Tube amps! Why use them?

2

Comments

  • OrangeToupeeOrangeToupee Posts: 488
    edited July 2002
    Mantis, what was that last line of your post for? Was that your other personality responding angrily to the other personality, for being complimentary to HBombToo?
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited July 2002
    That WAS rather strange. I wonder as well. Cmon, spill it!
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • AaronAaron Posts: 1,853
    edited July 2002
    Man, you guys are sllllooooowww. Reread Mantis' post with your head in the gutter. You'll figure it out.

    Aaron
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited July 2002
    I thought about it later after posting and I figured it out. And we are the sick F%%%s??? Now if Micah had posted it I know everyone would have hopped on the gutter bandwagon but...
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • AaronAaron Posts: 1,853
    edited July 2002
    That's true, Max. Still, you have to watch out for that Russman character. He tends to put a dirty slant on everything. ;)

    Aaron
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,976
    edited July 2002
    Man a joke just dosen't have the same ring if you have to explain it....
    so here it goes from the horses mouth(or ****),
    I was wanting more Info on tube's ,some of the reasons why they respond they way they do over mosfet is a mystery to me.I have played guitar since I was 9 and always loved my Fender tube amps over all mosfet amps I have played threw.In the home stereo world, I have found for the most part this to be as well true.
    When I posted that last line, I thought of all the perferted thing's that could be posted after it...thats why I wanted the sick people to not read into it from the gutter .
    But the way you guys took it was funny........angry side???thats good!!
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • HBombTooHBombToo Posts: 5,335
    edited July 2002
    I think you guys are Right on the money regarding impedance. A tube don't care about impedance, it sits there nice and happy and quiet like and when a voltage is applied it FIRES UP.

    Tubes are funny little devices so lets break this thing down to a very simple tube type, the Triode. A triode is made up by 3 components, the Anode "Positive" or what we want our output voltage to be, the Cathode "Ground and where electron come from" and a Grid in which the input voltage being amplified is applied. This configuration would only amplify positive grid voltages and is for explanation only. Man... some Physics professor out there would probably like to kick my ****, but I'm trying here.

    CATHODE
    The Cathode as mentioned is refered to as a thermionic emmitter, this is the tough part. Simply put, when we apply heat to the cathode material, "Thermionic", electrons bound by molecular forces of that material are say, now available. Without the heat the electrons are stuck in their position. This is refered to in quantum mechanics as the lowest energy state. So simply put, We just created a big resevoir of electrons in the cathode region by applying heat. Example, in a fully charged battery, ions, the negative, are a result of the interaction between sufuric acid and water mix and the lead is the plus. We can compare, i guess, the lead in a battery to the anode of the tube except in a battery there is no grid. In a battery we just have a potential difference across the solution to the lead.

    ANODE
    In amplifiers we always talk about power, what is the power out, peak or rms but in tubes lets look at voltage. Why, because power and voltage are related by V*V/R so it will just be easier to see whats going on. In my past life we only looked at tube power because we were always concerned that the damn thing could melt, so power of a tube is related to the Plate Voltage or the Anode times currrent flow.

    Just for the sake of discussion here... Lets put 100 volts across the Anode or Plate of the tube. This 100 volts is sitting across the tube but the output of your amp is 0, nothing is happening because there is no current. Why no current??? We have 100V applied, confusing stuff but waite? the cathode is sitting nice and hot with all the electrons in the bucket but there is a big shield preventing any current flow or electron movement.

    The big shield is the grid.

    Now comes the interesting part.
    GRID
    We apply a low voltage signal to the grid, lets say 1 volt, electorns are now accelerated toward the grid from the big bucket, the cathode. these electrons make there way to the grid but now suddenly start feeling the potential from the Anode, or Plate and an Avelanche occurrs. Huge amount of electrons now rush to the anode and now we have current because we have moving electrons.

    The electron flow did not care what the output impedance of the device was, hence a tube don't care about output impedance.
    So long story short here... we converted 1 volt to 100 with all the electrons/current necessary.

    Now here is were a tube is really cool. We are still talking about a Triode.
    The output impedance, or the speakers, is an RLC network. The overall impedance is the sum of the real resistance and imaginary resistance. What the hell is imaginary resistance??? It is a mathimatical description that sums the inductive and capacitive reactance of the inductors and capacitors. Now as the RLC circuit is excited, by all the voltage and current from the tube, any negative mismatch in impedance from the real and imaginary will cause a ring in the overall circuit.*** If Real and Imaginary impedance are equal we have 100% power transfer.***If we have a sightly negative match in resistance the circuit will ring negative. This negative reflection in potential is potential NOISE/distortion. But, NOW check it out... The negative voltage reflectoin from the load is now across our little triode and what happens. Well what do to negatives do???? They repell each other and inside the tube electrons flow back toward the cathode and, WHAM the circuit shuts down. WOW this **** is cool, we just eliminated any sort of ringing in the output. Nice clean signal amplification and nature built in Noise reduction.
    If Dolby only new what god new about noise reduction what are HT systems would sound like today. HE,HE HE,HE

    Quatrodes and Pentodes funtion nearly like what is described but the overall circuit gets more complicated regarding how we handle the voltages. I hope this helps from the past HBomb rantings and if i could answer up to what i have posted, I'll try.

    Regards
    Henry
    ***WAREMTAE***
  • WA2KBZWA2KBZ Posts: 5
    edited August 2002
    With single ended tube PA's operated Class A (full sine wave out for full sine wave in, minimal distortion, tube always conducts, with grid bias set at midle of most linear portion of the curve) the crossover distortion that Hbombtoo describes is non-existant. There are ways to minimize this in solid state amplifiers, but single ended amps never have it to begin with. For more power from PA, 2 tubes (or more) can be operated in parellel, for 2 X power out, still class A. Push pull (Class B) has a bit more distortion, but has the advantage of suppressing second harmonic, aiding THD specs. In this mode only 1 tube at a time conducts (one is on with positive portion of sine wave from input, other on negative, via a single ended to push pull transformer). In either case, tubes run well within CCS (continuous comercial service) can last for years. Besides over current ("boils off" excessive cathode coating material, the main source of electrons) the Achilles heel weakness is over fil. volts; even a fraction of a volt will greatly reduce tube life. Running regulated DC on filiaments not only reduces a source of hum, but can extend life greatly. I have a receiver that was always run on batteries that works fine with orig. tubes, from 1934!. Tubes can also recover from brief output line shorts, which transistors cant without elaborate protection circuits.

    Karl
    73 de Karl
    WA2KBZ
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    Hey,
    A new member. And a ham at that! Welcome. I understand if the tube amp uses a rectifier tube rather than a set of diodes for the power supply the tubes last much longer because of the slow power up. Just thought I would throw that in. The rectifier also gives the sound a little sag because it cannot supply current as rapidly as a semi-conductor diode does. This may be some of the "tube sound" people have been talking about.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • jmasterjjmasterj Posts: 327
    edited August 2002
    Hey nascarmann, I got lost in all that, but I heard someone say
    let's keep it simple. Your question if I'm not mistaken was " Tube
    Amps ! Why Use Them? The answer is that some people think they sound better than solid state equipment. There exist a group of individuals known of as audiophiles who swear by them. They don't use SS or buy CD's, They own super expensive set ups, and use component turntables where the cartridge can cost
    as much as some of our entire systems. They listen to 180 gram
    original master recordings 1/2 speed mastered on virgin vinyl. and believe vacuume tube sound adds the" breath of life" to the recordings. They don't do home theater or multi-channel 15 or 30
    watts is more than adequate, because it's not the quantity, but the quality of sound they seek. Why buy tubes? it's a matter of taste, and economics. Me, I'm solid state all the way. I love my CD's.
    JmasterJ Polk to the Death
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    Originally posted by jmasterj
    Why Use Them? The answer is that some people think they sound better than solid state equipment. There exist a group of individuals known of as audiophiles who swear by them. They don't use SS or buy CD's, They own super expensive set ups, and use component turntables where the cartridge can cost
    as much as some of our entire systems. They listen to 180 gram
    original master recordings 1/2 speed mastered on virgin vinyl. and believe vacuume tube sound adds the" breath of life" to the recordings. They don't do home theater or multi-channel 15 or 30
    watts is more than adequate, because it's not the quantity, but the quality of sound they seek.

    Just a few thoughts,
    1: Anyone here can achieve the component list I have, sure it is more than entry level but all was over 50% less than list on ebay and ends up being less than what some people spend on a receiver.
    2: "Know they can sound better than Solid State, not think"
    3: LP's annoy me with their RIAA equalization curve, at least to this point. I buy CD's (and CD accessories).
    4: Audiophile, but it is a different set of standards than you (or I) do, or used to think it was.
    5: Know that tubes makes the performance sound "real".
    6: Am very much into HT
    7: It still is quantity, if the 60 watt per channel didn't deliver almost as much as my 500 watt monsters I would dump them.


    I am not arguing, but recently I've heard the low power, $355 to $650 (ebay) Jolida tube amps beat the crap out of my Carver, Sunfire and Soundcraftsmen amps.

    To me this is all new. When I bought the first tube amp a year ago, I thought "I know this is a joke but it will look cool in the bedroom". What I found was that it put my $2500 plus SS amps to shame and I got my first tube amp for about $500. My second one was $355 because the guy thought it was defective. Seems he put the wrong tubes in the wrong sockets. I'm as surprised as the rest of you guys. I sure am glad I took the chance though.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • nascarmannnascarmann Posts: 1,464
    edited August 2002
    One day I hope I have the extra coins to try a tube.....right now the barrel is dry? OK....there's still some corn, but no coins....:D
    Oh, the bottle has been to me, my closes friend, my worse enemy!
  • jcautjcaut Posts: 1,863
    edited August 2002
    One day I hope I have the extra coins to try a tube..

    Me too.

    Thanks HBomb and WA2KBZ for the technical explanations. The physics professors may want to kick your ****, but some of the rest of us who skipped out of physics class appreciate your efforts.

    Jason
  • jmasterjjmasterj Posts: 327
    edited August 2002
    madmax001

    You've got me thinking differently now. I've been going crazy trying to decide which way I want to go with this next up-grade. I was torn between getting a Outlaw 755 5X200 for $1,299. + shipping or going with this Carver 250X2 I can get for $500. I think now I'll just leave my multi-channel set up as it is, and concentrate on building a separate two channel system using tubes. I remember years ago I use to go to this little stereo place and the owner would play a McIntosh that was 50 watts a channel and it blew my Sansui with over twice the power away. I'll keep my eyes open for some Jolida or other reasonably priced
    tubes. If you see anything post it. Iv'e got some homework to do.
    JmasterJ Polk to the Death
  • cturnercturner Posts: 10
    edited August 2002
    So let me ask. I have a Carver TFM 35 on my 3.1TL's I'm looking for an amp for my newly aquired Martin Logan Sl3's. Would a tube amp be good for these electrostatics? They say EL's are different than a resistive type speaker, and they need a high voltage swing amp, where as a resistive driver (Polk's) need an amp capable of high current output. Am I even in the ballpark or just talking out my a$$?

    Thanks.
  • burdetteburdette Posts: 1,205
    edited August 2002
    Actually, hot/cold cycling is bad for MOST electronic gear. I worked as a reliability engineer in aerospace defense and we put every design through electronic and environmental cycling. We had to test not only the on/off of the electronics, but also had to take into account the extreme variations in temperature that would occur naturally (think of a plane sitting ready to go in the Saudi dessert vs. ready to go in Anchorage, as well as the cold temps at altitude from wherever it originated). The rule of thumb is to keep your gear as cool as possible.. i.e. heat kills. I'm not recommending keeping SS audio gear on all the time - I honestly don't know if I've ever read that recommendation, but this is all connected to why you want to keep the electronics well ventilated when it *is* on... keep it cool and minimize the hot as well as the hot/cold cycling.

    After that I worked for the Plasma Wave Space Physics group at a 'major' university. We had to take our boxes to Goddard for electronic and environmental testing as well. There, considering the gear was going into space, we put the boxes in the deep deep freeze chamber and did performance tests. Also cycled them through hot/cold sessions (checking performance at each point), not only to see if the performance was consistent at the various temps, but also to see where variations occurred to try to pinpoint combinations of component/signal that were going to be most likely to fail at temp.

    By the way... fact to bore your friends with... "fail safe" does not mean a backup, which is how it is often used. Fail-safe means that when the unit DOES fail, it does so in a way that can not cause harm. When it fails, it enters a state that is harmless - for example a high voltage component with a fail-safe would automatically cut the high voltage *whenever* it failed, so that it was 'safe' at that point.
  • burdetteburdette Posts: 1,205
    edited August 2002
    Originally posted by jmasterj
    They don't use SS or buy CD's, They own super expensive set ups, and use component turntables where the cartridge can cost
    as much as some of our entire systems. They listen to 180 gram
    original master recordings 1/2 speed mastered on virgin vinyl. and believe vacuume tube sound adds the" breath of life" to the recordings. They don't do home theater or multi-channel 15 or 30
    watts is more than adequate, because it's not the quantity, but the quality of sound they seek. Why buy tubes? it's a matter of taste, and economics. Me, I'm solid state all the way. I love my CD's.


    This has always struck me as more an unwillingness to change couched as the old way being 'better.' Rhetorical question here.. but is there *honestly* something better about physical grooves in vinyl that makes it inherently better for sound reproduction.. or is that just the technology that existed at the time? I've heard people as you describe say that one problem with digital media is that you don't get the pops and hiss so it isn't 'original'.. excuse me, but I don't think the artist was popping and hissing when he made the recording.

    More than once in this thread, people have commented that tubes "sound" a certain way.. warmer or softer or whatever. Um... doesn't a change to the original signal have a name.. i.e. distortion? Perhaps they *like* the changes.. but if the equipment is changing the sound from how the artist originally performed it, I have a hard time describing that as better. Why not just buy warm speakers? Why are there a multitude of speaker companies out there, each advertising, essentially, that they *reproduce* the signal with accuracy?? Granted, the physical properties of different drivers handle different types of signals better, which is why some speakers are 'better' for classical music while others are better at metal.

    I've got vinyl records, I've got a turntable, and if people want to use tubes for whatever reason floats their boat, more power to them. But the argument that tubes and vinyl sound 'better' is, to me, sort of like saying "we should all still be flying in 6 cylinder biplanes, dammit, because that is how man was MEANT to fly!"
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,976
    edited August 2002
    Dude..dude ..dude,
    It's all good.Tubes transistors,Phono,cd's whatever.
    Pleasing sound is pleasing sound for whatever the reasons maybe.
    I liked my Fender Tube amps better then my Peavey solid state.My guitar had a warmer more natural sound over the solid state which had a slighty fuzzy distorted sound overtone.Phono I can see why people still love them,they love to hear the hiss,the pops,it reminds them of old times.Cd's sound to some people to ....'I'll say clean, or even fake I have heard.
    For me if it sounds good I'm into it.If it sounds bad.....I hate it.
    Everyone like to say this is the way to do it.I have learned over time there are many ways to get the job done.
    Tubes vs solid state for home audio????I say it depends on the speakers being driven.Some speakers sound better with tubes and some don't.
    Example........Martin Logan sound there best with Audio research tubs amps.
    Dynaudio C4's sound best with Krell.
    I like what mates together better,not what the spec's are or who made it.....things just work out.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    Originally posted by burdette



    This has always struck me as more an unwillingness to change couched as the old way being 'better.' More than once in this thread, people have commented that tubes "sound" a certain way.. warmer or softer or whatever. Um... doesn't a change to the original signal have a name.. i.e. distortion? Perhaps they *like* the changes.. but if the equipment is changing the sound from how the artist originally performed it, I have a hard time describing that as better.


    No, no, no,
    You have mistaken the comments. The transistors have a particular sound to them that is non-warm. They are not necessarily harsh but have an edge to them. It is not that people like the sound of tubes, they like the sound of "real" sound. I am of course speaking for myself only. Take 10,000 little sounds all recorded together. When reproduced through transistorized equipment you end up with 50 to 75 sounds you can distinguish. Through tubes you become totally overwhelmed by what you are hearing. A good example is how MD sounds. Sure, it is a "pretty" sound. The real sound, however is quite different.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • burdetteburdette Posts: 1,205
    edited August 2002
    I wasn't trying to address only your comments... I've heard for a long time that tubes 'sound' different, with 'warm' being a consistent term used to describe the sound. I (think) I understand that you're saying you believe the 'warmth' of tubes is actually the.. or a better.. reproduction of the original sound? That is different from what I've heard elsewhere, where the warmth was indeed a change rather than a more accurate reproduction. I think we'd have to nail down that distinction or we're talking about two different things.

    As Mantis said, it depends on the entire signal path from source back into sound. Assuming for a moment that you're correct in that tubes reproduce better, do you have an opinion on what price-point you have to reach in loudspeakers before you are able to 'hear' those differences? I, for one, doubt I'll ever spend more than $1000 on a pair of speakers (based on today's dollars and value). That is a pitance compared to what some spend, especially self-proclaimed audiophiles using tubes, etc. You know, it's like a roommate I had in college... he bought an 80wpc Yamaha receiver.. because his buddy had bought the 60watt model below it... but my RM then couldn't afford speakers so he had a old pair of Fisher 8" 3-ways. Certainly, a large part of the Yamaha's abilities weren't being used. You couldn't 'hear' a difference from my old 40wpc Sansui that cost about a third the money.

    But I guess this all has to be put in perspective.. I'm the guy who is happy right now with my new $140 DD receiver and nonPolk center speaker because, being my first move to HT, sitting in my basement in my less than perfect environment, with the baby monitor on in the background.. it sounds GREAT.
  • HBombTooHBombToo Posts: 5,335
    edited August 2002
    I could not have said it better Burdette.

    My thought on an upgrade is something bigger than perception. I would like to have all the components matched feature wise such that I can experience all features available in my current settup.

    I'm trying to say I would like to take advantage of DTS because it is available in my AVR and progressive scan because the Sony 57" will benefit and the common link preventing this is the DVD Player. It is great box but is behind the current level of features available which has limited me.

    I think that these 2 features will expand the level of enjoyment in a big way where, if say, I just bought a 10K Tube Amp... What would I actually accomplish? My ear is not trained and I'm a musical idiot even though I enjoy music... I don't believe I could tell the difference.

    Some day for the hell of it I'll put together a 2 channel system but not any time soon.

    Regards
    HBomb
    ***WAREMTAE***
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    There should be a level of loudspeaker or equipment costs where tubes and such make a difference but I'm not sure. The reason is that I've heard old tube sets with cheap drivers "built in" that kicked butt. Cost is only a comparison between equipment with the same features. Have you ever heard that cheap $500 system that seemed to sound better than the system you had $1500 in? I guess this relates to the $5000 system that beats your $15000 system? Cost really is not the object. Some of the articles in Stereophile magazine (most people consider them snobs) often contain info about cheaper stuff. I remember articles about a portable CD player for $100 beating out several thousand dollar units and also some other articles with this same idea in mind. The point is that cost and sound do not necessarily go hand in hand. To respond to the "difference" of tubes, well, I can't. I really don't hear an overall difference, just more details and a seemingly "real" sound. I guess if you have a particular type of tubes and a particular set of brand names of equipment you can end up with something that sounds very different.
    Just rambling here because I don't know the answer.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • HBombTooHBombToo Posts: 5,335
    edited August 2002
    Not a Ramble... I read ya loud and clear.
    ***WAREMTAE***
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    I wonder what a HT would sound like with the LSi speakers and all tube amplification? Might be heaven! Then again, you might never leave the house and end up starving to death.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,976
    edited August 2002
    anythings possible isn't it?
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    Only if you get lucky!
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited August 2002
    Originally posted by mantis
    I liked my Fender Tube amps better then my Peavey solid state.My guitar had a warmer more natural sound over the solid state which had a slighty fuzzy distorted sound overtone.

    Dude, I knew you had music in your sole, but didn't know you played... What Fender amps do you have, and what tubes do you have in them? What axe are you slingin'?

    I run 2 Aria Pro II 6 strings, and an Ibanez GSR205 Bass. All SS, run Marshall on the 6'ers, Dual Ampeg BA112's on the 5 string bass.....

    WAY off topic, perhaps we should start another.......

    Cheers,
    Rooster
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited August 2002
    Originally posted by RuSsMaN


    WAY off topic, perhaps we should start another.......

    Cheers,
    Rooster

    Feel free to continue. Where did the "Rooster" come from??? For me I'll stay with a Marshall tube amp fed from a Gibson "Gothic" explorer anyway over a Fender, and besides, I think I overstayed my welcome anyway.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited August 2002
    Please continue Chuck....the wife calls me Rooster when she see's me 'tying one on'....she says I start to 'strut'....

    I'd love a tube head, but I don't play THAT well.... I feel like I don't deserve it yet....

    Cheers,
    Rooster
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • nascarmannnascarmann Posts: 1,464
    edited August 2002
    the wife calls me Rooster when she see's me 'tying one on'....she says I start to 'strut'....

    :lol: Man......what a site that must be.....
    Oh, the bottle has been to me, my closes friend, my worse enemy!
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