That would certainly be possible. Bob Carver proved that an inexpensive solid state amp could be hobbled to sound exactly like an audiophile tube amp. I wonder why no one has ever made an amp that is switchable like that. Probably because the point isn't the sound... it's the "romance" of tubes.
I want one!!!!!
I once saw a software with lots of tweakable settings to ruin the sound like a vinyl does, with wow, several types of distortions, noise.. so I guess there must also be some "tube sounding" DSPs.
harmonics are signals created at the multiples of the original frequency(for 100hz you get a new signal that wasn't on the record at 200, 300, 400hz ... ) it's bound to always affect frequencies higher than the original. so in a way yes.
but that's without looking at what is causing the distortions. the cause usually doesn't affect all frequencies equally, so it doesn't have to always cripple the trebles.
but then I guess it is the desired effect of someone getting a tube amp. the "warm" sound.
am I combo-contradicting myself here? ^_^ so yes but no but yes. obviously.
Well, thanks . I guess what I am getting at is that for the supposed "tube sound" to work, there has to at least be some kind of control over where and how the harmonic distortion is going to occur. I mean if it's unpredictable, it's going to be hard to design an amp around that. So I was wondering if there was at least the certainty that the distortion affects the higher frequencies, which as you say seems to be somewhat the case. I still feel that there's a lot I don't get about it though.
DSPs are coming along and for guitar players making a tube amp sound while recording out of an effects box then USB to a computer is what it is all about. Around 1999 we saw wide popularity of digital reverb and amp simulations digitally. Still in 1999 the amp simulators sounded wet and digital. Every year they get better and better. Zoom has an effects box called the G3 and it emulates the sound of tube amps and guitar cabs being recorded. All this with more choices than you could choose, along with multi-effects all at the same time. What guitar players have always liked about tube distortion has been the compression. The signal is amplified thus the sustain is noticed longer because it is compressed and louder.
And with this super advanced art of tube amp emulation you have some guys leaving their amps at home and plugging in the effect box emulator straight to a PA system. Still this is not the norm and the purists are totally against doing it. It does seem that DSPs could be integrated into solid state headphone amps to color the sound. I could take two G3 amp simulator effects units and try to slightly distort the signal before it reached a solid state headphone amp like the totally clean sounding Asgard by Schiit Audio. It would take two units as they only accept a mono signal in. The trick here is that the amp simulators can be dialed in so little. You could have them at maybe setting 1 and they could maybe replicate the harmonic distortion your getting from a SET 300B tube headphone amp. The other crazy thing in regards to doing this is that the signal is affected by the order in which the amp simulators are placed in the chain. This theorist standpoint is that you could effectively have the DSP tube effect after the headphone amp or before the headphone amp and the placement completely changes your sound. Thus before the headphone amp one sound and after headphone amp another sound all together even though your tube amp DSP simulator has the exact same settings. Amazing Huh?
The G3 is relatively cheap at about $200 USD. ZOOM sells a lot of G3s so they get their development investment back by selling volume. It may be cost inhibited to have headphone amp designers put elaborate tube emulation DSP sections into their headphone amps. The other reason I think is that it is slightly opposed to the way they are thinking. Most of the time amp designers are attempting to take distortion out not design it into a companies headphone amp. I feel we will see it in our lifetime as DSPs have come so far in the last 14 years. The natural distortion you get from tube amps is just part of the process of taking a line level signal and creating volume.
That said I'm still waiting for my CD player to test the Asgard One and write a mini review here. Trying different stuff I settled not using a USB DAC but believe it or not going straight out of my 5th Generation iPod Touch playing both ALAC files and 16 bit X 44.1 FLAC files with the VLC FLAC player. So far the Asgard is blowing me away. More to follow.
Edited by Redcarmoose - 7/4/14 at 12:34am