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Old 2nd July 2011, 04:55 PM   #1
x9moto is offline x9moto  United Kingdom
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Default valves better than solid state?

i thought i would ask this question as its usually a hot topic, and i have read that transisters are suposed to be superior yet there is a destinct difference in the sound to me, i prefer the valve, but could it be that the tube amp i built is simply better than my tranny amp and that a better tranny amp would be superior?
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Old 2nd July 2011, 05:23 PM   #2
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The "superior" product is your ears.....
Each design has it's place, strengths and weaknesses that are quite different. Other things come into play as well....like your speakers, they may like SS better than valves.

As far as going up the chain in one design to pass the quality of your other amps quality is a never ending cycle
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Old 2nd July 2011, 05:37 PM   #3
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It is easier to build a good amplifier with valves rather than solid state. See http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/analo...ml#post2622356
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Old 2nd July 2011, 05:53 PM   #4
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Tubes are generally more linear as amplifying devices, but in reality, the difference most people hear between tubes and sand has more to do with different topologies being implemented than with huge differences in the parts. Build a tube topology with solid state parts, and it will sound surprisingly like a tube amp. And, build a solid state topology with tubes, and it will sound like a sand amp.

JC saying one thing is better than another hardly seems like authoritative evidence ...
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Old 2nd July 2011, 06:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x9moto View Post
i thought i would ask this question as its usually a hot topic, and i have read that transisters are suposed to be superior yet there is a destinct difference in the sound to me, i prefer the valve, but could it be that the tube amp i built is simply better than my tranny amp and that a better tranny amp would be superior?
Transistors are far superior in terms of mechanical ruggedness, but as far as linearity for audio work they are pretty poor. A transistor covers FETs, MOSFETs and BJTs, plus the odd IGBT. Most people think of them as BJTs I suspect.

Additionally the problem with transistors is that they can work with low voltages, they are small and cheap. All very bad things - causing amplifier designers to use too many of them and at low voltages.

The voltage isn't such a big deal perhaps - but headroom and linearity suffer when you traverse more of the transfer curve. The key with a tube amp is using very few rather linear devices in a smaller part of their range. A second effect of this is that the amount of GNFB is less, which in my view also improves the sound.
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Old 2nd July 2011, 06:42 PM   #6
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I used to be firmly in the tube camp - but to my ears (and recent speaker preferences), I've been enjoying my first all-SS system. Threshold gear had different strengths and weaknesses over my DIY tube gear, but for most of the music I like, it really does the job with my Magnepans. Heck, I'm using (the horror!) op-amps in my current MC phono preamp - Audio Sector's Phono Stage - and it sounds very fast and detailed.

The best part - especially from a DIY part - is the electrical toughness of tubes. It's a great way to learn (and make mistakes!) without destroying your creation. It's also fairly hard to make a truly wretched sounding tube circuit - I've (accidentally) gone far off any proper parameters but still ended up with something that "sounded good" but would have measured terribly.
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Old 2nd July 2011, 07:21 PM   #7
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Which is the better car: Bentley or Aston Martin? No, I'm not starting a car debate and you can substitute any pair of quite different cars from your own country. It is essentially a meaningless question, as good and bad amps can be made with either technology.

Beware of people who like "tube sound" - a good valve amp should not have much sound at all, you just hear the music. Beware of people who think that no/lots of feedback is necessarily a good thing. Beware even more of people who think that a 'little' feedback is a good thing. Beware of people who think that digital/analogue/valve/SS is the only sound worth listening to. There, I've managed to annoy almost everyone apart from a few sensible people like me and those who agree with me! Seriously, real questions don't have such simple answers.
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Old 2nd July 2011, 07:36 PM   #8
x9moto is offline x9moto  United Kingdom
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im not really biased towards either its just that currently the tube amp i own has a nicer sound to me than any of my other amps, seems more detailed and the high's seem high rather than muffled and unclear.

i notice bits of the music in the midrange that seem to be either enhanced on the tube or it is more linear and the tranny amp has a flat spot but most of my tranny amps seem to sound like that, ofcourse it could be that my amp is exaggerating that part but it seems to sound right, clearer.

may be worth mentioning that i only have the one set of speakers so all sets were tried on the same speakers, which were skitech 8ohm, 12inch woofer and horn loaded tweeter.
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Old 2nd July 2011, 07:59 PM   #9
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There has never been a technology without a downside, and there never will be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by x9moto View Post
i thought i would ask this question as its usually a hot topic, and i have read that transisters are suposed to be superior yet there is a destinct difference in the sound to me, i prefer the valve, but could it be that the tube amp i built is simply better than my tranny amp and that a better tranny amp would be superior?
Yep, it's opening a big can of worms here. Transistors are superior in a good many respects: they make really good switches, much better than VTs in that regard. Since transistors are high gain devices, it's less critical to choose a type for a design unless you need some unusual property if the type in question can process the signal frequencies. They're not so swell when it comes to amplification, as the linearity is horrible. A lot of SS acolytes make a BFD over the need for OPTs with hollow state, but linear device + somewhat nonlinear OPT= more linear than very nonlinear transistor.

It is simply easier to get good sound from a hollow state design, since you're starting off with a far more linear device with a far more graceful clipping behavior on overdrive. That doesn't mean it can't be done with solid state (you just have to work at it more) and there is no reason why solid state based implementations need sound as hideous as they do. It is unfortunate, but they're not teaching the fundamentals of sonic performance in electronic engineer school. Instead, the marketing dept gets to work to convince you that that "MOSFET sound" is uber-kewel, as opposed to what it is: nasty harmonic distortion. It is also unfortunate that a good many CDs are mastered to cover up for the sonic defects of the SS amps they'll likely be played through. These sound "off" when heard through a hollow state design.

It is also unfortunate that solid state is moving towards digital and switching applications. Good lateral MOSFETs are already a niche item. IGBTs are useless for audio, except as something different and quirky for the sake of being different and quirky.

I've done it myself: designed a really good sounding solid state amp that comes very close to the sonic quality of a hollow state amp. It doesn't quite get there, but it's close. Of course, I disregarded a lot of nonsense and folk wisdom you see concerning solid state design.
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Old 2nd July 2011, 08:19 PM   #10
M Gregg is offline M Gregg  England
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Could it be that hybrid is better than either!

LOL.. only joking

This is impossible to answer....Build one of each and swap with your mood!

You haven't asked if this was PP, SE, or OTL either or does chip sound better than discrete components.

One other thing is (DIY aside) : how much would a tube amp cost to buy and how does it compare with a SS amp of similar value!

Regards
M. Gregg

Last edited by M Gregg; 2nd July 2011 at 08:32 PM.
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