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How is "tube sound" even audible in modern headphone amps? - Page 4

post #46 of 366
I see. Couldn't you just switch the tubes after a certain amount of time, or is it not that simple? Also would high quality tubes fare better, or is it just inherent to their design?
post #47 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by madwolfa View Post
 

 

Hmm.. I had an impression tube rolling has little to no effect in any proper (low distortion) amplifier design, since it's a matter of topology, not the specific tube choice.

As long as you're using the same tube type and amplifier remains within the designed operating limits.

 

Or people just put some really bad, dying tubes pulled from some old TVs. That would have an effect, I believe....

So you're saying that one should find some old beatup tubes so that your amp can sound like Schiit? :D

post #48 of 366

I would be super interested to see blind listening test results between and low distortion SS amp and a low distortion tube amp, e.g., Asgard 2 and Valhalla 2 . 

 

The challenge would be to differentiate between the two amps subject to the following criteria:

  1. Proper equalization using a legit tool (something like this) to match the frequency response. This eliminates false positives due to different voicing.
  2. Volume matching. This eliminates false positives due to volume differences.

 

 

I suspect the results from such a test would answer the original OP.

 

Cheers

post #49 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post
 

I would be super interested to see blind listening test results between and low distortion SS amp and a low distortion tube amp, e.g., Asgard 2 and Valhalla 2 . 

 

The challenge would be to differentiate between the two amps subject to the following criteria:

  1. Proper equalization using a legit tool (something like this) to match the frequency response. This eliminates false positives due to different voicing.
  2. Volume matching. This eliminates false positives due to volume differences.

 

 

I suspect the results from such a test would answer the original OP.

 

Cheers

To a human, as opposed to lab equipment, they just might sound the same. :eek: 

post #50 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 

To a human, as opposed to lab equipment, they just might sound the same. :eek: 


That's exactly my point!

 

Cheers

post #51 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post
 


That's exactly my point!

 

Cheers

I was in agreement.

post #52 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post
 

I would be super interested to see blind listening test results between and low distortion SS amp and a low distortion tube amp, e.g., Asgard 2 and Valhalla 2 . 

 

The challenge would be to differentiate between the two amps subject to the following criteria:

  1. Proper equalization using a legit tool (something like this) to match the frequency response. This eliminates false positives due to different voicing.
  2. Volume matching. This eliminates false positives due to volume differences.

 

 

I suspect the results from such a test would answer the original OP.

 

Cheers

I would prefer to use two amps designed to be flat from the beginning rather than try to correct for frequency deviations - any amp that requires eq has already thrown the concept of accurate reproduction out the window. It would be interesting to see such a blind test though (and from what I've seen, I suspect both Asgard and Valhalla are pretty darn flat, so the EQ would probably be unnecessary anyways).

post #53 of 366

There is and has always been confusion here at Head-Fi about tubes. Unfortunately some folks will argue their cause to death.

 

In a nut-shell there are many extremes in the sound of tube headphone amps. Take as an example the low power Woo Audio 3 http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa3.html  and match it with something like the Denon AH-D 7000 headphones. This is not a great match and HD/600 or HD/650s are really perfect.

 

This lets us hear the drawbacks of low cost, low power tube headphone amps. When tuning up the volume knob the amp sounds like it can't handle the bass frequencies. There is literately too much warmth to the point of smearing any detail in the music. Too much color, too much harmonic distortion. The combo sounds very slow but still could get by to a point with slow changing genres of music like some jazz records or some classical records. Try the combo with dance music, rock or metal and it is an exercise in futility. lol 

 

 

Now to contrast things, use a high cost and high power tube amp like the Eddie Current Zeux http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/eddiecurrent2/zana2.html and we now understand why folks love tubes. Gone is the slowness replaced with a ton of bass and damping factors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damping_factor.

 

There is harmonic distortion in these high-end tube amps but it is maybe all in the right places and if combined with the right sources almost not noticeable at all. There is a pureness of tone and an organic feel that is special. A 300b tube is the first audio amplification design and shortly after electronic engineers were trying to simplify design. Much later and at a lower production cost the solid state amps arrived.


Edited by Redcarmoose - 6/14/14 at 5:14am
post #54 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjl View Post

I would prefer to use two amps designed to be flat from the beginning rather try to correct for frequency deviations - any amp that requires eq has already thrown the concept of accurate reproduction out the window. It would be interesting to see such a blind test though (and from what I've seen, I suspect both Asgard and Valhalla are pretty darn flat, so the EQ would probably be unnecessary anyways).

The point of the eq step is to provide a systematic method for matching the frequency response with high precision. Any deviations should be eliminated, although starting from closely matched sources i s perferred. Prentending that the frequency responses match perfectly in the audio band is neglecting a a source of experimental uncertainty that is easily corrected.

Cheers
post #55 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post


The point of the eq step is to provide a systematic method for matching the frequency response with high precision. Any deviations should be eliminated, although starting from closely matched sources i s perferred. Prentending that the frequency responses match perfectly in the audio band is neglecting a a source of experimental uncertainty that is easily corrected.

Cheers

Oh, I wasn't suggesting that we should pretend that the frequency responses match perfectly. I was suggesting picking amps with a flat frequency response (and verifying it through measurements). Many solid state amps definitely meet this requirement, and it should be true of well designed tube amps as well (but I haven't personally seen the measurements on those).

post #56 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by ab initio View Post

The point of the eq step is to provide a systematic method for matching the frequency response with high precision. Any deviations should be eliminated, although starting from closely matched sources i s perferred. Prentending that the frequency responses match perfectly in the audio band is neglecting a a source of experimental uncertainty that is easily corrected.

 

I don't know about tube amps, but every bit of solid state equipment I've ever run across myself has been stone flat. And all of it sounded the same... transparent.

post #57 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post
 

There is and has always been confusion here at Head-Fi about tubes. Unfortunately some folks will argue their cause to death.

 

In a nut-shell there are many extremes in the sound of tube headphone amps. Take as an example the low power Woo Audio 3 http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa3.html  and match it with something like the Denon AH-D 7000 headphones. This is not a great match and HD/600 or HD/650s are really perfect.

 

Now to contrast things, use a high cost and high power tube amp like the Eddie Current Zeux http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/eddiecurrent2/zana2.html and we now understand why folks love tubes. Gone is the slowness replaced with a ton of bass and damping factors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damping_factor.

 

Or save the hassle and expense, and just get a cheap solid state amp that is totally transparent, clean, powerful, runs cooler, portable, and more rugged and dependable.

 

The only drawback is that you don't get the nice glowing Christmas lights.

post #58 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

 

Or save the hassle and expense, and just get a cheap solid state amp that is totally transparent, clean, powerful, runs cooler, portable, and more rugged and dependable.

 

The only drawback is that you don't get the nice glowing Christmas lights.

That can be fixed though, and it's much cheaper than a tube amp...

 

http://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Wonderlands-300-Count-Multi-Christmas/dp/B000VB2AP6/ref=pd_sim_hg_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0Y0R4EAW3SA66DJE60G8


Edited by cjl - 6/14/14 at 12:07pm
post #59 of 366
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post
 

There is and has always been confusion here at Head-Fi about tubes. Unfortunately some folks will argue their cause to death.

 

In a nut-shell there are many extremes in the sound of tube headphone amps. Take as an example the low power Woo Audio 3 http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa3.html  and match it with something like the Denon AH-D 7000 headphones. This is not a great match and HD/600 or HD/650s are really perfect.

 

This lets us hear the drawbacks of low cost, low power tube headphone amps. When tuning up the volume knob the amp sounds like it can't handle the bass frequencies. There is literately too much warmth to the point of smearing any detail in the music. Too much color, too much harmonic distortion. The combo sounds very slow but still could get by to a point with slow changing genres of music like some jazz records or some classical records. Try the combo with dance music, rock or metal and it is an exercise in futility. lol 

 

 

Now to contrast things, use a high cost and high power tube amp like the Eddie Current Zeux http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/eddiecurrent2/zana2.html and we now understand why folks love tubes. Gone is the slowness replaced with a ton of bass and damping factors http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damping_factor.

 

There is harmonic distortion in these high-end tube amps but it is maybe all in the right places and if combined with the right sources almost not noticeable at all. There is a pureness of tone and an organic feel that is special. A 300b tube is the first audio amplification design and shortly after electronic engineers were trying to simplify design. Much later and at a lower production cost the solid state amps arrived.

I've noticed that the upscale tube amps have distortion levels too low for a human to percieve, so IMO if the distortion is in the right places we can't tell anyway. I prefer very low distortion, tubes or SS, in that case either works for me.

Damping factor is a function of impedance ratio, not tube or SS specific although low impedances are easier to achieve in SS amps. If one has a high impedance headphones then most decent tube amps will do fine. Many SS Amps do not have the voltage rails and swing to drive high impedance headphones and yet many others can easily do so. As always, check the details before you buy.

IMO, one gets the best bang for their buck with a good SS amp. If someone prefers tubes, I'm not stopping them. One can find good and bad amps of either type.

post #60 of 366
Of course impedance is a direct relation with damping, tubes or not. When I say the lower cost are warmer sounding at higher volumes, I'm talking about a huge amount of product out there. About 90% have this added warmth so that's why they have the reputation.

Some tube amps will have this sound even a lower volumes. High end tube amps are just totally flat in a frequency response with no added color. This tube sound is really a subtle thing in expensive headphone amps. It's almost hard to point-out, that if there was an A/B test you could not tell unless your were really familiar with the amps and spent a couple minutes listening.

Of course this is a matter of opinion but there is a certain quality to the tube sound. I'm sure that you can get 90% there with great solid state. So that's the issue, solid state does not seem to be effected by warm-up times as much. Tubes need to be replaced at times and the sound can vary if there are older tubes being used. Tubes can be micro-phonic too used with speakers.

I had an H. H. Scott tube amp from the 1960s which I used for both headphones and speakers. In its day it was one of the best tube amps you could buy for home use. The Scott still had more harmonic distortion warmth than today's top of the line tube amps. In many ways tube amps have actually improved for headphone use.

It's the small things that add to the enjoyment of a modern high end tube amp. The fact that you can listen with any pair of headphones for 4 or 5 hours with no fatigue. There is a warmth but it almost sounds like very subtle expanse harmonics added to every single note but not smearing the presentation. Gone in the higher end amps is the thin sound, gone is most hum, unless your super sensitive to hum. All you get is perfect clarity, perfect tone and speed.

Solid state amps will most likely get to the exact sound of tubes if they have not already.
Edited by Redcarmoose - 6/15/14 at 4:42am
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