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Old 22nd June 2007, 05:24 AM   #1
jarthel is offline jarthel  Australia
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Location: somewhere in Australia
Default pros/cons of a chipamp VS a tube amp

I have mainly read/researched on tube amps and have recently started researching on chipamps.

From what I can gather, these are the pros/cons (not including sonic differences)

1: tube amps are generally more expensive. more power = higher expense (especially for SE!)

2. not sure of this but tube amp created more heat?

3. chipamp of course has less parts (some tube amp designs can get very complicated)

4. tube amps are deadly especially when using transmitting tubes. chipamps are kids-safe?

5. tube amps have more bling!

6. it seems to me that chipamps are easier to built because of the availability of PCBs and the low parts count.

anything else?

What's the defining factor when choosing between a tube-amp and a chipamp?

Thank you.

ps. I am set on building a tube amp but it seems I need power to make speakers sing (and living in a small city in a small country, there's not many choices compared to someone living in the US). And it seems that chipamp can deliver that power cheaply!
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Old 22nd June 2007, 05:53 AM   #2
preiter is offline preiter  United States
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Start cheap and easy, build a chip amp.

Then when the bug has bitten you, you can go for the big, inefficient, hot, expensive tube amplifier.
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Old 22nd June 2007, 02:18 PM   #3
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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Default Re: pros/cons of a chipamp VS a tube amp

>> "1: tube amps are generally more expensive. more power = higher expense (especially for SE!)"

Yup, they are more expensive, mainly due to transformer and tube costs.


>> "2. not sure of this but tube amp created more heat?"

Yup, way more, mainly running in Class A, and with in-built heaters !


>> "3. chipamp of course has less parts (some tube amp designs can get very complicated)"

Yup, and they are a good place to start your DIY experience.


>> "4. tube amps are deadly especially when using transmitting tubes. chipamps are kids-safe?"

Potentially deadly. However some tubes run off of low voltages (12 to 36-ish Volts).


>> "5. tube amps have more bling! "

…and some look like a pile of cr4p even by 1930's standards…


>> "6. it seems to me that chipamps are easier to built because of the availability of PCBs and the low parts count."

There are many decent tube kits available. The main reason chip-amps are easy to build is because of the low complexity as you have stated.


>> "anything else?
What's the defining factor when choosing between a tube-amp and a chipamp?"

You are the defining factor. Build what *you* want to build. Define your objectives. Assess the alternatives. Make a balanced choice. Do it. Enjoy it.

Note that your first objectives might include "learning how to do it safely and well" and not just "I want it to sound wonderful".

Remember that chip amps are cheap and they can always be used on a second system (bedroom, study…) if you build a second amp for more experience or a different sound in your main system.


>>"Thank you."

"You are very welcome", said Gordy, urging jarthel closer to the chipamp route...
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