Home » Audio » Silicon Valley » Which is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? (a discussion on the ideals of each type of amplifier)
Which is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65410] Thu, 23 December 2010 22:54 Go to next message
woodfree is currently offline  woodfree
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Registered: December 2010
Baron
As audio specialists and enthusiasts, which do you prefer: tube amps or solid-state amps? I remember something I read, how this one musician conducted a test to see which is preferred by experienced musicians, the tube amps or the solid-state amp?

What they found out was that the tube amp was slightly preferred by purists. However, due to the quick advancement of technology nowadays, the solid-state amps were at par with tube amps these days.

So for you guys, what do you prefer? What qualities make one better than the other? Smile
Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65413 is a reply to message #65410] Fri, 24 December 2010 04:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Adveser is currently offline  Adveser
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Registered: July 2009
Location: USA
Illuminati (1st Degree)
Solid State all the way. Accurate, but still has Saturation points and Q values too. You can make an op-amp sound tube-like if you want. That just hasn't been the traditional role of of solid state. The guitar tech is starting to get really specialized and they are learning how to use SS to do the same things as tubes.

Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65450 is a reply to message #65410] Wed, 29 December 2010 18:25 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Aki is currently offline  Aki
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Registered: May 2009
Baron
I don't know if it's necessarily better, but what I prefer seems to be the gear that gets overly hot, takes up too much room, and proves unreasonably heavy. If it's old and dusty, I seem to like it even more.

I tend to apply similar criteria for cars and cameras, so maybe it's just me.
Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65451 is a reply to message #65450] Wed, 29 December 2010 18:53 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Wayne Parham is currently offline  Wayne Parham
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Did you ever see this little booklet?
Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65453 is a reply to message #65410] Wed, 29 December 2010 19:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Adveser is currently offline  Adveser
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Awesome book Wayne. Thanks for sharing something else awesome as always.

Smile Surprised


Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65622 is a reply to message #65410] Fri, 07 January 2011 10:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shane is currently offline  Shane
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This debate will go on till the end of time. I prefer tubes for high efficiency speakers. I think they bring a warmth to these types of speakers that SS doesn't. On the other hand, I prefer SS on the bottom end due to it's ability to provide the power needed on the low end. Many SS amps sound quite nice, but the ones I've heard that compare with good tube amps were all class A and expensive. The good SS amps won't sound glaring on the high end providing the speakers are up to par, but tubes definitely have the edge in midrange/vocal area IMO.



Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65627 is a reply to message #65410] Fri, 07 January 2011 12:04 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Adveser is currently offline  Adveser
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How hard would it be to run a system, with a crossover, where the mids and highs are amplified by Tubes and the lows are being amped by solid state?

Wouldn't this essentially eliminate Harmonic distortion?


Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #65629 is a reply to message #65627] Fri, 07 January 2011 12:08 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shane is currently offline  Shane
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Adveser wrote on Fri, 07 January 2011 12:04
How hard would it be to run a system, with a crossover, where the mids and highs are amplified by Tubes and the lows are being amped by solid state?

Wouldn't this essentially eliminate Harmonic distortion?



IMO, that is the ideal setup if you want the best of both worlds.


Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #66596 is a reply to message #65629] Wed, 09 March 2011 16:24 Go to previous messageGo to next message
AudioFred is currently offline  AudioFred
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Registered: May 2009
Location: Houston
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I'm fully converted to solid state. The overwhelming disadvantage of tubes in in the cost. You can buy a new 50 watt/ch solid state integrated (NAD, Cambridge Audio, etc.) for about $500 msrp. The equivalent 50 watt/ch tube amp, with high quality transformers, etc, sells for about $1,500-$2,000. You can get a no-name Chinese amp on Ebay for less, but there will be quality control issues.

The second disadvantage is in a tube amp's reliability. Power tubes blow, and they usually take a cathode bias resistor with them, so you're looking at a repair job. I have four high quality tube amps, and right now two are out of service.

There was a time when budget priced solid state equipment sounded harsh and grainy compared to tube equipment. Solid state has improved quite a bit in the last ten years, and that $500 fifty watt amps sounds pretty good. In an effort to gain some "tube warmth" I added a tube buffer to the system that includes a $170 Oppo player and a $500 Cambridge Audio Azur integrated. I gained a very slight warmth but lost a very slight amount of resolution, and decided I prefer the system without the extra component in the signal path.
Re: Which Is Better, Tube Amps or Solid-State Amps? [message #66739 is a reply to message #66596] Tue, 22 March 2011 22:00 Go to previous messageGo to previous message
Bill Epstein is currently offline  Bill Epstein
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Location: Smoky Mts. USA
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AudioFred wrote on Wed, 09 March 2011 17:24
There was a time when budget priced solid state equipment sounded harsh and grainy compared to tube equipment. Solid state has improved quite a bit in the last ten years, and that $500 fifty watt amps sounds pretty good.


Funny, my experience is just the opposite. Back in the Seventies, along with platform shoes I had a Bedini 25/25 pure Class A, mosfet power amp that was wonderfully musical. I think it was about $350. In the Eighties my Muse 100 (I'm still on the lookout for a well-priced Muse amp) and Counterpoint SA-100 were excellent. All 3 of these played Acoustat 1+1s, not at all forgiving on top!

Over the past several years I've had An Accuphase E-450 integrated $4500, A Conrad-Johnson Sonographe 250 $1250, A Classe CR-70 $900 and a B&K 202ST, none of which had acceptable upper mids and treble. All were grainy, or etched, or both. The only really fine SS amps I've heard in the past 5 years were the big John Curl monoblocks $8000 and the McCormack DNA 1 $1995.

My Tubelab Simple SE has less than $400 in parts and is sublime with $50/pair EH 6CA7s. OK, maybe not sublime, but it kills any of the above-mentioned solid state.
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