Poll: Blindfolded, could you accurately identify tube versus SS in a lineup.
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View poll results: Blindfolded, could you accurately identify tube versus SS in a lineup.
Yes, I could definitely pick out the tube amps.
14 35%
I really don't know.
16 40%
I don't think I could differentiate between a high quality Tube amp an a high quality SS amp.
10 25%
Voters: 40.
#1
So the other day I read an article online that basically compared tube amps and the newer Solid State Amps in a head to head audible survey.(can't remember where, but If I do, I'll post the link). Anyways, this article challenged whether or not the newer technology in Solid State Amps could tuly match the audible characteristics of Tube Amps. They set up a test with a number of solid state and tube amplifiers and used a number of blind folded musicians to see if they could differentiate between the tube and Solid State Amps when played through. Surprisingly, the majority of the group was guessing wrong when trying to identify whether or not an amp was solid state or tube.....

I wanted to pose this question to all because I know that there is MUCH bias against solid state versus tube:

In a line up, do you really think that you could truly differentiate accurately whether or not an amp is solid state or tube based on just hearing an amp(of course based on quality)? Also, do you think that Solid State Technology is capable of capturing the tone of tube?

I ask that you try to think objectively.
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Last edited by Reildeal at Feb 7, 2008,
#2
Cranked, I could. At low volumes there is very little difference, but even then possible depending on the make/brand of both amps.
...
#3
question i have a line 6 spider 2 which is solid, if i were to change the head to valve would i still be able to use the same speakers?
#4
as long as you can match the ohms, and not exceed the wattage.
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#6
that's actually a really good point you bring up there. I mean, really really good SS amps are just as good as tube amps... but then if they are both about the same quality....

honestly I'd have to do the blindfold test myself hehe
Quote by sickman411
S-Gsus wept
#7
Ohms are the electrical impedance or electrical resistance. Speakers are labeled with the ohms they are designed for. Common values are 4 ohms, 8 ohms, and 16 ohms.
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#8
ahk thanks
oh and i dont think i could tell between tube/ss cos i havent had the experience with tubes
#9
Quote by dan123
ahk thanks
oh and i dont think i could tell between tube/ss cos i havent had the experience with tubes


Sure thing man. Also, note that when wattage is concerned, the overall total wattage of speakers you're using should meet or exceed the wattage of the head. For instance, two 30 watt speakers can be powered by a 50 watt head just fine. Also, I've heard that it's safe to use speakers that are under the total wattage of the head as long as you're not cranking the head, but I don't think I'd ever rely on that.
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#10
It depends a lot on exactly what amps were used, and what settings. At high gain levels you can't hear the amp (or the guitar) at all, anyway.

And did the 'musicians' actually play the amps, or just listen to them? There's a big difference.
#11
I guess it depend on what kind of SS. there's three kinds I see:
1) Straight SS - just amplify it, ala Budget amps. Unless one have those Metal SS (ala Fender MetalHead and Randall Warhead), I think it's very easy to spot the difference.
2) Analog modeling; they basically use FETs that electronically follow the way tube distort the signal, abeit in a much smaller scale. Example would include Amplug, Traynor DynaGain, Sansamp series, and Rcokman. I think, as Rockman had demonstrated, it is possible for it to sound very tube like, especially on record situations. P.S. If done correctly, it will also provide the necessarily feel.
3) Modelling. DA5 and Cube seems to have good modeling, while line6 is so-so for most people. However, in terms of just listening I think it should be fine. P.S. In terms of feel, Iit can also be duplicated, as the DynaDrive developed by BOSS and used on Roland Cubes had demostrated
Yes, SS will still be quieter, but in terms of tone, I think it is possible for SS to be as good as tube, provide they do not cut corner.
Last edited by Jestersage at Feb 7, 2008,
#12
From my understanding in the article, they listened. My main point in posing this question is to challenge the bias towards tube amps with the fast growing technology of Solid State.

I love tube amps, but I know that a lot of people are simply infatuated with the idea of a tube driven amp, and I wanted people to question themselves and think objectively as to whether or not it's the "idea" or REALLY the tone of a tube amp that makes them so biased.
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#13
Quote by Jestersage
I guess it depend on what kind of SS. there's three kinds I see:
1) Straight SS - just amplify it, ala Budget amps. Unless one have those Metal SS (ala Fender MetalHead and Randall Warhead), I think it's very easy to spot the difference.
2) Analog modeling; they basically use FETs that electronically follow the way tube distort the signal, abeit in a much smaller scale. Example would include Amplug, Traynor DynaGain, Sansamp series, and Rcokman. I think, as Rockman had demonstrated, it is possible for it to sound very tube like, especially on record situations
3) Modelling. DA5 and Cube seems to have good modeling, while line6 is so-so for most people. However, in terms of just listening I think it should be fine.


Great post man. Really informative.
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#14
Something that i have pondered on for a bit. I have known for quite some time that this forum was bias for tube but when given the chance i have always wondered how many people would actually say they cant tell a difference.

I can assure you that a vast amount of people will say they can tell a difference when in fact they couldn't. I can say that when quality is concerned, it is very, very hard to tell the difference between a high quality tube amp and a high quality solid state.

That said that when you get into the high priced range of amps you find very few solid states. Personally the only high range solid state i have played is the Vetta and i was very amazed. The best sounding amp i have played. (I've currently played a Marshal JVM, Peavey XXX and a Mesa single rec). While that isn't an extensive list you guys must understand i live in a rural area so high quality amps are hard to come by.

I realise i started rambling but as i said, i can not tell the difference between a tube amp and a solid state amp provided its high quality.
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#15
Yeah, those Vettas are gnarly man!
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#16
the vast majority of solid states people buy arent the really expensive ones though, so comparing the cheap modellers to the cheaper tube amps would be a more suitable test in my opinion - after all, if your paying £1000+ for a solid state (like the vetta II) id expect it to sound good

And to answer the original poll, i expect i would not be able to tell the difference
#17
I think undoubtedly it would be hard for me to pick one from the other. Especially if it is cranked on the distortion. You could probably tell on the cleans because on a lot of tube amps it will break up when turned up loud. I have played quite a few higher end heads and cabs on both sides, SS and tube.

My main rig is a Traynor YCV 80 2x12 tube combo, while my backup is a Crate head. You can tell the difference between the two as soon as the amps get warmed up. The clean on the Traynor is flush and full and the Crate is dull and unimpressive. While the distortion on the Traynor is low-end friendly and great sounding high gain, while the Crate is "heavy" in the Metal Zone way and lacks clarity.

BUT, I have also played a few SS amps that surprised me quite a bit. Kustom makes the best clean for any amp under $500 and can even surprise some amps above that price. In all actuality though, there are only two SS amps that I have played that have either beat or at least matched the tone of many tube amps.

The ISP Theta and Tech 21 300. Each of those amps have great to amazing cleans and absolutely crushes almost every tube distortion I have ever heard,(especially in the Theta.) I have played Mark IV's, Dual and Triple Rectos, modded Marshalls, Engl's, etc. These SS amps are amazing. I am saving up for the Theta, $1,500, and can't wait to play it all the time. So, I guess right now, tubes are still winning. But, in the future, I highly doubt it. Our technology is only going to get better with SS amps.
Quote by LuthierofTexas
You have no experience with racks??? What kind of guy are you?
#18
the theta sounds interesting...
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#19
Quote by .arkness:.
the theta sounds interesting...

It is. My local music store got it in for some reason. Which was weird in the first place because it is a rare amp and a relatively limited store. And I sat and played it all day, from 1:00 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. They didn't care because I buy stuff all the time.
Quote by LuthierofTexas
You have no experience with racks??? What kind of guy are you?
#20
Quote by Reildeal
From my understanding in the article, they listened. My main point in posing this question is to challenge the bias towards tube amps with the fast growing technology of Solid State.

I love tube amps, but I know that a lot of people are simply infatuated with the idea of a tube driven amp, and I wanted people to question themselves and think objectively as to whether or not it's the "idea" or REALLY the tone of a tube amp that makes them so biased.


I did buy my first tube amp due to the idea (and the reputation), but now that I have a lot of experience with them, I'll never go back to SS.

Even if the sound of modeling is currently quite good, there is never the same feel. With tube amps, I just put the volume on 10, and control everything from my guitar. That doesn't work with SS.
Last edited by mr_hankey at Feb 7, 2008,
#21
I could honestly tell the difference. I have done this test before with a buddy of mine. but the sad thing is... When he was playing I said the solid state sounded better.. but I could tell the tube sound by the warmth of the tone.
#22
Thats kind of like the two stores near me. They get soem good amps in but the norm in one store is all line 6 and the norm in the other store is all low end solid states like mg through peavey transtube series. In the line 6-ish store they got a duel and single rectifier in which i found amazing. They have had a flextone in the pass. Now one of the workers is selling his vetta, hence how i played it.

The other store generally has better amps with a 6505 combo, JVM, XXX etc etc.

I have never heard of a theta though. *Goes off to youtube*

*No videos found*
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#23
Quote by CarbonDeath
The ISP Theta and Tech 21 300. Each of those amps have great to amazing cleans and absolutely crushes almost every tube distortion I have ever heard,(especially in the Theta.) I have played Mark IV's, Dual and Triple Rectos, modded Marshalls, Engl's, etc. These SS amps are amazing. I am saving up for the Theta, $1,500, and can't wait to play it all the time. So, I guess right now, tubes are still winning. But, in the future, I highly doubt it. Our technology is only going to get better with SS amps.


Certainly sounds interesting, you mention lots of amps there that are heavy metal based. I'm assuming that's what you played when trying out those amps?
#24
Quote by Don_Humpador
Certainly sounds interesting, you mention lots of amps there that are heavy metal based. I'm assuming that's what you played when trying out those amps?


*ding ding ding*

Don solved the mystery.
#25
Im not sure if I would be able to tell the difference just by listening, sometimes it will be obvious (comparing something like a Fender FM/Marshall MG to a Fender Bassmann or Marshall plexi cranked).

I would stand a better chance if I where to play it, to test responsiveness, etc.