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TKA

What's so great about tube amps??

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I am pretty new to this audio stuff but I get the feeling the people with the finest sound systems use tube components. Can someone tell me why tubes are superior and why most people don't know a thing about them?

Thanks

TKA

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TKA,

Amps are like cars. Some people like'em big and others like'em small.

Tubes are voltage controlled electron control devices; transistors are current controlled (for the most part). Tubes used to be considered more linear power wise.

Obviously there is a lot more to it than that. Speakers are current operated devices which suggests they should be happier with transistors. However tube high voltages are coverted to current by the output transformer.

I have had tubes with Klipsch and do not miss the constant hiss they sent to my speakers. My old Nakamichi receiver is as quiet as a mouse.

Tubes and transistor amps each have their own signature. All amps for that matter have their own signature.

I would suggest that you go to a reputable dealer (Audio Perfection in Richfield) or any other high end dealer near you and spend a considerable amount of time comparing SS and Tube amps. They will sound different of course so it will be difficult to tell just what is going on. Listen to as many different sets of tubes and SS gear as possible. If you notice a common characteristic (of tubes or SS) which is easily identifiable over time and amoung different sets then perhaps you will develop a liking for one of them. It is this personal preference people have developed over time that you are hearing about.

I realize that this is just an opinionated rambling but hope it at least tries to address your concern.

If it sounds good it must be good! Sometimes speakers cause amps to mess up. And a good speaker just changes the current it sees into sound!

Good luck.

------------------

John P

St Paul, MN

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Thanks for the info,

It sounds like the need for easy to push horn driven speakers were the bi product of amps that could not produce much power. The invention of solid state components allowed for the design of less effecient speakers and a new sound. As I am gathering form this post, the Khorns with a good tube amp (Macintosh) are to a solid state amp with B&W speakers as a vintage sports car is to the current mass produced offerings for any number of auto manufacturers.You just have to decide what kind of ride you want, tons of power and speed (sound) or the quirky preformance of a vintage sports car.

Thanks

Terry

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Whoa!

don't get me started! too late ...

Because of the super and ultra high efficiency of horns, many large and powerful horn loudspeakers can be driven to very loud levels by flea powered tube amplifiers and although this is a technology that dates back to the fifties, there is a correctness to the sound that draws tweaking audiophiles back to it after decades of powerful solid state amps coupled to small radiator cone speakers.

We measure Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) on power amps as if it was all the same. But it is not. The level of distortion that is clearly intolerable on an SS amp is not even unpleasant on the tube one. A 5% THD on the SS amp would be horrible, for example, but the tube amp might actually sound better than the SS amp with that same level. One basic cause of the difference in tube and transistor sound is the weighting of harmonic distortion components in the amplifiers overload region.

Transistor amplifiers exhibit a strong component of third harmonic distortion when driven into overload. This harmonic produces a covered sound, giving the recording a restricted quality.

Alternatively, a tube amplifier when overloaded generates a whole spectrum of harmonics. Particularly strong are the second, third, fourth, and fifth overtones which give a full-bodied brassy quality to the sound.

The further any amplifier is driven into overload territory, the greater the amplitude of the higher harmonics like the seventh, eighth. ninth, etc. These add an edge to the sound, which the ear translates to loudness information.

Overloading an operational amplifier produces such steeply rising edge harmonics that they become objectionable quickly, within just a 5-dB range. Transistors extend this overload range to about 10 dB and tubes widen it to 20 dB or more. In other words, tube enthusiast hears more distortion and likes it more. The psycho-acoustic characteristics of music relate to the distortion and harmonic properties of each type of amplifier.

This means that not all things are equal in the amplifier world. For example, to see my original thoughts, First Seduction of a Paramour, go to the Electronic Tonalities (Doc Bottlehead) bulletin board: http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/bottlehead/bbs.html.

The bandwidth is -3dB at 25 Hz and 37 kHz on these little guys. While power is rated at 3.5 watts for a 5% THD at 1kHz, the flea powered tube sound coupled with ultra efficient horns (and backed up by powered sub-woofers) is emotionally more involving than my SS amp. My Pioneer is slouch either.

It is a Class A reference amp with 30 watts per side, frequency response from 2 Hz to 150 kHz within 1 dB and THD below .001% at 15 watts, (below 10 watts, the M-22 has better THD spec than the Krell FBP 350mc at $17,000 per pair!).

And that is just difference between THD on SS versus flea powered tubes, wait until I start talking about soft clipping and the energy storage of tubes vs. capacitors!

Okay, here goes, first.

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Hey Klewless, Just stopped by Audio Perfection. That is a little bit different world than most of us see at the shopping center "hi end" stereo stores. I think I just heard one of the most expensive stereos you can buy and I would guess one of the best sounding. I did compare the top end SS amps to the Atma-sphere tube amps and the tubes were softer sounding. The $20,000 CD player and the $6,000 turntable probably helped the sound as much as the amps did.

Back the the real world, it sounds like $6 to $7 thousand will get you a pretty nice sounding tube set up with a CD and speakers.

TKA

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TKA,

Glad you took the "spin" over there. You can get into tube gear for less than 6K to 7K, depending on just how you go about it.

Lots of used stuff out there, tubes included. Just takes a bit of hunting.

Supposedly there is SS gear available which is said to sound "tube-like" but is is hard to audition since not too many dealers exist around here.

Then there are some good looking tube kits available if you are into DIY.

Keep looking at the points people make on this board regarding what they hear relative to SS/tubes. Lots to learn and that is part of the fun of audio.

Good Luck!

------------------

John P

St Paul, MN

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On alternative you might consider is a tube/ss hybrid. I have an old Luxman LV-103, 60 wpc (tube pre-amp and MOSFET amp section). It really sounds good. Sweet and powerful. There's an LV-105 on Ebay rught now (80 wpc) going for $227.50.

Ed

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