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Unique qualities of a purely tube sound

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Sa likes this and, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. ggg71

    ggg71 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    My wife and I auditioned McIntosh gear - a C2600 tube pre and an MC275 amp. We left with an MC302 solid state amp to go with the tube front end. It wasn’t even close IMO. And I was so sure going in I wanted all tubes!!
     
    shug4476 likes this.
  2. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I remember reading that. Different PMC speakers. And not everyone is going to like everything. :shrug:
     
  3. rpd

    rpd Senior Member

    Location:
    Nashville
    Yup

    just like vinyl vs digital

    right.......
     
  4. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I think this is right, but some tube amps apply no negative feedback. Others use a little. I note it's usually the SS amps that have higher distortion specs that people say sound like tubes.
     
  5. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Embiggened Pompatus

    Location:
    Appleton
    Everything adds distortion. But with tubes, it’s low ordered/even ordered harmonics, and due to the physics of our ears, it is revealed as pleasing.
     
    Jim13 and SandAndGlass like this.
  6. coolhandjjl

    coolhandjjl Embiggened Pompatus

    Location:
    Appleton
    My 2 cents: Horns love tubes. Bass loves solid state.

    Everything’s a compromise.
     
    thegage, SandAndGlass and ggg71 like this.
  7. saturdayboy

    saturdayboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    What does “color” the sound specifically refer to? Harmonics, frequency response, eq, etc...?
     
  8. shug4476

    shug4476 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    This is not true and appears to be a myth. Please see the actual measured results of an example McIntosh tube amp below. I can provide examples of others. Distortions are neither low ordered nor even. As you can see the odd ordered harmonics are actually higher than the even ordered.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    All depending on the speakers being driven.
     
  10. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Depends...

    For example, Rogue amps have plenty of power. This is what is needed for powerful bass. They also use SS rectification for this reason.

    But, I prefer lowered powered tube amps also. Tube amps provide a natural roundness to bass. This makes it more pleasant to listen to.

    Part of the reason that SS amps are favored by many for bass, is due to them generally having more power than an average tube amp, which might be in the 30-40 Watt range. Bass frequencies generally take about 2/3 of an amps available power.

    As you get in to sub-bass, you need even more power still. For this reason, I run my passive commercial 15" sub (at 40-Hz. and below) with a 1,600-Watt Crown power amplifier.
     
    Otlset likes this.
  11. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    So you agree. Right!
     
  12. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    I've often wondered about this, the bass range from a well set-up tube-based system. I always hear about how the bass from a SS amp is better than from a tube based amp, for all the various reasons including control and damping factor and so forth. I think of that when my system is really cranking out some super low, well-defined and so, so satisfying bass in some of the records I play. I think, "good grief, what am I missing with fantastic bass like this?" But you are correct in describing it as having a certain "roundness" that is pleasant to listen to. But it's a natural bass sound to me. So maybe the bass could be bettered in a technical sense by SS amplification, but I love what I hear now, so no second thoughts.
     
  13. jonwoody

    jonwoody Incessant Streamer

    Location:
    Washington DC
    Correct me if I'm wrong but don't your Duo's have a powered subwoofer? So you are in fact listening to SS bass unless I'm mistaken as to how your speakers work.
     
  14. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    This is true, but the bass character that is amplified by SS comes from the tube amp. Likely it does help tighten and define it though, so you are probably right.
     
    jonwoody likes this.
  15. ggg71

    ggg71 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I don’t disagree. For the modern power hungry tower speakers we were looking at, solid state was the way to go - bass response/slam was severely lacking with tube amplification. Different speakers could very well have given a different result. Synergy amongst components is so critical when building a system.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  16. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    The bass section of my Duos are powered in an attempt to bring up their sensitivity to match that of the horns, and SS is logically used for this. I've heard though that the un-powered bass from an Avantgarde basshorn (a separate enormous horn-loaded bass speaker to be used along with horns) is natural, deep and powerful.
     
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  17. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I had an integrated that was Class A, 30 watts, but it had tubes for mids and highs with solid state bass. The preamp section was Mosfet. That unit had what you might call authoritative bass, but it was much softer and less well defined than the bass my all tube integrated has now. Some of this has to do with the KT120s and their "headroom", I suspect, but still.
     
  18. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    Sure, I do have PMC and I feel they do benefit from high power amps, and sound best at reasonably loud levels.
     
  19. Bananajack

    Bananajack Phorum ... wat Phorum? Where am I?

    Location:
    Singapore
    Just wondering what we are talking about?

    Modern Amps with a load of ICs and also a few tubes (one or two or three)?
    Example Octave - got the Title “Tube amp for Transistor lovers in Germany

    Or real tube amps from the old times - Tubes, Transformers and Point to Point Wiring?
    Example old Quad, Leak, Klein&Hummel, but also Shindo, Kondo ...

    The difference between SS and Classic tube amps is huge. Many things were mentioned, but the far
    superior fine dynamics wasn’t - generally tubes are more dynamic (if the caps are in Spec). But
    for modern speakers, who need 500 Watts to get bass out of 8inch or smaller drivers (idiotic),
    SS is the only solution, I agree.

    And my 1963 tube amp actually has quite a bass impact (yes, clean, it’s a German with Telefunken
    tubes), whereas my 2 x 160W SS Amp is of a rather even nature.

    On the other side I have an ancient (1971) Tandberg Receiver TR 1055 (refurbished), which really
    can compete with one of my old tube amps in color, creaminess and musicality.

    The difference between SS and err Amps with some tubes and lots of ICs is less. A lot less. So
    the whole situation might not be as clear as in theory, it’s also very dependent on the speakers.
    Some match perfectly (Tannoy) with tubes, some so so (Harbeth - will get a sh*tstorm now),
    some not at all (Elac I would guess, modern tiny bass driver speakers).

    So what are we talking about?
     
  20. Davey

    Davey like smoke from a lithium dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    OP said pure tubes without solid state, so obviously "a load of ICs and also a few tubes" probably doesn't qualify. Other than that, it's whatever you want to talk about, didn't seem all that structured :)
     
  21. Bananajack

    Bananajack Phorum ... wat Phorum? Where am I?

    Location:
    Singapore
    Fully agree with you ... but most likely many aren’t even aware how many ICs their tube amp has.
    More than tubes I would guess ;)
     
  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    When I first got my Rogue M-120 monoblock's (back in 2013), I loved listening to jazz when they were playing a bass solo on an upright bass.

    I would listen in triode mode with my Altec's, which was at 75-WPC. O would imagine each note emerging from the bass as like a pillowly marshmallow. It would get bigger and gently float towards me, getting larger and larger until it was just a giant marshmallow bubble which would hit me slowly in the face and softly envelope me in the goodness of the bass. Quite the opposite of bass slam.

    [​IMG]
    The horn loaded bass 838 15" bass bin of the Altec Lansing A7's provides open natural bass.

    Even though I use a Crown SS amp on the sub, because it is horn loaded, it still provides a very natural deep bass experience.

    I cross over the sub at 40-Hz., using a 24-dB. per-octave slope and it perfectly blends in with and augments the Altec 15" bass cabinet.

    Back in 2014, I returned the Rogue M-120's back to the factory to be upgraded to the KT88 driven M-150's.

    I like the bass sound signature of the KT88 power tubes, even though they are not as extended or as linear as the KT-120's.

    I noted that the M-150 amps were a bit more linear than the M-120's were. This gave a tighter bass, but I don't think this was as nice sounding as the more pleasant bass of the older M-120's.
     
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  23. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I completely agree with you on this. My non-horn tower speakers, in this case, the Polk LSiM707's are driven by a high current 250-Watt generation one Emotiva XPA-2 for exactly that reason.

    [​IMG]

    I drive all of my modern tower speakers, except the Zu's, strictly with SS amps, while I reserve the tube amps for the horn loaded speakers.

    [​IMG]

    It is all all about synergy!
     
    Otlset, ggg71 and jonwoody like this.
  24. jonwoody

    jonwoody Incessant Streamer

    Location:
    Washington DC
    A very evocative description of tube bass!
     
    Otlset and SandAndGlass like this.
  25. Sa likes this and

    Sa likes this and Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Highland, Indiana
    I'd love to hear an all SS system, playing a CD with a good master that has identical to tube character about it; I'm sure lots of people have. I never have, seems most hi-fi enthusiasts I've met prioritize clarity and soundstage over warmer or more organic, maybe life-like sounding production (regardless of accuracy).

    It'd be great to know there are all digital setups that can do that. I struggle to get that from anything but vinyl with my set up.
     

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