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Explain the use and benefits of tube amps? - Page 4

post #46 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookinaround View Post
 

Awesome reply, this is exactly what I was looking for. I'm just wondering though, how long does it usually resonate after it gets tapped? I know it'll probably be a little different for every unit, but just to get a ballpark idea

 

I've had a fair few tube amps and the MFV3 is the worst for microphonics.  A tap will resonate audible for probably half a second.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

If it's a good tube, it won't resonate, period.  A very slightly microphonic tube may only reproduce the tap (a direct tap on the tube) through your headphone, nothing more.  Usually, those are easily lived with.  A badly microphonic tube will ring from just bumping the desk the amp sits on.  If it's that sensitive, chances are it will go on for many minutes, perhaps never effectively quieting down.

 

I apologize, but I get upset about this because of a recently released tube amp.  Those tubes were known in the industry as majority microphonic.  Note the post you replied to - the vendor cheerfully replace the entire amp.  Unfortunately, in most tube amps all they would've had to replace is the tube.  The X-Can stuff encloses the tube completely within the box, so I suppose that was too much to ask for the vendor to do in that case.   

 

There is no reason for a tube amp to have more distortion than solid-state.  At the high end, tubes and solid-state are functionally equal.  Every see a Blue Hawaii?  It's designed to power Stax SR-7's and SR-9's.  It's a tube amp.

 

For sure it's the tube that is causing it.  I've had it open to remove the input capacitor...but too lazy ass to order new tubes for it...it's still on its original tubes and if I don't tap, it works just fine.  If this was my only amp then yeah - I'd replace the tube.  I have my balanced drive solid state amp for reference and I'll never sell that now I already own it.  My hybrid tube amp is now my casual listening amp.  I bought it in a brick and mortar store so was easy to exchange - and both did the same thing with microphonics.  Yeah but Musical Fidelity is not a brand I am loyal to.

 

If I could afford a higher end tube amp to complement my solid state reference I would have bought one...though none has made the one I want...a balanced circlotron OTL to drive high current into low impedance for planars.

 

No one is being forced to buy a tube amp so I think the anti-tubers need to contain themselves a little better.  If you want solid state buy one, if you are keen to explore the reason why so many are insane, check out a tube amp and see if you too also might be crazy just like me.

 

Also the tube in the V3 is not a warm tube.  The amp overall is leaner and cooler than neutral - good for low level listening on my LCD2 and HD650.


Edited by SP Wild - 1/19/14 at 3:34pm
post #47 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post
 

 

I've had a fair few tube amps and the MFV3 is the worst for microphonics.  A tap will resonate audible for probably half a second.

 

For sure it's the tube that is causing it.  I've had it open to remove the input capacitor...but too lazy ass to order new tubes for it...it's still on its original tubes and if I don't tap, it works just fine.  If this was my only amp then yeah - I'd replace the tube.  I have my balanced drive solid state amp for reference and I'll never sell that now I already own it.  My hybrid tube amp is now my casual listening amp.  I bought it in a brick and mortar store so was easy to exchange - and both did the same thing with microphonics.  Yeah but Musical Fidelity is not a brand I am loyal to.

 

If I could afford a higher end tube amp to complement my solid state reference I would have bought one...though none has made the one I want...a balanced circlotron OTL to drive high current into low impedance for planars.

 

No one is being forced to buy a tube amp so I think the anti-tubers need to contain themselves a little better.  If you want solid state buy one, if you are keen to explore the reason why so many are insane, check out a tube amp and see if you too also might be crazy just like me.

 

Also the tube in the V3 is not a warm tube.  The amp overall is leaner and cooler than neutral - good for low level listening on my LCD2 and HD650.

Not only are there tube haters, there are tube evangelists as well.

post #48 of 98

So we're talking about a 120 dollar hybrid amp.  I read the description on their site admitting to the microphonics - which is nice...and the description sounds exactly like Xcans microphonics - when I plug the headphone in there is a "zing" microphonic of the plug going in.  Those tubes are also soldered directly to the board and not easy to swap out.

 

You know anyone that buys a $120 amp will upgrade it in two weeks anyway.  If it were me, between cheap solid state and cheap tube...I take the cheap tube.

 

This thread is weird.  I can't even tell if some of the posts were pro tube or anti-tube.

post #49 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post

So we're talking about a 120 dollar hybrid amp.  I read the description on their site admitting to the microphonics - which is nice...and the description sounds exactly like Xcans microphonics - when I plug the headphone in there is a "zing" microphonic of the plug going in.  Those tubes are also soldered directly to the board and not easy to swap out.

You know anyone that buys a $120 amp will upgrade it in two weeks anyway.  If it were me, between cheap solid state and cheap tube...I take the cheap tube.

This thread is weird.  I can't even tell if some of the posts were pro tube or anti-tube.

I'm pro happy head-fiers! biggrin.gif
post #50 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post
 

So we're talking about a 120 dollar hybrid amp.  I read the description on their site admitting to the microphonics - which is nice...and the description sounds exactly like Xcans microphonics - when I plug the headphone in there is a "zing" microphonic of the plug going in.  Those tubes are also soldered directly to the board and not easy to swap out.

 

You know anyone that buys a $120 amp will upgrade it in two weeks anyway.  If it were me, between cheap solid state and cheap tube...I take the cheap tube.

 

This thread is weird.  I can't even tell if some of the posts were pro tube or anti-tube.

It costs more money to make a decent tube amp than a decent SS amp. A cheap tube amp is noisy and probably distorts in a not so good way. You want a decent tube amp, you've got to open the wallet, especially if you want a pure tube amp that can drive low impedance cans.

post #51 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

It costs more money to make a decent tube amp than a decent SS amp. A cheap tube amp is noisy and probably distorts in a not so good way. You want a decent tube amp, you've got to open the wallet, especially if you want a pure tube amp that can drive low impedance cans.

 

Anyone who's spent time with a Millett Starving Student would likely disagree with that.

 

Edit: I will concede that the Starving Student is a hybrid, but nonetheless, it's quite cheap, but also quite good.


Edited by cswann1 - 1/19/14 at 8:47pm
post #52 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

It costs more money to make a decent tube amp than a decent SS amp. A cheap tube amp is noisy and probably distorts in a not so good way. You want a decent tube amp, you've got to open the wallet, especially if you want a pure tube amp that can drive low impedance cans.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cswann1 View Post
 

 

Anyone who's spent time with a Millett Starving Student would likely disagree with that.

 

Edit: I will concede that the Starving Student is a hybrid, but nonetheless, it's quite cheap, but also quite good.

Sorry but I can't accept that. A hybrid is not the same thing as a pure tube amp an doesn't sound the same. If you like them, that's fine, I even own a hybrid but know and accept where it's at. I prefer my pure SS amps.

post #53 of 98

The OP is posting about a hybrid amp.  Hybrid amps are a good way to introducing people to tubes.  In my opinion, a lot of poor recordings and less expensive headphones benefit from a tube in the chain, whether on the output section of a DAC or in the input section of an amplifier.  Hence I know if I was budget limited on headphones and stuff, I personally would throw a tube in the chain.

 

I enjoy my solid state because it has very good tube amp qualities with iron grip bass, but I've never heard these qualities coming out of budget solid state amps.  A budget hybrid amp - will still exhibit good tube behavior when designed well. 

post #54 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

Coloration is exactly that, a change from what is recorded. I think I've already stated my opinion and whatever another likes that's good for them as well.

 

That's your opinion.   I'd define 'coloration' is a change from the sound of the original, live event.


Edited by vkalia - 1/19/14 at 11:42pm
post #55 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


I think you are confusing the *creation* of sound with the *reproduction* of sound.

Just because a rock guitar can create an awesome riff when the Mesa Boogie amp is dramatically overdriven does not mean you want your audiophile home stereo amp to be overdriven into distortion.

 

Sure, no disagreements there.  With amplified music (metal, rock, etc), the equation does change - the output of the recording engineer is what the end product is.   Whereas with recordings of acoustical instruments, the re-creation of the live event is the holy grail.

 

I guess in one case there is a relatively objective standard (the sound of a violin is the sound of a violin, even allowing for differences in front row vs back row presentation), whereas in the other, there is no real "objective" reference other than what the recording engineer defines it to be.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

I agree that the recording of a live event adds it's own effects to the sound - it will not be exactly the same as what the guy sitting in row 20 at the same concert hears. What I don't agree with is that a home playback system can or should try to "correct" for the set-up of the recording equipment and the personal preferences of the recording engineer. For one thing, each concert, recording studio and recording engineer would add unique aspects to the recording. How can your home set-up hope to correct for all possible permutations of that? You *might* be able to start to reproduce a specific concert that you personally attended - but even that would be an impossible task.

 

This is a very good point.    You are absolutely correct, even in the context of having an objective reference, there is too much variation.     The weight of a violin sounds different in the front row vs the back row.   It sounds different in Carnegie Hall vs the Berliner Philharmonie.     And that makes attempting to reproduce the live sound something that will never attain perfection either.   

 

My hypothesis is that whatever artefacts that tubes introduce to the recording go some way towards balancing the imperfections of the recording process, and that this improves the "realism" of the sound - whereas once you go to enough concerts, you learn the range of presentations an instrument has based on hall/location, and your brain can compensate for this more readily.     

 

One doesnt have to believe in my hypothesis, btw.  I am not arguing that my version is The Truth - quite the opposite.  I dont think there is a single Truth (you yourself have pointed out one at the start of your post re the sound of a guitar).  

 

My only point is that blindly chasing "perfect reproduction of the audio file" is not the only path to audio nirvana, no matter what the measurement wonks might think.   It may be the right path for someone, it may not for others.    There are very good reasons why using a difference reference standard may make sense.   

 

Ultimately, it always boils down to this - listen and decide for yourself.   Dont make a decision because some guy on the interwebz says so.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

So - what am I really saying? I'm saying that it is perfectly OK for an audiophile amp to NOT be perfectly transparent. It doesn't have to be (and in practice really won't be) purely a "wire with gain". However, I'm also saying that the slight coloration should be for the right reasons, and for me the right reason is because I think it sounds good. Justifying your preferred sound with the idea that you are making up for the recording errors just doesn't make sense to me.

As usual, all of this is IMHO. I actually think we are not that far apart in our thinking, and most of the differences are semantics. beerchug.gif

 

It isnt so much a justification as a personal attempt at explanation.  I am, believe it or not, an engineer (even though I no longer work as one), and I am a big believer in data and science - which is why, among other things, I find the concept of $300 cables laughable.

 

My issue is this - I have found a substantial difference between measured performance (using current indicators like THD) and perceived performance.   It took me a while to trust my ears, actually - it was only after I had a whole bunch of non-audiophile friends come over and played them various pieces of music on my SS system vs my SET system, and found every single one of them felt the SET to provide a more life-like sound, that I was able to summon up the conviction to sell my SS rig.

 

I am working on the assumption that I dont like SET merely b/c I prefer that sound palatte, but b/c it is a more "lifelike" presentation (again, purely in the context of classical music).  I am willing to admit that I could be wrong, but I dont think so - as I said, I do go to a lot of concerts and do have a good idea of what the instruments sound like live.

 

So my post above was an attempt at explaining WHY there is a discrepancy between measured performance and subjective performance.    Not so much a justification, per se, b/c I dont think music tastes need to be justified - it is possible that someone might NOT prefer a sound that is lifelike (eg, the other gent, who prefers a tight/controlled bass even when the live sound is not the same way), and that is absolutely fine.    Music is, at its essence, a subjective hobby, after all.

 

It is just that the OCD engineer in me is not satisfied with "it sounds nicer" - there is too much BS floating around in the audiophile world under that justification.   So i try to atleast come up with a hypothesis on why this might be the case - that's what this is.

 

Cheers - and thanks for a very stimulating discussion!  I ended up writing a lot more than I intended to  :)

post #56 of 98

Ahhh, I see what's going on...I'm a victim of diplomacy...which is good, I think.  :beerchug:

post #57 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post
 

 

That's your opinion.   I'd define 'coloration' is a change from the sound of the original, live event.

I believe this thread is about tube amps, which can color the sound that come into it.

As far as recordings of live events go go, that 'coloration' starts the second the recording begins. That's off topic.

post #58 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

I am, believe it or not, an engineer (even though I no longer work as one), and I am a big believer in data and science - which is why, among other things, I find the concept of $300 cables laughable.

Ahh - I knew I recognized a kindred spirit - I, too, am an engineer that switched careers. It is somewhat difficult to exist in the void between the pure objectivist head-fier and the pure subjectivist head-fier. I once postulated that ALL really big head-fi disagreements eventually boiled down to a subjective vs objective view. If neither side is willing to move from their polarized views, then the argument goes on. I like to think there are some islands in that void where a person can hold aspects of both views. Where there is an scientific explanation for everything, even if we don't yet fully understand how it works, and where it is recognized that our brain is also part of the perceived sound equation and that the brain can be fooled by the right combination of real, physical, measurable actions that something not real, physical or measurable has occurred. (ie, if I pay $300 for a cable, then I will hear a difference, because I paid $300 for the cable!) tongue.gif
post #59 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


Ahh - I knew I recognized a kindred spirit - I, too, am an engineer that switched careers. It is somewhat difficult to exist in the void between the pure objectivist head-fier and the pure subjectivist head-fier. I once postulated that ALL really big head-fi disagreements eventually boiled down to a subjective vs objective view. If neither side is willing to move from their polarized views, then the argument goes on. I like to think there are some islands in that void where a person can hold aspects of both views. Where there is an scientific explanation for everything, even if we don't yet fully understand how it works, and where it is recognized that our brain is also part of the perceived sound equation and that the brain can be fooled by the right combination of real, physical, measurable actions that something not real, physical or measurable has occurred. (ie, if I pay $300 for a cable, then I will hear a difference, because I paid $300 for the cable!) tongue.gif

You would pay $300 for a USB cable? :D  Just kidding

post #60 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


Ahh - I knew I recognized a kindred spirit - I, too, am an engineer that switched careers. It is somewhat difficult to exist in the void between the pure objectivist head-fier and the pure subjectivist head-fier. I once postulated that ALL really big head-fi disagreements eventually boiled down to a subjective vs objective view. If neither side is willing to move from their polarized views, then the argument goes on. I like to think there are some islands in that void where a person can hold aspects of both views. Where there is an scientific explanation for everything, even if we don't yet fully understand how it works, and where it is recognized that our brain is also part of the perceived sound equation and that the brain can be fooled by the right combination of real, physical, measurable actions that something not real, physical or measurable has occurred. (ie, if I pay $300 for a cable, then I will hear a difference, because I paid $300 for the cable!) tongue.gif

 

Yes, thank you, that sums it up very nicely.    It is far TOO easy to explain away any difference of opinion by just saying "well, I hear things differently".   Ok, that is fine, but at some point, in order to design a better product, you need science.    Otherwise, there will be (and already are) far too many naked emperors walking around (the one that offends me the most is the Shakti Stone).   But at the same time, the science has to be guided correctly - ie, if we are going to measure X, Y and Z when deciding on "quality", then we need to first prove that X, Y and Z *do* affect quality (and of course, try to come up with how we define quality - for example, StanD and I have very different views there).

 

Nelson Pass actually has a very good article on the Pass Labs website, linking perception to science when it comes to amp design, btw.   A step in the right direction, IMO,

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