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DSP tube amplifier?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I should preface this post with the (obvious) declaration that I am an audiophile, but am certainly not an engineer, so if what I’m suggesting is absurd, mea culpa. The idea of a DSP tube amplifier might be an oxymoron, but bear with me...

People always talk about the warmth and sweetness of tube amps - that they are very forgiving to poor recordings where solid state amps can sound a little dry and cold.

What got me thinking about this was an article that talked about the difference between listening to an analog recording compared to a digital transfer of an analog recording. Most listeners could not tell the difference between the analog original and the quality digital transfer- they both sounded ‘analog’.

If the analog sound of a vinyl recording can be transferred to a CD or other digital media, why can’t the sound of a tube amp be replicated in a digital signal processor? Just another soundstage setting like ‘club’ or ‘stadium’ or ‘live'?

The floor is open for debate....

post #2 of 14


But you would still need a good solid state amp for the purpose.

Yet the idea is good, and some did have this DSP built for software player, recording programs and so on.

 

The problem is, ones who would buy a good expensive SS amp, are the ones who prefers it's sound better than the Tube sounds.

If I know I like tube sound, why bother to have a expensive SS amp? I just buy a suitable tube amp!

They sound good to me and have the TUBE on it, which SS amp would never do to create such a warmth :P

It's a flavor and at the same time, a style of life.

It's good sound (if not true sound,) and it works great.

 

Why not :).

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeDotOrg View Post

I should preface this post with the (obvious) declaration that I am an audiophile, but am certainly not an engineer, so if what I’m suggesting is absurd, mea culpa. The idea of a DSP tube amplifier might be an oxymoron, but bear with me...

People always talk about the warmth and sweetness of tube amps - that they are very forgiving to poor recordings where solid state amps can sound a little dry and cold.

What got me thinking about this was an article that talked about the difference between listening to an analog recording compared to a digital transfer of an analog recording. Most listeners could not tell the difference between the analog original and the quality digital transfer- they both sounded ‘analog’.

If the analog sound of a vinyl recording can be transferred to a CD or other digital media, why can’t the sound of a tube amp be replicated in a digital signal processor? Just another soundstage setting like ‘club’ or ‘stadium’ or ‘live'?

The floor is open for debate....



 

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. You're right - someone who spends a lot of money for a good solid state amp probably doesn't want to mask its purity.

 

But It would be an interesting option to be able to compare a tube sound, especially on sub -par recordings. Being able to re-create a tube sound through DSP would be an inexpensive way to expand your listening options. 

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeDotOrg View Post

Thanks for the reply. You're right - someone who spends a lot of money for a good solid state amp probably doesn't want to mask its purity.

 

But It would be an interesting option to be able to compare a tube sound, especially on sub -par recordings. Being able to re-create a tube sound through DSP would be an inexpensive way to expand your listening options. 


If you're using foobar2000, Convolver is a good choice.

It can be found here:
http://convolver.sourceforge.net/

 

 

Or you can use simpler DSP such as this:
http://skipyrich.com/wiki/Foobar2000:Tube_Sound

 

 


Edited by killkli - 2/23/12 at 9:51pm
post #5 of 14

If you insert a tube preamp between the audio source and a solid-state amp, you ought to get tube sound.  Since vacuum tube and semiconductor amplification arises from different principles which result in different characteristics, you need actual tubes somewhere to hear tube sound.

post #6 of 14

The convolver cannot be used to emulate tube sound.

 

@op: Google for tube (simulation/emulation/...) VST.

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MeDotOrg View Post

I should preface this post with the (obvious) declaration that I am an audiophile, but am certainly not an engineer, so if what I’m suggesting is absurd, mea culpa. The idea of a DSP tube amplifier might be an oxymoron, but bear with me...

People always talk about the warmth and sweetness of tube amps - that they are very forgiving to poor recordings where solid state amps can sound a little dry and cold.



If you're asking "Does anyone simulate the [alleged] healing properties of a valve amp using DSP" then the answer is yes. Or at least they make the claim, and my experience suggests it might be true that the SQ of bad recordings can be tweaked this way. (I'm phrasing that carefully, because I haven't made an even semi-meaningful test of a valve amp - and it's quite possible that the DSP tech might work even if the claimed property of valve amps is imaginary...) So:

 

>>>>>>

http://www.cowonglobal.com/product_wide/product_etc/product_bbe.php

 

MP3 (and All “Lossy” Digital Compression) Sound Enhancement and Restoration Getting Nice Vacuum Tube Sound out of Digital Compression

 

BBE MP (Minimized Polynomial Non-Linear Saturation) Process improves digitally compressed sound, such as MP3, by restoring and enhancing the harmonics lost through compression. BBE MP works by re-generating harmonics from the source material, effectively recovering warmth, details and nuance.

<<<<<<<

 

Lost harmonics are lost harmonics, so the tech should work with bad recordings as well as aggressively lossy compression. I've never ABXed my Cowon J3, but its EQ has done astonishing things with the worst recording I own (a bootleg of a Replacements' show) and even the most compressed MP3s hold up very well - I have to check the file details to know whether I'm listening to quite low br mp3 or flac even though I'm using very revealing HD25s. Of course it might be something else that's letting these recordings sound so good - placebo, careful EQing, etc.

 

I think some of this tech is available in the JetAudio player that you can download from Cowon's site (its Windows only, so I haven't tried it.)


Edited by scuttle - 2/24/12 at 9:44am
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by killkli View Post


But you would still need a good solid state amp for the purpose.

Yet the idea is good, and some did have this DSP built for software player, recording programs and so on.

 

The problem is, ones who would buy a good expensive SS amp, are the ones who prefers it's sound better than the Tube sounds.

If I know I like tube sound, why bother to have a expensive SS amp?


A solid state amp doesn't have to be expensive to be good. The amp in the $50 Sansa Clip+ benchmarks superbly in every way - nice frequency response graph, low noise, powerful enough to drive my HD25 portable monitors to a louder volume than my ears will tolerate. The guy who designed the Objective2 amp said that putting any amp in the Clip's chain would only make things worse unless you needed the power to drive very stubborn phones.

 

 

 

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post


The guy who designed the Objective2 amp said that putting any amp in the Clip's chain would only make things worse unless you needed the power to drive very stubborn phones.


No he didn't say that. He said that "a headphone amp isn't likely to help much". THD+N drops from 0.055% (0.06% at full volume) to 0.023% unloaded, on the iPod even down to 0.007%.

Sorry for off-topic. (I'm not sure if links to his blog are allowed..)

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post


No he didn't say that. He said that "a headphone amp isn't likely to help much". THD+N drops from 0.055% (0.06% at full volume) to 0.023% unloaded, on the iPod even down to 0.007%.

Sorry for off-topic. (I'm not sure if links to his blog are allowed..)



Ahem: "A headphone amp isn't likely to help much, AND MAY DO MORE HARM."

 

To disambiguate, if needed, read the rest of the review. My point remains - and is confirmed by the review - that an excellent modern solid state amp can be very, very cheap indeed. If you need more power than the Clip has for driving phones, then the O2 is the answer and still far from expensive.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

The guy who designed the Objective2 amp said that putting any amp in the Clip's chain would only make things worse unless you needed the power to drive very stubborn phones.


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by scuttle View Post


Ahem: "A headphone amp isn't likely to help much, AND MAY DO MORE HARM."

 

To disambiguate, if needed, read the rest of the review. My point remains - and is confirmed by the review - that an excellent modern solid state amp can be very, very cheap indeed. If you need more power than the Clip has for driving phones, then the O2 is the answer and still far from expensive.



I agree with your point that amps don't need to be expensive. But "may do more harm" doesn't mean that "adding any amp would only makes things worse". Do you think adding an O2 would make things worse?

 

Anyway, since we're talking about tube amps here there's no need for even a good solid state amp. Average should do. *scnr*

post #12 of 14
Quote:

 

Anyway, since we're talking about tube amps here there's no need for even a good solid state amp. Average should do. *scnr*



Probably true. Although valve amps can look spectacularly cool in a "This Island Earth" way.

 

But the concept of adding harmonics to a lossy source has a validity (or not) independent of the validity of valve amp mythology. It says a lot about the awfulness of hi-fi testing that no one has ABXed this, even though all you need to do the experiment is a Cowon player and decent cans. Bizarrely I was going to perform exactly this test tomorrow with my best friend in my favourite cafe, but just had to cancel. Oh well - not exactly a meaningful population size anyway.


Edited by scuttle - 2/24/12 at 3:54pm
post #13 of 14

Here's one:

 

TT_produktseite_gross.jpg

 

 

Quote: http://spl.info/software/twintube/kurzbeschreibung.html

As with all Analog Code plug-ins, the TwinTube plug-in is modeled after an SPL analog hardware processor. In this case the TwinTube processor of SPL's RackPack modular system has been the paragon. The TwinTube combines the two main artifacts that can be produced with tubes: harmonics and saturation effects.

Our programmers did a great job in creating a very good sounding tube simulation. The special qualities of the analog TwinTube are in enhancing in fact nearly any signal with the classic analog sound attributes. Now we can fully transfer those amazing results to the digital domain. And where could the warm, transparent and smooth sound of analog tube and coil filtering make more sense than in DAW productions?

Features

  • SPL modeled plug-in version of a world-class tube effect processor, the TwinTube for saturation and harmonics processing
  • Tube saturation effects can be compared to the benefits from tape saturation
  • SATURATION for more warmth, loudness, subtle to heavy harmonic distortions
  • HARMONICS for more presence, clarity without boosting levels; puts signals in front of a mix
  • Versatile processor for all sorts of signals and sounds, excellent for vocals, acoustic guitars, drums, brass ...

 

post #14 of 14

112db's Big Blue Limiter is similar to the SPL plugin above, but with a few more options. 

http://112db.com/bigblue/limiter/

 

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