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#1
I understand that tube amps are usually twice as loud as SS amps of the same watts. How does it work with cabs exactly? Like, say you have a cab that is built to handle up to 100 watts. Can you only use a tube head up to 50 watts or can you use a 100 and it will just be louder?
#2
It's not true. It's just that tube amps sounds so much better cranked.
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#3
Tubes are more efficient than transistors, so at the same power (wattage) they will produce more volume than a solid state amp.
Cabs are only rated on power handling. A 50 watt head will put out 50 watts (if you turn it up) whether you run it into a 50 watt cab or a 150 watt cab. A 50 watt SS amp will have less perceived volume than a 50 watt tube amp through the same cab, but they're both still putting out 50 watts.
#4
It's not necessarily true. All amps are rated at volume before distortion (certain percentage of distortion), it's just that tube amps are usually built with lots of room to overdrive and distort the signal which puts out even more power. On the other hand you have SS amps being rated the same way, but they're not built to overdrive at higher volume/settings. This is how it used to be, nowadays it's too inconsistent to say if it's true.

EDIT: ^ That is absolutely NOT true.

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#5
Quote by Dr.Pain-MD
It's not necessarily true. All amps are rated at volume before distortion (certain percentage of distortion), it's just that tube amps are usually built with lots of room to overdrive and distort the signal which puts out even more power. On the other hand you have SS amps being rated the same way, but they're not built to overdrive at higher volume/settings. This is how it used to be, nowadays it's too inconsistent to say if it's true.

EDIT: ^ That is absolutely NOT true.

By more efficient, I meant have more headroom, and don't clip like mad when overdriven. Apologies for my poor choice of wording.
#6
Tubes don't have more headroom, you can't even compare the two.
Tubes do clip nicely when pushed hard, but transistors can also sound great when pushed hard. It all depends on the circuit, there are some horrible sounding tube amps out there too.

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THE SINE WAVE SURFER σƒ τλε τρπ βπστλεπλσσδ

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[quote="'[BurnTheDusk"]']Boss pedals may be built like tanks but I would rather buy a cardboard box that is on my side than pay for a tank that is working against me.
#7
Quote by littlephil
Tubes are more efficient than transistors


not true. proof of this is that tube amps get hotter than transistor amps. much of the electrical energy going into the valve is converted to kinetic energy (heat). electrical energy also is also converted to light energy in a valve (hence you can see it glow).

i am not entirely sure of the reason behind the phenomenon of ss amps being quieter than tube amps myself. i could guess that manufacturers of tranny amps try to overcook their specs to make them seem more competitive. eg the rated power output can be distorted output rather than clean output. or the measured voltage could be peak-peak instead of peak (im not an electrician so i dont know the conventions).
#8
Quote by pwrmax
I understand that tube amps are usually twice as loud as SS amps of the same watts.


i don't know how you understand that, cuz i don't. i understand that an amplifier's power output is rated to a certain percentage signal/noise (like clean rated to 5 or 10 percent distortion). both amps can be pushed beyond their 'clean' rating, but the hard clipping and messy crossover distortion of a solid state amp is unfavorable; whereas many people like 'saturating' a tube amp's power section, but this actually increases the output of the amp past it's rated output. a 50 watt rated tube amp dimed out will be producing more than 50 watts.


Quote by pwrmax
How does it work with cabs exactly? Like, say you have a cab that is built to handle up to 100 watts. Can you only use a tube head up to 50 watts or can you use a 100 and it will just be louder?

speakers take into consideration the power characteristics of a tube amp when rating a speaker. a 25 watt speaker can be used with either a SS or tube amp without immediate worry, but do expect some 'rounding' of the speaker at higher volumes.
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Last edited by gumbilicious at Jun 17, 2010,
#9
Quote by littlephil
Tubes are more efficient than transistors, so at the same power (wattage) they will produce more volume than a solid state amp.
Cabs are only rated on power handling. A 50 watt head will put out 50 watts (if you turn it up) whether you run it into a 50 watt cab or a 150 watt cab. A 50 watt SS amp will have less perceived volume than a 50 watt tube amp through the same cab, but they're both still putting out 50 watts.

This is mostly wrong. I will now point out the errors.

Error 1: You said that "Tubes are more efficient than transistors" - tubes are NOT more efficient. Have a read about WHY tubes are now used almost exclusively in audio, and just about never in any other application. Tubes are ridiculously inefficient compared to transistors, which I personally believe are the greatest invention of the 20th century.

Error 2: You said that "A 50 watt SS amp will have less perceived volume than a 50 watt tube amp" - oh dear. Okay, so you need to think about the relative magnitudes of the two. 50 W is 17 dB (relative to an ideal 1 W source), regardless of the components used to output the signal.

Hang on, I hear you say, 17 dB isn't very loud! Yes that's true. Okay, when was the last time you turned your amp up with no load attached? Hopefully never. Well, 100 W is 20 dB, and 10 W is 10 dB, for some reference. It's all to do with SPEAKER EFFICIENCY. If you have one speaker that is rated to 105 dB/1 W/1 m, then at full grunt your amp will put out approximately 105 + 17 = 122 dB at 1 m away. Now that is really loud. If you plug that same amp into a cabinet with 4 of those speakers, then the sound will be 105 + 12 + 17 = 134 dB which is FCUKING LOUD.

So that's a bit of a side track, but I can't stand people making incorrect statements.
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#10
Amps are rated at power before clipping. When a transistor amp starts to clip you are at it's maximum volume because turning it up more just sounds dreadful. When a valve amp starts to clip you've still got a long way to go before it sounds shit.
Talking efficiency is a loaded topic. If you add in the heater current then valves are crap. And as for generating heat. Touch a MOSFET when it's been pumping (actually don't). They get hot too, it's just that it's easier to dissipate the heat. You can't bolt the plate of a valve to a big block of metal. Take the heater current out of the equation and valves are surprisingly efficient.
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#11
Fellas just settle. Can't we just agree that wattage isn't a measure of volume?
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#12
DR pain is almost right.

Valve amps and transistor amps get their wattage rating based on how many dbs the amp can produce before it starts to distort. At the point when the amp is at maximum clean volume you are going to be getting the same amount of noise from a transistor amp as you get from a valve. If you turn a transistor amp up past it's maximum volume the peaks of the soundwaves are clipped off (hard clipping) exactly at the amps maximum volume. When a valve amp hits the point where it starts to distort it doesn't simply clip off the peaks of the soundwaves. Instead it starts to compress them but the tops of the soundwaves stay round so the peaks of the soundwaves extend beyond the maximum rated volume of the amp.

An analogy of this could be to think of somebody jumping up and down. If they are jumping on a wooded floor then when they land on the floor they stop. It doesn't matter how hard they jump the floor always stops them in the same place. That floor is like a transistor amps maximum clean tone. The soundwaves hit it and can't go any further. A valve amp would be more jumping on a trampoline. When you hit the floor of the trampoline it stretches and lets you go a little further. The harder you jump the more the trampoline is gonna stretch.
#13
Quote by sammo_boi
Fellas just settle. Can't we just agree that wattage isn't a measure of volume?

I like your thinking

Thanks guys, I just needed to know if my friend needs a new cab which I guess he doesn't.
#14
Quote by CorduroyEW
An analogy of this could be to think of somebody jumping up and down. If they are jumping on a wooded floor then when they land on the floor they stop. It doesn't matter how hard they jump the floor always stops them in the same place. That floor is like a transistor amps maximum clean tone. The soundwaves hit it and can't go any further. A valve amp would be more jumping on a trampoline. When you hit the floor of the trampoline it stretches and lets you go a little further. The harder you jump the more the trampoline is gonna stretch.

I like that analogy.
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#15
i like girls jumping on trampolines
Jumping on dat gear sig train.
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#16
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i like girls jumping on trampolines

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#17
Quote by tubetime86
'Think of it like a very supportive sports bra, versus no bra...'


Eh?

I'd prefer no bra... but that's just me.
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#18
i would say a large part of it is that tubes are more responsive. if you hit your strings hard, the amp will react and get louder (obviously) and become more distorted. for example, lets say your playing a distroted sound and your volume is medium or so. pick some notes quietly and for the most part, it sounds clean. now fret a bar chord and beat the strings like they owe you money. completely different sound. far more distroted and mean. the amp reacts.

solid state amp are cold and dead. they dont respond like a tube because its not natural. its transistor based. also, turn your guitar volume up makes FAR for of a difference. you can have your volume at 3 and be clean and at 10 and be heavily overdriven sometimes.

with most solid states, it just lower the volume pretty much. stuff like that.
#20
Quote by ikey_
i would say a large part of it is that tubes are more responsive. if you hit your strings hard, the amp will react and get louder (obviously) and become more distorted. for example, lets say your playing a distroted sound and your volume is medium or so. pick some notes quietly and for the most part, it sounds clean. now fret a bar chord and beat the strings like they owe you money. completely different sound. far more distroted and mean. the amp reacts.

solid state amp are cold and dead. they dont respond like a tube because its not natural. its transistor based. also, turn your guitar volume up makes FAR for of a difference. you can have your volume at 3 and be clean and at 10 and be heavily overdriven sometimes.

with most solid states, it just lower the volume pretty much. stuff like that.


What the hell does this even mean? Seriously i hear this talk about tubes and old technology in music all the time, it's bullshit. There is no 'non natural' technology. What's so damn natural about a tube compared to a transistor anyway?
#21
Quote by Zoot Allures
What the hell does this even mean? Seriously i hear this talk about tubes and old technology in music all the time, it's bullshit. There is no 'non natural' technology. What's so damn natural about a tube compared to a transistor anyway?

lemme guess - you play solid state? the fact is, most modern ss amps are digital, and use chips to create OD - valves naturally distort if you turn up the volume.
#22
Quote by SwampAshSpecial
lemme guess - you play solid state? the fact is, most modern ss amps are digital, and use chips to create OD - valves naturally distort if you turn up the volume.

The word natural is kind of a misnomer, but the clipping is more natural, visually.
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#23
Quote by Zoot Allures
What the hell does this even mean? Seriously i hear this talk about tubes and old technology in music all the time, it's bullshit. There is no 'non natural' technology. What's so damn natural about a tube compared to a transistor anyway?


By natural its meant that a tube amp will replicate more of the guitar's tone without altering it (i.e. you're getting a natural sound) whereas a transistor will alter the guitar's tone during the amplification process.


TS: We need to remember that wattage is not a measurement of volume, its a measurement of power. Although a more powerful amp will be able to produce a louder signal, an amp's volume is primarily determined by its circuitry. This is why you can take two amps that are rated the same watts (tube or SS) and theres a 99% chance that one of them will have a louder maximum volume than the other.
#24
Quote by i_am_metalhead
By natural its meant that a tube amp will replicate more of the guitar's tone without altering it (i.e. you're getting a natural sound) whereas a transistor will alter the guitar's tone during the amplification process.

The exact opposite of this is true...

Edit: Not trying to be a dick, Will, and I'm sure this will start an argument, but c'mon... The whole point of tube amps is they DO color your tone, just in a pleasing way. If what you say is true why are PAs solid state? Keyboard amps? Acoustic amps? None of those are meant to color your tone at all.
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Last edited by tubetime86 at Jun 17, 2010,
#25
EARS!!!! its all in your ears!:
Tube Amps produce frequencies your ears would usually not catch if you were playing through a SS Amp, therefore it appears louder. it would be the same thing if you were playing through an EQ pedal and started sliding frequences up and down, you would lose or gain volume to your ears depending on what direction you were sliding the freq. etc.


thats at least what i've been thought.
#26
Quote by tubetime86
The exact opposite of this is true...


No. Its all about odd and even order harmonics. Transistors produce odd order harmonics which don't sound as pleasing to most people whereas tube amps produce even order harmonics which are a more natural sounding harmonic.
#27
Quote by i_am_metalhead
No. Its all about odd and even order harmonics. Transistors produce odd order harmonics which don't sound as pleasing to most people whereas tube amps produce even order harmonics which are a more natural sounding harmonic.

I edited... I know about odd and even harmonics, SS produces both, equally... Because they are producing the EXACT signal the guitar sends to them. Saying a tube amp doesn't color a guitar's tone and an SS does is just completely wrong, sorry.
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#28
Quote by tubetime86
I edited... I know about odd and even harmonics, SS produces both, equally... Because they are producing the EXACT signal the guitar sends to them. Saying a tube amp doesn't color a guitar's tone and an SS does is just completely wrong, sorry.


I never said it doesn't color your tone, I said it doesn't alter your tone - in the sense that it may be adding something to the EQ curve but its still the tone of your guitar coming through whereas with a transistor its like a copy of your guitar coming through.


Idk... everyone should probably just ignore me. I just woke up from a night of drinking.
#29
Quote by i_am_metalhead
I never said it doesn't color your tone, I said it doesn't alter your tone - in the sense that it may be adding something to the EQ curve but its still the tone of your guitar coming through whereas with a transistor its like a copy of your guitar coming through.


Idk... everyone should probably just ignore me. I just woke up from a night of drinking.

Gotcha... Semantics as usual. I will say though, that the SS may be a 'copy' of your guitar signal, but its an EXACT copy. Tube may not 'alter' your tone but it doesn't reproduce it exactly, which I would consider altering...

Edit: Ya I'm gonna have to blame it on a night of boozing, because the more I think about it you're not making any sense...
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#30
Quote by i_am_metalhead
By natural its meant that a tube amp will replicate more of the guitar's tone without altering it (i.e. you're getting a natural sound) whereas a transistor will alter the guitar's tone during the amplification process.

.



No this is not true at all. The reason valves are preferable is because they alter the sound much more than transistors. A clean replication of sound is not the ideal, the colouring of valves is more pleasing to hear.
#31
Quote by SwampAshSpecial
lemme guess - you play solid state? the fact is, most modern ss amps are digital, and use chips to create OD - valves naturally distort if you turn up the volume.


No i don't play a solid state, i just don't like the crap term 'natural'. If you mean natural as in 'all those old records were made with valve amps' then that's true but natural is the wrong word to use, a transistor isn't some 'unnatural' thing, they're both devices.
#32
A tube amp distorts lightly, as you turn the volume up (it's less linear), a solid state amp does not distort at all until it hits it's it's ceiling. Human ears are more sensitive to the non-linear harmonics produced in tube amps by this light distortion and so we perceive them as louder even though they are empirically the same.
Last edited by rizo299 at Jun 17, 2010,
#33
In my humble experience, it has to do mostly with how tubes and transistors overdrive.
When you overdrive tubes, they have a distinct roar depending on the tube type.
Transistors, in my experience, tend to sound extremely dry when driven past their distortion point.
As such, most transistor amps have a distortion circuit which clips the signal a given amount of the total signal (at least it seems that way) which reduces the amp's dynamics. With most decent tube amps, the sound will clean up if you turn your guitar's volume down and pick softly, whereas a transistor amp will just get quieter.
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#34
In my experience tube amps are defiantly better and in most cases louder at the same wattage, even if thats not the case. I think there's still something behind the phenomenon. Wattage doesn't = volume, but its all you really have to go off of as a consumer. Still I wont buy another amp thats not tube because I do hear a difference in it.
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#35
a small book would be needed to address all the issues in this thread. TS, you need to get in the habit of finding answers from reliable sources of information rather than some forum completely biased by opinion and hearsay. the answer to your question is complex and is understood more completely with technical knowledge of the components.

just about everything i have read on here is some kinda very slanted statement that is neither true nor false, just some fuzzy in-between that can be argued over for days. not the best material to be building an informed opinion off of.
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#36
This is overdebated to the point it's getting boring. The way I see it:


Wattage is generally rated in clean power (ie max power before distortion).

-SS clips hard when driven (making anything above the rated power sound horrible), so the clean RMS is usually around 9-10 on the volume knob.

-Tubes clip much more gently and musically, so their clean RMS is often reached as low as 4-5 on the volume knob. At full blast, a 100W plexi can easily put out 180W...
#37
Quote by Zoot Allures
No this is not true at all. The reason valves are preferable is because they alter the sound much more than transistors. A clean replication of sound is not the ideal, the colouring of valves is more pleasing to hear.


As I already stated - tube amps may color your tone but its still the original signal so nothing is being altered. Transistors replicate the signal then amplify it so its not the true signal that is being heard - Thats why tube amps produce the harmonics they do and transistors produce the harmonics they do.
#38
natural. the design and fuction of the tubes allow distortion to happen by simple science of electrical currents and what not. i dont know.

all i know everything in a solid state is electrical compenents. tubes arent high tech electronics. its like a light bulb. because of its simplicity, it functions and reacts differently, but in a better way.

this is one case where high tech might be a downgrade.

ok imagine you playing music - a living breathing human THEN a robot playing music as it is told to.

that is the best definition of tubes vs solid state as i can think of.
#39
Quote by i_am_metalhead
As I already stated - tube amps may color your tone but its still the original signal so nothing is being altered. Transistors replicate the signal then amplify it so its not the true signal that is being heard - Thats why tube amps produce the harmonics they do and transistors produce the harmonics they do.


Will, tubes and transistors both amplify. Tubes distort the guitar signal considerably. Even when you are hearing what you would consider a "clean" tone from a tube amp, the signal is very much distorted and does not resemble the original source signal by a long shot. This high degree of distortion is precisely what makes tubes desirable for guitar amplification.

Transistors are far more linear in operation and will more accurately reproduce the actual source signal at a bigger amplitude. In terms of actual function, transistors are far superior to tubes which is why tubes are completely obsolete in all electronics except for audio gear.

The fact is that you don't actually want an un-altered guitar signal because that is boring to the ears. This is much the reason why transistor amps do not have the appeal of tube amps.

Lastly, to address the issue of harmonics, the addition of even and odd order harmonics by the amplifier itself is not a matter of whether transistors or tubes are used to amplify. Both are capable of introducing varying amounts of even AND odd harmonics. It is possible (and easy) to make a tube amp sound absolutely terrible. Harmonic content is a byproduct of circuit topology, irrespective of which kind of amplifying device is used. That said, due to the more non-linear characteristics of tubes and the high level of distortion that results (as well as the clipping characteristics), it's easier to design a great sounding and great "feeling" tube amp circuit than it is to design one that is solid state.
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