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It's not unusual to see integrated (transistor) power amps that go 75w, 100w, 120w, 200w and more per channel. But with high end tube amps, you can never find the same amount of watts. Many go 30w, 45w, 50w and 75w.


Why do tube amps never seem to be able to deliver all the power a conventional amp does?


My speakers, for example, can handle 200w at 8ohms - which I paired with a 200w amp. If I wanted to get a tube amp, why won't I need a 200w one?


What are the differences? What am I missing?


Thanks!
 

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Tubes can't produce as much power. Maybe it's because tubes transmit their power in a totally different way as a stream of electrons though a vacuum. Transistors transmit their power through a silicon junction.


I would guess vacuum tubes are inefficient compared to transistors. I would also be curious about more specifics.


Single ended triodes seem to be about the worst power producers. Very low power and high distortion. There's a devoted following. One thought is that people prefer the type of distortion SET amps produce.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technicolor /forum/post/16981529


It's not unusual to see integrated (transistor) power amps that go 75w, 100w, 120w, 200w and more per channel. But with high end tube amps, you can never find the same amount of watts. Many go 30w, 45w, 50w and 75w.


Why do tube amps never seem to be able to deliver all the power a conventional amp does?


My speakers, for example, can handle 200w at 8ohms - which I paired with a 200w amp. If I wanted to get a tube amp, why won't I need a 200w one?


What are the differences? What am I missing?


Thanks!

First off 200 watt speakers does NOT mean you need 200 watts to get the most out of your speakers.


What that rating is telling you. Is the amount of power beyond which, if it was sustained for a lengthy period of time, would cause damage to your speakers.


IE. if you tried feeding 250 watts into your speaker for a couple of minutes, you would damage it. Most likely by melting the voice coils due to the amount of current generating more heat than they are designed to dissipate.


The second fact you need to know is that the power needed doubles every time you increase the Sound Pressure Level (SPL AKA Loudness) by 3db.


So 200 wpc isn't going to give you 4 times the SPL of a 50 wpc amp. It will only get you another 6db or about the same amount of SPL as you would get from sitting 1 meter from the speakers instead of 2 meters.


Many older speakers were more efficient than current models and 99% of your volume comes from the first 32 watts. A Klipsch horn speaker can exceed 100 db with 1 watt of power input. By way of contrast my Polk LSi15s have an efficiency of 88 db. In other words I need 12db/3 = 4 doublings of power or 16 times the power to achieve the same SPL as the Klipsch.


So past 64 watts or so in an amp, severely diminishing returns sets in very, very quickly.


That said. Tube technology sucks. Some people like them, but that's because they actually have higher levels of distortion and the kind of distortion they introduce, some people find to be "warm".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman /forum/post/16981743


Tubes can't produce as much power. Maybe it's because tubes transmit their power in a totally different way as a stream of electrons though a vacuum. Transistors transmit their power through a silicon junction.


I would guess vacuum tubes are inefficient compared to transistors. I would also be curious about more specifics.


Single ended triodes seem to be about the worst power producers. Very low power and high distortion. There's a devoted following. One thought is that people prefer the type of distortion SET amps produce.

Not to mention that they wear out, need time to warm up, their characteristics change over time, etc...


It's a bad technology that should have been abandoned long ago.


The fact that much of the "high end" fetishises these things is proof they REALLY don't know anything about the technology.
 

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Yes, bit it's glowy. That counts for something. Oh, I wonder whether tube amps also have losses due to the need to have an output transformer?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPnBobcats /forum/post/16981859


That said. Tube technology sucks. Some people like them, but that's because they actually have higher levels of distortion and the kind of distortion they introduce, some people find to be "warm".

That's right. There's nothing wrong with that, but you're right. The same can be said of the vinyl obsession: It introduces distortions that are perceived by some as "warmth" or "smoothness." Well-mastered digital gives you something very close to the master recording produced in the studio, but certain high-enders find it to be "cold" or "soulless." It's ironic that they're addicted to distortion, but if that's what one likes, no problem.


In the current edition of Stereophile, there's a letter from a reader who suggests that the high-enders love vinyl simply because they've been listening to it their entire lives and they've subconciously adopted it as their benchmark. The same can probably be said of tubes: To some, the artifacts of tube amplification, rather than music itself, is "the standard."
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPnBobcats /forum/post/16981879


Not to mention that they wear out, need time to warm up, their characteristics change over time, etc...


It's a bad technology that should have been abandoned long ago.


The fact that much of the "high end" fetishises these things is proof they REALLY don't know anything about the technology.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read on these boards, and it epitomizes a lot of the misplaced criticism present around here. How you can even make a statement like this about a relativistic paradigm like sound preference is beyond me.


Unless you are an extreme environmentalist or someone of that ilk, there is no objective measure by which you make a real claim that tubes should be 'abandoned'. Yes tubes can be a hassle, but for many, many people it is worth it to get the sound they want.


All it takes is one look at the widespread popularity of tubes in guitar amplification to understand how indefensible your commentary is.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBlubbs /forum/post/16982637


This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read on these boards, and it epitomizes a lot of the misplaced criticism present around here. How you can even make a statement like this about a relativistic paradigm like sound preference is beyond me.


Unless you are an extreme environmentalist or someone of that ilk, there is no objective measure by which you make a real claim that tubes should be 'abandoned'. Yes tubes can be a hassle, but for many, many people it is worth it to get the sound they want.

Well I see you're worked up into a fine lather today.


Did you bother to actually read what I said?


The TECHNOLOGY is junk.


If you really like junk, that's fine by me. Just don't tell me it's gold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBlubbs /forum/post/16982637


All it takes is one look at the widespread popularity of tubes in guitar amplification to understand how indefensible your commentary is.

Popularity has what to do with the effectiveness of a technology? Plenty of stupid and useless things are popular. Pet rocks were a massive craze at one point. That doesn't make them better pets than a cat or dog (well unless you need to go away on long trips).


If people just said "I like it" and left it at that. I wouldn't have a problem with it.


It's the idiots who insist that junk like tubes and turntables are the pinnacle of ACCURATE sound reproduction technology and invest tens of thousands of dollars to reach the SQ of a $100 CD player or solid state amp that annoy me.


I mean seriously, what kind of lunatic thinks a tube amp for AN IPOD DOCK is a good idea? How is that anything other than a fetishising of the technology?


Also amps for guitars are a sound PRODUCTION technology. Not a sound REPRODUCTION technology. The end goals are completely different.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBlubbs /forum/post/16982637


All it takes is one look at the widespread popularity of tubes in guitar amplification to understand how indefensible your commentary is.

Hold on, that's a decent point, but it's not quite the same thing. Amplified musicians use lots of distortion, and there's never been any doubt that tubes and transistors clip differently -- you can easily hear it and measure it. I don't think anyone likes the grating sound of solid-state distortion, so, true to what you've written, all the old-school rock bands that I listen to use tube amps, and I (and they) wouldn't want it any other way.


On the other hand, I believe the PAs are solid-state, maybe Class D at that. I went to a Rose Hill Drive show last winter, and I stood right next to the PA amps, and they were tiny and stacked, yet the output was extremely loud. I know the speakers are huge triamped horns, but I figured those compact amps had to be Class D. I dunno for sure, though.


Anyway, the point is that once the sound leaves the player's amp, the job of the rest of the system is to reproduce that sound faithfully, not introduce new distortions. So while Slash or Warren Haynes may be using a tube Marshalls to get the sound they want, I want a system with minimal distortion to preserve and deliver that sound to me later on.
 

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One thing that vinyl now has going for it is that it is not possible to compress the sound into 3 or 6 dB of total dynamic range (excluding the silences) so the vinyl masters may actually sound better than the CD masters. Don't know. Haven't had a turntable for years. But I also wonder whether there is something about the background noise on vinyl and analog tape that functions as psychoacoustic dither, somehow affecting the experience of listening to the non-noise part of the signal . . .
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz /forum/post/16982945


One thing that vinyl now has going for it is that it is not possible to compress the sound into 3 or 6 dB of total dynamic range (excluding the silences) so the vinyl masters may actually sound better than the CD masters. Don't know. Haven't had a turntable for years. But I also wonder whether there is something about the background noise on vinyl and analog tape that functions as psychoacoustic dither, somehow affecting the experience of listening to the non-noise part of the signal . . .

Er. That's 6 dB per bit not 6db total dynamic range or 96 dB for 16-bit. A CD would be bloody useless if 6db was the total extent of it's dynamic range.


Any possible advantage that vinyl has is negated by the fact that you damage it and reduce the fidelity of it every time you use it.


A pristine never used before disk on a top of the line turntable set up might be able to equal a CD player for SQ, but it won't after the 50th or 100th time.


And good luck playing one while driving your car or jogging...
 

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Quote:
Also amps for guitars are a sound PRODUCTION technology. Not a sound REPRODUCTION technology. The end goals are completely different.

Almost anyone who spends money on a tube amp knows that they distort and buys them for that reason. So, for listening to music many people indeed are still looking for production of a specific sound rather than some purist conception of reproduction. As a recording artist I know that I often times am, especially because certain types of recordings in certain genres can be subjectively enhanced by tubes.


So, if you are telling millions of people that the only 'right way' to listen to music is to strive complete purity, I am telling you that that is BS. It's relative.
 

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What have you recorded Blubbs?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai /forum/post/16983493


What have you recorded Blubbs?

Piano ballads, soft rock, wall-of-sound-with-female-jazz-vocalist, melancholy post-rock, pop-rock, punk/hardcore and post-hardcore, chaos. I am a drummer. I also write electronic music and have recorded and mixed some DI stuff with digital gear.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technicolor /forum/post/16981529


It's not unusual to see integrated (transistor) power amps that go 75w, 100w, 120w, 200w and more per channel. But with high end tube amps, you can never find the same amount of watts. Many go 30w, 45w, 50w and 75w.


Why do tube amps never seem to be able to deliver all the power a conventional amp does?


My speakers, for example, can handle 200w at 8ohms - which I paired with a 200w amp. If I wanted to get a tube amp, why won't I need a 200w one?


What are the differences? What am I missing?


Thanks!

You find them. My last tube amp output about 200WPC. You just have to tolerate the size, heat and cost.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBlubbs /forum/post/16983393


Almost anyone who spends money on a tube amp knows that they distort and buys them for that reason. So, for listening to music many people indeed are still looking for production of a specific sound rather than some purist conception of reproduction. As a recording artist I know that I often times am, especially because certain types of recordings in certain genres can be subjectively enhanced by tubes.


So, if you are telling millions of people that the only 'right way' to listen to music is to strive complete purity, I am telling you that that is BS. It's relative.

I'm having serious questions as to the level of your reading comprehension.


Go back and try reading what I wrote again.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPnBobcats /forum/post/16983688


I'm having serious questions as to the level of your reading comprehension.


Go back and try reading what I wrote again.

97th percentile, and I have objective proof too!



Judging from this, it's apparent you just want this thread to devolve into a pissing match. Anyways, I was referring to what may seemed to be the implied message behind what you were saying; of course, you may not have intended to imply that, and as such I used the qualifier if.


Yes, tubes 'suck' as reproductions devices relative to SS, but that does not mean that they should have been 'abandoned long ago'. They happen to kick ass in subjectively enhancing music, which is why they are still sweet.
 
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