"all tube amps are colored"
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kelly

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Quote:

bootman said:
It is really surprising how much of us like "color" in the sound.
(I'm one of them, all tube fans are even if they don't know it yet.)


Bootman posted this in another thread and I think it's worthy of a good (friendly) debate--but didn't want to crap that excellent thread. I really hope people on both sides of this issue will add to the thread.

I feel that this is one of the biggest myths on HeadFi. This topic has come up in various threads here and there so some of this is repeated information (sorry) but here's my basic view on the difference between solid state and dynamic headphone amps.

Solid state and tube equipment both have distortions. These distortions measure differently and people argue about which kind of distortions matter more and cause the most degradation. Since I'm not so smart or researched, I leave that to those of you who are. My opinions are based on subjective listening only.

In low cost amps, solid state amps have a tendency to sound harsh and thin--lacking weight and roundness and often adding a hazy shadow above the music. This is a stereotype--it does not apply to all solid state amps and the stereotype becomes less true with more expensive amps.

In low cost amps, tube amps have a tendency to sound murky, clouded and thick--lacking texture/airiness and sounding muddled. This is a stereotype--it does not apply to all solid state amps and the stereotype becomes less true with more expensive amps.

I have heard solid state amps that sounded more thick and murky than similar priced tube amps. I have heard tube amps that sounded more harsh and thin than similarly priced solid state amps. For these reasons, I will do my best to ignore the stereotypes and move on to judging the amplifiers in an indifividual case by case.
 
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Nezer

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Dude, *anything* in the signal path colors it to some degree. Until our audio systems all use sumperconducters inside them we just have to live with it.

Yes, this applies to cables, traces, resistors, caps, op-amp ICs, and tubes.
 
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kelly

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Oops, I didn't really state my thesis threre. My argument is that all amplifiers are audibly colored and that tube amplifiers are not unheritly "more colored" than solid states.
 
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Nezer

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Quote:

Originally posted by kelly
Oops, I didn't really state my thesis threre. My argument is that all amplifiers are audibly colored and that tube amplifiers are not unheritly "more colored" than solid states.


I'll agree with that... Perhaps one could say they are inheriently 'differently colored' than SS? But even that is a blanket statement and may not apply because inheariently each opamp sounds a 'different color' as do each tube. So it's really a fine line to walk.
 
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Each amp will have it's own spec's, and it's own sound with different headphones.

Blockhead?

Orpheus?

Electrostatics?


If all of above were a gift to you, which one of your three would you use the most?
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by fredpb
Each amp will have it's own spec's, and it's own sound with different headphones.

Blockhead?

Orpheus?

Electrostatics?


If all of above were a gift to you, which one of your three would you use the most?


The Orpheus is an electrostatic headphone and tube amplifier and is the best headphone system I have heard as far as I'm concerned.
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by fredpb
Each amp will have it's own spec's, and it's own sound with different headphones.

Blockhead?

Orpheus?

Electrostatics?


If all of above were a gift to you, which one of your three would you use the most?


I'd sell the Blockhead and use the money to buy an EAR HP-4 for the R10. The Orpheus and Stax Omega (if that were the electrostatic in question) would be backup systems.
 
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KR...

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Quote:

Originally posted by fredpb
Each amp will have it's own spec's, and it's own sound with different headphones.

Blockhead?

Orpheus?

Electrostatics?


If all of above were a gift to you, which one of your three would you use the most?


The only electrostatics that I have heard, and I heard all the current ones, that I liked was the Orpheus. Still it would be hard to choose between the Orpheus and Blockhead. The Blockhead sounds great with all styles of music, while the Orpheus really shines with classical, it still sounds great with other styles, but it's sounds really great with classical. But, there is no clear winner sound wise.

Damn, I guess it would be the Orpheus, and that's only becuase it's so much more comfy than the HD600's.
 
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Nezer

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Quote:

Originally posted by Hirsch


I'd sell the Blockhead and use the money to buy an EAR HP-4 for the R10. The Orpheus and Stax Omega (if that were the electrostatic in question) would be backup systems.


Amen! Although I don't own the R10s the HP4 works really really well with the HD600s.
 
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I see what kelly is trying to say. As you move from low end to higher end, the sound characteristics of tube vs ss tend to get less exclusive and start to cross boundaries. I hate tubes, but I generally love many of the stereotypical sound traits of tubes. I used to hate ss, but now that I've heard some quality ones like the META42, McCormack MID, and Classe CA-201, I am open to be dazzled by anything.
Hell the Melos SHA-1 is a hybrid, and I thought it was the best sounding headphone amp (second only to Orpheus). Best of both worlds perhaps?
 
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kelly

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A&M
That's not exactly what I mean to say, but close--simply put: the generalizations about tube and solid state equipment are only generalizations, so they're never really "true" to begin with. The generalizations are true in some percentage of the time and I think that percentage goes down as the cost of the equipment goes up. The flaws just get smaller in general and the flaws don't fall on a particular side.
 
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Quote:

Amen! Although I don't own the R10s the HP4 works really really well with the HD600s.


The HP4 at the meet sounded great at 1st, then it started humming like a giant bee

I think the tubes went bad during the show, the is one of the things that I don't like about tubes, in that you always have to keep changing them. On the plus side, most tubes sound different, so you can tweak the sound more than any other type of amp.
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by fredpb
Each amp will have it's own spec's, and it's own sound with different headphones.

Blockhead?

Orpheus?

Electrostatics?


If all of above were a gift to you, which one of your three would you use the most?


Easy choice after the Orlando show.

Blockhead-Stepped attenuator / Cardas cable HD600. VERY DEFINITELY best of show.

BTW are you going to throw in that incredible BAT player????

Personally, I didn't hear anything that was really comparable, and, non-balanced, I'd still take a MAX.

For one thing, I want to plug the damn thing in and enjoy. Not worry if I need to try different tubes, how long the tubes will last and God knows how many other things. I'm too old for that ****. Relax and enjoy the music. That's my motto.

Too much tweakin' and worryin' about equipment, and where the hell did all the enjoyment of the music go???????
 
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I think one could choose to go solid state just based on the merit of how much trouble one can eventually get in when the itch starts coming in to tube roll...
 
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