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Tube rolling

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by jiminy, Feb 5, 2013.
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  1. jiminy
    I've recently started looking at the sunrise 2 amp. And have seen mention of tube rolling. What is the science behind this. Does it make a difference to sound or is it as pointless as changing cables?
  2. scuttle
    You reach the pointless-as-magic-cables level when you buy a tube amp. After that you're into "I'm concerned that my voodoo practioner may not be following FDA guidelines" territory.
    That's not to say that you shouldn't practice voodoo - or tubedoo. But you've already gone outside scientific criteria when you do. (Basically, the spiel for tube amps is supposed to be that the distortions they produce make music sound better... To which to the scientific reply is "That's not what blind test's show" and the common sense one is "I want to hear what the musician played.")
    Evidence eg
  3. nick_charles Contributor
    It is possible to create low distortion tube amps but they tend to be more expensive and lower power. A good tube amp can actually have less distortion than some SS amps but what is the point when properly implemented SS amps tend to be more reliable and you do not have to mess about with tubes. Also if swapping a component such as one functioning-to-spec-and the right-spec-for-the-design tube for another brand/model of functioning-to-spec-and the right-spec-for-the-design tube makes a huge difference it would suggest a serious problem with the design.... voodoo does seem like a good word here !
    EDIT: From time to time Stereophile is educational. The measurements sections of reviews are informative. Examining the distortion performance of some of their favorite tube amps is a horrifying experience and tube amps often get a free pass with performance that would be wholly unacceptable for any other class of item  
  4. eucariote
    That article doesn't talk about the lack of sonic differences between tubes.  In fact they mention sonic changes that can arise in tube amps (e.g. roll of in high frequencies), which i have experienced first hand.  I haven't made measurements, but the differences between tubes are audible, vs. differences between dacs and ss amps that I don't hear.  Vacuum tubes aren't like wires- there are many factors that affect how electrons flow from cathode to anode (temperature, heaters, grids etc).
  5. scuttle
    Ok: you completely missed the point - which could well be my fault for making it badly. Yes, you can certainly have "sonic changes" in tube amps by messing with them - but these represent varying degrees of imperfection. Good amps otoh all sound the same - transparent. The rationale for paying more for a tube amp than an equal quality SS amp, that the tube amp supposedly adds some beneficial hard to define quality, is balloon juice.
    Gignac likes this.
  6. eucariote
    ^ ah- I got thrown by your mention of blind tests (which usually show lack of audible difference) and the once-sentence summary of the study "When compared evenly, the sonic differences between amplifiers operated below clipping are below the audible threshold of human hearing".    Which wouldn't apply to some tube amps because they add audible distortion, I agree.  But some people do like the sound of added harmonics and some headphones are built far too bright (Beyers, Grados) and tube amps can de-emphasize their treble.  In the first case some pleasure can result from this particular type of distortion and in the second the distortion can make flawed headphones more faithful to the original recordings.
  7. scuttle
    I think the more efficient tool for reducing treble is an equalizer...
    As for the added harmonics and people liking their sound, again, I don't think anyone has ever been able to pick them out in ABX test, certainly not against a solid state system adjusted to sound the same!
    What's really amusing is that digital technology can almost certainly create added harmonics more effectively than tubes can - and very cheaply. I often kick in a tube-ish effect on my Cowon J3, depending on what I am listening to and my mood
    - the Cowon's dsp is used to fake lost harmonics. There are plenty of PC software players that offer tube amp effects too. And this way you can turn the effect on and off! Just like doing your equalizing with an equalizer.
  8. eucariote
    Agreed.  There's something really wrong with buying two badly designed pieces of hardware in the hopes that the sonic flaws cancel each other out.. 
  9. eddiek997
    Tube rolling will absolutely change the dynamics of your amp. 100% without a doubt. Try going from the modern chinese/russian tubes to genuine New Old Stock (NOS) tubes from the like of Mullard, Amperex, Lorenz, Siemens. If you can't notice a difference in the audio, you might as well buy $5 headphones because you're tone deaf. The changes can be that significant.
    Check out this thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/549508/schiit-lyr-the-tube-rolling-thread for example. 5000+posts from 100's of different Headfier's
  10. scuttle
    Like, if you put the amp in a tube then it will like *roll*, man! Especially down hills! And that's dynamic!
    Or if that what is not you mean, could you explain what an earth "dynamics" are? In the same concrete, draw a graph/give a number, sense that one can do for frequency response?
    Right on! There's no way that this place could contain several hundred gullible people! Especially Schiit customers:

    Plus everyone knows that majority opinion in audio is always correct.
    ...Except for little things like the majority of people confidently insisting they can hear that a CD is better than an MP3... and then pointing determinedly at the CD as the "inferior" copy:
  11. proton007

    If anything, I'd say its digital equivalent is the changeable op-amps feature in so many amps these days. People say they hear minute differences when they change op-amps, maybe there are some changes, after all, the op-amp characteristics may affect the signal. However, I'm not sure how significant that change can be.
  12. eddiek997
    No... no graphs. Just listen. You'll hear the difference. Just like in a car, put 100 octane fuel in and see if there's a difference in performance over 87 or is it just hearsay.
    Remember, sit back and just listen.... enjoy the music 'cos thats what brought us here in the first place.
  13. scuttle
    I didn't say that you have to give a graph, just that you have to explain in a non-bs way what "dynamics" are before I will take it seriously. 
    This is precisely wrong. Because if you put 100 octane fuel in a car then you wouldn't have to justify doing so by saying "It make the suspension more transparent and the gearbox fruitier." Instead you'd say "Top speed went from 117mph to 123mph, and the 0-60 time was cut by 2.5 seconds." I.e. you'd be using words with real meanings. Possibly even ones you understand!
    So you really can't come up with a less appropriate metaphor to justify your indoctrination by marketing people and addiction to the placebo effect.

    Rationally, if that was the case, people would demand actual evidence that more expensive products were better, and want to know how much better, before spending money on them that could have been spent on music. And they would be waaaaaaaaay annoyed with companies that dared sell them amps that damage expensive headphones. 
    neoresin likes this.
  14. eddiek997
    Doubters gonna doubt, haters gonna hate. Tube rolling (much much more so than cable rolling) will affect what the ears hear. If you want answers to all of your questions read the thread I posted above. It's all in there.
    This thread was about the viability of tube rolling. Rolling in a different tube will affect things like soundstage, imaging, presence Highs lows and mids. Everything.
  15. chewy4
    It also adds new instruments that weren't there before!
    I can never take claims that amplification effects soundstage and imaging seriously...
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