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If "Tube Sound" Is a Myth, Why Tubes?

KeithPhantom

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Proof requires that it be demonstrable. When statistically, enough people report an agreed upon perception, the likelihood of there being something to it greatly increases. Can all those people be imagining it? Rejecting as a waste of time something that can't currently be measured is to lock oneself into a mindset that is authoritarian rather than investigative. Given that you dismiss as a waste of time perceptions that can't be measured, upon what basis do you declare a perception by others that they describe as organic... to be "unrelated to the sound"?
For what I know of statistics, you first need to determine which type of statistical methodology you are going to use, this depends on what data you have available and how the requirements for the validity of the test statistic are met. Stuff like parametric or non-parametric, sample size, population size, mean, variance, standard deviation, the shape of the distribution (if using parametric methods). Also, stuff such as p-values and r-squared values are great to have, but that is the reason we establish that correlation does not lead to causation. It is interesting to have indicators that point where you want, but that doesn't mean that your conclusion has to be correct.

You can assign values to the preferences of an individual and a sample, but these are relative to previous definitions done by the researchers and the application within the methods to analyze the data. We can measure preference (it is being done by Harman to define their own curve), but preferences for being a statistic relying in changing and unstable data, cannot be used as the basis of definition for an absolute argument or claim such as hard maths can. We cannot, in an absolute way, link perception to the physical realm of sound, and this is why psychoacoustics exists. What we can do with the data is to declare correlation if enough correlation coefficients point towards one conclusion, but being completely absolute with statistics isn't the way to go.
 

egellings

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If science can't currently measure something, either it does not exist, or an instrument will be designed that will measure it.
 

Angsty

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The number of times a demonstrated sonic difference was not measurable is zero. And it’s particularly straightforward with electronics.
I’d like to have a reference on which subjective descriptions correlate to which measured properties. One in particular that escapes my understanding of measurement is “soundstage”, either “depth” or “breadth”.
 

SIY

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I’d like to have a reference on which subjective descriptions correlate to which measured properties. One in particular that escapes my understanding of measurement is “soundstage”, either “depth” or “breadth”.
Basically, moderate or better separation and closely matched frequency response between channels. Easy to achieve.
 

whazzup

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Distortion analysis of 3 tube amplifiers (haven't finish watching it, but just thought I'd share)
 
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ahofer

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I’d like to have a reference on which subjective descriptions correlate to which measured properties. One in particular that escapes my understanding of measurement is “soundstage”, either “depth” or “breadth”.
I remember seeing something similar to this in the forum, but can't seem to search it out:

https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1397700/all

Alan A. Shaw wrote ;

"Really! You are both worrying far, far too much! Do what seems right to you. This question of "what is best" can not be answered scientifically because there are so many variables, including where the microphones were positioned, the shape of your outer ear etc, etc, etc. I have already stated in my post here, stereo imaging is an illusion. It is entirely a construct inside your own brain. Your brain (somehow) builds a mental model by mapping the sound that you hear over your speakers via your two ears to those you have previously experienced in real. All this exposure is knitted together in to a sonic model that allows you to imagine in your head how performers were arranged in 3D space at the recording venue. But the person sitting next to you may have a radically different mental model. Wives, for example, frequently can not understand or appreciate their husbands fascination with hi-fi-they are entirely happy with their kitchen radio. This is because they have a different mental model of how music sounds.

Your brain creates a sonic database before birth and refines it throughout your life according to your sonic experiences, the concerts you have attended, the types of instruments you have heard, different acoustic environments etc. If you have not been to a live concert, never hear a live instrument but only been exposed to the sound via a cheap radio you would have a very different mental sound database to draw experience from. Conversely, if you are a professional musician playing and working with your instrument, you may find it impossible to listen to hifi sound. Many professional musicians seem perfectly satisfied with very modest low- fi audio equipment at home.

Throw the grand theory out of the window- what is right for your brain, your music, your taste is right. Go with what sound best to you.

P.S. I strongly recommend that you make an effort to go to live (classical) concerts where instruments can be heard live not via a PA speaker system. Your concept of stereo imaging, great depth, perspective etc, may well radically changed after such exposure. For one thing, at a real live concert, you will find that "pin point imaging" and great depth does not exist. What you experience live is a wash of sound....

P.P.S the fact that many people have different exposure to live sound - and hence, a different internal sonic database in their brain to draw on - makes the business of hi-fi reviewing rather problematic. When we read a hifi review, there are so many unknown for us, the reader to contend with. Not only have we no exposure to the equipment under review we do not know about the reviewer's associated equipment, his room, his musical taste or his previous exposure to live music (if any) and how sophisticated his mental sonic look-up table is. However, one thing that we all do know about is speech since we are all surrounded by live speech all our lives if we have not seen of heard an instrument. That make speech an excellent test material for evaluating loudspeakers.

Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK
 

ahofer

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dfuller

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It's not a myth that tubes sound different from solid state - the noise floor is higher and they are more nonlinear. The higher noise floor is an interesting phenomenon - depending on where it's focused, it can affect your perception of the material playing through it. Same with the distortion, it's not as transparent but maybe perceptually you like the sound of it.

Part of it is that tubes are fun and some people derive some joy from rolling tubes. It's something of a hobby.

For me, I like that tube gear is (relatively) easy to repair. I would not want to do component level repair on something like a Hypex or PuriFi module, but it's not too bad on tube gear.
 

ahofer

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I read the book “The Feather Thief” recently, A true story about a young man who learned how to tie flies and stole a bunch of endangered bird species from a natural history museum.
Along the way, you learn that a) most devotees of salmon fly-tying don’t fish, b) Salmon will hit anything colorful, yet c) there are many complicated flies that simply must be made with the original Malaysian or South American endangered species’ feathers. Trout require highly accurate fly replicas made mostly from drab black and brown materials. The hardcores tie Salmon flies.

Almost all men, as well. It had a familiar feel.
 

acbarn

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I read the book “The Feather Thief” recently, A true story about a young man who learned how to tie flies and stole a bunch of endangered bird species from a natural history museum.
Along the way, you learn that a) most devotees of salmon fly-tying don’t fish, b) Salmon will hit anything colorful, yet c) there are many complicated flies that simply must be made with the original Malaysian or South American endangered species’ feathers. Trout require highly accurate fly replicas made mostly from drab black and brown materials. The hardcores tie Salmon flies.

Almost all men, as well. It had a familiar feel.
The nice thing about trout fishing is that trout don’t lie (at least wild trout on a chalk stream typically don’t). You either match the hatch or you don’t. Steelhead and salmon on the other hand can be finicky or completely indiscriminate, leaving the angler always wondering if it was the fly or the fish.
 

SIY

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I suspect that tube line stages can measure quite well, with the possible exception of noise.
Mine do, and the noise is well below “good enough.”
 

cistercian

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Re tube sound...it is real. It could also be called transformer sound! :) Tubes have a high plate impedance
so transformers are used to provide a low Z output. Some tubes also do have a signature. Some large tubes
actually produced reverb because the elements would vibrate. Not a ton of it...but it was there!
Tubes sound epic in distortion too for making fuzz effects...low plate voltage and improper bias makes for
delicious distortion. To be fair some point contact germanium transistors worked awesome for this too.

The first time I built a solid state class A amplifier I abandoned tube sound forever...because without a output
transformer the treble and clarity were just fantastic. For clean amplification tubes don't make sense to me anymore.
But if you want to build a distortion box for effect use, tubes are hilariously good at that.

I find the fascination with tube equipment today interesting because I saw tube tech at it's zenith...and I watched it go away too.
The old gear sounded warm. But it was not as transparent nor was it as clear as the modern semiconductor gear is now.
My ears were really excellent when I heard top shelf tube gear long ago. I really like new gear better. Remember though the
source material was all analog then...and there is no question it colored the sound I heard.

If people want to use tube amps now I think it is fine. I can understand some loving it.
I don't judge...but it is mildly entertaining to me nonetheless.
 
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