#1
When amps like the THR100H and Roland Blues Cube are announced, I see a lot of comments about the prices being too high. The THR100s are $600 and $800 for the heads while the Blues Cubes are $700 and $900 for the combos. Other solid-state amps like Quilters, AMT Stonehead, and Bluguitar Amp1 are similar prices. When it comes down to it, good speakers, cabinets, preamps, and poweramps aren't exactly cheap. Those are things ALL good amps need. I see comments like "A Mustang is $300 so this solid-state amp is way overpriced." But I've never heard anyone say a Lone Star is overpriced because Valvekings are cheap. Then again, I've never heard anyone say a JC-120 was overpriced either.

So how much do you think is too much for a solid-state amp and why? And are the benefits of solid-state worth a higher price? For example, a lighter FRFR costs more than a heavier one. Less maintenance costs and less things to malfunction are also seen as major positives when people consider switching to digital. An Axe-FX with a Neo CLR is almost $4000. At that price, you can buy a few tube amps. But many people will still go for this setup for the benefits it provides.

And one additional question for the techies: are solid-state amps really that much cheaper to manufacture than tube amps? Cheap tubes and a cheap output transformer can't add that much to the cost of an amp.
#2
It's just conflation for the sake of brevity. People say "$800 is too much for a solid state blues cube" but usually mean "$800 is too much for an amp that isn't any better than any number of similarly priced tube amps, and since the Cube is probably cheaper to make, it seems overpriced." It's incidental snobbery most of the time. Since SS amps tend to be cheaper, less well made, and not sound as good, people use SS as a shortcut for lower quality. Is that unfair to SS amps? A bit. Is it worth clarifying every single time we talk about amps? Probably not. There's certainly some SS bias, but it's not exactly what you seem to think it is.

Obviously we understand that there are great SS amps, but since they're outliers rather than the general rule, people who only think in black and white, or who are looking for an argument that doesn't really exist, think that we're saying that all SS amps are terrible.

Also, the phrase "cheap output transformer" tells me you've never priced out amp parts. Tubes, filter caps, and transformers are the most expensive parts in the amp, by a pretty wide margin, and of those the OT is far and away the most expensive part in an amp. R&D for digital modeling is a separate issue, but where parts are concerned, it's much cheaper to build SS amps.

This question is silly. "How much is too much for ___" is a common newbie question, and mostly results in people getting mad that other folks have different amounts of money or different priorities. Narrowing it down further to a specific kind of amp, because of imaginary community bias, is even more pointless.
#3
What he said ^
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#4
as usual it depends on the amp at least to me. having never tried a Quilter or actually any of the amps mentioned it's tough to judge. i think people often confuse any SS amp with your usual bargain basement cheapies. jazz guys swear by Polytone amps and for certain tones obviously they deliver. there of course is also a bit of brainwashing that tubes are always better than SS as well.
#5
If the costs $800 and you pay $1000 then you are paying too much for it.
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#6
Quote by Roc8995
Also, the phrase "cheap output transformer" tells me you've never priced out amp parts. Tubes, filter caps, and transformers are the most expensive parts in the amp, by a pretty wide margin. R&D for digital modeling is a separate issue, but where parts are concerned, yes, it's far cheaper to build SS amps.

In my head, I was thinking $200 at most for the added cost of components of tube amps around the $800 range. Is that low?
#7
Quote by JELIFISH19
In my head, I was thinking $200 at most for the added cost of components of tube amps around the $800 range. Is that low?

I have no idea, and don't care to speculate since it doesn't strike me as a useful question. You don't make a tube amp by designing a solid state amp and then dropping tube components in it. It's like saying, "it should cost about $5000 more to make a car than a motorcycle, because you add two wheels and some doors and that's what those things cost." They're fundamentally different products and you can't just add a number to one and get the cost of the other. Even if it did, how does that help you pick between the two? Does it help answer the question, "how much is too much for a motorcycle?" Does it make that question any more absurd, beyond your own personal opinion?

The Vypyr and the Spider Valve series have SS and tube models, so that might be the closest available comparison, but even those are not strictly analogous, and don't help us make any reasonable determination about "how much is too much for an SS amp." Most of these SS amps in the lower price ranges are modeling while the tube amps are not, which makes it essentially pointless to try to compare apples to apples.

How do you compare a 6505 to a Blues Cube? Figuring out how much the individual parts cost doesn't factor in the R&D - how much does it cost to develop the modeling software on the Cube? And how do you decide if the cube's versatility is worth more than the 6505's OD? Trying to put objective dollar amounts on such things is pointless, because again they are fundamentally different products. The only way to make these decisions is on a personal basis, based on what you actually need and care about.

Trying to make some sweeping generalization like "the parts on SS amps cost $200 more so they are a better value" just isn't an interesting or useful thing, to me. It pretends that the equation is a lot simpler than it actually is.
#8
Somebody should design an SS amp and then add tube components just to see how it works. What if it's the best amp ever? Somebody has to do it for science.
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#9
I think the argument is silly anyway as I don't see the Blues Cube or the THR series as just your average modeling amp anyways (the Yamaha a bit closer, but still beyond a Spider or, IMO, a Vypyr).

Both those products are of a higher quality than beginner modeling amps. Quality is what the issue is, whether it's sound quality or otherwise. There is no inherent in a certain technology beyond another one, it is only better if it meets the requirements of the consumer.

Edit: ^Its not that simple though. It's like saying "someone should just add electric components to a normal has motor"

It doesn't quite work like that.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
Last edited by dementiacaptain at Sep 12, 2015,
#10
Quote by dementiacaptain
Edit: ^Its not that simple though. It's like saying "someone should just add electric components to a normal has motor"

It doesn't quite work like that.


You're just afraid of prohress.
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#11
Quote by theogonia777
You're just afraid of prohress.



Dammit, you got me! I really just want to steal the idea for myself!

Edit: I see what you did there, damn autocorrect...
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
Last edited by dementiacaptain at Sep 12, 2015,
#12
Quote by theogonia777
Somebody should design an SS amp and then add tube components just to see how it works. What if it's the best amp ever? Somebody has to do it for science.

I'm pretty sure SS and tube components can't be interchanged like that.
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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#13
Quote by Blompcube
I'm pretty sure SS and tube components can't be interchanged like that.


But are you sure that they can't be interchanged in a different way?
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#14
Quote by theogonia777
But are you sure that they can't be interchanged in a different way?


He was only PRETTY sure that it couldn't be done the one way....
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#15
So you're saying that he's saying that it could work. I think it would work like an N64. You pull the SS cartridge out and put in a tube cartridge and then swap back when you want.
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#16
I'm starting to think I misinterpreted a joke as a sensible comment
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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#17
Yeah, you Brits never did quite get grasp on humor, huh?
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#18
Quote by theogonia777
Yeah, you Brits never did quite get grasp on humor, huh?

Yep, we only understand it when it's got a U in it.
Rig Winter 2017:

Fender Jazzmaster/Yamaha SG1000
Boss TU-3, DS-2, CS-3, EHX small stone, Danelectro delay
Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#19
Quote by Blompcube
Yep, we only understand it when it's got a U in it.


Exactly. You didn't fight all those wars with the French to keep their spelling, did you?
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#20
Those amps you mentioned aren't strictly solid state, but more to being modeling amps.

Modeling amps get outdated easily. Every new version has improved modeling that comes closer but never reaching real tube level feeling.

Tube amps hold their perceived value because there's nothing to improve much on the sound because it is already 'there'.

Because modeling amps always constantly need to be improved, paying the prices that are close or exceeding tube amp price level is kinda too much. Also if their main cpu crap up, repairs are usually more expensive because no tech knows how to get the computer chip (the actual modeling processors, you can't get them from just any supplier) spare parts, many years down the road. These amps tend to be cheaper to mass manufacture compared to the tube amps.


Next, yamaha rant (my personal dislike for yamaha)

For the THR100H, the major problem isn't just the price, but because it was stripped of it's presets/banking feature so you cannot have the single channel version compete with it's dual channel version. A banking feature essentially let's the single channel swap patches so you can go from clean to overdrive without having to buy the more expensive dual channel version which could do 2 channels simultaneously too, but most of us just want a clean to overdrive switch, which now, only the dual channel version can do, but not the single channel version (which could do it if they left the banking patch in)


Yamaha being yamaha, is a little sneaky in their feature crippling of the THR100H (vs the dual channel THR100HD) and the fact that they're YAMAHA is a turn off for me since they're not really well known in the guitar amp world, except maybe for cheap starter package practice amps. (And maybe the THR10 but they're still overpriced compared to blackstar ID amps)


That and the availability of the competition's price. If you take into consideration what Blackstar ID series have to offer, the THR100H series seems way out of price with market reality, which is normal for Yamaha, always trying to play the premium game.

Also with roland, they're only good until recently, price hike and catering only to IOS users, no thanks, I don't like those IOS gimmicks in the amps and would not pay for them. Their modeling hasn't been updated for a long time. Even the microcube has upped in price, and they're no longer attractive in that category, now that other competitors like Vox, Blackstar is filling the niche the microcube used to fill. Anything above that you can rule Roland's amp out.

Same thing with Line 6... amplifi works with IOS only. *lol* wth is with these smart phone amps.
Last edited by sfx at Sep 12, 2015,
#21
Quote by sfx
Every new version has improved modeling that comes closer but never reaching real tube level feeling.

Tube amps hold their perceived value because there's nothing to improve much on the sound because it is already 'there'.



Yeah but does everyone really want tube amp feeling? I personally don't like "there".
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#22
Quote by Blompcube
I'm pretty sure SS and tube components can't be interchanged like that.
Actually, JFETs can be interchanged with valve (triode) circuit designs fairly straightforwardly. Costs would be reduced further as there's no need for heaters etc...

I won't go any further as its more a topic for GB&C, but the SS circuit wouldn't sound as good. There is some pretty solid science behind valves sounding better. That doesn't mean there aren't bad valve designs and better transistor designs.
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#23
Quote by theogonia777
So you're saying that he's saying that it could work. I think it would work like an N64. You pull the SS cartridge out and put in a tube cartridge and then swap back when you want.


I'm not sure where this conversation is going. But there are solid state tube replacements out there. Have been for years. Unplug your 12AX7, plug in the solid state version. http://amtelectronicsusa.com/productpage12AX7WS.html
Not a big deal. There are also power tube replacements out there.

Certainly the entire power amp can be replaced. There are tube power amps and solid state power amps. Both can be excellent, both can be crap. There are even emulators that simulate power amps, such as the Two-Notes Torpedo C.A.B. You can switch it to emulate EL34s, EL84s, KT88s, 6V6, 6L6, etc., yada yada.

This isn't new discovery territory, these aren't new ideas, this isn't something that hasn't been done before.
#24
Quote by Emperor's Child
Actually, JFETs can be interchanged with valve (triode) circuit designs fairly straightforwardly. Costs would be reduced further as there's no need for heaters etc...

I won't go any further as its more a topic for GB&C, but the SS circuit wouldn't sound as good. There is some pretty solid science behind valves sounding better. That doesn't mean there aren't bad valve designs and better transistor designs.

Ok - This is the kind of response I was hoping for when I posted that. Instead, I just got silliness before. So, if it's actually possible to design a good solid state amp circuit, and substitute certain components for valves, it would be interesting to see and hear the results.

I think even a badly designed valve amp will retain certain characteristics which are a definitive part of an electric guitar's sound even if it sounds like crap, whereas it takes a lot of work to manipulate solid state circuitry into replicating those characteristics effectively. So a really well designed, great quality solid state amp might still have a sound which seems "not quite right" to a lot of people.
Rig Winter 2017:

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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#25
To some extent. It's easier to recreate a SS with valves if the SS circuit uses FETs. Other types of SS circuits can often be approximated with valves, but the results will depend on the circuit in question. In some ways, valves also require further design considerations if acceptable performance is expected. This is especially true if they are to be run at lower voltages.
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#26
Quote by Blompcube
Ok - This is the kind of response I was hoping for when I posted that. Instead, I just got silliness before.


Like I said, you just don't get humor and you mistook a sensible comment as a joke.
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#27
Quote by theogonia777
Like I said, you just don't get humor and you mistook a sensible comment as a joke.

Yes, and I acknowledged that already, but even though you were just joking around, you actually raised an interesting point that I thought was worth discussing

Quote by Emperor's Child
To some extent. It's easier to recreate a SS with valves if the SS circuit uses FETs. Other types of SS circuits can often be approximated with valves, but the results will depend on the circuit in question. In some ways, valves also require further design considerations if acceptable performance is expected. This is especially true if they are to be run at lower voltages.

Yep, the voltage concerns were the main the reason why I thought it wouldn't be possible to switch between SS and valve components within the same or similar circuit.

Of course, that doesn't mean you couldn't design a SS circuit that would run at the same voltage as a typical valve amp. such as those "solid state tubes" dspellman is talking about. I'm curious as to what impact they might have on the sound, but not curious enough to actually buy some
Rig Winter 2017:

Fender Jazzmaster/Yamaha SG1000
Boss TU-3, DS-2, CS-3, EHX small stone, Danelectro delay
Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#28
Quote by Blompcube
Yes, and I acknowledged that already, but even though you were just joking around, you actually raised an interesting point that I thought was worth discussing


Yep, the voltage concerns were the main the reason why I thought it wouldn't be possible to switch between SS and valve components within the same or similar circuit.

Of course, that doesn't mean you couldn't design a SS circuit that would run at the same voltage as a typical valve amp. such as those "solid state tubes" dspellman is talking about. I'm curious as to what impact they might have on the sound, but not curious enough to actually buy some



Let's listen without biasness..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDjfHkxjy7c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EharMgOim-k
#29
I really hate that kind of crunchy guitar tone so I didn't like either distorted sound.
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#30
Sounded like the AMTs accentuated everything that I already dislike about the JCM900's sound. Of course, the results would differ for different amps, and some might actually benefit from the change.

I would really need to try them out for myself in my own amps to get a proper idea of how they change the sound and feel of the amp compared to traditional tubes. There are too many other factors to take into consideration when comparing sound samples such as the mic placement - as well as the fact that you're not actually playing through the amp in order to a sense of how it feels and how it responds.
Rig Winter 2017:

Fender Jazzmaster/Yamaha SG1000
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Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp
#31
Quote by theogonia777
I really hate that kind of crunchy guitar tone so I didn't like either distorted sound.


if you like SS cleans nothing wrong with that. perhaps you'd be a better candidate to answer the original ? as this is more your realm than many here. just out of curiousity what do you consider to be good example of a SS clean tone?
#32
Quote by monwobobbo
if you like SS cleans nothing wrong with that. perhaps you'd be a better candidate to answer the original ? as this is more your realm than many here. just out of curiousity what do you consider to be good example of a SS clean tone?


I meant the distorted tones. I didn't like the tube sound or the fake tube sound. I mean, pretty much all distorted guitars will have some sort of crunch, but that's just like... all crunch. Which I don't like. I like more buzz than crunch. Like I would say that my favorite distorted sounds are the early Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation albums, the 90s Falkenbach albums, and that old Entombed Swedish death metal sound. Also I really love the guitar sound on Horn's Naturkraft album, but it's definitely a sound that I think most people would dislike.

http://youtu.be/2YUjaVrbQ9A

As far as clean guitar sounds... I don't really have much of a preference with amps. I'm pretty happy when with anything 4/6/8, a bit of reverb and slapback echo, and a compressor. I really only play country and extreme metal on guitar. I do have a Peavey Nashville 112 that I am fond of, but I don't really play 6 string through it enough to have much of an opinion on that.
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#33
Quote by theogonia777
I meant the distorted tones. I didn't like the tube sound or the fake tube sound. I mean, pretty much all distorted guitars will have some sort of crunch, but that's just like... all crunch. Which I don't like. I like more buzz than crunch. Like I would say that my favorite distorted sounds are the early Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation albums, the 90s Falkenbach albums, and that old Entombed Swedish death metal sound. Also I really love the guitar sound on Horn's Naturkraft album, but it's definitely a sound that I think most people would dislike.

http://youtu.be/2YUjaVrbQ9A

As far as clean guitar sounds... I don't really have much of a preference with amps. I'm pretty happy when with anything 4/6/8, a bit of reverb and slapback echo, and a compressor. I really only play country and extreme metal on guitar. I do have a Peavey Nashville 112 that I am fond of, but I don't really play 6 string through it enough to have much of an opinion on that.


well that tone on the Horn song was umm...... interesting (but not as interesting as the vocals). ok not my cup of tea. as for Cannibal Corpse i remember seeing them when they first started and thinking those guys will never go anywhere sounding like that . i'm sure you've guessed i'm not much on extreme metal (i'll stick with old Celtic Frost for my more idea of tolerable extreme metal)

country and extreme metal now there is a combination you don't hear much. i take it the Nashvile is for your pedal steel.
#34
Quote by Blompcube

I think even a badly designed valve amp will retain certain characteristics which are a definitive part of an electric guitar's sound even if it sounds like crap, whereas it takes a lot of work to manipulate solid state circuitry into replicating those characteristics effectively. So a really well designed, great quality solid state amp might still have a sound which seems "not quite right" to a lot of people.


Uh...no. At this point, you've degenerated this discussion to an old "solid state vs. tube amp" hash.

A badly designed amp is a badly designed amp. Making assumptions about "a definitive part of an electric guitar's sound" is an attempt to lock the electric guitar into valve amp output *no matter what." I have 15 tube amps lying around here, between my den and my storage unit, some of which are ancient, some recent. I love 'em to death.I also have a vintage (1971) 275W solid state amp with a huge 2x15 plus tweeter cabinet. I played a Vox Super Beatle for years. Currently most of my working gear consists of modeling preamps, solid state preamps and wide-frequency response cabinets.

We've done the blind listening tests (because guitar players sometimes listen with their eyes and with a whole stack of internet myth layered behind them) at guitar and amp shows (I don't know if they're doing one at the LA Amp Show in October this year). The truth is, 90% of those tested can't tell if the ratty old 1971 is solid state or tube accurately. But the real talent is in the gear like the Axes, the Kempers, the Torpedo C.A.B., and even the various Pods (and some other multiFX). We did one blind test with 8 tube amps lined up, the old '71 and an Axe-FX. At one point, we faked unplugging and plugging amps and did everything off the Axe, and did the same thing with the Torpedo C.A.B. and a Pod. What we were really doing was simply changing presets and asking them to identify the amp and to let us know when they were sure they were hearing a solid state setup. Obviously they had to be right at least once <G>.

To my mind, this is truly a fruitless discussion.

Gear with absolutely no hot gas and glass can, these days, sound like gas and glass with no sounds that "seem not quite right" to a lot of people. The "golden ear" gods will talk about "feel", etc., but once out of their bedrooms and into the light of day, they blink in the sunlight and become less sure.

I'm reminded of the old man who, against the pleading of his grandchildren, kept refusing to fly, maintaining that man was never meant to do so. A barnstormer came through the town and he finally gave in (with trepidation) and took a ride. When the plane landed and Grandpa crawled down from the passenger seat, his children and grandchildren gathered around him and asked, "How was it?" "Fine, fine, " he replied. But as they walked away, he leaned in to his first son and whispered, "I never did put my full weight down, though...."

There are, and still will be, audiophiles who spend huge bucks for all-tube power amps. They insist that reel-to-reel tape is the only way to get true fidelity from recorded music. They buy speaker wire that looks like exotic garden hose, and fret over phase alignment, crossover characteristics, cone materials and placement in their pristine listening rooms.

Sometimes you just have to relax and just listen to the music. And not worry about what might have crept into your sectoral horns...

#35
Quote by sfx
Let's listen without biasness..


What's really rough, is that we're trying to listen to this, most of us, through computer speakers or a four-buck set of earbuds, and we're listening to a compressed, chopped VERY digitally reproduced set of sound files. With all due respect, I couldn't come to ANY conclusions given the delivery method <G>
#36
Quote by dspellman
What's really rough, is that we're trying to listen to this, most of us, through computer speakers or a four-buck set of earbuds, and we're listening to a compressed, chopped VERY digitally reproduced set of sound files. With all due respect, I couldn't come to ANY conclusions given the delivery method <G>


agree. having said that i prefered the SS tubes on both clips when listening. might have to invest.
#37
Quote by dspellman
Uh...no. At this point, you've degenerated this discussion to an old "solid state vs. tube amp" hash.

A badly designed amp is a badly designed amp. Making assumptions about "a definitive part of an electric guitar's sound" is an attempt to lock the electric guitar into valve amp output *no matter what."

That's not what I meant at all.

I'm not making any kind of statement about either type of technology being inferior or superior. I actually use solid state amps a lot, including some quirky old ones that sound nothing like tube amps at all; the grainy, fuzzy sounding ones go great in a mix with a lot of synths, but I digress - I was referring to the difference in the breakup modes of tubes compared to transistors, and the way that amp designers seem to be forever trying to get more "tube-like" breakup from their solid state amps. I imagine it's much harder to make a circuit where the transistor breakup sounds convincingly "tube-like" than it is to just make a circuit that overdrives some tubes.

I don't disagree with anything else you said.
Rig Winter 2017:

Fender Jazzmaster/Yamaha SG1000
Boss TU-3, DS-2, CS-3, EHX small stone, Danelectro delay
Laney VC30-112 with G12H30 speaker, or Session Rockette 30 for smaller gigs
Elixir Nanoweb 11-49 strings, Dunlop Jazz III XL picks
Shure SM57 mic in front of the amp