What Makes Tubes Special?

mhardy6647

Señor Member
I like building it too -- once I get started.
It's the activation energy thing that I (still) struggle with -- not the least of which is that I am terrible at the cutting and drilling part of building.
 
Which part do you enjoy the most? Besides completing a project obviously, ha.

For myself I find that it's best to do a bit of extra prep work in the planning stages. Order parts, extra parts, etc. Sometimes even building a prototype/breadboard etc. is worth the effort.

Basically whatever I need to do to ensure I can rock and roll with the build once I get going.

That's sort of obvious advice.... heh.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
I like prepping the parts and wires and hooking stuff up -- I love the smell of solder in the morning!
And I like powering up (when it works) and checking voltages and then listening.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
This article was written for Stereophile from an Electronics engineer and designer.
Tubes do Something Special
Tubes Do Something Special

And this was written by Martin Colloms an Electrical engineer from Oxford and chaired the AES and was the technical editor of Stereophile and formed the speaker company Monitor Audio and is brought into court cases to settle lawsuits on audio related topics.

While low feedback is not necessarily the purview of tubes - it often is.

A Future Without Feedback?
 

DC

Active Member
This article was written for Stereophile from an Electronics engineer and designer.
Tubes do Something Special
Tubes Do Something Special

And this was written by Martin Colloms an Electrical engineer from Oxford and chaired the AES and was the technical editor of Stereophile and formed the speaker company Monitor Audio and is brought into court cases to settle lawsuits on audio related topics.

While low feedback is not necessarily the purview of tubes - it often is.

A Future Without Feedback?

Thanks for those links—interesting articles and informative responses.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
This all brings up something I think about often in audio. Finding validation in the thoughts of others, other opinions or, for a different personality, measurements. I look for it as well and don’t know why. What does it matter? If you have listened to enough gear to realize what you like or dislike, who cares that an engineer agrees with you? Or some dude in a magazine. If you prefer tubes for the sound and there’s either a mountain of evidence to support your listening preference, or none at all, what’s the difference? I ask because there’s no drastic downside to getting it wrong (if there even is a wrong). Nobody gets hurt. You’re still enjoying tunes. We treat this hobby with an almost comic seriousness. When the outcome doesn’t matter at all to anything but your ears.
 

mhardy6647

Señor Member
on my better days, I reflect on the title of one of Richard Feynman's autobiographies (he had no issues with low self-esteem)...

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Most days, though -- I just Google for affirmation of my point of view.
:beat
 

Mortsnets

Junior Member
I have a lot of preconceptions about audio (low powered tube amps rule), but for some reason I don't care for them in others.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I think this last sentence speaks volumes about the intent.
And it includes such wonderful assumptive lapses such as: "(...) the superiority of tubes is undeniable in an A/B comparision. "

Um, nope. In fact, I deny it quite often in an A/B comparison.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Articles that make sweeping generalizations regarding the superiority of tubes vs. transistors, analog vs. digital, dynamic vs. horn vs. electrostatic speakers have questionable (shall we say) value.

Unless folks "force fit" their audio choices according to what the reviewers (or other "experts") say, there is no substitute for listening to lots of different gear using the music you love, gaining experience and then letting your ears guide you, without preconceptions.

As always, this is just my opinion. :)
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Articles that make sweeping generalizations regarding the superiority of tubes vs. transistors, analog vs. digital, dynamic vs. horn vs. electrostatic speakers have questionable (shall we say) value.

Unless folks "force fit" their audio choices according to what the reviewers (or other "experts") say, there is no substitute for listening to lots of different gear using the music you love, gaining experience and then letting your ears guide you, without preconceptions.

As always, this is just my opinion. :)
Note I'd have said the same thing about a reviewer saying "... solid state is undeniably superior in an A/B comparison." It's a bit of a begging the question fallacy. You can't just prove your point by saying the point you wish to prove is undeniable. But what do I know? There's no truth anymore, its just who says (or tweets) it the loudest and most often.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Note I'd have said the same thing about a reviewer saying "... solid state is undeniably superior in an A/B comparison." It's a bit of a begging the question fallacy. You can't just prove your point by saying the point you wish to prove is undeniable. But what do I know? There's no truth anymore, its just who says (or tweets) it the loudest and most often.

Ain't that the truth.

Social media can be a very dangerous tool.
 

Richard Austen

Junior Member
The thing with tube amplifiers is that they vary far more wildly than do SS amplifiers - in double blind level matched tests you can tell the difference between two tube amplifiers and tube versus SS - not so the case with most SS amplifiers which sound far more alike than people like to admit.

While I find SS to sound fairly mediocre I find the best tube amps sound sublime and many tube amps to sound utterly dreadful and points in between.

So when someone like me says tube amps sound better - I am referring to the best examples. And I feel that it takes more expense to get a tube amp to sound really good than a SS amp to sound mediocre. A Rotel RB 1090 power amp for $2k is capable of 1Kw output power and in a blind level matched A/B comparison is probably not going to be outclassed or thumped by most any SS amplifier at 10 times the price.

Tube amps and especially SET amps tend to be far more a slave to the impedance curve of a given speaker so in fact - even if you heard a truly great SET amp - it can sound abysmally bad depending on the loudspeaker - that is far FAR less the case with the average SS amplifier.

All of this then leads to the notion that instead of focusing on individual components - it may be better to evaluate systems - you can put Ferrari tires on a Yugo but a Ferrari you ain't got.

Thus SS does have several advantages and the main one is that they are simply far more practical - If I have a Bryston 4B there is a pretty good chance it will drive 99.9% on the market and pretty much sound the same driving all of them - the amp's characteristic isn't goingt o change - a SET amp is completely different - in one set-up it could sound bright - in another dark - bass shy -bass strong etc. So depending what it is you're listening to the SET will vary more widely.

Speaking as a tube owner and owns speakers made for SET amplifiers - I chuckled when I read reviews of my speakers that were virtually completely opposite in commentary - one reviewer wrote the speakers had a vague soundstage while another wrote that the speakers presented a panoramic stage. And thus depends on the amplifiers used - perhaps the music or source player being used and of course the room.
 
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