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Old 10th July 2004, 09:04 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Make it sound tubey !!!

Nowadays the power amplifiers are getting better and better
the parameters indicate that they are nearly perfect.
Nethertheless many people prefer the old-stylish
single-tube class A amplifiers and they claim these amps
sound softer, vinage and natural. Why is it so ???

Personally I think it is a question of non-linear
distotins. A semiconductor distotrs the signal symetricly
which makes the sound 'odd-harmonical','severe', metalic and
overal ugly.
On the other hand a single tube distorts much more but
not symetricly and the distortion pruducts include even
harmonics which are welcome becouse they sound as if the
musical instrument made more its natural distortions.

What is more, some audio maniacs feel the absolutely
non-distortive MOSFET amps are just 'dull'.
So maybe religiously avoiding any distortions is a false path.
In fact every speaker and every human's ear distorts.
Even the air pressure changes aren't linear- they're adiabatic and it brings distortion too.
Instead of this, how about introducing some not symetric
distortions??
As your power amp starts to distrort at the signal level of
2V or 1.8V or close to these values try putting
such a circuit(attached)in front of it.
I think it would be nice in the guitar power amp too.
What do you think of this simple solution???
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Old 10th July 2004, 11:04 AM   #2
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a Good read:
http://ken-gilbert.com/images/pdf/tvt.pdf

I think it is a common misconception that tubes sound good or warm BECAUSE of the HIGH even order (especially) 2nd harmonics. They sound good because the are LOW in 3rd harmonic distortions.

For some reason tubes are known to have high distortion. This is simply so because engineers decided on THD distortion as a benchmark. This benchmark is irrelevant for humans, and in fact you could say that for a human (engineers are not in this category ;-)) tubes have LOWER distortion than any other active device known to HUMANS

Sorry I did not answer all your other questions.
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Old 10th July 2004, 12:00 PM   #3
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Again this neverending story - somebody, who don't know to made amp with low distortion, will be every time claim, that distortion give " human proportions " to the listening of music. Listen live music and at the time try listen it on aparatus with disrortion. What you will be listen ? Will be better music via aparatus ? No, you will be listen distortion !
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Old 10th July 2004, 01:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Upupa Epops
somebody, who don't know to made amp with low distortion, will be every time claim, that distortion give " human proportions " to the listening of music.
Amen!
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Old 10th July 2004, 02:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Again this neverending story - somebody, who don't know to made amp with low distortion, will be every time claim, that distortion give " human proportions " to the listening of music. Listen live music and at the time try listen it on aparatus with disrortion. What you will be listen ? Will be better music via aparatus ? No, you will be listen distortion !
I don't know if you are refering to my text? If you read my text you will notice that I am not saying that an amp should distort or that distortion gives music a human element at all.

Distortion is bad.

But some types of distortion is worse than others. And in that sense THD is a benchmark that is ALMOST COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.
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Old 10th July 2004, 02:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Nethertheless many people prefer the old-stylish
single-tube class A amplifiers and they claim these amps
sound softer, vinage and natural. Why is it so ???
Please bear with me and I'll try to describe what I like about the sound that some tube amps have.

To me, many SS amps...even many high dollar ones are very flat with their presentation. Even if they have nice width...and good dynamics...it's as tho the dynamics are coming from near the same plane.


Detail and clarity of a nice tube amp (such as a nice 45) is just so clean and quiet sounding. It gives you the music with such delicacy, but also (speakers willing) it can still hit the attack and dynamics needed to portray a realism of brass or percussive instruments.


I've also heard it argued that "tube people" actually prefer the colorations of tubes. I disagree. First, I've heard several commercial SS designs...they have all had their own sound. It seems that only proponents of that particular design will call their amplifier neutral. I suspect they can do this because that particular amp is in fact their reference. So, even tho it's colored...all other amps are referenced to it...making any deviation...a deviation from neutral (or their reference)
You can also tailor various output tubes, driver tubes, OPT's or design (of your so qualified) to tailor the sound of an amplifier. This doesn't seem unlike SS amps. So, you can find a match which seems quite neutral to you...or go for gross colorations. It's your choice. But colorations surely do still exists (in not only tube amps but SS).

In favor of tubes...I think I've seen it said best a while back (not sure who said it) I like tubes despite whatever colorations they may have, not because of it.




I've heard many times the same thing said over and over, about tubes adding colorations and distortion to give a pleasing response. If you ask me...people should be more worried about distortion in speakers rather than a tube amp working within it's intended power range. But I also think that's one of the keys with tube amps. Running them in an area before either undue power requirements are put on the amp (to reach clipping) or if you approach the power limitations of the amp where the distortion levels are at their highest. I also don't buy when people talk about the soft clipping of tubes amps being pleasing...which (is argued) why many of us prefer tube amps. If your approaching clipping or clipping the amp, then you need either new (more efficient) speakers, a new (more powerful) amp or you need to turn the music down.


All that being said...I have tried out several varying tube amps. While I can't afford to just buy anything I want... I still try to listen to all I can...DIY and commercial. I also try to keep all options open to myself, which means SS is always an option. I've recently purchased a SS AKSA 55 nirvana plus kit, but I've still got to put together.

Well, the baby's waking up...so I gotta rush off. Hope this helps>>>
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Old 10th July 2004, 02:28 PM   #7
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The amp that I built was a low distortion design and I dont know what actual figures my amps succeed at, but whatever they are the sound is wonderful. Very enjoyable smooth sound, very detailed and not a hint of the stereo typical "transistor" sound. So I think its all in the design, but we all knew that really.

Im making a shot in the dark when I say this. But maybe its harder to design a super sounding SS amp. This is why there are/were more bad sounding SS amps then good ones. But with valves it seems its easier to design a good sounding product due to the way valves operate. So people have a preconception that valves offer this magical sound, because with valves you tend not to get a bad sound. Similar with class A easier to design a good design because by its design screws over switching distortion.

IMO you should be able to get very good sounding valve and SS amps if designed well. Both with very low distortion. Its debatable if the distortion porducts of SS and valve, because different, have an impact on how good we think each sounds. But as long as distortion is below a certain limit we cannot supposedly hear it anyway, so this should not matter.

There will always be people who prefer valves and class A over a bog standard class B amp. I personally dont think you need a box of glowing tubes or an amp that keeps the room toasty warm to get a good sound. But what does the listening? your head, which is full of its own ideas about what you "think" should sound best. If you have satisfied your preconceptions about what sounds best then your more likely to find the system enjoyable just because it does everything you want it to in a mental capacity. A valve freak is not going to be happy with a SS in his house, if he doesnt like SS, even if it sounds just as good.

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Old 10th July 2004, 03:14 PM   #8
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Fantastic ss amps sound great. The new CJ premiere 350 is an awesome amplifier. Obviously, it must sound great compared to tubes for Conrad Johnson to make their flagship ss.

Fantastic tube amps sound great.

The thing seemingly overlooked is that the amp must get along with the speakers. A bad combination will bring the best amp to its knees. An amp/speaker combo that works will elevate both beyond what they are seperately.

Some modern ss gear is finally equaling or bettering tubes. It seems that these amps are generally expensive. Within a lower power range, it is easier (less expensive) to achieve magic with tubes.
Not get good sound... achieve magic. Goose bumps.

I think it is an absence of distortion, perhaps distortions that we have yet to fully scientifically measure, that make certain combinations of equipment sound magic.
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Old 10th July 2004, 04:42 PM   #9
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imho tube amps modify the sound

a good amps is an amp that amplifys the signal with as low as possible distortion , good freq response etc......if it sounds bad then the recording is bad , not the amp

"tube amps make warm sound"- if its not warm in the original recording then it shouldnt be "wartm"
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Old 10th July 2004, 05:46 PM   #10
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To me the most striking thing about the sound of a good tube amp has nothing to do with distortion except for a lack of it at low levels perhaps.

It's the apparent speed, dynamics and transparency that even very simple and inexpensive tube amps can deliver. The most dissapointing amps I've ever heard have been solid-state despite their seemingly better specs.

I think many people who dismiss tube amps as sounding warm and coloured have never actually heard one and are simply repeating something they read somewhere - probably written by someone else who's never heard one either
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