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Old 10th September 2003, 04:23 AM   #1
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Question Solid State can sounds like tube?

Always heard someone said transistors amplifier can sounds like a tube. How?
The design of circuit?
The use of components?
Or matching on others hi-fi equipments, such as speakers etc?

OR the above statement is false one?

Would like to share your opinion.

Thanks,
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Old 10th September 2003, 05:47 AM   #2
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Yes

It is possible for a Solid State Amplifier to sound as good as a Valve Amplifier

About two years ago, I designed a Commercial Monoblock Valve Amplifier, the Elan Audio CMA-01"Enigma" using just about every trick I knew, including techniques used in the Audio Amplifiers used to Modulate AM Broadcast Transmitters, coupled with a very special Output Transformer

The Audio Quality of the CMA-01 is stunning, but only about 60 Watts

I recently designed a Solid State Commercial Monitor Amplifier, the Elan Audio RMA-01 "Challenger" with the aim of creating a SS Amplifier with the same Audio Quality as the Valve Monoblock, but with more power

The RMA-01 "Challenger" is a complete success, in the opinion of everyone who has heard it, every bit as nice sounding as the CMA-01

It brings out subtle details, overloads benignly, does not care about Speaker Cable "Within Reason" and we have not yet found a speaker system it does not drive well

Some Recording Studio Owners are ready to retire well known, much more expensive, and more powerful amplifiers in favour of the RMR-01 "Challenger"
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Old 10th September 2003, 08:14 AM   #3
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I think we can call it "tube like" sound. Some JFET circuits can emulate tubes but how do you emulate transformers
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Old 10th September 2003, 08:15 AM   #4
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The famous 'tube sound' is due to the fact that tube amplifiers have some kind of distortion: they flatten the tops of a sine wave where a transistor amplifier will cut off the tops of the sine wave(known as clipping). However, don't connect any speakers on a clipping transistor amplifier (it may/will damage your tweeters). There are some kind of circuits that simulate the 'sound of tubes'. Most of them works with two anti-parallel diodes to limit the amplitude of the signal.

I hope you understand it know,

Best regards,

HB.
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Old 10th September 2003, 08:24 AM   #5
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I remember I've started a thread like this long time ago!
have a look: link

HB.
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Old 10th September 2003, 08:35 AM   #6
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Hugo,

Crap. The clipping behaviour of most tube amps is softer than that of most sand amps, it is completely irrelevant when the amplifier is operated within it's range. If your amplifier ever clips during listening, you either need a more powerful amp, more sensitive speakers or to listen at lower volume.

The back-to-back diode mechanism is used in guitar fuzzboxes to deliberately generate specific types of sounds and has nothing whatsoever to do with the different sonic performance of solid and hollowstate amplifiers used in reproducing audio systems.

Personally, I've never heard a sand amp sound like tubes unless it was deliberately engineered in 'tone' sounding reminiscent of the worst of the vintage amplifiers. Well designed and implemented tube amplifiers have less actual sound than anything else I've ever heard.
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Old 10th September 2003, 08:48 AM   #7
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Hi,

It's a common misconception that all valve amps have a common "sound". They don't.
Nor do SS amps have a common "sound". They all sound a bit different.
There are generalisations of course, such as the differing overload characterisitics.
I would say, however that the best examples of each tradition that I have heard, actually sound rather similar.

To attempt to duplicate with SS, the sound of some old and poor example of a valve amp is as pointless as trying to make a valve amp mimic an AC127/AC128 output stage.

There..
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Old 10th September 2003, 09:07 AM   #8
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The soft clipping behaviour is mostly taken advantage of within instrument amplifiers. Even if one doesn't want "real" distortion, an instrument amp is often run quite close to clipping and the soft-clip behaviour then acts like a "fast limiter".
This can save quite some power, space and cost (and back-aches !). I have seen a Trace-Elliot bass-amp using a MOSFET output stage where they emulated soft-clip behaviour by increasing feedback above a certain output voltage (they used two Z-diodes connected in anti-series for that purpose).


Regards

Charles
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Old 10th September 2003, 05:53 PM   #9
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Default SS Sounding As Good As Tube, Or Tube Sounding As Good As SS ?.....

I have had the opportunity of critical listening to the two Elan Audio amplifiers described above together with very fine quality source equipment, and three very fine quality speakers including electrostatics.
I would say that at all levels below clipping, both these amplifiers are essentially distortionless, and impart no sonic footprint or character - no rolloffs, no hardness, no harshness, no colouration - just clear, natural and unimpeded music comes out the business end.
Neither amplifier gets at all nasty when driven into clip - music just sounds a bit 'squashed' but no real artifacts are caused.
I did note one difference between the tube and SS versions, and that is that the tube amplifier is ever so slightly 'quieter' between notes, but this difference was indeed minute, and not noticeable unless really listening out for it, and only discernable in direct A/B comparison testing.
I have heard plenty of other well regarded amplifiers, tube and SS, and in comparison to both of the Elan amplifiers, they are to my ear distorted, coloured, grainy or fussy about loads, and not nearly so kind on the ear, or so revealing of very subtle nuances in the recorded material - IOW other amplifiers just do not sound the same anymore since hearing the Elans - so much so that I want one (or two).
The 'Challenger' is conservatively rated at 200W/ch/8ohms, and goes loud, ie real loud and at full level does not get the merest bit nasty unlike lesser amplifiers, and at low levels it is perfectly comfortable and relaxed sounding, and no hints of crossover or other distortions.
The 'Challenger' is an amplifier that deserves to become a classic - it really is that good, and importantly is extremely affordable in comparison to some Audiophilistine 'silly' prices.
Warning - if you hunt one of these down and take a listen you will be hooked by the end of the first track, and there will be no going back.

Albertho, to more directly answer your question, tube and SS amplifiers do not not have to sound different, although in practice they usually do.
This is due to inadequacies in the designs of either type, and usage of components that do impart sonic characters.
Many tube amp lovers are in my experience listening to 'tone control' boxes, and whilst these sonic characters can be pleasant, are not the musical 'truth', and can become tiresome long term.
These same descriptions can of course apply to SS amplifiers too.

Eric.
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