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Output Transformerless vs Transformer Coupled Output Tube Amps

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by ptom, Jan 17, 2014.
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  1. SP Wild
    Output transformers are a component that colors the sound.  If you have experience with electric guitars that a tube driven and listen to OTL and OT amps...you start to understand where this "saturation" component of the transformers add to the overall sound...for which an OTL is free from.  OTLs are very crisp, quick and precise.  I have a preference for Hybrids and OTLs after identifying the "saturation" effect of all my transformer coupled amps.
     
  2. esldude

    Well, maybe, maybe even usually, but you can't make blanket statements like that.  Properly chosen, designed and sized at transformer isn't going to saturate.  Certainly the effect is likely intentional in guitar amps for the effect they cause. 
     
    OTL's can be clean and quick or if not designed for the load, poor damping causes muddy bass, and there can be other problems.  Of course design for transparency first, and only make changes intentionally for effect and things work out much better.  Picking an intentionally colored amp whether OTL, xfmr tube, or SS is the hard way to get there from here.
     
  3. SP Wild
    Yeah, nah - you are right.  I can't make blanket statements like that - I have not heard the creme de la creme of transformer coupled amps.  I don't mind the transformers "web of detail" and and slightly "saturated" sound on my amps at all...But for absolute reference I felt it best to eliminate this effect altogether if possible.
     
    But Garry Moores haunting blues guitar comes out of my transformer coupled amps like no other amps I have heard.
     
  4. PTom
    What exactly is this saturation effect?
     
  5. SP Wild
    I can't explain it, but can guarantee that for many the sound of output transformers is very pleasing, which I can't disagree on.
     
    The sound of magnetism?  The headphone isn't actually physically connected electrically to the amplifier...like your recharging toothbrush is not connected to anything when recharging. 
     
    Its a personal bias, having not heard these multi-thousand dollar tube amps - all I can think of is an ignition coil...and I don't like the idea of an ignition coil serving duties as the driving mechanism for exquisite sound.
     
  6. PTom
    When you say that the headphone isn't physically connected to the amplifier I'm guessing your referring to the fact that in transformers there's an air gap between the primary and secondary coil windings?
     
    If you think about it like that, OTLs normally have output capacitors which block DC current, so in those amps you also have an air gap between the amp and headphone.
     
  7. SP Wild
    Hmmm never thought about that...but that explains the engineering challenge of producing amplifiers without capacitors in the signal path.  Explains my OCD in removing input capacitors from my amps.
     
    Explains the capacitor symbol in the circuit diagram - it's a break in the circuit.
     
  8. mikeaj
     
    I don't think it's a great idea removing input capacitors on amps, though it depends on what's feeding them and what the amps are doing...
     
    I mean, considering the amp input impedance there's not much any harm of those capacitors, and they do serve a purpose.
     
  9. AegisAvantGarde
    Oh another fellow anti-capacitor OCD! This is my amp with only ONE high-end Jupiter Beeswax II or Teflon V Cap capacitor in the signal path, of course its a single ended triode. BEHOLD: The Zen Integrated from Decware!! 6 glorious watts per channel!
     
    http://www.decware.com/newsite/SE34I.htm
     
    Silver wires, a Jupiter Capacitor  and tubes are the only thing between you and the music. It does have an output transformer but it is a high end custom made UFO transformer. I do use a Woo Audio WA 2 SET OTL as preamp tho. Oh and dont forget to use single driver speakers, the crossovers in two or three way speakers are the bane of reference sound! Luckily headphones are single drivers!
     
    Yet my recomendation to you is an OTL with tubes from decware:
     
    http://www.decware.com/newsite/CSP3.html
     
    very well priced in my opinion, and very good for our OCD. 
     
  10. cladane
    Hello,
     
    Decware productions are nice devices.
     
    I was wondering if it is possible to build an Output Transformer able to drive any headphone from 30 ohms to 600 ohms.
    I have understood that the impedance matching was necessary to fully load the output tubes.
    Wouldn't it be possible to use some electronics to make the job (loading the output tubes) allowing an 'Universal Output Transformer' ??
     
  11. SP Wild
    Back from the dead.

    Several years have passed and I now find myself in the posession of a WA22 transformer coupled amp.

    I still stand by my initial assessment of transfomers saturating the the sound, however with no loss of detail... It sounds very pleasing to my ears.... As they always sounded to me anyway.

    However with more costs involved with these transformers what I get is solid state treble extension, transients, and bass control. It cannot possibly be reference with such vibrant colours... Hence I keep my solid state reference.

    But I much prefer tubes for listening to music. OTL or transformer coupled. Music doesn't happen for me without tubes. Ok, bit of an overstatement because I can enjoy music out of the crappy car stereo. I enjoy music out of a solid state amp a lot. Out of a tube amp, more so.
     
  12. skhan007

    Just found this thread and the great information within.
     
    I'll agree that to me, a tube amp is my preference. This is coming from the guitar amp world, as I'm a player and collector of tube guitar amps. I'm just now getting into exploring the headphone amp world. I've heard great examples of solid state, tube, and OTL tube headphone amps and am having a hard time differentiating, because they are all so good. I'm particularly intrigued by both Woo and MicroZotl amps, currently and hope to hear more, as opportunities arise!
     
  13. watchnerd
     
    Why do you even want to mess with this?
     
    It's hard enough to find a transducer, whether headphone or speaker, that suits your needs perfectly.  Pick a neutral amp and call it a day.
     
    But when you get into highly variable amps that use ancient technology, it's a whole crazy set of variables and unknowns about the mutual interactions.
     
    I don't know why anyone wants that bag of hurt.
     
    The rest of the world stopped using OTLs for very good reasons.
     
  14. watchnerd
    Awww, sheeeeiittt I got necroed
     
    eb0fc4b87fea9dbd1fb06a836f354bde73d0259a0a298893c1bffb15efb70cbc.jpg
     
  15. SP Wild
    Never understood the concept of a necro thread.

    A discussion is a discussion. Irrelevant how the discussion is trigerred, so long as the discussion is a good one.
     
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