Baby in - I'm out (and all my schiit with me).
Edited by madwolfa - 6/15/14 at 10:22am
When the Apt. next door becomes available, rent it and knock down a wall.
Kansas, you should be on a farm Then you'd have plenty of room.
I respectfully disagree with this analogy.
There are different types of audio that have different requirements from their respective gear: 1) there is the creation of music and sound, which is an artistic process, and 2) there is the high-fidelity reproduction of a recording.
1) The creation of music is an artistic process by which the musician (artist) chooses the appropriate tools to create the sound he/she desires to produce. Instruments, pickups, instrument amplifiers, speaker cabinets, effects/effects pedals, recording equipment and room design/layout, and mixing/mastering/processing software are among the tools that fall into this category. In this case, your example of an electric guitar is an artists tool for creating music. It is at the point of generation of the original musical work. The pickups, neck and body dynamics, choice of strings, tone settings on the amplifier, location of the recording microphone, processing software, etc. are part of the recording chain that shape the tonality of the music being created. Don't be fooled that instruments are chosen specifically for their sound, either. Les Pauls are choosen as much for their iconic status, symbolism, and artistic finishes, and the knowledge that they are hand-made with low-production numbers (rare) that make them desirable for collectors. In the case of guitars, the feel of the guitar, the weight of the body, the shape of the neck, the fingering of the fretboard are also among reasons why performing artists may choose one guitar over another. The pickups in a well-made electric guitar are 90% of the sound. Fender strats are commonly associated with low gain single coils, whammy bars, and 24+ frets, while les pauls are associated with higher gain humbuckers, heavy construction, and lack of a whammy bar <->longer sustain, etc. You mention Jeff Beck--are you familiar with his song 'guitar shop'?
2) Once the music is recorded to a medium (in theory, as the artist intended; however, often in practice as the producers chooses, LOUD) the reproduction equipment should recreate the recorded audio as precisely as possible, thus recreating the music as the artist intended. Enter Hi-Fi audio. Hi-Fi is shorthand for "high fidelity," which by definition means the audio should be reproduced as exactly as possible. There is no gray zone here, there is exactly one waveform output from the audio equipment which satisfies this goal as perfectly as possible (i.e., perfectly) and that is the production of the exact recorded waveform. Both tubes and solid state amplifiers are capable of recreating audio signals with remarkable precision, and the preciseness of their reproduction is quantified in quantities such as THD+noise and IMD, which quantify the imperfections of the reproduced audio. Given a recorded signal and a reproduced acoustic wave, one can quantify how close the sound is reproduced at the listening position. There is exactly one correct waveform, and the deviation of that waveform from the recording signal can be mathematically quantified. There are different ways which the reproduced waveform can differ from the original--whether it be in different frequency response, phase error, added noise, waveform distortion, etc. All of those quantities are mathematically well understood and can be quantified. Any coloration to the signal ("warmth", rolled off highs, lack of bass, "harshness", etc) can be quantified and results from differences between the original and reproduced waveform. By definition, the goal of high-fidelity sound reproduction is exactly that, high-fidelity sound reproduction.
The point here is that if equipment is chosen for the reason that it imparts a coloration on the sound, then it simply isn't a HiFi piece of equipment. If one wants to choose a tube amplifier for the sonic coloration it imparts, that is an artistic choice they make for their own system. It just isn't a HiFi choice.
There's a difference between a van Gogh painting and a Nikon SLR photograph. Each is an extremely nice result. Once is artistic reproduction and one is a high-fidelity reproduction of a visual scene. One might make this analogy between tube coloration vs a low-distortion component.
I can say it simpler... Guitars are made of wood... and a great deal of the sound depends on the wood. Wood is an organic product. All wood is different. Amps are made of metal, plastic and silicon. Electricity produces the sound. We know how to control metal and plastic and silicon and electricity to exacting standards. If there was as much variation in electronics as there is in wood, we would never have put a man on the moon or created the internet.
I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge!
Pickups are the biggest wild card there. Anything that converts acoustic sound to electrical impulse or back again is the variable with solid state. The stuff in the middle that just plays back and amplifies is the easy part.
Electric guitars are made of wood. The density of the wood in a solid body affects the sound/sustain. There are also semi-hollow and hollow body electric guitars made of wood. I'm not going to worry about headphone amps and electronics, generally wood is not part of that equation , unless it's part of the cabinet and has no influence on sound.--- I didn't say anything about speakers or headphone ear cups.
That's because there is a transducer between the real musician and the recording. Transducers actually do sound different. Players and amps are designed from the ground up to be as transparent as possible, and that transparency extends beyond our all too human ability to hear.
Expectation bias. You've already said that the more expensive a tube amp is, the better it sounds. The belief that money automatically infers quality is a big red flag for expectation bias. Nothing wrong with that. We're all subject to it. That's why we do controlled listening tests that remove the possibility of bias from the equation.