Home » Audio » Thermionic Emissions » Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes (How Class A, AB1, B, C Modes Work and Their Strengths and Weaknesses)
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97018 is a reply to message #96335] Sun, 24 September 2023 00:42 Go to previous messageGo to next message
BreakneckRedneck is currently offline  BreakneckRedneck
Messages: 1
Registered: January 2022
Esquire
Hi guys, I haven't posted on here in years, though I lurk and read often. I apologize if I sound uncouth to post out of nowhere with something like this; I just wanted to throw in a clarification concerning operating class, as there are many misconceptions concerning it (especially on guitar amp-specific forums), which then are sometimes repeated by good, well-meaning people.

"Notice, each tube in the Push Pull output stage operates
Class A until each output tube just reaches the point of
cutoff. That means each output tube conducts the entire
musical waveform."


Class AB amplifiers are never Class A at any point or time, instead, they operate in a region with conditions similar to Class A up until a certain output level. Operating class is always determined at an amplifier's full, unclipped output, rather than the quiescent operating point or anywhere in between.

Also, Class AB never reaches cutoff at any time, else it would instead be Class B. Class AB always conducts for more than 180 degrees of the AC cycle at its full output, but significantly less than 360 degrees. This keeps the output devices' conduction high enough at the peak of the input signal's negative half-cycle to avoid the highly non-linear region of the characteristic curves near cutoff, while also avoiding exceeding their thermal dissipation limit.

Operating class is also independent of output stage topology, whether single ended or push pull, and is also independent of the biasing method used. A common misconception is that cathode biased tube amps are always automatically Class A, and grid biased tube amps are always Class AB. The reality is that a Class A amplifier can be grid biased, and a Class AB amp can be cathode biased. However, a cathode biased Class AB amp is indeed limited to 'high' AB operation, close to Class A. The reason is simple: Ohm's Law.

As the average AB plate current increases correspondingly with output level, the same current increase across the cathode resistor in turn produces a higher bias voltage, thereby counteracting and limiting the maximum plate current excursion. This effectively prevents using cathode bias to achieve the higher efficiency 'low AB' operation (moving closer to Class B condition).

Hope this makes sense. For those interested, some especially great reading on the topic (and many others!) can be found in Audio Cyclopaedia by Howard Tremaine, and The Radiotron Designer's Handbook, 4th Edition.

Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97061 is a reply to message #97018] Thu, 12 October 2023 11:21 Go to previous messageGo to next message
positron is currently offline  positron
Messages: 97
Registered: May 2020
Viscount
Hello All,

I just came back from out of state and saw the above post.

>> Recently, I have been seeing standard definitions being altered.

>> I am posting in response to the previous post and simplifying as much as possible to help the newbies who may be reading. Notice I will be using the >> symbol to identify my response.

>> I mean no harm, but still must correct misconceptions. I hate to use my education, academia etc as an argument, but there are major misunderstandings with the above post that I must address.

Hi guys, I haven't posted on here in years, though I lurk and read often. I apologize if I sound uncouth to post out of nowhere with something like this; I just wanted to throw in a clarification concerning operating class, as there are many misconceptions concerning it (especially on guitar amp-specific forums), which then are sometimes repeated by good, well-meaning people.

"Notice, each tube in the Push Pull output stage operates
Class A until each output tube just reaches the point of
cutoff. That means each output tube conducts the entire
musical waveform."

Class AB amplifiers are never Class A at any point or time, instead, they operate in a region with conditions similar to Class A up until a certain output level. Operating class is always determined at an amplifier's full, unclipped output, rather than the quiescent operating point or anywhere in between.

>> If that is the case, then no preamplifier, phono stage, amplifier is operating Class A since none are operating in the optimum center of an optimum load line that you require. Fortunately, such is not the case, whether preamplifier or amplifier, including the output stage.

>> Class A operation only pertains to the entire signal waveform, 360 degrees, being reproduced through a tube(s)/device(s), period. This condition occurs in output stages, driver, input stages, and preamplifier/phono stages. Class A operation occurs anywhere along the load line, as long as the entire waveform, 360 degrees is amplified.

>> I also have a copy of the 4th edition and on page 545 such is stated:

"Limiting Class A push-pull operation is operation such that one valve just reaches plate current cut-off when the other reaches zero bias."

>> Maximum power is not produced, but Class A operation is still in effect.

The next quote from page 572, RCA Radiotron Designers Handbook, 4th edition, written by 26 engineers.

"A very useful operating condition is the borderline case between Class A and Class AB1, that is when the plate current just reaches the point of cut-off--this is called Limiting Class A1 operation."

>> Interestingly, minimum distortion occurs as one sets the idle towards the zero bias operating point (near maximum plate current), not the center point of the load line. So this condition is not Class A? Of course it is. Once again, power output nor center of the loadline has nothing to do with the different Class definitions. This has been taught in the class room for 70+ years.

>> I have also seen confusion, including misrepresenting of Classes on other forums, and YouTube videos.

Also, Class AB never reaches cutoff at any time, else it would instead be Class B. Class AB always conducts for more than 180 degrees of the AC cycle at its full output, but significantly less than 360 degrees. This keeps the output devices' conduction high enough at the peak of the input signal's negative half-cycle to avoid the highly non-linear region of the characteristic curves near cutoff, while also avoiding exceeding their thermal dissipation limit.

>> Another gross misunderstanding. Each tube in push pull (pp) Class AB1 operation does reach cut-off, again by definition. Class AB1 operation allows for the signal waveform to be amplified more than 180 but less than 360 degrees, in each output tube (when past the Class A point of operation). This means each output tube is cut-off, no plate current, for some portion of their respective half of the waveform. That "portion" is determined by the idle bias that is set.

>>Class B means that 180 degrees, or half the waveform is not amplified. It is quite different than AB1 in that Class B usually has a kink and notch in the waveform unless GNF is used. Efficiency is also greater.

Operating class is also independent of output stage topology, whether single ended or push pull, and is also independent of the biasing method used. A common misconception is that cathode biased tube amps are always automatically Class A, and grid biased tube amps are always Class AB. The reality is that a Class A amplifier can be grid biased, and a Class AB amp can be cathode biased. However, a cathode biased Class AB amp is indeed limited to 'high' AB operation, close to Class A. The reason is simple: Ohm's Law.

>> Basically correct except the last sentence. Class AB1 operation can be operated at a variety of idle currents when the cathode resistor is bypassed by a capacitor of suitable size. This keeps the cathode voltage constant with respect to signal ground. As such, only the signal voltage at the grid alters the grid to cathode voltage, similar to typical grid bias operation where the cathode is signal grounded as well.

As the average AB plate current increases correspondingly with output level, the same current increase across the cathode resistor in turn produces a higher bias voltage, thereby counteracting and limiting the maximum plate current excursion. This effectively prevents using cathode bias to achieve the higher efficiency 'low AB' operation (moving closer to Class B condition).

>> Again, that is why a cathode resistor is bypassed with a suitable size capacitor in Class AB1 operation. The bypass capacitor keeps the cathode voltage constant to reference signal ground. The only change in cathode to grid voltage is due to the musical signal, similar to grid bias with the cathode essentially grounded.

>> I hope this has helped you and viewers in understanding the different classes of operation. As I stated at the beginning, I am addressing the newbies out there, so simplified the post as much as possible for clarity.

>> I also mean no harm to anyone, but gross errors I must address. Otherwise confusion reigns.

>> One may also quote my posts to counteract such misrepresentations of classes of operation in other forums and YT videos etc.

All the best.

pos
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97158 is a reply to message #97061] Fri, 03 November 2023 12:22 Go to previous messageGo to next message
positron is currently offline  positron
Messages: 97
Registered: May 2020
Viscount
Just to reinforce my previous post, Chapter 13,
of the RCA Radiotron Designers Handbook, section 5:
"Push Pull Triodes Class A, AB1".

"A Class A amplifier is an amplifier in which the grid bias and
alternating grid voltages are such that the plate current of the
output valve or valves flows at all times. The suffix 1 indicates
that grid current does not flow during any part of the input cycle."

Notice, no mention of center of load line, nor any mention of power output
nor maximum power output.

From the Radio Amateur's Handbook, 1969:

" A Class AB audio amplifier is a push-pull amplifier .....
At low signal levels the tubes operate as Class A amplifiers,
and the plate current is the same with or without signal."

Wiki, Push Pull AB:

"Class AB is...... since much of the time the musical signal
is quiet enough that the signal stays in the "class-A" region."

What is quiet enough?

As mentioned in my first post, Push Pull 6L6GC in triode, can
output some 7.5 watts rms in Class A before cut off of each
tube, and into AB1 operation (cut off is substantially less
than 180 degree of each tube).

Academia classroom, the same definition. Any device(s) can be
operated Class A as long as the device(s) operate over 360 degrees,
all of the musical signal waveform.

cheers

pos
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97161 is a reply to message #97158] Fri, 03 November 2023 20:58 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gofar99 is currently offline  gofar99
Messages: 1909
Registered: May 2010
Location: Southern Arizona
Illuminati (5th Degree)
Hi, I agree. It is amazing how things can get screwed up over time.

Good Listening
Bruce
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97163 is a reply to message #97161] Sun, 05 November 2023 01:38 Go to previous messageGo to next message
positron is currently offline  positron
Messages: 97
Registered: May 2020
Viscount
gofar99 wrote on Fri, 03 November 2023 20:58
Hi, I agree. It is amazing how things can get screwed up over time.
True words Gofar. I have a link to a video YouTube where a
salesman is using Push Pull Class B operation to claim,
and misrepresent how Push Pull Class AB1 works.

When presented with the correct information, he simply
ignored it, still using the same misleading video
information 8 months later.

Amazing how some can misrepresent audio to push their
agenda.

cheers

pos
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97259 is a reply to message #97161] Thu, 07 December 2023 23:12 Go to previous messageGo to next message
positron is currently offline  positron
Messages: 97
Registered: May 2020
Viscount
Some of the misinformation appears intentional to me Go.
I am just not sure how many are intentional.

I know of a YT video where some "obsessive" gent
uses PA quality Class B operation effects, with
outlandish nonsense, to attack high fidelity
Push Pull quality. (Push pull can sound perfectly
accurate in Class A or AB operation.)

I explained his errors filled explanation broke the
laws of science, but 8 months later he is still pushing
the error filled video. Interesting indeed.

pos
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97266 is a reply to message #97259] Mon, 18 December 2023 20:20 Go to previous messageGo to next message
gofar99 is currently offline  gofar99
Messages: 1909
Registered: May 2010
Location: Southern Arizona
Illuminati (5th Degree)
Hi, Somehow I missed that you had responded recently. Anyhow two things come to mind...one class B PP is only useful IMO in modulating AM ham radio transmitters. Class A and AB are quite suitable for high fidelity reproduction. My preference is class A triodes and class A with U/L if pentodes are used. My experience has been that AB operation seems to change the sound somehow that I can't measure but can hear. On another note the fact that the guy mentioned ignored the truth and insisted in the incorrect information seems to be a thing that many others have been doing in the media and dare I say politics.

Good Listening
Bruce
Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97350 is a reply to message #97266] Tue, 16 January 2024 21:32 Go to previous messageGo to next message
positron is currently offline  positron
Messages: 97
Registered: May 2020
Viscount
gofar99 wrote on Mon, 18 December 2023 20:20
Hi, Somehow I missed that you had responded recently. Anyhow two things come to mind...one class B PP is only useful IMO in modulating AM ham radio transmitters. Class A and AB are quite suitable for high fidelity reproduction. My preference is class A triodes and class A with U/L if pentodes are used. My experience has been that AB operation seems to change the sound somehow that I can't measure but can hear. On another note the fact that the guy mentioned ignored the truth and insisted in the incorrect information seems to be a thing that many others have been doing in the media and dare I say politics.
Hi Bruce,

I have been testing some tubes and found the new Tung Sol 6550 and
Penta KT88 are my reference in PP AB1 operation. I am running ~29 watt
plate dissipation on each tube (~70ma idle), which may be high enough to account for the natural.
(Both type tubes were given to me as a gift years ago.)

Anyway, the transparency of my system is at least 1 part in 4.1 million,
so extremely transparent (polypropylene power supplies) and ear extremely sensitive. Using 20log, that is -132 db.

It allows me to hear real, natural instruments and all the back round at the venue on the recording. But it took some 43 years, off and on to accomplish. If I mentioned this before, please accept my apology.

The extreme sensitivity of the ear is probably why you were able to hear
and not measure. I have tested other brand tubes, and sonic changes did
occur if I remember correctly.

Anyway, if one is in central Illinois, please feel free to pm me, love
to show the work I am doing. Smile

cheers

pos



Re: Class A, AB1, B, C Operation/Modes [message #97384 is a reply to message #97350] Wed, 24 January 2024 20:31 Go to previous message
gofar99 is currently offline  gofar99
Messages: 1909
Registered: May 2010
Location: Southern Arizona
Illuminati (5th Degree)
Hi Pos, It's a bit of a long ride from here...plus you guys get snow. I do grant that we get a little here from time to time (Southern Arizona) mostly because we are at 4600 feet up. It brings to mind another thing that can effect sound....altitude. I recall from a long time ago the folks at Stereophile in the 70s or so said the elevation at their HQ in Confused Santa Fe (about 8000 feet) caused them issues. Confused

Good Listening
Bruce
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