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Old 11th May 2012, 11:14 PM   #1
50AE is offline 50AE  Bulgaria
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Default Tubes and solid state (not a flaming thread)

This thread is not to be ment for debates like "one is better than the other". It is ment to answer some questions to guys like me with low/moderate experience.

I have listened to a few SS and to a few tube amps. In total, I have prefered the tubes. I'm an ear guy - I like what sounds the most realistic and musical, not what digits and specs show. If yesterday I've been to a live orchestra and today I have to listen to audio gear, I'll say - "Wow, the violins there are very close to what I heard", for example.

So for now, I prefer the sound of tubes. But I don't want to think that SS is not ment for audio. I haven't listened to many SS amps, but I never found one that I liked.

To me the explanation could be - are the SS amps much harder to design properly? Or do the SS amps need different kind of speakers to sound properly?

I have listened to a pair of Fe103En BL horns and a 6B4G SE at home. I fell in love with it - the music comes around me and makes me swim in it.

When I plugged a DIY class A SE FET amp in these same horns.. There was good detail, alright. But the music was dead. Dynamics were poor. I lost this 3D around me. I was now able to hear where the music really did come from. Everything sounded synthetic, plastic.. just dead.

The tube SE gave to the music power, energy, life!

Even with this, I don't blame the transistors. Maybe they are harder to be made musical? Or they just sound this way? Or they are ment for a less dynamic music? OR this SE FET design is crap?

So IMHO, why do I have chosen to work with tubes for now?

-I am building only proven things and I have a personal proof that a tube SE amp gives me what I want.
-Tubes seem to need very few components in order to work. This is music and DIY friendly.
-I find there is more freedom when using tubes (encore DIY friendly).
-There is something very attractive in them and I can't really describe what it is. They look really cool, tube amps design seems visually very alive.
-They are simple and usually run from the first time.

I am curious to build the Jean Hiraga Le monstre. It is known to be a great sounding SS amp.
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Old 12th May 2012, 03:51 AM   #2
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This question SS vs TUBES was also of great interest for me and my friends, and finally we discovered that LOW POWER SS SE designs can outperform good tube designs in all aspects, important for audiophiles. Special care to active and passive parts is needed, as well as some tricks in schematics.

Typical SS designs usually are not aimed at winning over tubes, they are to provide power and enough drive, and to be proud about their THD (marketing needs).

The SS SE design you referred to simply do not observe some important design tricks (I did a lot of such a looser gear also).
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Old 12th May 2012, 04:20 AM   #3
Pano is online now Pano  United States
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I've heard SS amps that were more open and relaxed sounding than tube designs. Warmer, even. It can be done.

But I will agree it seems easier with tubes.
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Old 12th May 2012, 05:11 AM   #4
tomchr is offline tomchr  United States
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I like my 8~10 W 300B SET amp. It mesures worse than the 100 W sand amp I have next to it, but I like the mid tone and the sound stage I get with the tube amp.

I also like the low component count of tube amps. It has a simplistic coolness to it.

I'd be curious if it has to do with the lack of global negative feedback in the tube amp.

~Tom
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Old 12th May 2012, 06:49 AM   #5
50AE is offline 50AE  Bulgaria
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I've been curious to know some of the tricks to build a good sounding SE, but maybe the most of them are tough to get known.

In this aspect I think tubes are more Hi end friendly, they are easier and there is more info on how to make them sounding nice.
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Old 15th May 2012, 02:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomchr View Post
I'd be curious if it has to do with the lack of global negative feedback in the tube amp.

From what I have been told, yes. The less feedback, the better.
It sounds livelier and less sterile then an accurate amp with high amounts of feedback.

Last edited by Alvis; 15th May 2012 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 15th May 2012, 09:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alvis View Post
From what I have been told, yes. The less feedback, the better.
It sounds livelier and less sterile then an accurate amp with high amounts of feedback.
This conclusion is absolutely correct in majority of cases.
The GNFB would work perfectly if amp would be composed of infinitely fast stages, with zero input capacitances. Achieving of maximum speed from especially output and driver stages of SS amps are rarely a target during design period.
Those who tend to use fastest possible stages, they come to perfect, live and involving sound even with GNFB used (Soulution).
I personally have come to using of UHF transistors at output stages. Being used at short signal path schematics, plus some more design concepts (like constant current consumed from PS under signal), they provide everything what one expects from tube amps, plus tight and well articulated bass is achieved.

Last edited by VladimirK; 15th May 2012 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 15th May 2012, 10:09 AM   #8
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I have Sonus Faber Amati Aniversario speakers.
I have tried some SS amps (YBA passion 1000,Bryston 4sst, Hypex Ncore400,BFA) at 200 - 300 watt.

By far the best sound came from a SET 845 at 22 watt. Bass,liveness,speed, everything

Can someone explain to me why?
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Old 15th May 2012, 01:28 PM   #9
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alvis
From what I have been told, yes. The less feedback, the better.
It sounds livelier and less sterile then an accurate amp with high amounts of feedback.
Or you prefer 'lively' to 'accurate'? Correctly-applied feedback (which includes the correct amount of feedback) is indispensable. Your CD player is full of servo loops. Most 'zero feedback' circuits are full of followers (which all have 100% feedback). Triodes work by using feedback.

This thread was supposed to avoid going down this well-worn route, but people trot out the usual myths so this leaves the rest of us with a problem: leave the error to stand and let it gain momentum, or seek to correct it?
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Old 15th May 2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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duh...I have both and like equally what each has to offer. Regardless of internals, both can sound great. It has more to do with matching of components (speakers, amps, pres) than anything else.
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