Are Tube Amps a waste of money? - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by keyboardcat View Post

Class A what were the worst new tube amps that seemed over priced, but didn't sound that great for the money. I saw a lot of people bashing a jolida hybrid amp the other day saying it lied about being built well. One reviewer felt like he wasted his money on it. http://www.amazon.com/Jolida-301A-In...6360355&sr=8-1

he even said that it was an insult to tube/hybrid amps. The guy at the stereo store today said that Jolida was better then NAD. after reading this review I am not so sure.

That's because they use the push-pull design and people who are after high watts, always choose jolida. However is does remove Sound detail because of its hybrid design. Customers complain after being warned from many how looking for high wattage in a hybrid design will remove noticeable flavor from your tunes.
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post #32 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 09:44 PM - Thread Starter
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How well do tube amps sound for Cerwin Vega VE12 or VE15? I hear that Cerwin Vegas love a lot of power.
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post #33 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 10:16 PM
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As tube amps often have less power per dollar, people often use efficient speakers with them

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #34 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 10:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Do tube amps sound better on only certain kinds of music,but not others since it has a different sound then a regular amp?
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post #35 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keyboardcat View Post

Do tube amps sound better on only certain kinds of music,but not others since it has a different sound then a regular amp?

Sound great with everything. Tubes are very popular with those who spin vinyl as their surce as well.
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post #36 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I do miss playing my records. my needle broke and I never got around to replacing it.
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post #37 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I haven't played records in years, but I thought about buying another record player.
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post #38 of 51 Old 05-06-2012, 11:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Is it hard to replace the tubes? I am not good with electronics. If a speaker has a lot of bass could it damage the bulb? I know people who blew out a window in the bedroom from a lot of bass. They were using car subwoofers though.
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post #39 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 03:07 AM
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It's not that hard to replace a tube, if you got the right one, but you have to keep them biased properly over their lifespan (power tube appr. 5000 h). And they (tube amp) are much harder to match to a speaker properly, because of the inherent impedance of the output transformer, which sits between the tube amp stage and your speaker. So a tube amp is a demanding companion to be satisfied with. As an amp they show "character", which you might like or not, because they are sonically (usually) less neutral than a good solid state amp because of built-in conceptual limitations when matched to a speaker.
Quantity of available power is a problem too, because they are usually of rather low output power (35 - 50 Watts max.). Thus you need either high efficiency full-range speakers or be limited to mid-/treble range drivers or headphones.
Heat dissipation is another problem, because of low efficiency the amp usage will be problematic when housed within a closed cabinet... and they are usually quite heavy because of the many transformers (and corresponding iron) needed.
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post #40 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 05:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keyboardcat View Post

How well do tube amps sound for Cerwin Vega VE12 or VE15? I hear that Cerwin Vegas love a lot of power.

given their pretty high efficiency, i'd say they'd be just fine in any type of home environment...

they will "take" a lot of power... they don't "need" a lot of power...

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post #41 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 06:02 AM
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The best thing to do is audition a good tube amp, only then will you hear the difference compared to your NAD. I would recommend Audio Research, of course there are other excellent companies that make good tube gear.
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post #42 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keyboardcat View Post

How well do tube amps sound for Cerwin Vega VE12 or VE15? I hear that Cerwin Vegas love a lot of power.

The Cerwin Vegas have a 95db rating making them easy to power. Klipsch speakers are also very popular w/lower powered tubes. You should look into the Prima Luna line as they have an auto bias feature in their amps. Very easy plug and play amps for someone just getting into tubes.
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post #43 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 11:17 AM
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Tube amps for the most part, are quite simple when it comes to replacing tubes. Just keep in mind that cleaning the pins on the tubes once a year is rather important. I use a brass wire brush to remove oxidation.

Tube amps are a lot of fun to play with and experimenting with different tubes is a lot of fun. Just make sure you get a tube amp with a lot of hobbyist who have experimented with different tubes. This way you won't waste mney on tubes that don't work right.

I got into tube amps before headphone amps,mwhich is the opposite for most people today. They start out with mini tube headphone amps and graduate to the big leagues.
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post #44 of 51 Old 05-07-2012, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh okay thank you for all of the helpful tips everyone. I appreciate it. I hear that i can listen to different modes in tube amps. is one Triad mode or something like that? I forget what the other one is. Does one mode sound better then the other?
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post #45 of 51 Old 05-09-2012, 08:25 PM
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Triode versus pentode. Most amps are designed to operate in only one mode, but some have a switch to allow you to pick the desired mode. Pentode mode will give you more output (watts), but many believe that triode mode sounds better. But we're talking about small differences here.
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post #46 of 51 Old 05-09-2012, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for letting me know the difference skriefal. I am going to ask the people who let me hear the NAD amp if I can hear the Jolida tube amp next time I am in that area.
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post #47 of 51 Old 05-09-2012, 09:25 PM
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I know some SET amps, of which there seems to be this small fanatic fanbase for them, have high distortion. Maybe because they don't use feedback (the supposedly evil mechanism whicn improves linearity in more accurate amps.)

There seems to be a love for simple designs, even if most audio engineers feel it's like stone age audio amp tech.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #48 of 51 Old 06-29-2012, 07:25 AM
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Hi.

Read this conversation with interest. Thought I would add what I know about valve amps. I have a 60 watt per channel hi-fi valve amp. As far as valve sound goes I would describe it as a slightly smoother version of solid state amps. Compared to my own solid state amp (an Arcam Delta) my valve amp (an Icon Audio Stereo 60 MKII) still gives you all the detail and power that the Arcam does but somehow in a smoother way. It's a hard thing to define - sort of Solid State with some of the harshness removed. Less clinical I suppose. But not lacking in detail. And it sounds great on all the music I put through it - rock, pop, classical, reggae, electronica......

As for speaker matching, I've had no problems. I own a pair of PMC OB1s which are average efficiency and the Icon produces all the power I could need.

Regarding valve replacement, power valves will generally wear out before the pre-amp valves as they are working a lot harder. All valves are always going to be less reliable than transistors as they are subject to electrical but also mechanical wear and tear – each time an amp is switched on the glass envelope and delicate metal structures inside heat up and expand, then cool and contract when switched off. This expansion and contraction will eventually cause a valve to wear out. Having said that my Icon Audio is on it’s original valves after around 4 years use. And I also have a Fender Deluxe amp that is on it’s original valves after about 10 years. Replacing valves is pretty straight forward, just be careful of the glass. And check how your amp should be biased. My Icon is biased by the user with the aid of a multimeter. Pretty stright forward.

“Valve Watts” – there is no such thing. As others have said, a watt is a watt is a watt. But whereas solid state amp distortion is exhibited as clipping of the output signal which can do serious damage to speakers, a valve amp will distort it’s output in a much more benign way which is not likely to wreck your speakers. The upshot of all this is that a solid state amp needs to have a large amount of headroom to protect speakers and a valve amp does not. So a 100 watt solid state amp might be able to safely put out an average power of 25 watts plus 75 watts allowance for transient peaks before clipping occurs, whereas a 100 watt valve amp can probably safely output an average 50-75 watts and that much less headroom for speaker protection.

Valve amps are expensive and need looking after to some extent. My advice would be to audition each type and see what you think. I’m hooked. Plus they look sexy in a way solid state amps never could :-)

PS. NEVER switch on a valve amp if no speakers are connected. It will apparently do horrendous damage to it!
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post #49 of 51 Old 06-29-2012, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyltn View Post

Hi.
Read this conversation with interest. Thought I would add what I know about valve amps. I have a 60 watt per channel hi-fi valve amp. As far as valve sound goes I would describe it as a slightly smoother version of solid state amps. Compared to my own solid state amp (an Arcam Delta) my valve amp (an Icon Audio Stereo 60 MKII) still gives you all the detail and power that the Arcam does but somehow in a smoother way. It's a hard thing to define - sort of Solid State with some of the harshness removed. Less clinical I suppose. But not lacking in detail. And it sounds great on all the music I put through it - rock, pop, classical, reggae, electronica......
As for speaker matching, I've had no problems. I own a pair of PMC OB1s which are average efficiency and the Icon produces all the power I could need.
Regarding valve replacement, power valves will generally wear out before the pre-amp valves as they are working a lot harder. All valves are always going to be less reliable than transistors as they are subject to electrical but also mechanical wear and tear – each time an amp is switched on the glass envelope and delicate metal structures inside heat up and expand, then cool and contract when switched off. This expansion and contraction will eventually cause a valve to wear out. Having said that my Icon Audio is on it’s original valves after around 4 years use. And I also have a Fender Deluxe amp that is on it’s original valves after about 10 years. Replacing valves is pretty straight forward, just be careful of the glass. And check how your amp should be biased. My Icon is biased by the user with the aid of a multimeter. Pretty stright forward.
“Valve Watts” – there is no such thing. As others have said, a watt is a watt is a watt. But whereas solid state amp distortion is exhibited as clipping of the output signal which can do serious damage to speakers, a valve amp will distort it’s output in a much more benign way which is not likely to wreck your speakers. The upshot of all this is that a solid state amp needs to have a large amount of headroom to protect speakers and a valve amp does not. So a 100 watt solid state amp might be able to safely put out an average power of 25 watts plus 75 watts allowance for transient peaks before clipping occurs, whereas a 100 watt valve amp can probably safely output an average 50-75 watts and that much less headroom for speaker protection.
Valve amps are expensive and need looking after to some extent. My advice would be to audition each type and see what you think. I’m hooked. Plus they look sexy in a way solid state amps never could :-)
PS. NEVER switch on a valve amp if no speakers are connected. It will apparently do horrendous damage to it!

THere's no real basis to say that clipping harms speakers. Power harms speakers. The one thing you can say is if you have a tweeter, significant clipping adds high harmonics, thus increasing the signal level (power) to the tweeter, and tweeters can be killed that way. But I've run my 15 watt guitar amp, at full chat, directly into a decent JBL PA speaker. Lots of distortion, zero damage. DOesn't sound very good, though. You really need that big HF rolloff that a woffer's voice coil gives you to make clipped guitar sound right.

FWIW, the Mesa branded Sylvanias in my Fender guitar amp are from the 80s and continue to work great, and probably would be worth semisilly money if I wanted to sell them.

IMO, it's not differences in distortion per se that makes some tube amps seem louder (there are plenty of pretty good sounding silicon based stomp boxes around) it's that tube amps likely compress more than their transistor cousins. I think the tubes themselves exhibit compression, and in all but massively overbuilt output stages, the outpup transformer becomes a source of compression, etc. In some circumstances, compression sounds good. Tube amp compression (both guitar amps and hifi amps, IMO) can sound organic, natural, exciting, etc., and is going to be accompanied with at least a little clipping adding further exciting higher harmonics right in the frequency range our ears are most sensitive. Double whammy - - louder sound. But it's really because the output signal of the tube amp is different than that of the transistor amp, not because a tube watt is louder than a transistor watt, because they are not.
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post #50 of 51 Old 06-29-2012, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

I love tube amps, but they are more economical to own as headphone amps. This way, you can experiment with different tubes to get the sound you like.


They aren't exactly cheap amps for 2.0 systems with speakers.

+1. My headphone amp is a Sound Quest SQ84-V2 from the 'Quest for Sound' people in Pennsylvania. It uses 6v6 tubes and sounds amazing on my Sennheiser HD800's. I switched from the stock tubes to Tung Sols - big improvement.
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post #51 of 51 Old 04-18-2013, 09:48 PM
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Hi.... No, tube AMPS are not a waste of money.

Yes there is an amazing difference not only the 'naked ear' can hear, but also measured.... wow, a must hear... with a sound stage and some right speakers.. I could go on....


I saw your post ,... though it was from 2012, have you ever found your answer, or heard the difference for yourself? To answer a few of the questions, yes it does make a difference! WOW .... no fires,... warm..... but no fire... The amplifiers are like an engine, they need to be broken in... the tubes are what you replace...

let me know if you are still looking for more information on Tube amps and pre amps.
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