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#1
Alright, more and more threads on this subject shows up. This thread will clear it all up for once!

To start with I'm going to talk about some terms I will use here. The first is distortion, which in this text ALWAYS will mean power amp distortion. The second is headroom, which is how long the amp stays clean.

Alright we will start with a basic thing. A general rule of thumb is that a tube amp is 2,5 as loud as an SS amp of the same wattage. So take a standard 50 watt amp which is equal to a 125 watt SS amp. So far so good. But this is were it gets complicated.

To start with a 50 watt amp is always a 50 watt amp, no matter if it's tube or SS. So how can a tube have more power then? It doesn't. What it does though is that tubes can cover frequencies and pick up harmonics that SS amps just can't. This is why a tube amp sounds louder, because to our ears it appears louder. Secondly a tube amp sounds "fuller" in tone, compared to an SS amp.

But then comes another thing which is measurment of wattage. When you measure wattage you DON'T measure the max output of the amp. The measurment of wattage is in RMS, which means max output of wattage BEFORE distortion. So that means a 50 watt amp (both tube or SS) is pushing out 50 watts before distortion. But it doesn't end there.

The thing is that when an SS amp is pushed into distortion it sounds horrible, awful and muddy. People want high headroom with SS amps, which is the reason we have a 550 Fender Metalhead. With tube amps you generally WANT distortion. Makers knows that and actually constructs the amps to start distorting. But as I said you measure watts in RMS. But what happens when the amp distorts? It pushes out more wattage of course! Take an Orange Rockerverb 50. It's rated at 50 watt RMS, but the max out it 90 WATTS!

Let's take and compare it to an SS amp. An SS amp equal to the amp clean would be rated 125 watts. But when the amp starts to distort, it's pushing out more power and 225 watts is equal to 90 watts of power. That's quite a difference.
The thing with tube amps to is that the more you turn it up the louder it is. With an SS amp you DON'T want to turn it up, but with a tube amp you WANT to turn it up. So what would be the loudest? A 100 watt Marshall MG (SS) or a 30 watt Vox AC30 (tube). The AC30. Why? Well when you turn up the MG it will sound horrible, so you want to keep it low. And when you turn up the Vox it sounds better, meaning it pushes out more power, so its pushing out more than 30 watts.

Let's do a comparisson. The British show Top Gear once did a race with a Lotus Exige S and a Ford Mustang GT. The Lotus had a 220 horsepower, 1.8 liter, 4 cylinder engine. The Mustang had a 500 horsepower, 5,8 liter, V8 engine. So who won? The obvious winner would be the Mustang.

But what car won?

The Lotus by far. Why? The car was lighter and therefore you could brake later, it accelrated a lot faster, because of the low weight and you could get out of the corners quicker. It's kind of the same with tube amps and SS amps. The tube amps might not appear as powerful the naked eye, but can be a lot more powerful than you think.

Tube wattage chart:
1 x EL84≈ 5 watts in Class A
2x EL84s≈ 15 watts in Class A
4x EL84s≈ 30 watts in Class A and A/B
6x EL84s≈ 45 watts

1x 6V6≈ 10 watts in Class A
2x 6V6s≈ 20 watts in Class A
4x 6V6≈ 50 watts in Class A/B

1x EL34/ 6L6≈ 15 watts in Class A
2x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 30 watts in Class A, 50 watts in Class A/B
4x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 100 watts in Class A/B
6x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 150 watts in Class A/B

1x 6550≈ 20 watts in Class A
2x 6550s≈ 50-70 watts in Class A/B
4x 6550s≈ 100-120 watts in Class A/B
6x 6550s≈ 150- 200 watts in Class A/B

When speaking of KT tubes, KT-66s is based of a 6L6, KT-77 of an EL34 and KT-88 of a 6550.

That was all, hope you enjoyed the reading
Gabe
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Last edited by Gabel at Jul 25, 2007,
#2
still didn't clear up s h it to me...... so basically i should spend more money on some ancient technique which needs replacing every 6 months rather then getting an SS amp and save me a shipload of money and always does what i want?


note the last sentence was a pure personal opinion
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#3
Well this cleared up the "issue" of tube amp and SS amp loudness.

Tube amps are popular because if you compare the sound to an SS amp, tube amps has a nice, harmonic and sweet distortion and very high dynamics, unlike SS amps which have a "sterile" sound and lacks dynamics.

Tube amps are generally more well built. Tubes needs replacing after about 1 and a hlaf year- 2 years or longer depending on how much you push it.
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#5
kk cool well like i said i don't have the money to buy a tube amp and i have no clue what those tubes cost.... but basically they're the same cus the tube is like a transistor but only made with older techniques?
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#6
Remember it can also be a case of speakers that you use aswell with volume and the ammount of air that is moved which can be a big factor
#7
Quote by lexaah
then getting an SS amp and save me a shipload of money and always does what i want?


but then your going to realise that a tube/valve sounds better than a SS, then ur goin to buy 1 of those, so buying a tube/valve (only if u want 1 that is) will save you money in the long run. But some high-end SS amps to sound good.


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#8
Basically what this thread said to me is tube amps shouldn't be for low volume bedroom playing and solid states shouldn't be for loud jamming / gigging. Which is perfectly reasonable.
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#9
Quote by lexaah
still didn't clear up s h it to me...... so basically i should spend more money on some ancient technique which needs replacing every 6 months rather then getting an SS amp and save me a shipload of money and always does what i want?


note the last sentence was a pure personal opinion
For one, valves will last at least a year unless you leave it on constantly.

Here's what Gabel said, in layman's terms for you: Valve amps sound better, are 2.5x louder for their rated wattage than SS and sound best when at max volume, wheras SS amps sound generally poorer (although I've heard some good hybrids) and sound worse the louder they get.
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#10
Quote by .arkness:.
Basically what this thread said to me is tube amps shouldn't be for low volume bedroom playing and solid states shouldn't be for loud jamming / gigging. Which is perfectly reasonable.



well...........you an get like 5watt tube amps which are really good, like the Epiphone 1, which you cud use in a gig if u wud mic it up to a PA, and if you have a decent SS amp you can use that for gigs as well, but say if u have a 50watt tube, some tubes have a master volume knob, a good example would be the Traynor YVC Custome 50 blue which has apparently has a very good master volume which wont sound muddy if u turn it down to bedroom volumes, then you can up the master volumes for gigs.


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Last edited by Stingz. at Jul 25, 2007,
#11
^Yeah.

Plus the main part of this thread ISN*T a tube vs. SS thread. It's about clearing up all the questiong on the loudness of them.
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#12
I general though. Tubes = jamming or gigs. SS = bedrooms or small gigs.
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#13
^
Not necessarily. My VJ with a Bad Monkey has better tone even at bedroom levels compared to the Valvetronix and Cubes which I could've bought for the same price.
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#14
^Precisly.

Tube amps does sound better when you turn them up, but my Orange works very well even on low volumes.
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#15
Nice one, the people that own 100 watt marshall stacks scare me. My 30 watter is capable of deafening me. Random question, is the amount of power tubes the amp has what the wattage depends on? If were to remove two of the valves would it halve the wattage? I don't actually plan on doing this I've just been wondering for a while.
#16
^Yes.

But also the transformer. So if you remove two tubes you should always have ohms "havled", so if you have an 8 ohm cab yu msut run it into a 4 ohm output if you take away two tubes.

This will only take away 3dB's though.
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#17
^
Out of interest, is there a formula for valves to the power rating? For example the VJ is 1x EL84 @ 5w, Blues Jr. 2x EL84 @ 15w, AC30 4x EL84 @ 30w?

Or is that wattage trend due to preamp valves and transformers?
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#19
Top thread Gabel. We get far too many threads asking about this, so it's nice to get it properly covered.

It just irks me whenever you get a thread saying "30 watt valve amp, can I gig?" and such...>.<
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#20
When I get some money I'm going to invest in hearing aid companies. Going on what I read about the size of some of the amps that UGers own or believe they need to own, I'm going to be VERY rich one day.

Perhaps some of you guys need to do a search on Tinnitus on UG and Google.
#21
Quote by Ancient Jello
When I get some money I'm going to invest in hearing aid companies. Going on what I read about the size of some of the amps that UGers own or believe they need to own, I'm going to be VERY rich one day.

Perhaps some of you guys need to do a search on Tinnitus on UG and Google.


God ain't that the truth. Whenever someone buys a 100 watt valve amp I'm just left thinking "...why?".
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#22
Quote by MrCarrot
^
Out of interest, is there a formula for valves to the power rating? For example the VJ is 1x EL84 @ 5w, Blues Jr. 2x EL84 @ 15w, AC30 4x EL84 @ 30w?

Or is that wattage trend due to preamp valves and transformers?


Well there are some different factors:
Number of power amp tubes
Class
Transformers.

Generally though the amount of power tubes affects the most.

But for ease say like this:
1 x EL84≈ 5 watts in Class A
2x EL84s≈ 15 watts in Class A
4x EL84s≈ 30 watts in Class A and A/B
6x EL84s≈ 45 watts

1x 6V6≈ 10 watts in Class A
2x 6V6s≈ 20 watts in Class A
4x 6V6≈ 50 watts in Class A/B

1x EL34/ 6L6≈ 15 watts in Class A
2x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 30 watts in Class A, 50 watts in Class A/B
4x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 100 watts in Class A/B
6x EL34s/ 6L6≈ 150 watts in Class A/B

1x 6550≈ 20 watts in Class A
2x 6550s≈ 50-70 watts in Class A/B
4x 6550s≈ 100-120 watts in Class A/B
6x 6550s≈ 150- 200 watts in Class A/B

When speaking of KT tubes, KT-66s is based of a 6L6, KT-77 of an EL34 and KT-88 of a 6550.
Quote by stratman_13
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Last edited by Gabel at Jul 25, 2007,
#23
Hey Gabe, try paragraphing that wall of text. It's a bit dense.

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#24
^^ Awesome. What about 6V6s? I was looking into getting a Ceriatone 5E3 copy, and wondered what sorta wattage that'd be, apparently it's either 15 or 18 watts but nobody seems to know for sure...
The Laney Thread are big and clever. No exceptions.
#26
Quote by MrCarrot
^^ Awesome. What about 6V6s? I was looking into getting a Ceriatone 5E3 copy, and wondered what sorta wattage that'd be, apparently it's either 15 or 18 watts but nobody seems to know for sure...


Forgot those! They're a bit more powerful than EL-84, roughly 10 watt each. The Orange Rockerverb 50 uses a quartet of them, so I would guess they're a bit more powerful in class A/B.

Quote by xifr
Hey Gabe, try paragraphing that wall of text. It's a bit dense.



Will do!

Think there's a possiblity to get it stickied?
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#27
IMO, anything that distorts is better as tube. I bought this awesome tube overdrive (as you know, gabel), and it sounds so full and awesome. It makes a fender FM15R sound like a gigworthy amp (besides the loudness factor). The reverb's awesome too^_^

If kerry sees this: I love this pedal. I need MOAR, though, because I can't get my guitar teacher to stop trying to buy it. Maybe you'll make another some day.

he'll probably go to $250
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#28
Quote by Kurapica
God ain't that the truth. Whenever someone buys a 100 watt valve amp I'm just left thinking "...why?".


For the headroom

Thanks Gabel, verry nice thread!
Also, http://www.pritchardamps.com/ has some nice info on SS and tube properties, tube watt rating etc.
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#29
The thing you forgot, Gabel, is that although you get a "general rule," the "volume boost" will also depend on type of power tube. Higher wattage power tubes will give you a bigger perceived volume boost.
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#30
^Yeah I know.

As I said, it isn't as simple, I said the general rule of thumb is 2,5 times louder, plus or minus.

The thing is that there are MANY factors depending the "loudness" of an amp, as one guy said the speaker can do lots. Other things can be how the amp's character is, an amp with lots of mids will seem "louder" than an amp without lots of mids.
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#31
nice thread. Maybe a wee bit too much generalisation, and some of the wattages for the tubes you posted was a bit iffy, but you realise that, and it'd be way too long if you described it all.

Nice work, a lot of effort went into that. I liked the car analogy, especially (even if i don't know anything about cars).

Another thing about 100 watters is that they can sound a bit firmer/stiffer. Which can be good for hard rock and metal, even if you can't crank them just as much.

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#32
^Indeed. I think that has to do more with their transformers, though...The Mojave Scorpion has a transformer rated for 3 times its actually wattage, so that supposedly helps it have a firmer low end response. I wanna try one.

At the same time, a lot of bands use high wattage amps in the studio, turn down the master volume, and crank the preamp gain. It's not too tasty, to my ears. Often dry sounding..Anyway!

Overall, an informative thread.
#33
That's intresting about the Mojave Scorpion you mentioned, but it is impossible to find one to try here.
Also, the output transforer changer alot the sound of the amp, and I have come to especially like old Partridge transformers found on '60s-'70s Brittish amps, like SoundCity for example.
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#34
Quote by forsaknazrael
^Indeed. I think that has to do more with their transformers, though...The Mojave Scorpion has a transformer rated for 3 times its actually wattage, so that supposedly helps it have a firmer low end response. I wanna try one.


yep, i've heard that too, they won't saturate as much if they're rated more highly. that's why a 100 watt amp with a half power switch might not sound the same as the 50 watt version, assuming the two versions use different transformers...

I think.

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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#35
^True.

Marshall Plexis are famous becuase the 100 watt heads has a much "fatter" sound.
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#36
Yes, but 100watt heads in half power still have relatively small headroom compared to 100watt mode...
That's probably because there are different wirrings on the transformere for the 100 and the 50watt mode...
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#37
Goooooooooood stuff here

Didn't the mustang spin out while turning or maybe that was a different episode haha
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#38
I saw that episode of Top Gear. Good post.
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#39
Quote by Jezuzzz
Yes, but 100watt heads in half power still have relatively small headroom compared to 100watt mode...
That's probably because there are different wirrings on the transformere for the 100 and the 50watt mode...


also, sometimes the "half power" is achieved by pentode/triode operation, which will affect headroom (and tone too).

i know on mine, triode works better for some stuff, pentode for others, almost regardless of what level of volume you need. it's more a tone thing than a volume thing, IMO.

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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#40
Yeah, the wattages are iffy- my amp is class A 2xEL84 and 25W. Oh well, good thread.
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