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Tube amps and Trance?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

For some reason I have been wanting a tube amp for a while now. I know they sound really good when I listened to one (don't know which one) playing some acoustic and vocals. But I could not try any other type of music.

 

I cannot seem to find the information here, but from what I gathered are tube amps only good for that type of music, though as usual there are differing opinions. I really want one, but currently I am listening to mostly electronic music, with a little bit of modern and classic rock thrown in. But mostly I listen to Trance these days.

 

My question is: Are tube amps good for Trance/Electro House kind of music? Or are they horrible at it?

post #2 of 16

Tube amps are good for any kind of music. Not sure where you got the idea that a certain amp type would be bad for a certain music genre. The only thing that really matters when selecting an amp is ensuring that it'll properly drive your headphones. When it comes to tube amps, OTL types are better for high-impedance headphones while transformer-coupled types are better for low-impedance headphones (though there are some exceptions to this rule, like the Eddie Current Zana Deux which is an OTL type but drives low-impedance headphones very well).


Edited by Asr - 10/30/11 at 10:35pm
post #3 of 16

At a show once I tried out the Eddie Current Zana Deux as as change out to my Woo5LE spinning mid 1990s Goa trance. Tubes will make the drums very smooth and warm. They are great, and maybe the best for trance music.

post #4 of 16

Tubes and solid-state are both great for trance.  I started liking solid state more for trance (Headamp GS-1) as the sound was extremely clean, tight, and no frills.

 

I've been experimenting with various tube gear since then and actually prefer tube with all forms of electronica now.  I haven't heard any super high-end solid state headphone amps, but I like what tubes do with the bass and soundstage more.  The music's more interesting with tubes, IMO, but I'm not aiming at a super transparent setup fwiw.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies :D It is good to hear that I can carry on with looking at tube amps :D

 

The amp you mentioned is out of my price range :(

 

Right now I am looking at these:

 

- Little Dot MKIV SE

- Schiit Valhalla

- Woo Audio 6 (may be with the Sophia Princess upgrade)

 

That being said, right now I have Audio Technica A900, but looking at getting Denon D7000/5000  or Beyer Dynamic DT880/990  or the Sony SA 5000 or Sennheiser HD650 or anything else that catches my ears.

 

And also looking at a decent DAC, specifically the Schiit Bifrost.

 

For those headphones, and my current A900, which of those amps might be good? Or are there other amps I should be looking at?

 

 

 

post #6 of 16

I've been listening to some Art of Noise on a Schiit Bifrost/Lyr amp combo with my Senn HD600's for a while now. And, I can say positively that electronic music sounds just fine on tube gear. With the Bifrost it sounds very clear and detailed.

post #7 of 16

On eBay, they sell low cost single tube headphone amplifiers, starting at $50, ships from China.

 

Solid State amplifiers are cheaper and more reliable then tube amps.

Tube amplifiers add "warmth" and "soul", you can easily swap tubes to change the sound

When you put a lot of juice to tube(s), the tubes do funny things to the sound, which some tube users get a kick out of.

 

Audio Technica ATH-AXXX and ATH-ADXXX by reputation, usually do not benefit that much by headphone amplifiers.

So it might not be worth it to spend lots of money for a headphone amplifier for the ATH-A900s.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 10/31/11 at 2:12pm
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

On eBay, they sell low cost single tube headphone amplifiers, starting at $50, ships from China.

 

Solid State amplifiers are cheaper and more reliable then tube amps.

Tube amplifiers add "warmth" and "soul", you can easily swap tubes to change the sound

When you put a lot of juice to tube(s), the tubes do funny things to the sound, which some tube users get a kick out of.

 

Audio Technica ATH-AXXX and ATH-ADXXX by reputation, usually do not benefit that much by headphone amplifiers.

So it might not be worth it to spend lots of money for a headphone amplifier for the ATH-A900s.



Thanks for the advice. I am also in the market for a new headphone as well. As much as I like my A900, I want something different, like the Denon D7000, Sony SA 5000 or something like the Sennheiser HD650 or Beyer Dynamic DT880/990

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Azsamael View Post
Thanks for the advice. I am also in the market for a new headphone as well. As much as I like my A900, I want something different, like the Denon D7000, Sony SA 5000 or something like the Sennheiser HD650 or Beyer Dynamic DT880/990



Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic usually benefit from headphone amplifiers.

 

post #10 of 16
Not all tube amps are created equal. There's a huge amount of variation and some play better with some headphones than with others.

If you want deep, tight bass, you want a high damping factor. That's the difference between the amp's output impedance and the headphone impedance, usually expressed in a ratio.

An OTL will have a high output impedance. If it is 150 Ohms a d the headphones are 300 Ohms, you have a damping factor of 2:1, not terribly good. Many want 4:1 or better. Of course, there is some debate about how much is enough and some claim that too much damping is a bad thing. Before buying, search around and learn about the damping factor.

The only OTL with a low output impedance is the Zana Deux - the 6C33C output tubes have low impedance. Otherwise, buy a tube amp with output transformers that will take the output impedance down nice and low.

Solid state always has low impedance - which is why you don't find output transformers in solid state. Just about any solid state amp with enough power will deliver great bass.

Hybrids are something else and all over the place. Some just use the tube to provide a little flavor and let solid state handle the amplification. Do not confuse that with a real tube amp that uses high voltage on the tubes (as tubes are designed to run) to amplify.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Not all tube amps are created equal. There's a huge amount of variation and some play better with some headphones than with others.
If you want deep, tight bass, you want a high damping factor. That's the difference between the amp's output impedance and the headphone impedance, usually expressed in a ratio.
An OTL will have a high output impedance. If it is 150 Ohms a d the headphones are 300 Ohms, you have a damping factor of 2:1, not terribly good. Many want 4:1 or better. Of course, there is some debate about how much is enough and some claim that too much damping is a bad thing. Before buying, search around and learn about the damping factor.
The only OTL with a low output impedance is the Zana Deux - the 6C33C output tubes have low impedance. Otherwise, buy a tube amp with output transformers that will take the output impedance down nice and low.
Solid state always has low impedance - which is why you don't find output transformers in solid state. Just about any solid state amp with enough power will deliver great bass.
Hybrids are something else and all over the place. Some just use the tube to provide a little flavor and let solid state handle the amplification. Do not confuse that with a real tube amp that uses high voltage on the tubes (as tubes are designed to run) to amplify.


Thanks for the advice. Zana Deux is really out of my price range.

 

What about the Schiit Lyr? And I thought the Woo Audio 6 had output transformers, but I may be completely wrong as I have no idea what any of these mean.

 

On another note, should I settle on a new headphone first before even considering an amp?

post #12 of 16

I listen almost exclusively to Trance (Vocal Trance/Uplifting Trance) with my Lyr and HE-500's. I've been very happy with the results and while the HE-500 is not as bass heavy as my old Sennheiser HD-555's- the Lyr does provide a nice clean sound, while maybe a bit lacking in bass I find that the mids and highs are phenomenal although this is probably due to the performance of the orthodynamic headphone.

 

If I wanted more bass I could always swap out the tubes, or adjust the equalizer- having played with the lower frequencies on the equalizer I know that the Lyr and the HE-500's are extremely capable but that was just as an experiment. I usually keep the equalizer off and listen to the audio is its "original" format and what I found surprising is how much more detail there is in the mids and highs of many of my favourite Trance anthems and mixes where I used to almost exclusively focus on the bass.

 

But as previous posters mentioned, tube amps are good for any kind of music. It's up to you to decide. I had the choice of going for a solid-state amp as well, but I really do prefer the glow of the tubes in a dimly lit room and it's a surprising conversation piece despite its relatively small size.

post #13 of 16

Jasio, put some Mullard ECC88 tubes in your Lyr, and you'll be in for a real treat!

post #14 of 16

I think the whole deal with tubes is both a nice warm character and a huge sound-stage presentation. Trance is at times very hard and this seems to give it the magic to make it seem more pulsing and organic sounding. Finding the bass has always been easer for me on vinyl. I have an unmoving belief that records just have more bass information. I have not heard every CD playback system so I could be wrong. My ultimate trance headphone system would have tubes. My source would be records. My second bedroom system still does an OK job with CDs and solid state amps. It's all about trying a bunch of different stuff and getting to know your personal taste. The best thing is to find a Head-Fi meet where you can bring your own gear and mix it with what is there, as this is lower cost than buying stuff that you know after 5 minutes will not work out.

 

I have yet to demo the current line of solid state headphone amps. I would be curious to maybe find out that some had that magic. In the lower cost levels, it has always been solid state that got you the power to get your drive and damping levels to match lower impedance headphones. I say this only to state that low cost amps like the Woo 3 are really maybe better for classical and jazz. I have not tried this but I would have to guess that the $500.00 usd would get you closer to the correct sound in solid state. The matching of headphones to the amp just like Uncle Erik states is the golden post in this thread. Again if you find a set of headphones you like, take them to a meet with UE's information and find a matching amp in your price range. I'm sure that people are also doing it the other way and looking for headphones to match their favorite amp thus maximizing the good points in the amp.

 

 

In the 1980s I had solid state then in the 1990s found an old 1960s Scott tube amp which was great for headphones. An old Scott amp can be a godsend if you find one for low cost and it does not need much in the way of service. The Scott production power output in the first couple of years was maybe too low but the later units crank with headphones. I was able to get mine almost free. You see them on E-bay but the price now can be $400.00 to $900.00. The issue here is that you want your Trance to have authority in presentation and it does not matter if it is tubes or solid state if you get that authority for $500.00. 

 

Give me smooth solid state for $500.00 and I will take that over some wanky tube rig best suited for Classical any day of the week.


Edited by Redcarmoose - 11/1/11 at 7:04pm
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

I think the whole deal with tubes is both a nice warm character and a huge sound-stage presentation. Trance is at times very hard and this seems to give it the magic to make it seem more pulsing and organic sounding. Finding the bass has always been easer for me on vinyl. I have an unmoving belief that records just have more bass information. I have not heard every CD playback system so I could be wrong. My ultimate trance headphone system would have tubes. My source would be records. My second bedroom system still does an OK job with CDs and solid state amps. It's all about trying a bunch of different stuff and getting to know your personal taste. The best thing is to find a Head-Fi meet where you can bring your own gear and mix it with what is there, as this is lower cost than buying stuff that you know after 5 minutes will not work out.

 

I have yet to demo the current line of solid state headphone amps. I would be curious to maybe find out that some had that magic. In the lower cost levels, it has always been solid state that got you the power to get your drive and damping levels to match lower impedance headphones. I say this only to state that low cost amps like the Woo 3 are really maybe better for classical and jazz. I have not tried this but I would have to guess that the $500.00 usd would get you closer to the correct sound in solid state. The matching of headphones to the amp just like Uncle Erik states is the golden post in this thread. Again if you find a set of headphones you like, take them to a meet with UE's information and find a matching amp in your price range. I'm sure that people are also doing it the other way and looking for headphones to match their favorite amp thus maximizing the good points in the amp.

 

 

In the 1980s I had solid state then in the 1990s found an old 1960s Scott tube amp which was great for headphones. An old Scott amp can be a godsend if you find one for low cost and it does not need much in the way of service. The Scott production power output in the first couple of years was maybe too low but the later units crank with headphones. I was able to get mine almost free. You see them on E-bay but the price now can be $400.00 to $900.00. The issue here is that you want your Trance to have authority in presentation and it does not matter if it is tubes or solid state if you get that authority for $500.00. 

 

Give me smooth solid state for $500.00 and I will take that over some wanky tube rig best suited for Classical any day of the week.



Thanks a bunch! That was very informative.

 

I got myself a used DT 990/600 Ohms. They are pretty good, but I would need a good amp to drive this.

 

But thank you again, I will look a lot more and then decide on one.

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