps. I think, the the audience you can't tell the difference because SS can sound great or awful, just like tubes.. But I always felt like i couldn't "dig in".
     
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