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Tortuga TPB.V1 Tube Preamp Buffer Review

Koeitje

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How many people will have bought this ?
Are they still using it ?
Does it 'improve' the sound to them ?

the inside:

View attachment 140703

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=145836.40
I had a good laugh about this:
1626129459039.png
 

Theriverlethe

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Personally, I'm dismayed that tube manufacturing has even descended to the point where they intentionally introduce distortion. In the days when vacuum tubes were current technology, the design goal of every manufacturer was to reproduce the cleanest signal possible with the least distortion. There was none of this 'tubes as tone control' shit as we have now. When I replaced the 12AX7A tubes in my preamp, I had to order 10 of them even though I only needed two so that I could find a reasonably matched pair out of the batch. That is insane. The problem is not tubes - its the current state of mind of tube manufacturers.

As for the preamp in this review, all I can say is that it seems to be a poster-child for the current 'tone control' tube mentality. Its stupid.

Does it make sense to even think of as “tone control?” The distortion spray depends on the input and is therefore totally uncontrolled. There’s no comparison to EQ.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Does it make sense to even think of as “tone control?” The distortion spray depends on the input and is therefore totally uncontrolled. There’s no comparison to EQ.
I know that, but 'tone control' is the catch-all phrase which I see used most of the time, and not just here. Obviously the contribution of tubes to the final sound is very complex. I use tubes in my setup, but to solve specific technical problems rather than to alter the sound (which they do very little of). Also, I simply like the looks of tubes.
 

F1308

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Time to file a Class Action Lawsuit?
 

Tks

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This is coming out of America? Can't even get certs for goodness sake on a $1000+ audio electronics product?
 

Bruce Morgen

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Tube gear experienced the start of their resurgence in the 1980s as the CD first appeared.

I must have missed out on that "resurgence" -- I suppose it was strictly a "high end" phenomenon that was way beyond my means back then. Even the supposedly "high end" shop I frequented ignored it IIRC.
 
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Bear123

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Any engineered good quality tube Hi-Fi amp from the late 1950's on is audibly transparent and has no "sound".
Isn't the whole purpose of using tubes to intentionally color the sound, rather than have high fidelity?
 

Robin L

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I think you are pretending to be someone you are not, as that is not correct. 100% of All early digital recordings had to be run through either a tube stage &/or transferred to analogue tape... because early converters & filters back then were just plain horrid, which has nothing to do with the higher resolution of digital.
I was working as a recording engineer starting in 1988 until 1998. I've worked with other professionals more gifted than me. As far as I can tell, none of what you say here is true. I've also worked near continuously in record retail from 1974 until physical media for audio started to seriously lose profitability in 2007. I've read a great deal concerning recording practices during all that time. None of what you write here rings true. A few professional engineers disliked digital recording at the time but most did. None of the other engineers I worked with at the time massaged their recordings via deliberate reduction of fidelity. One of them has a couple of Grammys.
 

SIY

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I was working as a recording engineer starting in 1988 until 1998. I've worked with other professionals more gifted than me. As far as I can tell, none of what you say here is true. I've also worked near continuously in record retail from 1974 until physical media for audio started to seriously lose profitability in 2007. I've read a great deal concerning recording practices during all that time. None of what you write here rings true. A few professional engineers disliked digital recording at the time but most did. None of the other engineers I worked with at the time massaged their recordings via deliberate reduction of fidelity. One of them has a couple of Grammys.
I lived near and visited Soundstream back in the late '70s; pre-CD days. Many demos and my ears were young. The last thing those recordings needed was running them through a crappy analog chain, and they were certainly not doing anything like that.
 
OP
amirm

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Isn't the whole purpose of using tubes to intentionally color the sound, rather than have high fidelity?
A lot of tube equipment owners do not want to believe or say that. They instead say tubes get them truer fidelity and close to the live event. They would not admit to any "coloration."
 

Robin L

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I lived near and visited Soundstream back in the late '70s; pre-CD days. Many demos and my ears were young. The last thing those recordings needed was running them through a crappy analog chain, and they were certainly not doing anything like that.
I was working at Ray Avery's "Rare Records" at the time. We carried those late 1970s "High End" record labels, direct to discs like Sheffield Labs, also lots of European and Japanese imports, otherwise unavailable 'cause it probably wasn't legal at the time*. We carried the first Telarc issues, using the Soundstream system. Love the Frederick Fennell Holst disc. Those were audio demo favorites at the time on account of the bass drum sound: bigger, crisper and more dynamic than any previous recording. It blew out many a speaker at audio shops.

Some of the early Decca/London issues are sonic marvels. They had an in-house 18 bit ADC in the early eighties.

*Ray Avery bought the remaining "Trademark of Quality" bootlegs when the owner/operator of that enterprise "went straight", and started up Varese Sarabande.
 
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Stu Pidasso

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I had a good laugh about this:
View attachment 140741


Out of the corner of my eye at first I thought this guys name was "Torture Garangutan" and I paused and thought, now that's downright mean... but - everyone knows Orangutan doesn't start with the letter G, just like tubes aren't used for accuracy in the HiFi reproduction chain. For creation - tone - distortion - verve etc - well that's a different story all together...

If I had one of those prepper fallout shelters I would stock it with vintage tube hifi. Just saying.
 
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DavidMcRoy

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Consumer audio is part of the entertainment industry, so to each his own, I guess. But I HOPE something is just broken here.

I caution tube-o-holics all the time that we all hear tube sound every day, all day long since tube audio stages or tube emulators are very widely used in professional audio production and for good reason: people tend to like that wonderful, life-giving second-order harmonic distortion added to the signal. Hell, I love it, too! It’s another color in the palette. But I don’t second guess the audio production engineers, of which I am a retired one. So, pile-on more if you must, I guess. (But apparently you won’t find it done well in this box.)
 
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amirm

amirm

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I caution tube-o-holics all the time that we all hear tube sound every day, all day long since tube audio stages or tube emulators are very widely used in professional audio production and for good reason: people tend to like that wonderful, life-giving second order harmonic distortion added to the signal.
When such content is finalized and monitored in the studio, do they run it through said tube amps one more time to listen and approve said content? If the answer is no, then we don't want to add that element yet again either. :)
 

Blumlein 88

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I think you are pretending to be someone you are not, as that is not correct. 100% of All early digital recordings had to be run through either a tube stage &/or transferred to analogue tape... because early converters & filters back then were just plain horrid, which has nothing to do with the higher resolution of digital.
I don't think any part of your statement is true. Not even close to true. If someone has supplied you this information they were in error.
 

thefsb

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I'll give them some credit here, they are not spouting audiophool woo. A buyer can hardly say they are not getting what they paid for.

This is a device I would be quite interested to have Amir have a listen and a general play with. It doesn't pretend to be accurate, and some passably dispassionate thoughts on it would be interesting.
That's a fair point. And it proudly uses specifically EXH brand tubes, a company that made their place in music history with a fuzz box...
Part of me felt that the price was reasonable but then I remembered that the most complex tube driven guitar pedals with twenty knobs cost way less.

Ironically in the guitar space, vst based amp emulation is finally becoming popular. For the price of this unit you can buy this:
View attachment 140733
A 600W amp head which can listen to your signal chain and emulate it, has space for 200 downloadable emulations, a million bands of eq, tons of hardware controls, and accurately emulates the dynamics and sag that guitar players love tube amps for.
Kemper Profiler has proven itself very well in practice. Solid stuff. But before we be too hasty in comparison, can it model the stereo channel imbalance that's characteristic of the Tortuga TPB.V1? Or do you need two of them?
 

Blumlein 88

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Not for my designs, no.
Aren't you going about it all wrong then? How can you design tube gear that doesn't blow up the soundstage into full 3D bloom, enhance detail and naturalness at the same time all while displaying true lifelike dynamics that SS only wishes it could do. ;)
 

levimax

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Isn't the whole purpose of using tubes to intentionally color the sound, rather than have high fidelity?
Starting in the 1950's when Hi-Fi became popular companies competed by making amplifiers as accurate/transparent as possible with the then available tube technology and many were quite successful i.e. distortion less than 1% and flat FR and they continued to improve through the 1960's with many tube amps achieving very good performance approaching even a modern definition of transparency. A good question I don't know the answer to is what was the first commercial tube amp that purposely degraded measured performance in order to "sound better"? Once this happened it seems like things have gone down hill and gotten crazy with low power and high distortion SET amps and "tube buffers" and the like becoming popular with the "subjectivist audiophile crowd". When I see products like this buffer it makes me sad that an interesting and useful technology that really moved consumer electronics forward is being reduced to expensive and poor performing "snake oil".
 
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