The cool sound of tubes

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OK Learn more. Why they sound good 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Logged Freo-1 Volunteer Posts: Lest we forget Using a tube preamp with the AVR is sub-optimum.

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There is likely an impedance matching issue. My past experience with AVR's is that the multi channel input never sounds as good as using the digital input. The buffer op-amps compromise the sound. Best to have a separate power amp with the right input impedance. Distortion is not the correct word, but it's something like: Over saturated? Guy 13 What I was talking about was an electric guitar's rock distortion. I think some call it overdrive but I know what you mean when you say over-saturated.

I was not at all talking about Harmonic Distortion, which guitarists care nil about. But's it's all technically distortion; a change in the shape of the waveform between input and output, excepting the difference in amplitude of the two signals. Sonically they were both very good. Sure the tubes had a more liquid midrange, blah blah blah but the Parasound sys was very close. However, the Rogue setup presented a far larger soundstage, the speakers disappeared more and there was clearly much more 3d 'air' around each of the instruments. Going back to the Para setup the sound became more directional, from the two speaker points, and the depth of the stage became much shallower and all instruments slightly more congealed into a flat plane.

The tube system was far more like a good concert venue where you close your eyes and hear sound coming at you from all directions; not just from the players themselves. This comparison was done using the same source, speakers, cabling and music between the two. Only the amps and preamp were swapped out. Have you had a chance to read the links yet? I think they provide some technical background as to why tubes sound different to solid state.

The importance of Bias

Thanks for the nudge. There's a lot in there I don't agree with, as both an audiofool and a musician. One example is how he claims that most tube designs haven't evolved in decades; I think he specifically states 'tube designs have changed relatively little That's a bit like saying car designs haven't changed much in the past years since they still have pistons, brakes, tires and transmissions. All tube circuits require some similar parameters There are many tube designs that are very up to date and sonically are very different from amps made 50 years ago I'm always rather annoyed by that generalization.

Great designers are cutting edge regardless of which topology is used.


There will always be copyists who rely on the older designs of others. All the SS advantages involve convenience, lower cost and efficiency.

Overdrive and Clipping

The tube's advantages are mostly in regards to sonics. As audiofools which should we be more concerned with? Logged Guy 13 Restricted Posts: Audio should be simple! Hi Ericus Rex and all Audio Circle members. Logged jupiterboy Jr. Each has their strengths and shortfalls. The type of speaker one prefers often can drive the decision on which amp to use. For my present reference speakers, high powered tube amps work better than solid state amps, or class D.

BTW, found an interesting link about amp types written from one of Audio's true legends.

Computer simulation of audio circuits with vacuum tubes

But George Kaye will mod them and make them reliable today in case anyone wants them modded. It is still very difficult to find any used NYAL amps on the open market. Owners know just how good they are. SS is getting a lot closer. Job amp is knocking at the door and it won't break the bank.

This amp is as good as everyone is saying. Thought I would bring this back. I would argue that we should be concerned with the overall sonics. I would further argue well designed tube amps can provide sonically pleasing results that are unique to tube amps. The better McIntosh SS amps with autoformers sound pretty darn good, but even those don't sound quite like a well designed tube amp.

Roger that there a fair number of lower quality tube designs that don't sound all that good. Yes, they need work on occasion. However, there are still many quality tube gear from the 50's and 60's still making excellent music, thanks to the ability to refurbish them. You don''t see that at anywhere near the same level of usage with legacy SS gear.

Yep, I agree, spatial, soundstaging is different. There are some basic, inherent differences between SS and tube. Capacitances are "solid state" vs vacuum dielectrics. ESR is different as well. Distortion characteristics between triodes and SS are different. Frankly, I prefer low voltage tube any day to high voltage amps I have heard. More natural to these ears, but then again overall design makes a difference.

High voltage supplies are quite different, series caps, poly caps, size of caps, chokes or no chokes etc. All makes a sonic difference. Even if we did, a tube tester is not capable of painting a clear picture with the problem with our delicate tube amps. Their length of service hinges on many factors.

These range from how consistently the volume is cranked, road travel, level of maintenance, vibrations from the speaker, wear and tear etc. I and friends have had our fair share of tube amp issues in the past. Our experiences brought me to write this post to help identify potential tube issues you may be experiencing.

To begin with, it would make sense to identify the visible signs of bad tubes before booking your amp with a tech to uncover any deeper problems.

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  • Within your tubes, sits a heater filament and when working optimally, will illuminate with a satisfying warm orange glow. These filaments when glowing, emit electrons at high temperature producing heat for the tube which is needed to maintain the amplifiers optimal tone. Depending on the manufacturer, other types will glow more brightly than others.

    The main point is if the filaments are glowing equally and to a good level, it means they are working and pass the first part of the visible test. If one individual tube glows less brightly than the others, it means it has worn down and not functioning optimally which will also need replacing. If spotted, replace immediately before attempting to use the amp again. To maintain optimal function, tubes require an airless sealed vacuum. An air leak within the tube generates positive ions causing ionization within the components.

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    Blue glow — Not to be confused with a purple or violet glow which is common, a bright blue fluorescent glow is actually the opposite and is sign your tubes are healthy. Nothing to fear with this one, this is a side effect of a normal functioning tube. Pink glow — Pink is a sign that the tubes have too much gas content inside the vacuum, caused by excessive grid currents within the components.

    If you are unsure, a getter is a silver or light grey metallic material that is used in any sealed system including vacuum tubes. They are positioned near the top housing of the tubes, although they can be coated by the side and bottom in other types.

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    The point is their condition can indicate the tubes health and can reveal potential defects such as a slow air leak for example. A getter with a grey or silver color indicates a healthy tube, this can range from a light grey all the way a metallic chrome which is fine. What needs your attention, is a getter that has a pure white finish which is an indication of a leak within the vacuum.

    If you spot this, go ahead and replace this critter with a fresh tube.