Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Tube Vs Solid State
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tube Vs Solid State

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Could someone describe the differences between tube and solid state amps in terms of sound differences between bass, midrange and treble areas of the two technologies?

post #2 of 12

No differences. 

And it all depends on different design and built quality.

 

Each tube amp and SS amp has it's own character, so your question is quite meaningless.....

 

 

 

post #3 of 12


the idea of "tube sound" and the strawman "all amps sound the same" are both too simple views of the real world

 

electric guitar tube amps used for music creation the clipping, feedback nonlinear performance "details" clearly differ in "sound" produced

 

for home music playback we generally don't want these effects added to all genre of music so even tube amps are operated in their linear range, clipping is avoided, microphonics is identified as a "flaw" not a feature

 

some believe that high output impedance, low damping factor, "soft" distortion can give a "tube" character - but a solid state amp can be designed to give similar effect

 

"tube sound" memes are deeply embedded in Audiophile commentary - but "expectation bias" and lack of psychoacoustically valid critical listening make it possible for any "socially constructed" position to survive far beyond any physical justification

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post

It seems very likely that amplifiers with the same frequency response (into the given load) which do not grossly distort or introduce noise or hum are indistinguishable

Headphone amps are however “compared” with loads varying from 16 – 600 Ohms and nominal sensitivities from 88? – 106? dB/mW so many amps which may drive some phones cleanly will be clipping from either V swing or current starvation with other headphones when trying to reach the same SPL

Generally headphones are rather more constant in load impedance vs frequency than most multiway loudspeakers – but headphone amps may have near 0 up to 120 Ohms series output resistance

Headphone frequency response variations are so huge compared to the 0.1 dB frequency response matching criteria from DBT that it is hard to imagine comparing them for some absolute accuracy or even equivalent “sound” without substantial frequency response equalization

So it should not be a surprise that headphone amp/headphone combos have major audible differences – while still accepting that headphone amps with enough V, I capability could be trimmed for frequency response and output Z to be indistinguishable with a given headphone from any other specific amp that is also working cleanly into the same load

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showt...392#post152392

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Carver

 

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by killkli View Post

No differences. 

And it all depends on different design and built quality.

 

Each tube amp and SS amp has it's own character, so your question is quite meaningless.....

 

 

 


Thanks for the highly usefull reply much appreciated :/

 

post #5 of 12

Generally, tubes sound warmer.

post #6 of 12

Also good tubes tend to produce more natural sound or like ribs said warmer.  The few SS amps I tried compared to tubes are generally more detailed and a sense of faster sound.  This is a thing you should try for yourself to see which one is more suited for you.  Try to audition a few of each and then decided which is better.  Both have + and - is up to you to decide which one u like more.  what sounds good to others might sound bad to you. 

post #7 of 12

SS may sound faster but Tubes beats SS in speed hands down. However, Tubes have pretty extreme roll offs on both freq. extremes. Tubes bass is slower and probably lack the slam and attack that SS can offers. SS sounds more detailed and it extends higher.

 

What Tubes have and SS lacks is immediacy and portrayal of leading edge to notes in the body of music, the mids. Speed isn't really dictated by bass, that's just pace and rhythm to be exact. Speed starts at the micro dynamic level and and from that prospective one feels Tubes are slower but it is because you are hearing so much more from each individual note, word etc. This is very addicting and truly lifelike!  

 

Having said all that, there is a convergence in the last 5 years or so in similarities in sound signatures in Tubes and SS, with Tubes having better extensions and SS better immediacy and portrayal of nuances.

 

OOH I am a SS follower but can appreciate the addictive nature of tubes.

post #8 of 12

Half the reason I like tubes is the romantic factor.  Lounging back, enjoying some music next to the warm glow of tubes. Collecting old tubes manufactured 50 years ago that haven't been opened yet, the smell of those old boxes, it's just neat.

 

The other half is the sound signature. Whether its distortions that make it less pure, or whatever, I don't really care. It's just more pleasing to my ears. There's probably some SS amps out there that I would enjoy just as much, but I personally haven't heard them yet. I only devote so much money to the hobby and will see how long my tube amp lasts me before I do anything else.

 

Tube amps usually require maintenance so that is another thing to consider.

post #9 of 12

Actually, I did a test for the question in Sound Science forum.

It's here:

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/newestpost/596966

 

I've also posted my theory in my last reply.

 

But you really can't say that Tube has more bass or warmth or something like that.

It's very widely varied in different design.....

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by spkrs01 View Post

SS may sound faster but Tubes beats SS in speed hands down. However, Tubes have pretty extreme roll offs on both freq. extremes. Tubes bass is slower and probably lack the slam and attack that SS can offers. SS sounds more detailed and it extends higher.

 

What Tubes have and SS lacks is immediacy and portrayal of leading edge to notes in the body of music, the mids. Speed isn't really dictated by bass, that's just pace and rhythm to be exact. Speed starts at the micro dynamic level and and from that prospective one feels Tubes are slower but it is because you are hearing so much more from each individual note, word etc. This is very addicting and truly lifelike!  

 

Having said all that, there is a convergence in the last 5 years or so in similarities in sound signatures in Tubes and SS, with Tubes having better extensions and SS better immediacy and portrayal of nuances.

 

OOH I am a SS follower but can appreciate the addictive nature of tubes.

 

Possibly the most contradictory post I've seen on head-fi in a long time.

 

post #11 of 12

Get yourself an eastern electric minimax tube dac and see for yourself.  It's all solid state, but has a tube output buffer you can turn on or offer with the press of a button.  You can instantly A/B the quality of the sound.  

 

If you look for discussions of the minimax, you can get a good sense of the differences, since everything else is quite obviously accounted for.  

 

What I can tell you is that there isn't a hard and fast rule.  In the minimax, you can change the solid state opamps as well as the tubes, and people have found a whole mess of different sound signatures with the different opamps, and a whole mess of different ones with tubes.  

 

If you wanted to really generalize, I suppose the easiest thing would be to say that solid state tends to sound more precise and technical, while tubes sound more lush, full bodied, and richer.  But that's really a super-generalization, and I'm sure there are tons of examples all over that contradict that.  I really depends on the overall system in which they're used.

 

Also, it really depends on the quality of the tubes.  Most people on the minimax forums have agreed that, when you use the more expansive tuibes, the differences between tube and the best solid state tend to decrease.


Edited by AVU - 3/4/12 at 10:21pm
post #12 of 12

I use to own the EE minimax dac and from what I remember playing around with both output ss/tubes.  Is that whenever i listen to rock or fast pace music the ss output sounds better and for jazz and classical tubes is better.  I've tried different opamps and tubes but always like them in that way.  I had the thing for about 1.5 years. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Tube Vs Solid State