Help Me Solve a Debate I Have With Someone About Tubes

Discussion in 'Home Audio (Stereo Systems)' started by elixRx66, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. elixRx66

    elixRx66 Member

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    ive been playing guitar for over 20 years and have pretty much always used tube amps for all the reasons we all know to be true about them and playing guitar through them. Not too long ago my sister started getting into listening and collecting old vinyl. To say she is into it is putting it mildly. Now that she has her new turntable she has all of the sudden gotten obsessed with tubes and getting a tube preamp for her record player. I told her that was stupid because the same things that make tube amps so great when playing guitar through them would make them bad for listening to music through. For example as a guitar player you want your tubes pushed to saturation so you can get that tube distortion but when you are listening to music any distortion whatsoever (coming from your system) is unwanted. You want to cleanest and clearest reproduction of the sound correct? It might make your music sound a little warmer but I just can’t see the benefits to using tube amps when listening to music. Who is right and who is wrong and why exactly? Thank you.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Supporting Member

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    Oh, many of us still think Music sounds warmer, more natural ect when run through tube preamps, power amps ect.... your sister is right:)
     
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  3. Hacksaw

    Hacksaw Time Warped Gold Supporting Member

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    I vote for tube amps. There’s a warmth and color that’s added that I find very good.
     
  4. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Supporting Member

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    You're sister is right. Just like with guitar amps, hi-fi tube amps add some harmonic content that is musically pleasing to our ears. You just don't drive them into breakup. I mean, if you really want to get somewhere in this argument you're going to have to start with the source, which would be a vinyl record vs a CD, and it's going to become this game of which is a more accurate representation of the recording, which may not be the goal. You follow?
     
  5. YYZ

    YYZ Supporting Member

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    Saturated tubes sound great but so does a nice clean tube amp. Warm and toasty. :)
     
  6. davidespinosa

    davidespinosa Supporting Member

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    You are right and your sister is wrong. It's exactly as you said, the job of a stereo is to reproduce music accurately. Any coloration is undesirable.

    However, the real goal of listening to music is to make the listener happy (presumably).
    So if tubes make her happy, then by all means she should have tubes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
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  7. la noise

    la noise Member

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    Your sister sounds lovely. Is she currently seeing anyone?? :huh

    :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
  8. 83stratman

    83stratman Supporting Member

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    It's actually personal preference. In my high end audio days I preferred a tube preamp with a SS class A mosfet single ended amp. I have had tube amps as well. I actually prefer a good ss phone stage over tubes though. If I was to get back into high end audio, I would have a tube amp and pre and a solid stage phone stage.
     
  9. sfryette

    sfryette Member

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    I’m kind of with your sis, but it’s not necessarily objectively one way or the other. Like guitar amps, people hear things differently and their preferences are deep and complex.

    I much prefer tube power amps, and my home music system is tube monoblocks. Also a tube preamp and a discreet transistor (no ICs) preamp.

    It’s not about saturation or coloration or adding “harmonics”. It’s about transparency. I’m a vinyl lover and my current home music system is the result of listening to a lot of gear with a lot of different music - classic rock, hard rock, metal, classical, opera, jazz, blues, country...

    I also have 3 different cartridges. Different combinations of cartridge and preamp bring out different aspects of vinyl. Same goes for different pressings and masterings of the same album. My wife is the real vinyl freak and she hears things much differently than I. We talk about it a lot which helps open us up to different ways of hearing.

    When I have the right setup for a particular album, it sounds like I’m standing right next to the performer...I’m “in it”. You start hearing things - like the squeak of a Ludwig kick pedal. They have a characteristic squeak, and depending on how the kit is miced, you can hear stuff like that.

    That has never been my experience with a ss power amp. Not saying that’s impossible. Just not for me.
     
  10. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    So you never listened to a Marantz or Macintosh Amplifier????

    They sounded great!!!!
     
  11. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    Dude, I just went to a flea market the other day in NC, they had these 2 speakers for 100 each and I laughed that I have 4 back home in the Caribbean connected to a Pioneer and a Macintosh and 2 turntables and they have not been played for years since each time I go back I don't even get in that music room. But next time I am back there I will fix the damn thing and listen to music with a bit of wine, like it is supposed to, not a damn mp3 or cd. F that!
     
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  12. stryker59

    stryker59 Supporting Member

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    I'm in your sisters camp on this one as well....there are forums dedicated to tube music reproduction and those cats take it as serious as us guitar players do!
     
  13. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    If she is convinced that tubes sound better they will sound better to her just like tube amps sound better to many here because they look better and smell better, to them.
     
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  14. dazco

    dazco Member

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    They use tube preamps for vocals today and they're considered superior. I think the difference in the way you (OP) are looking at it is from the perspective of tube distortion. You don't have to drive them to that point tho, thats something that became the norm for guitar amps when players discovered a pushed tube gives pleasing distortion. But when you don't drive them that hard as in stereo gear the tiny extra amount of distortion is negligible compared to the benefits. SS distorts too by the way, just maybe not as much when designed for music reproduction but when it does it;s not as warm and pleasing. If you look at the high end of stereo gear it's still tube. Your sister apparently knows that, she right according to those in the industry.
     
  15. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    How many tube power amps are in recording and mastering studios?
     
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  16. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Having worked in a place that included several state of the art recording studios, not a lot But they DO use them as a said for vocal preamps. But do you have any idea what a tube console would require? It's not even feasible unless you are talking 1958 with a 4 channel board or such. Today it would be the size of a house and maintenance would be worse than a fleet of 727's. Thats why it's not all tube. But he's talking about stereo gear which CAN viably use tubes. By the way, the power amps are generally for monitoring so recording is not affected.
     
  17. oansun

    oansun Supporting Member

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    idk Man, sounds like you’d rather have a CD
     
  18. 6789

    6789 Member

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    Sister for the win. Tubes.
     
  19. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Used for playback as do most people.
    Point is that many high end SS systems exist that provide excellent playback capability.
     
  20. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I'm not debating that at all. And to me it's a non issue. Tubes only matter to me when it comes to guitar amps, and even there lately not so much because i've been using modeling for a while now. But it's widely held that tubes give a warmer more natural sound in any context. (widely as i said does not include me) They just aren't used to the degree they would be if they were as cheap, easy to maintain, and small as SS electronics. It's undeniable that they ARE considered superior for playback given they occupy much of the high end segment of stereo gear. Whether those people are living in placebo world or not isn't what i'm debating. Just saying that audiophiles believe it whether true or not. Personally i don't think i could tell. I can't even tell tubes from modeling unless i'm the one holding the guitar, and even then not so much anymore.
     
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