Can tube sound be replicated via plugins?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by roughsleeper, Mar 30, 2013.
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  1. bigshot
    I use DSPs on my system all the time. They don't clip, compress or distort. They just process the sound.
  2. Haris Javed
    I see- but DSP's are not plugins. unless the OP is talking about something like miniDSP type device. DSP's are very good at eliminating distortion and cleaning up frequencies. I think OP is talking about using equalizers that come with itunes or other media players.
  3. Ynot1
    It was a while back where they made amps that modeled other amps and I suspect that they used a method to take the impulse response of the actual amp, possibly using complementary sequences kind of thingy. Anyway there is a thing called time variance that seem to cause problems with getting impulse responses. But besides that the output stage of tube amps just have muscles that ss amp just don't measure up it seems typically. Unless you get some guru with ss amp, tube will have different power than ss, and because of this modeling will not achieve the total package. The power difference is like let say Arnold Schwarznegger and Lou Ferrigno squeezing you to death where you die a slow painful death (ss) and Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis giving you a nice horse collar where you don't feel a thing but death and taxes (tubes).
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  4. pinnahertz
    DSP = Digital Signal Processing.

    DSP can take the form of a dedicated hardware device with an internal processor running DSP software. DSP can also be applied as a "plugin", a processing add-on that works within the digital signal path of some other piece of software. DSP can also be applied as a non-real-time process to a file or batch of files. Built-in effects within a DAW are all DSP algorithms, from the simplest EQ to the most complex reverb.

    It's not a thing, but a generic name for many, many types of processing involving the modification of a digital stream.
    Haris Javed likes this.
  5. bigshot
    I've never used a DSP in iTunes. The ones I use are built into my AVR. It would be nice if those were plugins so I could add more. There are a bunch of settings for them, but I've never puzzled out what all the variables do. There are a lot of them.
  6. castleofargh Contributor
    the very purpose of a guitar amp is to distort. they aren't designed for fidelity, instead they are designed for how nice they sound when we overdrive them. making a copy might have the same sort of challenges but the distinct "tube" sound is clearly something else compared to a headphone amp.

    making a good copy of anything requires a device(and measurement gears) with at least as good a level of fidelity. same with getting enough power and your general concern isn't wrong. but your assumptions about tube and SS amp look more like your own preconceptions than reality. how much power do you need? how much power can you expect from a SS amp?
  7. pinnahertz
    1. Yes, impulse response is one method, probably the most common, of profiling something you wish to model.

    2. Not a factor in measuring an amplifier

    3. Muscles? Nonsense, complete nonsense. The Muscle analogy would indicate strength and the ability to deliver power. Typically SS amps will win that one hands down, but you have to be VERY careful of how you measure power, and at what point distortion becomes unacceptable. But to say an SS am doesn't typically "measure up" is complete horse hockey, blatant mythology usually propagated by those who have never measured the performance of any amp.

    4. The capability of an amp to deliver power to a load is a design problem, not a characteristic of one topology of active device type over another. Such generalizations are the root of audio mythology! That's like saying a 25W tube amp can deliver more power than a 250W SS amp, which is total nonsense in every possibly way. Again the muscle analogy…muscle = the ability to deliver force (power) to a load (speaker, person's face, etc.) Power is power, watts units of power measurement. There are no "different watts" in tube designs vs SS.

    Tube amps can sound differently from SS amps for a variety of reasons, but the basics still hold constant across both topologies.
  8. Haris Javed

    AH! makes sense :) - I am a physics major, so my electrical engineering knowledge is weak - I do remember DSP from logic deign class :) Thank you for clarification. The only DSP I have used is the equalizers built in - but what you are saying makes sense since the signal is in digital domain so algorithms can be applied to it
  9. Ynot1
    I applaud efforts to make things better, as I am simply offering a different perspective.
  10. gregorio
    1. And have you actually compared with an oscilloscope? If not then according to your words, you don't "understand why it's bad". If you have then you would know that your next point [2] is not true, unless of course you're actually using a DSP designed to compress and add distortion.
    3. Plugins do not make a signal too hot unless you specifically adjust them that way, say add a huge boost in an EQ plugin but of course you can do the opposite and apply a cut, thereby making the signal lower. Plugins do not change the signal level unless you tell them to and they only change the level by how much you tell them, they do not intrinsically change the level. It's unwise in a science forum and potentially harmful anywhere, to give advice when you obviously don't have any facts upon which to base that advice.

    What different perspective? Nonsense isn't a perspective, it's just nonsense! I don't want to come across as too harsh but this is the sound science sub-forum. If you have a question then ask, we're happy to help, if you have some science which you think may have been overlooked, then please, post it but this isn't the place to post nonsense which you've just made up, present it as fact and then call it a "different perspective" when it's pointed out that it is just made up nonsense! I realise that much of the audiophile world is based on these "different perspectives" but typically that just means someone's invented some nonsense to sucker the punters, there are numerous specifics in audio where there are not different perspectives, just as there isn't a different perspective that 1 + 1 = 2.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  11. Haris Javed
    Yes I have used an Oscilloscope to see what happens to a signal when it is modified/compressed/clipped. I was having line out issues with an active preamp, and by using an oscilloscope I was able to see that adjustments on the preamp were causing clipping, and distortion when test tones were played (gain applied) - . For my point 2 I didn't need an oscilloscope as the itunes equalizer makes the original signal audibly distorted (the signal can be well distorted before its audible). I have no experience with miniDSP like products. Only itunes - and that was many years ago. BTW in your third point you list the reason for distortion/clipping..let me quote it "say add a huge boost in an EQ plugin but of course you can do the opposite and apply a cut" and you think no clipping/compression/artifacting will happen? .......yeah ok..
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  12. pinnahertz
    If all you've used is iTunes then you have not experienced much of what DSP can do. If all you've experienced is iTunes many years ago, then you haven't experienced iTunes either. The iTunes EQ is frustrating, granted, but the distortion issues have been at least partially addressed. I haven't used all the presets, but the ones I've tried recently are better and cleaner than before.

    Gregorio is right, though. The general principles of a DSP plugging often (usually) allow for input and output gain adjustment, which has the potential to eliminate clipping within the DSP. You just won't find that sort of things in iTunes, which is a very closed ecosystem.

    Observing clipping on an oscilloscope is one thing, judging compression is quite another. Not so easy, especially when trying to correlate what you see with what you hear.

    But kudos to anyone using a 'scope at all to diagnose an audio problem these days!
  13. gregorio
    If you boost a signal which is already very near full scale then of course it will clip. That's not the plugin causing clipping/compression/artifacts, that's operator error. If you apply a cut, then no, it will NEVER cause clipping. An EQ DSP will not cause compression and it will not cause any artifacts except of course the designed change to the signal dictated by your EQ setting!!

  14. pinnahertz
    One of the problems the earlier iTunes EQ had was inadequate headroom to accommodate an EQ boost. Odd problem to have, actually, considering the kind of material most played by iTunes users. Current version seems to have improved that, but frankly I find their presets are useless, too general, or too extreme.

    I'll confirm, there is no compression in an EQ DSP. That would be a disaster.
  15. Haris Javed
    sounds good - thank you for clearing that up :)
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