Can tube sound be replicated via plugins?
Jul 14, 2017 at 12:41 AM Post #91 of 179

Orestes1984

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Valves are like lightbulbs, you really have to be a moth in the dark to be attracted to the glow of a valve. Its OK if you don't get it, but you don't need to jump on top of someone like a 300lb gorilla just because you don't get it. It's not really a modification of anything, valves complete a circuit in the same way they would in any other amplification stage the thing is like everything else a valve is a perishable item, it has also reduced in quality the same way a light bulb has over the years in terms of development and production. If you don't maintain things properly then they're going to sound like crap regardless.

Maybe if your amp sounds bad you should service it and put in some period correct new valves.
 
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Jul 14, 2017 at 1:37 AM Post #92 of 179

pinnahertz

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Valves are like lightbulbs, you really have to be a moth in the dark to be attracted to the glow of a valve. Its OK if you don't get it, but you don't need to jump on top of someone like a 300lb gorilla just because you don't get it.
300lb_audio_gorillas_Sq.jpg
 
Jul 14, 2017 at 12:38 PM Post #93 of 179

bigshot

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OK. I get what you're saying Orestes. It's basically the same as what I said a bunch of posts back. At their best, tube amps are capable of achieving transparency, so they can sound as good as a typical solid state amp. But that raises the question... why would you spend more money and have the bother of having to maintain tubes when you can just go out at get a $100 solid state amp that performs just as well? What is the appeal of a tube amp if it doesn't sound any different than a solid state amp? And why stop with just an amp? Why not get a tube blu-ray player and a tube computer sound card?
 
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Jul 14, 2017 at 8:39 PM Post #94 of 179

Orestes1984

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The appeal for me is the vintage equipment and listening to music in a format as intended when it was recorded. I mostly don't listen to new music recorded after the 1980s on analogue format, I've got a set of headphones and my iPhone for that environment. I get the point that you may not enjoy the aspect of listening to it like that, but it's a matter of it being what it is, you're recreating the environment in which the music was recorded as it came off the press, especially with vinyl and reel to reel tape. Actually, I'm not sure if you've ever put your ear to the grooves on a record and actually heard music being played? You don't get that with the digital experience.

For what its worth, you don't have to "maintain" tubes, they're kinda like a light bulb, they either work as intended or they don't, and you can hear a bad valve in your system straight away without even looking at the filament, or whether its used or otherwise. But then some tubes depending on how you use them will last 20, 30 or even 50 years. Kind of like an old fashioned light bulb you see, when the filaments on a light bulb were designed consistently as they were with a valve lets say 50 years ago, they didn't burn out after a couple of months use. Today you chuck it out and put an LED light bulb in instead.

The maintenance thing of a tube amp is fairly straight forward also. A tube amplifier, especially a vintage one is made up of a series of components, resistors, capacitors, pots, and knobs, all of which can be maintained/replaced if you know what you're doing. They are all user serviceable parts and that's what brands such as Dynaco sold their amplifiers on the ability of. A simple person with not much knowledge and some skill with a soldering iron, a volt meter, pair of pliers wire cutters can fix their own amp.

If you buy a $100 solid state amplifier? It is what it is, usually if something fails, and you're not a small electronics repair person, you write it off for the cost of a failure and you buy a new component instead. That's the straight out laws of consumerism. Things are designed to be obsoleted. You can always maintain and upgrade a valve amplifier especially if you know what you're doing.

As to the merits of tubes on top of digital, there are no merits to be had in that environment. The only thing you're achieving is colour which I'm guessing in a sound science forum is not what you want to achieve? Although some people enjoy it, its not natural. The whole point of rolling tubes for me is recreating an environment, a listening space, or whatever you want to call it that gets closer to being as it was at the time the music was recorded.

I get there is a world of digital out there, and I enjoy that also for its ease of access and simplicity, I don't have to dig through a pile of vinyl to find what I want to listen to, I don't have to cue up a track either, but right now I'd rather be listening to some vinyl in my living room the old fashioned way. I listen to enough digital stuff on the go. Keep the digital for where it serves me best in terms of mobility, and leave my listening space the way it was and the way people were happy with before all of this consumerist nonsense came about.
 
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Jul 15, 2017 at 6:11 PM Post #95 of 179

bigshot

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I totally understand the nostalgia factor. I have antique phonographs myself. But buying a modern tube amp off the shelf wouldn't give me the same sort of fun that a beautiful old cabinet stereo system from the early 60s or a chair side radio from the 40s would. The cabinet and design of it are more important than having a modern equivalent of the guts.

For me the thing that really makes something sound authentic is the transducer. Old JBL speakers, Voice of the Theater, etc... The stuff that vibrates to make the sound is what really affects the sound. I have 1970s JBL studio monitors in my own system, and I'd never trade them for modern speakers. Modern speakers are cleaner and flatter, but those old cabinet speakers pack a punch and can go VERY loud and still sound great. It's expensive to get modern designed speakers that can do that.

When it comes to sound quality, coloration is fine. But it's better when you can control it using EQ and DSPs than to toss the dice and get random coloration depending on the design of the amp. I prefer to have everything flat and clean up until the last stage, and then apply my tweaks in a controlled way.
 
Jul 15, 2017 at 6:32 PM Post #97 of 179

bigshot

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Old speakers are cheap as dirt too. If you know what you're looking for, you can score at thrift stores.
 
Jul 16, 2017 at 11:52 AM Post #99 of 179

Orestes1984

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All the old speakers I've seen need new foam surrounds. That makes them not cheap.

Thats an extreme generation or you live in an area where they are exposed to perishing. I've never really had an issue I've got a set of 40 year old near field monitors sitting on my desk right now and I just displaced a set of Pioneer speakers. The more common fault with older speakers is that they don' tend to go much below 30hz and my LS3/5As are not much different in that regard. Surprisingly the Rogers LS7 was much better at doing that.
 
Jul 16, 2017 at 2:53 PM Post #100 of 179

pinnahertz

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Thats an extreme generation or you live in an area where they are exposed to perishing. I've never really had an issue I've got a set of 40 year old near field monitors sitting on my desk right now and I just displaced a set of Pioneer speakers. The more common fault with older speakers is that they don' tend to go much below 30hz and my LS3/5As are not much different in that regard. Surprisingly the Rogers LS7 was much better at doing that.
No, the conditions here are not particularly extreme. It's pretty much every speaks with a foam surround from the early 70s when it was first used to the late 90s when manufacturers figured out how to make the foam last longer. I just had an opportunity to buy a pair of Thiel speakers a couple weeks back. 3-way design, both woofs and mids were rotted to dust. Yes

I agree that response below 30Hz is a problem for older speakers.
 
Jul 16, 2017 at 8:50 PM Post #101 of 179

old tech

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The appeal for me is the vintage equipment and listening to music in a format as intended when it was recorded. I mostly don't listen to new music recorded after the 1980s on analogue format, I've got a set of headphones and my iPhone for that environment. I get the point that you may not enjoy the aspect of listening to it like that, but it's a matter of it being what it is, you're recreating the environment in which the music was recorded as it came off the press, especially with vinyl and reel to reel tape. Actually, I'm not sure if you've ever put your ear to the grooves on a record and actually heard music being played? You don't get that with the digital experience.

For what its worth, you don't have to "maintain" tubes, they're kinda like a light bulb, they either work as intended or they don't, and you can hear a bad valve in your system straight away without even looking at the filament, or whether its used or otherwise. But then some tubes depending on how you use them will last 20, 30 or even 50 years. Kind of like an old fashioned light bulb you see, when the filaments on a light bulb were designed consistently as they were with a valve lets say 50 years ago, they didn't burn out after a couple of months use. Today you chuck it out and put an LED light bulb in instead.

The maintenance thing of a tube amp is fairly straight forward also. A tube amplifier, especially a vintage one is made up of a series of components, resistors, capacitors, pots, and knobs, all of which can be maintained/replaced if you know what you're doing. They are all user serviceable parts and that's what brands such as Dynaco sold their amplifiers on the ability of. A simple person with not much knowledge and some skill with a soldering iron, a volt meter, pair of pliers wire cutters can fix their own amp.

If you buy a $100 solid state amplifier? It is what it is, usually if something fails, and you're not a small electronics repair person, you write it off for the cost of a failure and you buy a new component instead. That's the straight out laws of consumerism. Things are designed to be obsoleted. You can always maintain and upgrade a valve amplifier especially if you know what you're doing.

As to the merits of tubes on top of digital, there are no merits to be had in that environment. The only thing you're achieving is colour which I'm guessing in a sound science forum is not what you want to achieve? Although some people enjoy it, its not natural. The whole point of rolling tubes for me is recreating an environment, a listening space, or whatever you want to call it that gets closer to being as it was at the time the music was recorded.

I get there is a world of digital out there, and I enjoy that also for its ease of access and simplicity, I don't have to dig through a pile of vinyl to find what I want to listen to, I don't have to cue up a track either, but right now I'd rather be listening to some vinyl in my living room the old fashioned way. I listen to enough digital stuff on the go. Keep the digital for where it serves me best in terms of mobility, and leave my listening space the way it was and the way people were happy with before all of this consumerist nonsense came about.
A lot of good points made by various contributors here.

I agree that there is no reason why a valve amp cannot be as transparent as a good SS amp –though power output and low impedance driving capacity is a challenge with many of them – but also agree that the virtue equation means that the SS amp will be the more cost effective and practical solution.

The virtue equation is somewhat irrelevant to most listeners that prefer valve amps as their sound preference is not based on transparency, but rather euphonic colour which can be pleasant to some ears, particularly if it is the sound that one grew up with and is more familiar.

Personally, I prefer the sound of good quality digital (though, good masterings are not always easy to find outside the classical genre) for home listening. The fact that digital is also portable and convenient is a bonus. On the other hand you prefer the sound of vinyl/analog tape/valve amplification.

Nothing wrong with that, we should listen to music how we enjoy it, and kudos for you for stating it a subjective preference rather than basing it on unsupported evidence and pseudoscience, which many evangelic analog disciples seem to do. Though what I don’t get is how this re-creates the sound of that era? Wouldn’t a transparent playback path recreate the original sound more faithfully, providing it was recorded and mastered properly?

Btw, I have an old 1950s AM valve radio in my study (a family hand me down) which I still use in the background every now and then – mainly to tune into football matches. It has that warm, mellowy analog/tube sound which while hardly high fidelity is euphonically pleasant. It is the same radio which I got to know most of the songs of the 1960s and 70s when I was a child (and still has most of the original valves inside it.). Funnily enough, when one of those hits is played on that radio it connects me back to my childhood in a way that listening to the same old songs in high fidelity cannot.
 
Jul 17, 2017 at 8:06 AM Post #102 of 179

Orestes1984

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I like the tangible as well as the aural connection. I have a vinyl connection. It's a totally different connection when you put a piece of wax on your turntable and drop the needle. Apart from that, my childhood connection is to valve amplification, I grew up as a kid in the back of a transit van listening to rock guitarists. I have a tangible connection to that also. At times the medium may not be perfect aurally but even the pops and clicks are pleasant to me. Not mentioning anyway, listening to digital conversions of 1960s Jazz doesn't really do it. Most of it has been brickwalled due to the differences in tape as a medium which can't possibly hold as much data as a .WAV file. But normalising it for digital output just wreaks the whole experience. It's very good but its just not the same.

I'm currently listening to When Sunny Gets Blue on a set of LS3/5A studio reference monitors, so at least credit me with some taste.
 
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Jul 17, 2017 at 12:53 PM Post #103 of 179

bigshot

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All the old speakers I've seen need new foam surrounds. That makes them not cheap.

Look for the JBLs with the cloth surrounds. Those are usually in good condition and sound incredible loud.

I have over 15,000 records, but I have absolutely no connection to them as tangible objects. All I care about is the music that they contain. If I could snap my fingers and have them all converted straight to digital files, I'd do that in a heartbeat and never look back. Technology can become obsolete, but music rarely does.
 
Jul 17, 2017 at 8:17 PM Post #104 of 179

old tech

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I like the tangible as well as the aural connection. I have a vinyl connection. It's a totally different connection when you put a piece of wax on your turntable and drop the needle. Apart from that, my childhood connection is to valve amplification, I grew up as a kid in the back of a transit van listening to rock guitarists. I have a tangible connection to that also. At times the medium may not be perfect aurally but even the pops and clicks are pleasant to me. Not mentioning anyway, listening to digital conversions of 1960s Jazz doesn't really do it. Most of it has been brickwalled due to the differences in tape as a medium which can't possibly hold as much data as a .WAV file. But normalising it for digital output just wreaks the whole experience. It's very good but its just not the same.

I'm currently listening to When Sunny Gets Blue on a set of LS3/5A studio reference monitors, so at least credit me with some taste.
I understand where you are coming from, playing a record does involve more of our senses which can give a more enjoyable experience. It is very much a personal thing though, for some it is an immersive experience while others, it detracts from it. Although I maintain a very decent vinyl rig, I find the whole ritual of finding the record, thoroughly cleaning it, enduring through the inevitable crap tracks and changing the side over to be a PITA. It doesn't help that I'm more of a playlist type of listener as there are very few albums apart from concept albums that I like listening right through.

I have digitised most of my records (the rare ones and those which have the better masterings than the CD or hi res version) and they sound identical to being played on my donor T/T, but now with the flexibility of creating my own playlists. The point you make about digital conversion of 60s Jazz is interesting. I don't know why the label would want to brickwall this type of music as the dynamic are important to this genre. Unfortunately there is a lot of 50s/60s music that the labels put minimal effort for the CD remaster, probably because there isn't enough of a market to justify the time and expense. One really has to do some homework to find the good ones. I was listening to DCC Elvis 24 Karats compilation CD the other night, it is one of the few Elvis CDs which make use of the format and therefore, do sound better than the vinyl versions.

And yes, you do have good taste in music.
 
Jul 17, 2017 at 8:21 PM Post #105 of 179

old tech

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All the old speakers I've seen need new foam surrounds. That makes them not cheap.
From experience, refoaming is not expensive.

I had the 15" woofers on the 30yo speakers used with my second stereo refoamed a couple years ago. It cost just over $100, including good quality foams. Heck, for an extra $80 I could have requested the OEM foams.
 

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