Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › How is "tube sound" even audible in modern headphone amps?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How is "tube sound" even audible in modern headphone amps? - Page 12

post #166 of 366
For a long time I stayed away from threads that just continued to rehash old arguments but I like this thread. Everyone here has their own opinions due to schooling and experience. So for me anyway I just wanted to point out that I respect the folks who hear every amp as being of the same sound. I don't believe so but am truly amazed at the quality of sound that is for sale now at very little money.


I come from the 70s and 80s but didn't really start buying headphone amps till I joined here in 08. Fisher 500 amps would cost a third of the price of a car in1950s dollars. So it it's quite a treat that Hi/Fi has now become affordable for many. Also companies like JDS can make mini headphone amps with a flat response. I am also amazed that small players like an iPod 5 Touch sound better at play back of digital files than most full size players of CDs.

I have come to regard most of the nice 70s and 80s amps I own of having color. Plus we now are able to get 90% there for a song. I respect folks who think that a 50 dollar solid state system will sound just like a 100K tube amp turntable system. Maybe it is my ears but I just have to disagree.
post #167 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

For a long time I stayed away from threads that just continued to rehash old arguments but I like this thread. Everyone here has their own opinions due to schooling and experience. So for me anyway I just wanted to point out that I respect the folks who hear every amp as being of the same sound. I don't believe so but am truly amazed at the quality of sound that is for sale now at very little money.

 

If you use a good equalizer, you can use a very inexpensive amp and get to the same place.

post #168 of 366
Your decoloring it.
post #169 of 366
Small wonders of our times in audio.http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwo8hZQ0kaU

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AAXVyinIKvU



Disclaimer: I own the c421so not hearing these improved models, I still agree with the posted reviews.



http://www.head-fi.org/products/jds-labs-assembled-objective2-headphone-amplifier


The above equipment is not the last word in dampening and horse power none the less this is the audio transparently out there for a song, just keep the volume down.wink.gif
Edited by Redcarmoose - 6/23/14 at 9:04pm
post #170 of 366

Decoloring is correcting.

post #171 of 366
Still I think everyone has their own idea as to color. I have taken two very flat pieces of audio equipment, put them together and due to the use of two volume controls I feel I added warmth and color. A result of distortion with two flat frequency devices.
post #172 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Still I think everyone has their own idea as to color. I have taken two very flat pieces of audio equipment, put them together and due to the use of two volume controls I feel I added warmth and color. A result of distortion with two flat frequency devices.

Maybe there's a market for an amp with one extra knob to dial in some even order harmonic distortion, to one's taste. I'd probably keep the knob at zero, but that might be an interesting experiment to dial it up to perceivable levels. Maybe one more knob to tweak the flavor.

post #173 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

Maybe there's a market for an amp with one extra knob to dial in some even order harmonic distortion, to one's taste. I'd probably keep the knob at zero, but that might be an interesting experiment to dial it up to perceivable levels. Maybe one more knob to tweak the flavor.

That's what guitar amps have. A gain knob. With tube amps it seems changing to different tubes can adjust perimeters. With turntables you can change out phono preamps or change to a different cartridge. With CD players some are warm, some analytical. With computers, different playback systems in software change the sound.

 

Generally different RCA interconnects and power-cords are going to give you a different sound. So everyone is really looking for a different sound. My choice started out really warm but has changed to just clear and warm. Some of the best systems I have heard had total transparency with maybe a hint of warm. And yes, they were tubes.

 

 

 

 

The JDS amps had a one stage bass switch which in many ways was like those old loudness buttons on stereos. Loudness buttons were said to be used to get a better tone at low volumes. The bass boost on the JDS amps is said to be used with headphones or IEMs which lack bass. So it is like a tone button. Latter listeners asked JDS labs to make the button two stage, so that is how the new ones are now, low bass boost, high bass boost and zero bass boost.

 

 

The boost is really non smearing of detail in the mids. Still flat is everything off. There is also a low and high amp setting for different sensitivity headphones. Still no hiss at all on any settings. So the loudness settings are not to try and get ride of background noise.

 

 

 

Amazing though these switches are a little like you say in that they add warmth to an amp that is flat as a ruler.

 

So below we have a typical HD 800 frequency response, still if the music was recorded thin a bass boost on some recordings could be a nice feature. The ability to always stay flat is nice too.

 

 

 








For a ton of reasons we have seen a slow drop in the use of tone knobs on amps. In an attempt to get one stage closer to the music some amps actually had a tone knob bypass system. For speaker systems tone knobs and EQ can get us to a flat response by overcoming room characteristics. If any of us ever set up a speaker system on a cement slab with carpet then moved to a different location with a wooden raised floor, we saw the effect of the room on over all speaker response, not even mentioning room reflections.


If anything it also allows us to get better listenabilty with that one oddball recording we get from time to time, even though the purists will cringe at EQ or tone control. Lol




Is is strange to realize that at times it is the color and not the clarity that gets us excited when hearing new equipment. That if we study the history of sound man always strives to add body to sound be it a larger guitar body to reverberate smoothly, echo effects or small amounts of distortion in just the right places to add fullness to the sterility of a perfectly flat frequency response.


Tubes add that body to a flat sterility even at such a low level as to not clutter up the music.redface.gif
Edited by Redcarmoose - 6/24/14 at 1:17am
post #174 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

Decoloring is correcting.

 

And correcting is not always best to everybody's ears.

post #175 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

Maybe there's a market for an amp with one extra knob to dial in some even order harmonic distortion, to one's taste. I'd probably keep the knob at zero, but that might be an interesting experiment to dial it up to perceivable levels. Maybe one more knob to tweak the flavor.

That's what guitar amps have. A gain knob. With tube amps it seems changing to different tubes can adjust perimeters. With turntables you can change out phono preamps or change to a different cartridge. With CD players some are warm, some analytical. With computers, different playback systems in software change the sound.

 

Generally different RCA interconnects and power-cords are going to give you a different sound. So everyone is really looking for a different sound. My choice started out really warm but has changed to just clear and warm. Some of the best systems I have heard had total transparency with maybe a hint of warm. And yes, they were tubes.

 

The JDS amps had a one stage bass switch which in many ways was like those old loudness buttons on stereos. Loudness buttons were said to be used to get a better tone at low volumes. The bass boost on the JDS amps is said to be used with headphones or IEMs which lack bass. So it is like a tone button. Latter listeners asked JDS labs to make the button two stage, so that is how the new ones are now, low bass boost, high bass boost and zero bass boost.

 

 

The boost is really non smearing of detail in the mids. Still flat is everything off. There is also a low and high amp setting for different sensitivity headphones. Still no hiss at all on any settings. So the loudness settings are not to try and get ride of background noise.

 

Amazing though these switches are a little like you say in that they add warmth to an amp that is flat as a ruler.

 

So below we have a typical HD 800 frequency response, still if the music was recorded thin a bass boost on some recordings could be a nice feature. The ability to always stay flat is nice too.

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 


For a ton of reasons we have seen a slow drop in the use of tone knobs on amps. In an attempt to get one stage closer to the music some amps actually had a tone knob bypass system. For speaker systems tone knobs and EQ can get us to a flat response by overcoming room characteristics. If any of us ever set up a speaker system on a cement slab with carpet then moved to a different location with a wooden raised floor, we saw the effect of the room on over all speaker response, not even mentioning room reflections.


If anything it also allows us to get better listenabilty with that one oddball recording we get from time to time, even though the purists will cringe at EQ or tone control. Lol

Is is strange to realize that at times it is the color and not the clarity that gets us excited when hearing new equipment. That if we study the history of sound man always strives to add body to sound be it a larger guitar body to reverberate smoothly, echo effects or small amounts of distortion in just the right places to add fullness to the sterility of a perfectly flat frequency response.


Tubes add that body to a flat sterility even at such a low level as to not clutter up the music.redface.gif

I think you may be going overboard on this, the gain knob on a guitar amp is for overloading and clipping, that is not a subtle effect and I doubt that any of us would want this in our playback chain.

Echo is not distortion it is an effect. If you set an echo effects box to a high level of repeat the internal distortion (HD and IM) will compound and become noticeable, especially if it's not such a good device. But then again this is used for musical instruments during performance or recording. You really won't find this on audiophile grade equipment.

By now you must have noticed my feeling about tube amps. The high quality models have very low distortion and a flat FR which IMO renders them pretty much indistinguishable from a good SS amp. Expensive output transformers are used to avoid nonlinearity/saturation and to provide a flat FR. I have a feeling that many who like tube amps would not be pleased by some of the inexpensive models (< $100 USD) that have gobs of distortion, enough to hear.

post #176 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

Is is strange to realize that at times it is the color and not the clarity that gets us excited when hearing new equipment. That if we study the history of sound man always strives to add body to sound be it a larger guitar body to reverberate smoothly, echo effects or small amounts of distortion in just the right places to add fullness to the sterility of a perfectly flat frequency response.


Tubes add that body to a flat sterility even at such a low level as to not clutter up the music.redface.gif

In general, I support that. But the harmonics and the body that you (we) are looking for, should be on the recording already. So a flat frequency response for the amplification is indeed what you'd want in theory. I don't object to the ruler community in that case. The need for extra harmonics can only mean, the recording and mixing stage or the players remove essential bits of the sound.

Even in classical recordings, that are usually well done and carefully processed, I don't hear what I hear from real instruments. Although, it comes closer in less complex setups, like string solos or quartets. 


Edited by mironathetin - 6/24/14 at 4:53am
post #177 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post

I think you may be going overboard on this, the gain knob on a guitar amp is for overloading and clipping, that is not a subtle effect and I doubt that any of us would want this in our playback chain.
Echo is not distortion it is an effect. If you set an echo effects box to a high level of repeat the internal distortion (HD and IM) will compound and become noticeable, especially if it's not such a good device. But then again this is used for musical instruments during performance or recording. You really won't find this on audiophile grade equipment.
By now you must have noticed my feeling about tube amps. The high quality models have very low distortion and a flat FR which IMO renders them pretty much indistinguishable from a good SS amp. Expensive output transformers are used to avoid nonlinearity/saturation and to provide a flat FR. I have a feeling that many who like tube amps would not be pleased by some of the inexpensive models (< $100 USD) that have gobs of distortion, enough to hear.


My Woo 3 is what I consider myself living with a cheap tube amp. I have only found that the HD 650 and HD 600 work with it. All other headphones result in way too much distortion. I'm not expert in solid state but I would guess you could get a pretty clean solid state amp for $500 to $600 USD.

I haven't tested a ton of solid state high end amps but haven't listened to one I liked at the few Head-Fi meets I have been to. Maybe the truth is I like color and distortion?
Edited by Redcarmoose - 6/24/14 at 4:07am
post #178 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post


My Woo 3 is what I consider myself living with a cheap tube amp. I have only found that the HD 650 and HD 600 work with it. All other headphones result in way too much distortion. I'm not expert in solid state but I would guess you could get a pretty clean solid state amp for $500 to $600 USD.

I haven't tested a ton of solid state high end amps but haven't listened to one I liked at the few Head-Fi meets I have been to. Maybe the truth is I like color and distortion?

You can get a very clean 1.2 Watt @ 32 Ohm / 260 mW @ 300 Ohm SS amp for $99 USD, the Schiit Magni.

They have another Amp, the Asgard 2 which is 1W @32 Ohms / 360 mW @ 300 Ohms for $249 USD. The distortion levels of these amps are very very low. The Asgard 2 is a Class A DC coupled design with 80V rails and no overall feedback so the design does not need negative feedback to control distortion. I have one of these and it's unbelievably awesome. It drives my HD600's as well as HE-500's to ear splitting levels, clean as a whistle.

post #179 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post

My Woo 3 is what I consider myself living with a cheap tube amp. I have only found that the HD 650 and HD 600 work with it. All other headphones result in way too much distortion. I'm not expert in solid state but I would guess you could get a pretty clean solid state amp for $500 to $600 USD.

I haven't tested a ton of solid state high end amps but haven't listened to one I liked at the few Head-Fi meets I have been to. Maybe the truth is I like color and distortion?
I think the problem might be that your WA3 lacks an output transformer, this makes it only suitable for high impedance, high sensitivity headphones. You might be able to get away with a low impedance, high sensitivity headphone... but you won't get the current that you need for most headphones. Also I don't know the output impedence of this amp, but since it's an OTL amp it is probably high which means that with low impedance headphones it will sound overly warm/bloomy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's an excellent amp but unless you're using headphones over 50 ohms with high sensitivity I would choose solid state.
post #180 of 366

the very reason why most people spit on EQ is the very reason why big shot recommends it. isn't it ironic? and from a measurable point of view, he is undoubtedly right. the little distortion or phase shift you might get from a competent usage of EQ is nothing in regard to what it can improve. sure you can decide that having the best dac+best amp+best headphone with perfect sound doesn't require EQ, well then, don't use it. same if your "oh so very imbalanced" sound system happens to be exactly to your tastes. but don't go saying that EQ is wrong when seeking to EQ the sound with an amp. that tickles me everytime I read it.

 

anybody's free to do what he wants for himself, with good reasons, or not, it doesn't matter because we're free to do so. but when speaking to a community, I find it morally wrong to pretend that tubes are for hifi if the very reason you picked the amp in the first place was to smooth some trebles out, add some warmth or texture(distortion) to the bass, because you liked the (different)sound better, or simply because it looked so damn good. none of those reasons are hifi ones.

same as I find it wrong to say that vinyl is better than CD, or that I will obtain flat sound without EQ(in some rare situations it might be possible, but I'm pretty sure 99% of sound systems could get closer to neutral or closer to someone's taste with an EQ.

we could argue that frequency signature isn't about hifi but tastes, but I find it strange that people would complain about nanosecond jitters, -96db noise of 16bit, -3db in stereo separation of a not double chiped dac, but would find it ok to listen to something several DB away from what they really want(knowingly or not), and sometimes with audible distortions. we can't pretend we care about fidelity if our choices prove we don't. signature is one of the most important parameter in sound, how can we not care about setting it right(for purpose or taste)?

 

but most of all, if both SS and tube amps exist at audible hifi levels, then what separates them?

some SS are crap, some tubes are crap. mostly SS reach distortion levels below what tubes can do, so in seeking absolute perfection we should say SS is now superior. but that's a little like saying that a sabre dac is superior. getting a 25$ hifimediy usb dac won't make you superior in anything. if the amp is well done, it a good amp. that's all there is to it, SS or tube, and a lot of good tube amps pretty certainly sound just like some good SS amps.

 

there is no shame in our choices so let's not try to over sell our gears with good looking lies where we have to pick sides for false reasons. I like rolled off trebles so even though my amps are neutral low distortion SS stuff, I buy headphones with rolled off trebles and a good deal of distortion in the low freqs(hd650 is one of those). then I fine tune with light EQuing. that's not hifi seeking, not quality seeking, and certainly not "natural, true sound" seeking. I just do it for my own tastes and would never tell headfi that my choices are better. while they sure are for me. 2 very different things.

some tube amp lovers are probably just like me, picked a more neutral headphone and then decided to roll off the trebles and get distortion texture in the lows with an amp. I see nothing wrong in that. it's not how I see things, but what counts is to be happy with the result. as long as we don't mix our tastes with made up audio qualities, we're good.

audible distortion can never bring a higher fidelity sound, else it would be called magic +sounding stuff, not distortion. let's just be ok with that very obvious statement.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Science
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › How is "tube sound" even audible in modern headphone amps?