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Second Stupid Question of the Week

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holmancv

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What are the advantages of a tube amp? I'm old enough to remember taking tubes from the back of the TV and having to replace them on occasion. It was a pain in the tucus. When the transistor was made available on the market it was really a big deal. OK, enough history and praise for solid state electronics once again I'm looking for enlightenment from my wiser co-members. Please give me your opinions
 

amey01

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Be careful with tubes - there are quite a few bad amplifiers out there that might sell well because of that "tube" authenticity.

In the final analysis of it, you can build good tube and good transistor amplifiers - if you listen to serious high-end amplifiers you'd be hard pressed to tell a tube design from a transistor design - they just both sound excellent.

But if you're one of the 99.98 percent of us who can't afford one of those amplifiers you have to make compromises - it all boils down to you taking the time to listen to a bunch of amplifiers and buying what sounds best to you - forget whether they are tubed or not! Each has its own set of abilities and compromises - you have to find the set that suits you and your system. One is not better than the other - despite what some people say.

Personally, I am running a tube preamp and a transistor power amp and am extremely happy with the results.
 

roberto

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holmancv said:
What are the advantages of a tube amp? I'm old enough to remember taking tubes from the back of the TV and having to replace them on occasion. It was a pain in the tucus. When the transistor was made available on the market it was really a big deal. OK, enough history and praise for solid state electronics once again I'm looking for enlightenment from my wiser co-members. Please give me your opinions
hola...tubes or SS are just matter of taste. Tube´s distortion is even, not odd, in harmonics, SS is odd. Even harmonics are like the real thing, you can´t detect this kind of distortion, in the other hand, odd distortion you can hear it very easy...but in now days, SS have too little harmonic distortion (good quality designs) and you can not hear it. Even distortion is what makes things to sound as they are...a piano as a piano, playing a A note (440 Hz) and a guitar playing the same note (A=440 Hz). You can tell who is who because of the even harmonics. Another reason why the tubes are sweeter than SS, but SS are built thinking to reproduce the best as natural as they can. Again, it is a matter of liking and taste. A very good friend, Dan Osib, who writes a lot here, his taste is more on SS than tubes, and me as an example...I love tubes! You can enjoy both worlds with no problem...Happy listening,
Roberto.
 

DTB300

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amey01 said:
it all boils down to you taking the time to listen to a bunch of amplifiers and buying what sounds best to you - forget whether they are tubed or not! Each has its own set of abilities and compromises - you have to find the set that suits you and your system. One is not better than the other - despite what some people say.
Very well said and a great point for all to note about purchasing not just a new amp, but anything new for your system. I did this process for my new amp purchase, listened to both Tubes and Solid State and made my purchase based on what I liked.

Personally, I am running a tube preamp and a transistor power amp and am extremely happy with the results.
Same here, and like you, extremely happy.

Dan
 

Jeff Zaret

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I am the same like Dan, (DTB300). I have a tube preamp and a SS amp. I think this may be the best combination. As stated before, it is a matter of taste, preference and money. It is also dependent on what speakers you have because they too have their own charasteristics as well as the room they live in.

I would do like Dan, (DTB300), do a lot of listening, demo at home when possible and as Roberto has always said "trust your ears".

Jeff :cool:
 
T

Transparent

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Another extremely happy "tube preamp and SS power amp" owner.

/Transpa.
 

holmancv

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OK, what about differences between say ... a high-end Denon and a Sunfire? I think I'm going to upgrade to a single unit A/V Receiver and I was looking at B&K, Denon and Sunfire. I don't want to spend more than four-grand if I can help it. (It's this or a boat and my wife can't swim.) The Denon seems to have the most features while the Sunfire the most power. To be honest, I can't really hear any difference but perhaps when I'm closer to making the purchase I will develop a strategy for comparisons. Comments?
 

Spike

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Ah, the old tube vs solid-state debate

Just stating a blanket statement on comparing tubes to solid-state, you're giving the tube camp an unfair (technical) advantage already, and we have not yet begun. Without getting into the measurements, even/odd distortions, etc... I'll try to point out a few points in order to try and "normalize" the playing field somewhat. At least, a prospective buyer can be made aware in order to make fair comparisions on tube vs solid-state equipments. Let's start with tube being simple device where the implementation parameters are more strict in terms of the circuitry it's going into. The underlying pre-requisite for a tube circuitry must start with stable (beefy) high-voltage input power-supply before a decent tube circuitry can be realized. It is here, the high-voltage input power-supply, that most consumers overlook as the biggest advantage of the tube offering, hence the hidden "unfair advantage". Solid-state devices are more forgiving in the sense that one can get a reliable circuitry, yielding decent sound while reducing the cost of goods by skimming on the power-supply section. This "decent" sound is good enough for the mass market where cost-of-goods is the name of the game. If one were to pay close attention to the meticulous details and put a good power-supply into a solid-state circuitry, one can get excellent sound from it as well. There are many solid-state implementations with good power-supplies rivaling the tube counterpart, Pass Labs, Rowland, Mark Levinson, Monarchy Audio, to name a few. When comparing these products against the tube counterparts, say Cary, Audio Research, VTL, one is hard-pressed to say which one is "better" technically. One may like one sound over another, but that is strictly a personal preference, not based on any technical merits at all. It all comes down to whether one like the warm romantic or the more transparent, accurate sound. For example, one may prefer the warm, organic signature of a classic Steinway piano, where others may look for the crisp, modern sound of a Yamaha. Now, that is a fair comparision in my book. On the other hand, comparing a tube integrated amplifier with a solid-state receiver is more akin to comparing a piano with an electric keyboard, and I don't think the cheap electric keyboard is a good representation of what a professional one is capable of.
I myself am on the "dark" side where I need the glowing tubes to provide some enlightenment (pun intended), but I have heard my friend's system with Pass Labs equipments and it's very impressive. I all comes down to your preferences, so as Roberto always says: "Trust your ears".

Spike
 
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jjqiv

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holmancv said:
What are the advantages of a tube amp? I'm old enough to remember taking tubes from the back of the TV and having to replace them on occasion. It was a pain in the tucus. When the transistor was made available on the market it was really a big deal. OK, enough history and praise for solid state electronics once again I'm looking for enlightenment from my wiser co-members. Please give me your opinions
To me, a good tube amp just gets the tone more right. Big fat tone. Better inner detail, better harmonics. Just more real sounding.
 
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DTB300

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Spike said:
There are many solid-state implementations with good power-supplies rivaling the tube counterpart, Pass Labs, Rowland, Mark Levinson, Monarchy Audio, to name a few. When comparing these products against the tube counterparts, say Cary, Audio Research, VTL, one is hard-pressed to say which one is "better" technically. One may like one sound over another, but that is strictly a personal preference, not based on any technical merits at all.
Spike...Very well put and a great place for people to start when looking for an amp. Each of those amps listed are fine choices, with each having their own sonic signature to them. I would also add the Plinius Solid State Amps as another Solid State to audition along with the ones you listed. Class A Solid State is a whole new ballgame to consider.
 

Robin

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Choosing the best for your ears...

DTB300 said:
Spike...Very well put and a great place for people to start when looking for an amp. Each of those amps listed are fine choices, with each having their own sonic signature to them. I would also add the Plinius Solid State Amps as another Solid State to audition along with the ones you listed. Class A Solid State is a whole new ballgame to consider.
holmancv,

I would agree with Dan and Jeff... IMHO, I would also recommend you check out seporates, as opposed to an A/V receiver. I would also add to the amplifier list, Anthem P5, Cary Cinema X, Sim Audio's Moon Aruora. To the processor short list the Anthem D1 (D2). IMHO, Class "A", SS power amplifiers sound the best to my ears vs. digital amp.'s like Sunfire. I agree, with Dan and Jeff, and I aspire to this combo of tubed preamp with SS power amp., although I am not their yet myself... And I do understand the alure of an all tubed natural state, which Spike jjqiv and kach22i love. Ultimately, though..., you have to deside, what is best for you, by auditioning proposed equipment at home in your HT, before you buy. Remember, one of your most intrigal peice of equipment is your HT room itself... And to "Trust your ears" (Roberto - you are an audio God)... :D

What ever you deside, enjoy your audio quest... :D

Cheers

-Robin
 

risabet

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Have owned both . . .

and I am sold on tubes as the way to go for the ultimate in audio reproduction. For my taste, at the moment, tubes simply get "it" more right than SS. On the other hand, tubes do require you to deal with the amp on a more regular basis than SS, run hot, are more fragile and have on-going expenses, with all of these issues I'll still never go back to SS.
 
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