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Author Topic: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?  (Read 56437 times)

Offline samuelfianza

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #50 on: September 27, 2013, 12:48:33 AM »
Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?

YES!
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Offline teleleng

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #51 on: September 27, 2013, 01:41:14 AM »
Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?

YES!

In what way? Quality wise?

Online lolwat

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #52 on: September 27, 2013, 02:21:23 AM »
TL; DR

- Solid State Amps "harder" sounding, can sound good for hard rock and metal, with pedals (stock distortion channels usually suck)
- Tube Amps "softer" sounding, more pleasant overloading sound when turned up very loud, usually have awesome and dynamic drive channels that react favorably to boosting
- I have been able to test both kinds side-by-side and even both on at the same time, and solid states have stronger bass and treble/presence frequencies, while tubes have stronger mid frequencies, when both set to be equal in volume
- Volume-wise, 50w tube >>> 100w solid state, although I'm not sure why this is the case (probably because of different speakers)
- the human ears are notorious for having the ability to adapt quickly to sound changes even within intervals of seconds, so it's always best to compare equipment, especially amplifiers, side-by-side

-------------

I don't know if it'll help, but I do have both kinds of amps, both gig-worthy in that they are in the 50+ watt range and equipped with 12 inch speakers.

I have a Marshall MG100 combo (SS) and a Laney LC50-II combo (tube), and from time to time I get to play through both of them at the same time for guitar sound reference purposes, e.g. tweaking stomps & effects.

I bet I'd be able to compare them better if it were possible for me to run either into the same cabinet driving the same speaker, but with my current setup some observations can be readily made without going through the option above.

The solid state Marshall is a "harder" sounding amp on its own - the cleans are pretty nice, but as expected the standalone distortion channel isn't the very best, especially when compared to a nice dirt pedal (I'm currently using an MI Audio Tube Zone V4). This described "hardness" can be used to one's advantage especially when playing harder styles of music like metal, where the solid state power amp seems to respond really quickly to palmmutes and percussive techniques. firemodel's observation that solid states can be ear-fatiguing at times isn't completely unfounded, but with judicious use of the controls it is possible to find a more balanced sound that won't take your head off. If I were to choose this amp to play live with I'd recommend using drive pedals in front of the clean channel, instead of sticking to the drive channel, for a better distortion sound.

The tube Laney seems to have a "softer" texture if I were to describe the sound, especially when compared side-by-side with the Marshall. The EQ controls are a little less effective, but this means one can get away with diming every knob and still get cool sounds, which cannot really be said of the Marshall. I tried this on the clean channel once, and got musical feedback and a surprisingly smooth overloading sound - something that the Marshall can never do gracefully at full tilt - although I could only do it for around 30 seconds, and not without earplugs lest I ruin my hearing. The drive channel, while incapable of delivering the same amount of saturation as the Marshall can, is a lot more fun to play with, especially if you run single coils/play using your fingers rather than with a pick. I recently discovered that, with the help of a boost pedal like a Tubescreamer, the Laney can achieve pretty awesome levels of gain, enough for djent and shred, and figured that I'd definitely choose to play gigs this way if I had any active bands and transportation weren't an issue.

Volume-wise, the Laney could easily drown out the Marshall at full tilt, but I rarely dime the amps anyway, even when playing with other musicians. When set to more-or-less equal volume, the Marshall's bass and treble frequencies were more prominent in the mixed signal, while the Laney fills out the mids nicely.

At the end of the day, you should trust your ears, but to be able to trust your ears I recommend you expose them to as many kinds of sounds and equipment as you can first, and it's best if you can compare them side-by-side, as our hearing isn't very reliable in the first place.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 02:26:15 AM by lolwat »

Offline ganjie

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #53 on: September 27, 2013, 05:32:01 AM »
i'd have to say it depends on what amp... (also on a caveat, all my statements come from a "Classic Rock/Blues" standpoint so please take it with a grain of salt.)

i have a friend that has a beat up vintage yamaha solid state that rocks harder than a few tube amps i've heard/used and this is in a live band setting!

i also have had a few tube amps that just didn't cut it... (don't want to start a war so i won't tell what kind! hahaha..)

amps are like guitars, there's a bit of inconsistency specially the vintage ones whether tube or solid state so i guess it's like guitars also.. there are gems and there are lemons.

so to answer the thread starters question:  NO, Tube amps do not necessarily sound better than Solid State amps.

on a personal note though, i prefer tube amps because of simplicity in both circuit and usage.
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Offline tonwins11

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #54 on: September 27, 2013, 06:17:03 AM »

- Volume-wise, 50w tube >>> 100w solid state, although I'm not sure why this is the case (probably because of different speakers)
- the human ears are notorious for having the ability to adapt quickly to sound changes even within intervals of seconds, so it's always best to compare equipment, especially amplifiers, side-by-side


About volume, this is what I've found but tube to tube comparison though:

http://www.amptone.com/g112.htm

X% louder = 2^log10(P2/P1) * 100%

40 watts is 94% as loud as 50 watts.
30 watts is 86% as loud as 50 watts.
25 watts is 81% as loud as 50 watts.
22 watts is 78% as loud as 50 watts.
20 watts is 76% as loud as 50 watts.
18 watts is 74% as loud as 50 watts.
15 watts is 70% as loud as 50 watts.
12 watts is 65% as loud as 50 watts.
10 watts is 62% as loud as 50 watts.
9 watts is 60% as loud as 50 watts.
8 watts is 56% as loud as 50 watts.
7 watts is 55% as loud as 50 watts.
6 watts is 53% as loud as 50 watts.
5 watts is 50% as loud as 50 watts.
4 watts is 47% as loud as 50 watts.
3 watts is 43% as loud as 50 watts.
2 watts is 38% as loud as 50 watts.
1 watt is 31% as loud as 50 watts.
3/4 watt is 28% as loud as 50 watts.
1/2 watt is 25% as loud as 50 watts.
1/4 watt is 20% as loud as 50 watts.
1/10 watt is 15% as loud as 50 watts.
50mW is 13% as loud as 50 watts
20mW is 10% as loud as 50 watts.
10mW is 8% as loud as 50 watts.
5mW is 6% as loud as 50 watts.
1mW is 4% as loud as 50 watts.
0.5mW is 3% as loud as 50 watts.
0.1mW is 2% as loud as 50 watts.
50uW is 1.6% as loud as 50 watts.
10uW is 1% as loud as 50 watts.
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Online dtmateo

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #55 on: September 27, 2013, 06:42:26 AM »

X% louder = 2^log10(P2/P1) * 100%


This ^^^

And in live gigs, you rarely crank up the volume anywhere near max (where the tube amp truly shines) anyway. Majority of the time an amp is mic'd and it's the PA system that feeds the crowd. Even in larger venues you will have PA speakers in front of the audience and another set for those at the far end.

During our last gig we used a venue that could pack up to 1000 people and my amp was only at 2.5 and my effects at 2 because it's just effing loud. I've watched a Queen gig (video) where they only used one 30W amp. Same goes with U2.

Point is, majority of the time a 100W amp into a 4x12 stack is overkill. Of the few times where you play in an open field venue where you might want to push it to 11, your sound would have already sucked even before you started so I don't think it really matters.

I'm sure there are differences between solid state and tube as there are differences between a Mesa tube and a Marshall tube. It's a matter of preference (I hate the sound of a dual rectifier). My point remains that it is almost impossible to distinguish a SS vs tube sound...especially at sane volumes.
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Offline emil_murillo

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2013, 07:10:50 AM »
Myth or truth? Can you tell the difference if it will be heard during a blind test?


Tube amps are  Class A amplifiers, Analog Circuitry, High-Fidelity (HiFI) Output → in another words "Clear Output Audio Signal" or less distortion..  Although i did come across digital circuitry which incorporates 12AX7 e.g. ART preamps, Korg valvetronix multifx, Digitech preamp rack, etc.. incorporated tube helps compensate a bit of Clearness to the High THD% (total harmonic distortion) of the digital circuitry but still THD is still there.. Pure Class A amplifiers are big and half of the power are wasted.. Clearly not very power efficient But in our age this is how we can come up of a "True-Clear HiFi Sound"

Solid-State Amps has variety → there's Class A amplifiers (mostly old amps), Class C Amplifiers (RF) & Class D amplifiers (Digital) which contains more THD% (total harmonic disrotion) than Class A amplifiers but way more power efficient (both electrical & musical) in a small package..

Offline drazenjake

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #57 on: September 27, 2013, 07:27:35 AM »
i'll go with solid state amps.
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Offline emil_murillo

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #58 on: September 27, 2013, 07:53:50 AM »

Tube amps are  Class A amplifiers, Analog Circuitry, High-Fidelity (HiFI) Output → in another words "Clear Output Audio Signal" or less distortion..  Although i did come across digital circuitry which incorporates 12AX7 e.g. ART preamps, Korg valvetronix multifx, Digitech preamp rack, etc.. incorporated tube helps compensate a bit of Clearness to the High THD% (total harmonic distortion) of the digital circuitry but still THD is still there.. Pure Class A amplifiers are big and half of the power are wasted.. Clearly not very power efficient But in our age this is how we can come up of a "True-Clear HiFi Sound"

Solid-State Amps has variety → there's Class A amplifiers (mostly old amps), Class C Amplifiers (RF) & Class D amplifiers (Digital) which contains more THD% (total harmonic disrotion) than Class A amplifiers but way more power efficient (both electrical & musical) in a small package..


But due to flactuating Electrical Characteristics of tubes → that's why they were design as "Snap-On" not soldered radial or axial pins.. and as a tube amp owner you must have stock of tubes because whenever characteristics gone flactuating, you can snap-out the old tube and snap-on the new tube just like that..

That's why Solid State Amplifiers (Transistors) were invented → small signal,  low-power, Class A amplifier variants it has.. Well less superior High Fidelity than tubes of course but if i were to choose → I choose in between ►Hybrid Tube-Solid State Class A amplifier


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Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #59 on: September 27, 2013, 08:12:36 AM »
This ^^^

And in live gigs, you rarely crank up the volume anywhere near max (where the tube amp truly shines) anyway. Majority of the time an amp is mic'd and it's the PA system that feeds the crowd. Even in larger venues you will have PA speakers in front of the audience and another set for those at the far end.

During our last gig we used a venue that could pack up to 1000 people and my amp was only at 2.5 and my effects at 2 because it's just effing loud. I've watched a Queen gig (video) where they only used one 30W amp. Same goes with U2.

Point is, majority of the time a 100W amp into a 4x12 stack is overkill. Of the few times where you play in an open field venue where you might want to push it to 11, your sound would have already sucked even before you started so I don't think it really matters.

I'm sure there are differences between solid state and tube as there are differences between a Mesa tube and a Marshall tube. It's a matter of preference (I hate the sound of a dual rectifier). My point remains that it is almost impossible to distinguish a SS vs tube sound...especially at sane volumes.

Teka there are tube amps that sound great (even master volume models) at low volume beating out solid states.  Bakit ang 100watt solid state amp ba ay hindi rin loud?  I think the problem is hindi ka pa naka subok ng magandang guitar tube amp na mababa ang loudness.

Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #60 on: September 27, 2013, 08:13:56 AM »
Ok not from the point of view of a listener but from actual user guitarist....Do you honestly believe 100% that during a blind test, you can determine a ss amp and a tube amp in an actual test?

Yes I can.

Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #61 on: September 27, 2013, 08:16:35 AM »
i'd have to say it depends on what amp... (also on a caveat, all my statements come from a "Classic Rock/Blues" standpoint so please take it with a grain of salt.)

i have a friend that has a beat up vintage yamaha solid state that rocks harder than a few tube amps i've heard/used and this is in a live band setting!

i also have had a few tube amps that just didn't cut it... (don't want to start a war so i won't tell what kind! hahaha..)

amps are like guitars, there's a bit of inconsistency specially the vintage ones whether tube or solid state so i guess it's like guitars also.. there are gems and there are lemons.

so to answer the thread starters question:  NO, Tube amps do not necessarily sound better than Solid State amps.

on a personal note though, i prefer tube amps because of simplicity in both circuit and usage.

I also have a friend with a beat up solid state yamaha combo who believes that both my cornell and bruno (the best sounding guitar amp he has ever heard according to him) sound superior to the yamaha.

Offline tonwins11

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #62 on: September 27, 2013, 08:23:03 AM »

Point is, majority of the time a 100W amp into a 4x12 stack is overkill. Of the few times where you play in an open field venue where you might want to push it to 11, your sound would have already sucked even before you started so I don't think it really matters.


Actually, at some point, it isn't about cranking it up in the case highlighted above. Some prefer half stack or full stack because the cabinet does affect the overall output.
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Online dtmateo

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2013, 08:25:45 AM »

Teka there are tube amps that sound great (even master volume models) at low volume beating out solid states.  Bakit ang 100watt solid state amp ba ay hindi rin loud?  I think the problem is hindi ka pa naka subok ng magandang guitar tube amp na mababa ang loudness.

I don't understand your question. Probably because you did not understand my post.
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Offline shredmaestrobri

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2013, 08:31:11 AM »
Depends on:

1) What SS amp vs. what tube amp
2) Volume you are playing at
3) Player preference

And more I think.


Online dtmateo

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #65 on: September 27, 2013, 08:31:45 AM »

Actually, at some point, it isn't about cranking it up in the case highlighted above. Some prefer half stack or full stack because the cabinet does affect the overall output.

Well true and I don't see any argument here. It's still a matter of preference. Lugging around a 4x12 is very impractical when a 15W 1x12 combo is more than loud enough for just about any venue.
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Offline tonwins11

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #66 on: September 27, 2013, 08:36:59 AM »
Well true and I don't see any argument here. It's still a matter of preference. Lugging around a 4x12 is very impractical when a 15W 1x12 combo is more than loud enough for just about any venue.

Do you mean an ss amp here?
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Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #67 on: September 27, 2013, 08:37:16 AM »
I don't understand your question. Probably because you did not understand my post.

The statement: It is possible to distinguish between a solid state amp and tube amp at sane volumes because:

a) there are bad sounding 100 watt solid state amps that are loud and
b) there are great sounding tube amps even a low volumes

which means they can be distinguished at ANY volume.

Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #68 on: September 27, 2013, 08:40:09 AM »
Well true and I don't see any argument here. It's still a matter of preference. Lugging around a 4x12 is very impractical when a 15W 1x12 combo is more than loud enough for just about any venue.

Maski na nga 1 watt guitar tube amp into an efficient 1x12 cabinet is loud enough for just about any venue.  But if you are looking for tightness and spatial expansion; a 4x12 will beat out a farty 1x12 cabinet.

Online firemodel55

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #69 on: September 27, 2013, 08:42:40 AM »
That's psychological not aural hehe
On the other hand, you may think its psychological because you cannot hear what other people hear and feel.  I did not mean that as an insult... its just we may not hear and feel things in the same way as individuals.

Offline fretzburner

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #70 on: September 27, 2013, 08:55:24 AM »
My preference: I'm after of the output tube sound.Solidstate preamp with tube power amp much much better than tube preamp with solidstate power amp. Based on my actual amps, not from research or youtube demos.
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Offline tonwins11

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #71 on: September 27, 2013, 08:56:45 AM »
My preference: I'm after of the output tube sound.Solidstate preamp with tube power amp much much better than tube preamp with solidstate power amp. Based on my actual amps, not from research or youtube demos.

OT: schematics please?  :-D
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Offline FollowTheReaper

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #72 on: September 27, 2013, 09:23:43 AM »
there are times i prefer my tube amp over my SS amp.. and there are times it's the other way around. i love both of my amps and to me they both sound great. depends on my mood, i guess :lol:
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Offline skrumian

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #73 on: September 27, 2013, 09:30:32 AM »
Di ko alam kung bakit kelangan pa makipagdiskuyunan at ipagtanggol ang opinyon? Di ba preference mo na yan?  :?
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Offline FollowTheReaper

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Re: Do tube amps really sound better than solid state?
« Reply #74 on: September 27, 2013, 09:35:27 AM »
Di ko alam kung bakit kelangan pa makipagdiskuyunan at ipagtanggol ang opinyon? Di ba preference mo na yan?  :?

i think they're trying to arrive at a quantifiable basis as to why tube amps sound better than solid states (or the other way around) in general. but yeah it is mostly personal preference although i think it is a healthy discussion (so far)
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