Jump to content
The Klipsch Audio Community
Sign in to follow this  
damonrpayne

Would you call tubes "accurate" or just really nice sounding?

Recommended Posts

I used to own tube guitar amps. I really liked the sound because it had a certain "color" to it, warmed it up. This is totally different than accurately reproducing sound. People are free to LIKE tubes all they want but I feel they lag significantly behind solid state in performance and accurate reproduction of sound. I'm sure next to nobody here will agree with any of my points but here goes.

Every time I've listened to tubes since picking up the Klipsch hobby I've been underwhelmed. With apologies to boomac, his BAT tubes, when played back to back with j-malotky's solid state McIntosh on the same pair of Khorns in the same room showed the weaknesses in tubes better than any other demo I've ever heard. The ability to reproduce bass was no comparison and the mid range sounded FAR TOO warm, too round. We listened to various classical music and electronica on both amps.

This is just my opinion of course, but if you review one of my favorite Bose-slamming sites here http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html a summary of the spl vs. freq tests done on a Bose sytem we find that Bass drops off far too early and the mid range is run artificially hot. People slam Bose constantly, but how is this different from the "tube sound" ? Every time I listen to tubes with a piece of music I know well its impossible to ignore the lack of bass reproduction and the over-warmth of the mid range. Bose does this on purpose because people like it better, but does that make it fundamentally better than accurate sound reproduction?

Finally, there is the question of tubes being less fatiguing. I've no doubt that there is truth to this. However, I'm reminded of the many many times I've walked into a Hifi shop and told that Klipsch was no good because horns are "sensitive" and too "harsh" on high frequencies. News flash: high frequencies are fatiguing to the human ear. If music or a movie soundtrack contains harsh mid and high frequencies, possibly bumped up a few DB by a particularly bright room, does this mean we need to start adjusting playback material to make it more palatable?

All in all, I don't understand the "tubes are superior" argument. Many will say I'm obviously dumb and inexperienced and that's fine by me. Some of you who know me have said I've got good ears. My ears say solid state is Great. Your mileage may vary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damon,

Excellent post, to which I can not offer anything helpful in technical terms.

I think the choice between SS and tubes is completely subjective. In addition to the preference some folks have for tubes or SS there is the following truism. Some tube amps sound awful. Some SS amps sound awful. So, there is quite a range of good to bad within any technology.

Tubes do sound "different". "Better" is up to the ears of the beholder, IMO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and, my experience is that it depends what the tubes are hooked up to. That is, it is the whole system that really makes it or not.

Some speakers may be too laid-back for tubes, different tubes sound different, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Subjective is the correct approach.

The individual who designs a tube or SS amplifier is in control. The parameters used in the design and the cost factors that come into the design, especially with tube amps and the output transformer all play a part in the final sound.

The answer is easy . Buy or build the type of amplifier that pleases your ears and enjoy the music.

Norm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have 35 yrs of experiance myself, I got to tell you guys these posts are very good! And are all very true! They make me proud to be a member of this forum!

SET12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say tubes are accurate, and especially more accurate in mid-range and highs than SS. To me, there is just an artificial edge and hardness, however little, to SS in that broad range for me to think that it is more "accurate" than tubes. Note that I went from revered Mark Levinson Class A monoblocs to tubes, and never looked back. And keep in mind that I always compare the audio that I hear with what I hear from real instruments and voices!

However, I also think it takes the clarity and openess of horns to bring out the tube accuracy that I hear. SS and cones might be a better combination at times for that reason.

The bass can be a different story. Klipschfoot's massive SS amps (sorry, don't remember what they are!) he demo'd on garymd's K-horns had a spookily accurate bass. It was an impressive listen.

I, too, didn't think the BAT matched up quite as well with the rest of John Malotky's system. I wasn't sure why, but think this goes with the need to "tailor" equipment items to each other, especially for what it takes to make the speakers sound right. If I had John's stuff but plugged the BAT in instead, I'd be looking for a new variety of other equipment to bring it back into balance! John's system sounded great to me as is.

On the other hand, Scott's BAT's sound outstanding with his Cornwalls, Well-Tempered table and arm and Lyra LOMC, and his Eastern Electric tube CD player!!! A very easy setup to enjoy music on, and a fine example of equipment matching IMO.

lc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anytime something is amplified, something changes. Placing a pickup, a mic and an amplifier on the purest of sounds say a folksinger alters the unamplified same. Run that sound through some processing and recording and it is altered more. In our endeavors, we strive to reproduce that singer in a way that pleases us. Some like the sharper attack (and overshoot) of SS' faster slew rate, others the softer sound of tubes.

Tube amps can have great bass response as can SS have poor. The design and price compromises dictate the end result.

If I hid the amps that I have playing now, I doubt you could tell if you which were listening to. A fine SS amp is not harsh, a fine tube amp is not a wimp. Just get the best sound that you can afford SS or tube. You have but to please yourself.

That said, I have just over $1000 in these 6550 PP amps. To get the equivilant smooth, unharsh sound with SS, would require those Macs at several times the price, used.

Rick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How can I put this in words that won't upset some group of members on this forum, I don't think I can, but here it goes, Solid State fills the needs of the Average Consumer, and the Average Consumer is what fuels the market. Tubes, wheter they be SET, or VRD, or whatever other types are out there, are a Small Market, Audiophiles on the whole, are in the Minority of the total Audio picture. The fact that there is a group TubeHeads, I am not being disrespectful here, that is so dedicated to their particular choice of amplification on this forum, doesn't mean they are right, or for that matter, in the majoity. They are at best a small percentage of the total electronic market place, yet they tend to be the most vocal, not right, just most vocal. Each consumer must purchase what best fills their needs, and they can afford. The fact that they choose Solid State doesn't make them any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very true OB! But what you might not know is that 60% of the High End Audio market is Tubes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once past the "my dog is better than your dog", which is the remark you would prefer to hear from someone who just listened to your system?

"The music sounds accurate!"

or

"The music sounds really nice!"

DUH!

Klipsch out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anytime something is amplified, something changes. Placing a pickup, a mic and an amplifier on the purest of sounds say a folksinger alters the unamplified same. Run that sound through some processing and recording and it is altered more. In our endeavors, we strive to reproduce that singer in a way that pleases us. Some like the sharper attack (and overshoot) of SS' faster slew rate, others the softer sound of tubes.

Tube amps can have great bass response as can SS have poor. The design and price compromises dictate the end result.

If I hid the amps that I have playing now, I doubt you could tell if you which were listening to. A fine SS amp is not harsh, a fine tube amp is not a wimp. Just get the best sound that you can afford SS or tube. You have but to please yourself.

That said, I have just over $1000 in these 6550 PP amps. To get the equivilant smooth, unharsh sound with SS, would require those Macs at several times the price, used.

Rick

Rick,

You made the exact point that I wanted to make. I had trouble telling the difference between tubes and SS, but I could definately hear low quality SS stand out. My old Scott LK-48 sounded very smooth and good sounstaging. The Peach did much better, and Peach with its glowing tubes was way more accurate than my Sony digital receiver, and neither was harsh.

I am now using all SS and it is not fatiguing at all. It is more expensive than tubes for similar results, but there are exceptions like QSC pro amps and the littleTeac (both great bargains).

Here is a similar situation. I have a VPI Scout on the way and if everything that I have heard is correct, my digital equipment will no longer be used because it is so harsh. Quite honestly, I am not expecting it to live up to the hype. My CD player sounds very good and not harsh at all. Maybe I'll be surprised by phono, I don't know.

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very true OB! But what you might not know is that 60% of the High End Audio market is Tubes!

Then all those write -ups that people listed to prove their points on the Set vs. Old SS are now NOT CORRECT?......very interesting........What is the Percentage of High End Audio in the Total Electronic Consumer Market? Here we go again.............

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very true OB! But what you might not know is that 60% of the High End Audio market is Tubes!

Then all those write -ups that people listed to prove their points on the Set vs. Old SS are now NOT CORRECT?......very interesting........What is the Percentage of High End Audio in the Total Electronic Consumer Market? Here we go again.............

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.......Tubes, wheter they be SET, or VRD, or whatever other types are out there, are a Small Market, Audiophiles on the whole, are in the Minority of the total Audio picture. The fact that there is a group TubeHeads,......They are at best a small percentage of the total electronic market place,..... not right, just most vocal. ...... The fact that they choose Solid State doesn't make them any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner.

oldbuckster,

A couple of notes.

1. SET is a topology(circuit design), Single Ended Triode. VRD is a marketing brand of PP topology(circuit design), Push Pull. Both, Single Ended Triode and Push Pull circuits, can be researched on the web at www.google.com .

2. Your remarks are begining to resemble your avatar. I don't recall anyone saying the someone who chose solid state is "any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner." Chill out.

Klipsch out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.......Tubes, wheter they be SET, or VRD, or whatever other types are out there, are a Small Market, Audiophiles on the whole, are in the Minority of the total Audio picture. The fact that there is a group TubeHeads,......They are at best a small percentage of the total electronic market place,..... not right, just most vocal. ...... The fact that they choose Solid State doesn't make them any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner.

oldbuckster,

A couple of notes.

1. SET is a topology(circuit design), Single Ended Triode. VRD is a marketing brand of PP topology(circuit design), Push Pull. Both, Single Ended Triode and Push Pull circuits, can be researched on the web at www.google.com .

2. Your remarks are begining to resemble your avatar. I don't recall anyone saying the someone who chose solid state is "any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner." Chill out.

Klipsch out.

LOOK if you are going to qoute me, use the whole qoute........using bits and pieces is not fair, and rather small on your part...............

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember, you can't use "your ear" or "my ear" or "his ear" as a measure of anything objective.

Yes you can. In fact, I'd go so far as to claim that the ear is

absolutely required for true objective measurement. It can be no other

way.

The concept/process of choosing "which is better" is when things become

subjective. It is fairly trivial to quantify the differences in

non-linear behavior between all the different topologies. And it is all

too apparent when you start comparing the differences between designs -

where you can see how the designer is compensating for the specific

flaws of the system.

If I may make an observation...there seems to be a very consistent

difference between SS and Tube topologies - the people on both sides

claiming their compromised design is better. But I don't think it a

stretch for everyone to agree that both designs (when implemented well)

have very signature sounds. Like it wouldn't be very difficult to walk

into a room and go "hey, that's a Tube/SS amp playing" (provided of

course the acoustics are decent and the listener is familiar with the

music and speakers).

For what it's worth, I don't think any recording engineer would be

caught dead with a BAT amp powering monitors in the studio...[:o]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Want to raise hackles with an audiophile? Mention double-blind tests. Most audiophiles can't tell the difference between a $300 SS amp and a $50,000 tube amp in a blind test.

There are differences in sound between amps, but whether they are better or worse is subjective. I can buy a new preamp that makes my system sound different - and if I paid $10,000 for it, I'm likely to think it sounds better, not the same or worse.

But I believe that people like to hear distortion - hence the affinity for tubes. Adding "warmth" to a signal means you are adding something to the signal, and that, technically speaking, is distortion.

Back in the late Sixties and early Seventies, the newfangled solid-state components provided clear, unadulterated reproduction of recordings. Gone was the "warmth" of tubes. Then - surprise! - solid state was criticized for being "cold", when, in fact, it was just being more transparent than tubes. And to make it worse, solid state clipping is notoriously painful, compared to the smooth clip that tubes provide.

Since then, solid state hasn't done well in reproducing the pleasant distortion characteristics of tubes. But now digital amps can provide the clarity of solid state and some semblance of that tube sound - AND - with soft clipping. There's rumblings already of digital being the end of tubes and the beginning of high fidelity for everyone. Chips are cheap.

The established audiophile industry would NEVER admit that a cheap chip amp sounds great. That would be like Exxon and Mobile producing a car that gets 200mpg. The best they will do is say such an amp "sounds alright for the money," translated: "It will never sound as good as an expensive amp." Which is why price is so important to audiophiles when determining the performance of a component. Many people believe that if you haven't yet spent over $1,000 then you aren't an audiophile. This is a verbatim question posed of my Heresys: "Did you pay over a thousand dollars for them?" The implication is clear: if it wasn't a grand, they're not worth listening to.

Even the granddaddy of tubes abandoned valves for solid state. McIntosh stopped making tube equipment for what is it 30 years? - only to start making them again for the nostalgic trend. Why would they forsake their beloved valve disciples for the inferiority of transistors? Well, they didn't. They progressed with the better technology. But that won't make valve believers follow them, just as there will always be people who prefer carburetors to fuel injection.

And that's the subjectivity factor that no argument can overcome. Take away the blind tests and objective performance data, replace them with glowing tubes, and the eyes glaze over. Objectivity gets left out with the cat. And like it was stated above, the objectivists are likely to be more satisfied with their systems than the subjectivists.

Romantics and realists. Impressionists and realists. Optimists and realists. Who's happier? Who's more likely to cut his ear off than listen to another tube vs. solid state argument?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I can see you are well on your way to making a bunch of new friends here. LOL

Can't wait to read the responses to this post. BTW, welcome to the Forum. [:D]

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.......Tubes, wheter they be SET, or VRD, or whatever other types are out there, are a Small Market, Audiophiles on the whole, are in the Minority of the total Audio picture. The fact that there is a group TubeHeads,......They are at best a small percentage of the total electronic market place,..... not right, just most vocal. ...... The fact that they choose Solid State doesn't make them any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner.

oldbuckster,

A couple of notes.

1. SET is a topology(circuit design), Single Ended Triode. VRD is a marketing brand of PP topology(circuit design), Push Pull. Both, Single Ended Triode and Push Pull circuits, can be researched on the web at www.google.com .

2. Your remarks are begining to resemble your avatar. I don't recall anyone saying the someone who chose solid state is "any less of a dedicated music collector, or equipment owner." Chill out.

Klipsch out.

LOOK if you are going to qoute me, use the whole qoute........using bits and pieces is not fair, and rather small on your part...............

oldbuckster,

I could have used all the words in your statement, but it seemed rather whiney to me, so I thought I'd save some of the yada-yada that led to that last exaggerated bit. As a person who drives a Porche, you "should" have some understanding that what the majority of people choose, may not meet your particular enthusiast performance needs. I will repeat, I really don't care what you choose to include as components in YOUR system. A little research outside this forum, and less defensive whining, will take you a long way.

Klipsch out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...