SS vs. tube
Jul 31, 2008 at 4:27 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 29

moredes

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I've never heard another headphone amp aside from my own. What's the difference between SS amps and tubed amps? Everyone says "tubes" are warmer, but I've heard some damn thin tube combinations... the EH 6sn7's sound pretty tinny to me, if that's an 'example' of SS sound....
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 6:30 PM Post #4 of 29

moredes

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I worded my post badly and left the wrong impression. I bought a used MPX3 SLAM that came with several tubes. I've heard the EH tubes that were included, and my MPX3 is now set up with a Mullard ECC32 and two Tung Sol 5687s. But I was just wondering what SS has to offer over tubed headphone amps that makes them appealing. If "thin" is a description that can be applied to SS when compared to 'tubed', I meant my first post only to mean that the only point of reference I've got for a "thin" sound, is EH tubes.

Thank you.
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 6:39 PM Post #5 of 29

ciphercomplete

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I think SS amps offer accuracy and neutrality i.e it doesn't "fake" warm lush sound. Tube amps offer lots of beautiful music that is pleasant on the ears.

Can you guess which one I prefer.
wink_face.gif


I think this accuracy and neutrality can come of as thin with amps like the Gilmore lite or so I've heard. But I have also heard that Headrooms amps are extremely full bodied and warm sounding. It is notable that most SS amps that a lot of people call thin or too bright are often fully discrete while Headrooms amps use opamps. But as with everything it depends on the particular amp and design.
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 7:09 PM Post #6 of 29

nikongod

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ciphercomplete /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I think SS amps offer accuracy and neutrality i.e it doesn't "fake" warm lush sound.


Sounds in the real world are warm and lush. Can you identify a natural sound with the "ss grit?"

this of course brings up the alarmingly inaccurate stereotype that tubes are incapable of reproducing the highs. lametoast.
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 7:36 PM Post #7 of 29

rds

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Both can be excellent.
All the cliches you hear about tubes vs solid state are either psychological in origin or come from hearing poorly implemented amps.
Solid state is not intrinsically "thin" or "harsh" just as tubes are not intrinsically "warm" or rolled off in the highs.
As far as I know the one real difference is that SS produces mainly 3rd order harmonics whereas tubes produce 2nd order.
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 8:54 PM Post #8 of 29

ciphercomplete

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nikongod /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Sounds in the real world are warm and lush. Can you identify a natural sound with the "ss grit?"

this of course brings up the alarmingly inaccurate stereotype that tubes are incapable of reproducing the highs. lametoast.



You missed my point. Tube amps add warmth and lushness to recordings that might not have it otherwise. For whatever reasons, alot of recordings lack that realistic warmth and lushness and tubes put them back to a certain extent. I don't think that is debatable. SS amps accurately reproduce whats there in the recording sometimes to a fault "ss grit". I get what you are saying but you completely misrepresented what I wrote. I never commented on which was more natural between SS and Tubes, on which I agree with you...
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 9:40 PM Post #9 of 29

Skylab

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Actually I find that modern tube amps are only ever so slightly warm, and even this is highly dependent on tube choices. My Singlepower Extreme, for example, with some tube combos, was LESS warm than the SS Meier Opera. I do prefer just a touch of midrange lushness, and as such I tend to choose tubes that offer this. I stop way short of syrupy, though.

Some SS amps are way to bright sounding to me, but many, like the Opera, the Purity Audio KICAS Caliente, are actually themselves ever so slightly warm of neutral. What i have never heard, though, is a SS amp that can truly deliver the kind of midrange sweetness that sounds "real" to me. Only good tube amps seem to get this done, for me.
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 10:07 PM Post #10 of 29

tfarney

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nikongod /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Sounds in the real world are warm and lush. Can you identify a natural sound with the "ss grit?"

this of course brings up the alarmingly inaccurate stereotype that tubes are incapable of reproducing the highs. lametoast.



I probably won't be able to do that until I get some solid state bad enough to be gritty.

The real answer here is it depends. I have a 35 (or so) year old Harman Kardon integrated amp that is very warm. I just spent a week with and EL84-based Glow Amp One. The differences were very subtle and pretty subjective in my view. After a full week of listening to the Glow (I'd guess I put in 20 hours), I switched back to the old HK. What the Glow had over the HK was a bit of compelling something extra in the mids that seemed to push them forward and fill them out a bit. What the HK had over the Glow was speed and more impact, particularly in the bass.

And while the old HK is a very strong old workhorse that does a great job driving my Senn HD580s, it is not, by any means, the best SS amp out there. I would suspect that the best SS amps would compare similarly to the best tubed amps. In other words, the gap is not huge and the choice is subjective.

Tim
 
Jul 31, 2008 at 10:54 PM Post #12 of 29

pataburd

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I've had good success with tube amps and low impedance headphones. Right now, for example, the 25 ohm D2000 sound very, very good with either the all-tube Darkvoice 337 or the hybrid Bada PH-12.

To me, tubes offer an extra degree of versatility for tweaking the amp to better suit a set of headphones, or a particular musical genre.

I became "sold" on tube amps when I a/b-ed the Kora Titan (all-tube/12AX7) monoblocks against the highly acclaimed Plinius SA-100, Mk.II. While the Plinius was well reviewed for its excellent bass response, the Titans easily bettered the Plinius in the bass regions, plus the Titans offered such a dynamic, palpable and "true-to-life" sound. I built my last big, he-man rig around the Koras.

After the Titans I got into dedicated headphone listening and have strongly preferred a tube and/or hybrid amp to solid state all the while.

Tube-rolling can be exciting--and expensive(!), too.
 
Aug 1, 2008 at 1:16 AM Post #13 of 29

Spareribs

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I really enjoy a good SS amp but tubes are dear to my heart. It has such a lovely sound that SS usually don't produce. The music feels more human and seems to breath better. On some recordings, SS prevails but over all, tubes add the extra dimension especially for acoustic music.

chewie0ol.gif
 
Aug 1, 2008 at 11:48 PM Post #14 of 29

moredes

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RDS: Quote:

SS produces mainly 3rd order harmonics whereas tubes produce 2nd order.


Stealth 'choppers... must be Special Forces.
confused.gif
normal_smile .gif
I thought I felt it... and I know it went right over my head, but I didn't even hear it... I swear it went by... but...

What does the quoted statement mean? (in layman's terms--that is, for the 'ignernt'.)

Spareribs:
Quote:

On some recordings, SS prevails but over all, tubes add the extra dimension especially for acoustic music.


What's 'acoustic music'?
 
Aug 2, 2008 at 12:02 AM Post #15 of 29

rds

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Quote:


SS produces mainly 3rd order harmonics whereas tubes produce 2nd order.

Stealth 'choppers... must be Special Forces. I thought I felt it... and I know it went right over my head, but I didn't even hear it... I swear it went by... but...

What does the quoted statement mean? (in layman's terms--that is, for the 'ignernt'.)


I might ask you the same thing
confused.gif

I'm referring to harmonic distortion. Harmonics are something you need to research yourself if you're interested in understanding them. It's almost like asking 'what is calculus?'. There's no satisfactory quick answer.
Harmonic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Total harmonic distortion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

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