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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, bear with me as my information may be distorted. I have heard that the "only" way to get true to life reproduction of audio is through the use of tube amplification. I was told that "solid state" amps no matter how expensive would never compare. I was also told that there are "7" harmonics to sound or "harmony" and that solid state amplification can only reproduce the odd order (1,3,5,7) but that a tube amp would reproduce all of them (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) thus giving the listener a true reproduction of sound. Is this true? Am I retarded? Does this make any sense?
 

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OK, bear with me as my information may be distorted. I have heard that the "only" way to get true to life reproduction of audio is through the use of tube amplification.


false

I was told that "solid state" amps no matter how expensive would never compare.


false

I was also told that there are "7" harmonics to sound or "harmony" and that solid state amplification can only reproduce the odd order (1,3,5,7) but that a tube amp would reproduce all of them (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) thus giving the listener a true reproduction of sound.


Tube amplifiers when over driven distort differently than over driven by

solid state amplifiers. The tube distortion is more pleasant to the ear, hence

guitar players may choose to over drive their tube amplifier into distortion to create

those special tones to make their music unique, but for accurate playback of

the source material you don't want distorted music do you? A tube amplifier sounds special when it distorts but isn't it funny that purists that want the best sound only claim that sound is achieve due to distortion? /funny


If you want a neutral sound system on the electronic side, don't over drive

your preamp and amplifiers and let the speakers + room acoustics + installation

of the sound system give you the pleasurable sound, and if you desire, place a

EQ on the source side to alter the frequency reponse if you are in a certain mood.


To keep distortion low, don't over drive so buy amplifiers with higher power ratings that you need to avoid the clipping distortion. /simple recipe
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by point_and_shoot
... and that solid state amplification can only reproduce the odd order (1,3,5,7) but that a tube amp would reproduce all of them (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) thus giving the listener a true reproduction of sound.
Well, what IS true is that a square wave has only odd harmonics. My guess is this kind of folklore started when solid-state amps were under-powered, so when people turned them up all the way, the clipping produced square waves. Tube amps had more graceful degradation when turned up loud. Now days you can get solid state analog as well as digital amplifiers that are quite loud enough without clipping, as the previous poster pointed out.


My other guess was that the person who told you this happened to be selling a tube amp?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by winowicki
Well, what IS true is that a square wave has only odd harmonics. My guess is this kind of folklore started when solid-state amps were under-powered, so when people turned them up all the way, the clipping produced square waves. Tube amps had more graceful degradation when turned up loud. Now days you can get solid state analog as well as digital amplifiers that are quite loud enough without clipping, as the previous poster pointed out.


My other guess was that the person who told you this happened to be selling a tube amp?
So why then do you see old, rich, stereophiles putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in their stereo setup using tube amps? Is it just simply because that is what they grew up having/listening to? Kind of like, I have had older folks tell me that nothing sounds better than old vinyl (if played through a great setup) I disagree as digital seems to be better (period). But who am I to question? That is what brought me here with my questions....to you professionals : )
 

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Quote:
So why then do you see old, rich, stereophiles putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in their stereo setup using tube amps?
Well, I didn't feel old until I read this! At any rate, having drunk the Kool-Aid and having owned 2-channel rigs the cost of a small automobile, the answer is both simple and complex: human nature.

Quote:
Is it just simply because that is what they grew up having/listening to?
Part of the equation. I "grew up" on tube gear and used it for many years. But I became tired of the maintenance and the idiosyncracies of tube amplification.

Quote:
Kind of like, I have had older folks tell me that nothing sounds better than old vinyl (if played through a great setup) I disagree as digital seems to be better (period).
In a 2-channel rig, there's room for both vinyl and CD. Again, vinyl (and turntables, for that matter) presents issues of maintenance and caretaking that CDs don't. What "sounds better?" That depends upon you.

Quote:
But who am I to question? That is what brought me here with my questions....to you professionals : )
Why not question? It's healthy.


If you are intrigued by tube amplification, Jolida makes some inexpensive tube integrated amplifiers that you can get your feet wet with. Another approach would be to combine "tubi-ness" into a solid-state system. You could combine a tube pre-amp with a solid-state amp, or vice versa, but I'd get some guidance with specific combinations. Finally, there are tube DACs and tube output stages (Musical Fidelity makes a popular one) that you can play with. Or, add an EQ and dial in the tubi-ness (he, he, he).


Look, it's all about synergy: your biases and expectations (most important) + your speakers (very important) + room topology (very important and often overlooked) + your source material (very important) + amplification (important, but not as much as the previously listed factors) + everything else (cables, cords, connections, Shakti Stones, Elephant Ears, green markers, etc and so on).
 

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Many tube amps roll off the very high frequencies which can eliminate any harshness that might have been up there in the recording. Some tube amps (particularly the SET variety) appear to add harmonics to whatever they are playing. This isn't technically accurate, but it does add a fullness to the music.


There have been several discussions on measurements vs subjective listening, and one of my take-aways is that not everyone likes or desires neutral sound. In the case of tubes, they are often described as being more "musical."
 

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It just makes me cry knowing that the 95% of us using solid state gear are missing out on so much. When I get to be rich, old and a "stereophile" (whatever THAT is), I am goin to get me some of those really big-ass tubes, the ones that are bigger than a softball!
 

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Just want to clarify my post above. I've gotta count myself in with the group that doesn't desire neutral sound. I'm aiming to be a tube owner soon - hopefully before I'm old, and definitely before I'm rich. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy
It just makes me cry knowing that the 95% of us using solid state gear are missing out on so much. When I get to be rich, old and a "stereophile" (whatever THAT is), I am goin to get me some of those really big-ass tubes, the ones that are bigger than a softball!
Stereophile- An avid critique, an experienced expert, and passionate lover of "Stereo"

Audiophile- Sort of like Stereophile except they have more speakers : )
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by milaz001
Well, I didn't feel old until I read this! At any rate, having drunk the Kool-Aid and having owned 2-channel rigs the cost of a small automobile, the answer is both simple and complex: human nature.




Part of the equation. I "grew up" on tube gear and used it for many years. But I became tired of the maintenance and the idiosyncracies of tube amplification.




In a 2-channel rig, there's room for both vinyl and CD. Again, vinyl (and turntables, for that matter) presents issues of maintenance and caretaking that CDs don't. What "sounds better?" That depends upon you.




Why not question? It's healthy.


If you are intrigued by tube amplification, Jolida makes some inexpensive tube integrated amplifiers that you can get your feet wet with. Another approach would be to combine "tubi-ness" into a solid-state system. You could combine a tube pre-amp with a solid-state amp, or vice versa, but I'd get some guidance with specific combinations. Finally, there are tube DACs and tube output stages (Musical Fidelity makes a popular one) that you can play with. Or, add an EQ and dial in the tubi-ness (he, he, he).


Look, it's all about synergy: your biases and expectations (most important) + your speakers (very important) + room topology (very important and often overlooked) + your source material (very important) + amplification (important, but not as much as the previously listed factors) + everything else (cables, cords, connections, Shakti Stones, Elephant Ears, green markers, etc and so on).
Thanks for taking the time to reply in depth. Thanks to all the rest for replying at all!
 

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My own experience (I'm older, but definitely NOT rich ;) ), is that a tube preamp took the edge off some well-recorded female recordings I have. The midrange was just a tad smoother than my flagship receiver. Most of the time, it was hard to hear any significant differences, but just enough to make it worthwhile to add it to my HT &2 ch system. I'm a multichannel fan, but still wanted great 2 ch as well; the tube preamp helps to achieve that for me. I spent hours doing A/B comparisons between the receiver opamp section and the tube pre and differences were very subtle but still there. Some of the differences might be just to quality of parts used, etc.


Here's some links to more info for ya:

http://www.trueaudio.com/at_eetjlm.htm
http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/how...esvssolid.html
http://www.theabsolutesound.com/news..._vs_trans.html
http://www.htguide.com/forum/archive/index.php4/t-12925


I'm sure some of the audiophile preference for tube gear is influenced by mystique, pride of ownership, marketing, etc. But that didn't prevent me from hearing differences, subtle though they may be. The tube preamp tamed some sibilance and hard edges in my room.


Try a demo for yourself.


Hmm, vinyl vs. CD. For me an easier topic. It all depends on the recording. I have some fantastic digital recordings on SACD's, DVD-A's, and CD's. And some CD's I have purchased sound like garbage. Analog tape hiss, thin, harsh sound, no depth, and no bass (surprise!) Some late 60's stuff that I've bought CD's to replace worn LP's are s*it by comparison. No way the LP sounded that bad. Lazy companies too cheap to properly master the CD. I'm not bashful, Rhino is one label I will avoid based on several recent purchases. Either way a huge disappointment.


Sometimes a well-cared-for LP with little noise or ticks/pops will sound better than the CD. OTOH, some record labels in the 70's put out pretty poor quality pressings that were flimsy, had groove noise, etc. even brand new. (IMO, RCA had some of the worst pressings, while Columbia's were generally decent to great.)


If you know or can find someone with some LP's made by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs or Sheffield Labs discs, give them a listen. You will no longer believe that digital is always better than analog! These were some of the best recordings/masterings in their day! Just check out MFSL listings on ebay and see what some go for.


Good luck in your quest.

ss9001
 

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I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that audio is so subjective (or to the extent it can be measured people claim there are items that can be heard that can't be measured).


But for the subjective factor, you wouldn't see things like tube amps, special speaker wire, special power cords, etc. As proof I offer the common automobile. You don't see people suggesting that points and condensors are better in any way than an electronic ignition. That's because they can easily determine that they need more maintenance, don't last as long, require more frequent spark plug changes, etc.


As for myself, I've never had a tube amplifier, but I am old enough to remember how unreliable tube components were in TV sets. Back in the 60s they even had testing devices where consumers could bring in their tubes and test them. It was a machine about the size of a pinball machine, but only half as long, and it seemingly had about 100 different connectors for different types of tubes (I was young then, so I'm not sure about the number of connectors).
 

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ss9001


Could it be that the ss gear reproduced the "sibilance and hard edges" exactly as they exist on the media while the tube gear either rolls off the highs or smooths them over? Have you ever seen how tube gear reproduces a square wave? Tubes can be made to reproduce accurately, but then they sound like solid state, and what is the point of that? Tubes are all about euphonics.


Some folks who have been through the tube route eventually go with something that can do justice to both music and movies. Some popular choices are Aragon Soundstage and Arcam.


With regard to vinyl. There was scientific research on vinyl that showed that there are all kinds of problems with both the mechanics of vinyl reproduction and the pressings. That is not to say that there are not euphonic distortions (as with tubes) that are appealing to some. As far as the high quality pressings of Mobile Fidelity and Sheffield, what on earth did they record that is of much interest to mainstream listeners?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy
With regard to vinyl. There was scientific research on vinyl that showed that there are all kinds of problems with both the mechanics of vinyl reproduction and the pressings.
We needed scientific research to show that? :D
 

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The tube fetish is fascinating. Once you get a piece of tube gear, then you can start trying different brands of tubes! At one time Russian military tubes were highly desirable. There is New Old Stock. Tube swapping is a world unto itself. Every brand of tube has a slightly different sound. Messin with tubes can keep you busy and broke for years.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy
ss9001


As far as the high quality pressings of Mobile Fidelity and Sheffield, what on earth did they record that is of much interest to mainstream listeners?
Oh, amidst unpopular classical and jazz, MFSL put out original masters of little-known artists such as:


Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yes, Traffic, Cream (Eric Clapton, who do know who he is?), Led Zeppelin (heard of them?), Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Moody Blues, Santana, Al Stewart, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, John Lennon, THE ROLLING STONES, etc etc.


Maybe you'll notice that many of these names are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but that may not be of interest to you "mainstream" listeners.


I realize these artists cannot possibly match the originality of today's "memorable"

artists such as Ludicris, Beyonce, NWA, etc. but let's cut 'em a break, since they have had to eat too.


For the digital age, they converted many of these & more to CD's and they are well mastered and do not sound "digital". So, analog or digital, you too can enjoy some of these indie artists. :)


For a non-mainstream MFSL CD, try MFSL's stereo SACD of Patricia Barber, female jazz vocalist. It gets rave reviews as a reference piece for its depth and imaging. You can DL a WMA file from cduniverse to see if you'd like her style. I'd recommend Cafe Blue.


I do admit Sheffield Lab was more boutique, but there direct-to-disc recordings of such no-name jazz legends such as Harry James are still pretty good, even compared to the boom box stuff I hear in the 'hood. ;)


As far as the scientific research on vinyl, I hope it's as unbiased as your statement above! :rolleyes:


Now if you want to intelligently discuss this issue or CD vs vinyl let me know. I think there's hope since u at least know about rolling tubes, which BTW, I have no interest in. I'm not one of those fanatics!


ss9001
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy
ss9001

Could it be that the ss gear reproduced the "sibilance and hard edges" exactly as they exist on the media while the tube gear either rolls off the highs or smooths them over? Have you ever seen how tube gear reproduces a square wave? Tubes can be made to reproduce accurately, but then they sound like solid state, and what is the point of that? Tubes are all about euphonics.


Some folks who have been through the tube route eventually go with something that can do justice to both music and movies. Some popular choices are Aragon Soundstage and Arcam.
Of course, they have that "un-biased" supporter at Widescreen Review, Peter Moncrief, extolling the virtues of Arcam gear, and how it's better than any gear on the planet, so it must be true. Seriously, I have read many posts talking about Arcam's musicality, so I would give it a listen at some point.


As far as tubes, I too remember my dad taking tubes into a shop to check them out and replace tubes on a regular basis. That did enter into my decision whether or not to buy the preamp. The one I choose is a Audio Research unit, not a kit or boutique mfg. and ecpected tube life is 4-5000 hours. At 2-3 hrs use per week, I think I can afford to replace them in 30+ yrs! For tube amps, its a lot less life, so the point about replacement is a factor.


Maybe some are missing the point. I didn't mean that tubes were better. In 30yrs in this hobby, all I've had was SS until this yr. I enjoy both, since I use my receiver for all multichannel, surround listening. You just cannot make the statement either way that one is better than the other which is what the OP was told. I do think each technology has merits, strengths, weaknesses. It's up to the listener to decide. But blanket statements that tubes are better or that digital is always better than analog, are simply not true. It depends on the quality of material used, and how it is mastered.


Sibilance being in the recording. No, I don't think so. Since you don't know the recordings to which I referred, and they probably aren't mainstream enough for you. Sorry, couldn't resist! I've listened to these same recordings in other systems with same speakers and the female vocals came through better at specific spots. FWIW, my receiver has auto calibration and EQ, and that didn't help. I placed some acoustic treatments on the wall at the first reflection points and while that helped, it didn't completely solve the problem. The ARC preamp did make a difference, for whatever reason. Since there was money at stake, I tried to make this comparison as objective as I could.


Who is being dogmatic in this thread about belief systems, either way?


ss9001
 

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I'm glad you are enjoying your tube preamp and cured your sibilance. You found something that you like and enjoy and that is great.


I am glad you pointed out some of the artists who were released by MF. Clearly I was thinking they only did the more esoteric jazz and classical (that is just not my cup of tea).


One thing that strikes me: apparently you are giving up room EQ through your receiver by using the ARC. So, I guess the ARC makes a bigger difference than room EQ. Interesting.
 

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Quote:
It just makes me cry knowing that the 95% of us using solid state gear are missing out on so much.
Highly debatable.
 
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