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Tube warmth and distortion and it's pros - Page 2

post #16 of 194
Forget the science...I just want to break into your chambers n cart away those 8000cds!!
:-)
post #17 of 194
What do pre-hifi era recordings have to do with what we're talking about? Are you saying tube amps are primarily good for recordings originally recorded on 78rpm disks? Because I might agree with that. It's not like a little more distortion from the amp is going to make much of a difference with all the distortion in the recording itself. I have a DSP I use myself. But I can see how euphonic distortion might help a really messy pre-hifi record.
post #18 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

Forget the science...I just want to break into your chambers n cart away those 8000cds!!
:-)

That is just classical. I probably have another 8,000 of jazz, country and popular. And over 18,000 LPs and 78s. And an iTunes library with over a year and a half of music. I won't even get into the DVD and Blu-ray collection...

If you're ever in Los Angeles, stop by for a visit.
post #19 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

What do pre-hifi era recordings have to do with what we're talking about? Are you saying tube amps are primarily good for recordings originally recorded on 78rpm disks? Because I might agree with that. It's not like a little more distortion from the amp is going to make much of a difference with all the distortion in the recording itself. I have a DSP I use myself. But I can see how euphonic distortion might help a really messy pre-hifi record.

 

The topic of this thread is the pros of tube warmth/distortion. I don't think my post was off topic?

 

Tube amps are primarily good for anything with electric instruments and anything pre-hifi era. That accounts for probably over 80% of the recordings that exist on this planet. Good enough for me. And the difference a tube amp makes on those recordings is not subtle, I assure you.

 

I understand your point of view, but it comes from the very limited taste in music that you have (primarily acoustic-only music), and that's very different from the majority of people.

 

So yes, if all you like/listen to is strictly acoustic-only fantastic quality recordings, there's no doubt that a system built to be as neutral as possible will be most enjoyable.

post #20 of 194
The nice thing is that CDs are specifically engineered to sound good with clean flat solid state amps and calibrated studio monitor speakers. That is what sound engineers use to monitor the mix, so if you want what they created in the mix, you want the exact same sort of playback equipment.

But I agree about older recordings. If I was playing a lot of 78s and early LPs, I would probably want some sort of all in one phonograph with a built in tube amp and crystal or ceramic cartridge. The same goes if I was playing 45s in a 50s jukebox. That tube amp distortion is authentic for old record albums. That old fashioned sound is very nostalgic and suits records.

I'd never do that to CDs though. They aren't intended to be played that way. Digital audio is accurate, precise and clean. It requires accurate, precise and clean playback. If the sound engineers wanted to apply some sort of distortion to the sound, they would have incorporated it into the recording itself.

I might muck around for fun with altering a song's sound. But I wouldn't want that hardwired into my entire system. That's why I think DSPs are so important for the future of home audio. I see a day when you can download plugins that exacly reproduce the sound of a 50s jukebox in a bar or a big console model phonograph in a big living room. When that comes about, it will be easy to swap sound envelopes in and out on a song by song basis. But until then, I'm sticking with the baseline of accurate, precise and clean. I've been dreaming of that kind of perfection since I was a kid. I'm not going backwards now that I've finally got it.
post #21 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

What do pre-hifi era recordings have to do with what we're talking about? Are you saying tube amps are primarily good for recordings originally recorded on 78rpm disks? Because I might agree with that. It's not like a little more distortion from the amp is going to make much of a difference with all the distortion in the recording itself. I have a DSP I use myself. But I can see how euphonic distortion might help a really messy pre-hifi record.

 

No need to go back that far. Many recordings of the 80's and early 90's  for classical are nothing to get excited about (technically speaking that is). It's too bad for me as it was the start of the revival for baroque music. But the 20 last years have really seen a definitive improvment.

 

 

Impressive music collection btw.

 

 

The discussion about tubes is always coming back and never will find a definitive answer. There isn't a single, unified "tube" sound to start with. A limited answer could at best be given for a given amplifier.

post #22 of 194
In the late 70s, multi miking techniques muddled up sound mixes, paricularly in recordings by Herbert von Karajan. But euphonic distortion won't help gross imbalences in the mix.

Aside from that blip, classical music has always enjoyed top quality sound for its era. The most realistic and natural sound I have ever heard is Fiedler's Gaetie Parisienne by Offenbach, and that was RCA's second stereo recording made in 1954. From then on, sound quality in classical music has been fantastic... even though on vinyl you wouldn't have known it sometimes because of inferior pressings.

The recent remasterings of classical music for those bargain CD mega boxes have uncovered amazingly lifelike recordings from half a century ago or more. It's no trick to find classical recordings with clean, accurate and realistic sound. You can pretty much throw a rock and hit them.

I'm not sure what baroque recordings from the 80s and 90s you are referring to as sounding bad, but I have lots of recordings of baroque music on Archiv, Vivarte, Brilliant Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Decca, Hannsler, Naxos, etc and they all sound the way they should.

In fact, I can only think of a handful of classical recordings from the stereo era that sound bad, and those are all cases where the room resonance overwhelms the direct sound. Distortion would make that worse, not better.
Edited by bigshot - 4/14/14 at 4:54am
post #23 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

In the late 70s, multi miking techniques muddled up sound mixes, paricularly in recordings by Herbert von Karajan. But euphonic distortion won't help gross imbalences in the mix.

Aside from that blip, classical music has always enjoyed top quality sound for its era. The most realistic and natural sound I have ever heard is Fiedler's Gaetie Parisienne by Offenbach, and that was RCA's second stereo recording made in 1954. From then on, sound quality in classical music has been fantastic... even though on vinyl you wouldn't have known it sometimes because of inferior pressings.

The recent remasterings of classical music for those bargain CD mega boxes have uncovered amazingly lifelike recordings from half a century ago or more. It's no trick to find classical recordings with clean, accurate and realistic sound. You can pretty much throw a rock and hit them.

I'm not sure what baroque recordings from the 80s and 90s you are referring to as sounding bad, but I have lots of recordings of baroque music on Archiv, Vivarte, Brilliant Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Decca, Hannsler, Naxos, etc and they all sound the way they should.

In fact, I can only think of a handful of classical recordings from the stereo era that sound bad, and those are all cases where the room resonance overwhelms the direct sound. Distortion would make that worse, not better.

Karajan's recordings are indeed a textbook case.

 

 

The big problem of the 80's in my experience, more limited than yours certainly, was recordings that were mixed too low, leading to a typically "soft" sound that cannot be raised without raising the noise floor to an unacceptable level. Euphonic distortion has the (limited) ability to make those soft recordings feeling more alive.

 

The recent remastering of many older recordings has indeed been a blessing under that respect.

post #24 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The nice thing is that CDs are specifically engineered to sound good with clean flat solid state amps and calibrated studio monitor speakers. That is what sound engineers use to monitor the mix, so if you want what they created in the mix, you want the exact same sort of playback equipment.

 

That's the thing though, I don't want my music to sound like what it sounds like out of a calibrated studio monitor setup. Aside from the obvious acoustic-only stuff, there is such a thing as "better than live" sound, and tubes help in that respect, especially with genres I predominantly listen to such as classic rock, blues, funk/soul/rnb from the 60s-70s, etc... As for the acoustic jazz I like, 00940 has it nailed. Very often the sound is too "soft" and tubes bring that extra hoomph that's sometimes lacking (not always). For example a lot of Mingus can sound thin on an all SS system, the horns really come alive when tubes are involved. I've actually tried EQing some Mingus using only my DAC (without the tube preamp), specifically the Pre-Bird and Mingus Ah Um albums, and while it helped, the horns never sounded quite as good as they did with the tube preamp.

post #25 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by 00940 View Post

The big problem of the 80's in my experience, more limited than yours certainly, was recordings that were mixed too low, leading to a typically "soft" sound that cannot be raised without raising the noise floor to an unacceptable level. Euphonic distortion has the (limited) ability to make those soft recordings feeling more alive. The recent remastering of many older recordings has indeed been a blessing under that respect.

Yeah, I've been getting into baroque music lately and I picked up a bunch of box sets. The sound on the ones I've gotten are all great. Must be an early years of CD thing. It's weird that 80s CDs of romantic and classical era music sound fine, but baroque ones don't.

Maybe it's a headphones thing. Speakers have a direct punch that headphones don't have. Perhaps the distortion overcomes some of the hyper detailed sound you can get with headphones sometimes and adds back the guts to the sound that headphones leech out.
Edited by bigshot - 4/14/14 at 11:07am
post #26 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Maybe it's a headphones thing. Speakers have a direct punch that headphones don't have. Perhaps the distortion overcomes some of the hyper detailed sound you can get with headphones sometimes and adds back the guts to the sound that headphones leech out.

 

I'd agree with the headphones thing. It certainly isn't as much a problem for me on speakers. But my speakers' rig is nothing serious (a pair of AE Evo One on a simple chipamp). I've pretty much the same "problems" with other classical genres, so I don't think it's a baroque thing.

 

You picked the box sets from Brilliant ? They're a mixed bag performance-wise but given their price, it's hard to complain. There are some little gems hidden in the Mozart one btw.

post #27 of 194
It also might vary from headphones to headphones. I have the Oppo PM 1s, and they have very little distortion, yet they sound beautiful.

Lots of treasures in Brilliant Classics. I find their recordings are just as good as the majors. Derek Han in the Mozart set is terriffic.
Edited by bigshot - 4/14/14 at 1:51pm
post #28 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Derek Han in the Mozart set is terriffic.

Looks like we finally found something to agree on. ;)

post #29 of 194

Solid state is bright, brittle and lacks body where tubes feel more natural all around and add more fun to the music. There is good solid state and good tube amps and just as many that are bad of each... My ears like tubes more often though when done correctly. What everyone here is saying is somewhat true because it boils down to a matter of preference. I find that using tubes amps provide a much less fatiguing experience when listening. Solid state feels hard and brittle to me. The higher frequency seems to be over the top and artificial...where some would call that more detail I find it to be an annoyance when I sit down for long periods of time. Tubes just add that extra body to the music and creates fuller richer sound. Id rather some of my higher frequencies rolled off to save my ears from a sharp stabbing. 

 

There is no music that one amp does better than the other... it boils down to good design and a properly thought out system. Tube or solid state. Oh and every ones ears are different. 

post #30 of 194
Tubes are mushy, sloshy and flaccid. Tubes feel angry and depressed.

Solid state is hard, sleek and streamlined. It makes me feel like I'm the King of the World.
Edited by bigshot - 4/15/14 at 10:49pm
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