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

dfuller

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That's fascinating! My experience with mixing and mastering engineers has generally been the opposite - many (but not all) I know have audiophile-like tendencies, espousing technically incoherent fantasies about how audio equipment, accoustics and psychoacoustics work.
Depends on the engineer. I'm more at the point of "I know what speakers I like, and I know what I don't like, and generally the measurements show similar things".
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Frankly, @Rzezniq, a few of us have invested a fair amount of time, effort, keystrokes ;) and forum bandwidth in explaning why nonsense is nonsense -- not a good use of any form of resource, human or silicon.

Leave that "paper" (or whatever it is) behind and read some classic literature on audio reproduction then work your way back towards modernity (or not, as you wish). The "best" practicioners of the art will understand all of it well enough 1) to make intelligent and rational choices and 2) to explain them rationally, accurately, and clearly to an audience at any level of technical proficiency. (EDIT: The audience does have to be interested, though!)

As I like to tell my students when I teach 'em "old stuff" so that they have some insight into "new stuff" -- Picasso had to learn to "do" art (e.g., painting) "the right way" before he could detonate the whole field!

View attachment 104908

Indeed.
This is very fundamental and has about as much to do with the differences in (typical) vacuum tube vs. solid state audio amplification as anything.

Just to be really clear -- I think I understand this stuff reasonably well for someone whose interest in the subject is purely recreational. That said, I choose to do most of my listening via archaic amplification technology using single-ended (class "A") triode power amplification, transformer-coupled*, with no global (nor any externally applied local) negative feedback. The damping factor of the amp I use is about 8 (i.e., 1 ohm output impedance) and the power output is about 3.5 watts (per channel) at clipping. Is it hifi? Well, perhaps not, and it may be that what I like about it is euphonic distortion. But I like it, and I choose to listen to it.

DSC_0124
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

(and it looks nice in the dark :) )


___________
* and the requirements of single-ended vs. push-pull output transformers is another issue entirely! ;) Suffice it to say that, in "normal" single-ended (SE) amplifier designs, the OPT has to deal with the DC plate voltage applied to the amplifier tube; thus the SE transformers have an "air gap" and have to be very large & heavy to avoid saturation by the DC voltage. These are weeds not worth getting into in this particular discussion, but it's of profound importance if one wants to build a decent single-ended vacuum tube power amplifier.
You make me jealous. I only have two and a half watts on my SET and you have a whole watt more.
:confused::confused:
 

andreasmaaan

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Depends on the engineer. I'm more at the point of "I know what speakers I like, and I know what I don't like, and generally the measurements show similar things".
Yeh, I really didn't mean to imply I thought all sound engineers thought this way :)
 

Inner Space

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That's fascinating! My experience with mixing and mastering engineers has generally been the opposite - many (but not all) I know have audiophile-like tendencies, espousing technically incoherent fantasies about how audio equipment, accoustics and psychoacoustics work.
Yeah, I wouldn't want to suggest that ignorance-is-bliss was the majority view, but it wasn't uncommon. (Although my experience is very much last-generation, and it could be different now.) I had a friend at one studio who was an extreme audiophile. We worked with a guy who I swear didn't really know what an amplifier was, much less that there were different kinds. As long as sound came out of the speakers in front of him, he sat down and got to work.
 

mhardy6647

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You make me jealous. I only have two and a half watts on my SET and you have a whole watt more.
:confused::confused:
You know, funny you should mention that.
I started down the SET road with an SE (pseudo) triode amplfier (Steve Deckert's* "Zen" SE-84B) based on an ancient Zenith console hifi amp design and using an EL84, wired as triode, for output. To cut to the chase, that amp was/is capable of a little more than 1 watt per channel before getting pretty congested sounding. Using a pair of Klipsch Cornies ahem, Cornwalls (a fairly sensitive loudspeaker, at least by modern standards) in a moderate sized room, things got a little scratchy sounding at moderate volume levels even playing "little girl with guitar" music.

DSCN5766
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

I graduated to single-ended 2A3 and have (largely) stayed there for about 25 years now.

DSC_4280 (2)
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

An SE 45 amp would be nice, but I think I'd (sometimes) miss the oompf of the 2A3 (despite the sonic beauty of SE 45s). ;)

_____________________
* speaking of a fellow whose written ruminations on hifi are best taken with a grain of salt... :cool:
 

MakeMineVinyl

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You know, funny you should mention that.
I started down the SET road with an SE (pseudo) triode amplfier (Steve Deckert's* "Zen" SE-84B) based on an ancient Zenith console hifi amp design and using an EL84, wired as triode, for output. To cut to the chase, that amp was/is capable of a little more than 1 watt per channel before getting pretty congested sounding. Using a pair of Klipsch Cornies ahem, Cornwalls (a fairly sensitive loudspeaker, at least by modern standards) in a moderate sized room, things got a little scratchy sounding at moderate volume levels even playing "little girl with guitar" music.

DSCN5766
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

I graduated to single-ended 2A3 and have (largely) stayed there for about 25 years now.

DSC_4280 (2)
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

An SE 45 amp would be nice, but I think I'd (sometimes) miss the oompf of the 2A3 (despite the sonic beauty of SE 45s). ;)

_____________________
* speaking of a fellow whose written ruminations on hifi are best taken with a grain of salt... :cool:
How did you get the glow of the filaments to show through the plates on those tubes? That's cool. :cool: I have a1950s RCA 'Golden Throat' table radio (which still works and sounds glorious in a juke box sort of way) which uses a 45 if I remember correctly.

Just thought I'd post a picture of the first amplifier I ever had. This is from a 'kiddie phonograph' I had when I was probably <10 yrs old. The tube is a 50L6, and I think the filament ran in series with the turntable motor or something like that. I fixed it up to work on its own, but I'm not about to connect it to my compression drivers.....

PXL_20210110_004237210.MP.jpg
 

dfuller

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How did you get the glow of the filaments to show through the plates on those tubes? That's cool.
Looks like they're a mesh plate variety?

EDIT: Yup. TJ FullMusic 2A3 mesh plate.
 
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Inner Space

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How did you get the glow of the filaments to show through the plates on those tubes? That's cool. :cool: I have a1950s RCA 'Golden Throat' table radio (which still works and sounds glorious in a juke box sort of way) which uses a 45 if I remember correctly.

Just thought I'd post a picture of the first amplifier I ever had. This is from a 'kiddie phonograph' I had when I was probably <10 yrs old. The tube is a 50L6, and I think the filament ran in series with the turntable motor or something like that. I fixed it up to work on its own, but I'm not about to connect it to my compression drivers.....

View attachment 104966
Awesome. Love the Dymo tape. I made a passive pre for a high-efficiency system once, in a metal box like that, with a volume knob and Dymo labels at the 9, 12 and 3 o'clock positions, saying "Normal", "Stun", and "Kill".
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Looks like they're a mesh plate variety?

EDIT: Yup. TJ FullMusic 2A3 mesh plate.
Just looked them up because I love the old skool bulb envelope, but those suckers are expensive!
 

MakeMineVinyl

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I might need to get a pair of the 300b to go with my thoriated 845s, but it would be hard to give up the gold lettering on my golden lions.
You're talking 300b and you're talking real power. Use it wisely. :D
 

dfuller

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That Shuguang SG-845-7 amp, with 300b and 1250V 845 tubes is like a fireplace... I do not leave it unattended, and I make sure my kids respect its danger.
1250V... Damn, you like to live dangerously.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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That Shuguang SG-845-7 amp, with 300b and 1250V 845 tubes is like a fireplace... I do not leave it unattended, and I make sure my kids respect its danger.
I've been knocked by accidently touching 500V or so in some of my amps (plural occurances - I don't learn....). I wouldn't want to mess with 1250V, no way!

True story, my ex-father in law was an old skool electrician and he used to 'measure' voltage by touching the wires with his fingers. Talk about real men. At any rate his daughter (my ex-wife) was crazy in the head (thus the 'ex' part) - I think repeated exposure to high voltages must have scrambled his genes or something. o_O
 

Helicopter

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1250V... Damn, you like to live dangerously.
Just think of the high voltage parts of the amp as capable of sending mini lightning and you should be on the right page.
I've been knocked by accidently touching 500V or so in some of my amps (plural occurances - I don't learn....). I wouldn't want to mess with 1250V, no way!

True story, my ex-father in law was an old skool electrician and he used to 'measure' voltage by touching the wires with his fingers. Talk about real men. At any rate his daughter (my ex-wife) was crazy in the head (thus the 'ex' part) - I think repeated exposure to high voltages scrambled his genes or something. o_O
I used to quickly flick my dry finger across 120V mains when I was doing apartment maintenance before college. Now I know better, i.e., that less voltage can kill you.
 

Blumlein 88

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I've been knocked by accidently touching 500V or so in some of my amps (plural occurances - I don't learn....). I wouldn't want to mess with 1250V, no way!

True story, my ex-father in law was an old skool electrician and he used to 'measure' voltage by touching the wires with his fingers. Talk about real men. At any rate his daughter (my ex-wife) was crazy in the head (thus the 'ex' part) - I think repeated exposure to high voltages must have scrambled his genes or something. o_O
The old school version of crisper (instead of crispr)???
 
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