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Tube Watts vs Solid State Watts?

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by MetalPedal, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    I've played a lot of jazz in the last years and as such certainly needed a clean amp tone. Like you said, this also worked for cover bands and wedding bands.

    Not to start another issue, but I'm very happy with my Fender and Peavey modeling amps, too.
  2. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    Now imagine a well-designed SS amp that does not go into "ugly distortion"!

    I recommend reading this:

    " Claims that a solid-state amplifier cannot sound as good as a tube amplifier is utterly untrue and mostly heard from the mouths of three kinds of people:

    1) people that have very little or no knowledge about electronics,

    2) tube snobs who persistently claim that all transistor amplifiers must sound bad, yet would stick a Fuzz Face (or similar) in front of their tube amplifier without even blinking an eye and

    3) experts of tube amplifier circuitry that unfortunately possess a limited knowledge about solid-state design. While someone might master tube technology, the truth is that tube- and solid-state circuitry differ a lot from each other. One should not unreservedly believe statements about transistor circuitry presented by a tube expert – as one should not unreservedly believe statements about tube circuitry presented by a solid-state circuitry expert either. "

    " Tube amplifiers have a reputation of having the “ultimate tone” while their solid-state counterparts usually have a notorious reputation of sounding really bad. However, musicians do use transistor amplifiers: For example, during their career The Beatles used them on numerous occasions. Other famous musicians that have been using solid-state amplifiers include Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, B.B. -and Albert King, Ike Turner, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Brian May (Queen), Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash), Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), Francis Rossi (Status Quo), Chuck Berry, David Crosby, John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Jeff Beck, Neil Young, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and the late Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott (Pantera) and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) - just to name a few. The list serves as a fine example that a good transistor sound is not a concept to be laughed at. "

    "The “tube watt is louder than transistor watt” is a myth that needs to be straightened out: A watt is a watt, whether it is produced with a transistor, tube or steam engine. That in mind, the differences in loudness can usually be caused only by: • Differences in the compared signals. There are several causes for this, such as clipping or unequal system gains and frequency responses. • Differences in speaker system efficiencies throughout their effective bandwidth. Last time I heard someone touting out this myth it was revealed that he was comparing a 5-watt tube amplifier with an efficient 10-inch driver to a 10-watt solidstate amplifier with a puny 6.5” driver. Power-loudness comparisons mean absolutely nothing unless they are performed using identical speaker systems! Similarly, powerloudness comparisons mean nothing unless they are performed with systems that have identical frequency responses! Not that many guitar amplifiers actually have. More than that, if comparisons are made it should be ensured that both systems actually deliver the same amount of power to the speaker. It should be realized that the dial of a volume control can’t be trusted as a measure of this since it really indicates nothing. In practice, it is almost impossible to compare two dissimilar amplifiers and get meaningful and scientifically valid results. The fact that most marketing campaigns of solid-states amplifiers were (and are) also more than anxious to put a lot of “air” into the amplifier’s output power rating (sometimes even stating peak power instead of the average one) is another perfectly realistic explanation for the existence of the tube watt myth. In practice, the only valid reason explaining the differences in loudness is the fact that one of the signals is actually distorted in comparison to other. For example, if one of the compared amplifiers is clipping and the other one is operating at its linear region the one that is clipping will sound louder – this regardless of whether the clipping amplifier uses tube or solid-state technology. In this light, the comparison practically looses its meaning since it is a very subjective issue whether any distortion should be accepted in the signal or not. Most tube amplifier “fans” like it, but in the old days (pre 1960’s) the designers actually tried to get rid of it. Not all people like tube compression and to be honest, that compression is often unmistakably audible as well. Since distortion created by a clipping tube amplifier sometimes (but not always) has a “soft limiting” effect it is possible to harness an external soft limiter circuit to make a solid-state amplifier “clip” the signal as gracefully as tubes do – this kind of circuit can also have an on/off switch. It must be noted though that soft clipping always narrows down the linear operating region and thus decreases the amount of “linear” output power that can be extracted from a given supply. Thus an amplifier that provides 100 watts of output power @ 1% THD when swinging rail-to-rail cannot employ an additional soft clipping scheme and emulate an inherently soft clipping 100 watts @ 1% THD amplifier. For that it needs more power reserve. In fact, when engaged the soft limiter might drop the amount of 21 output power at equal THD closer to 40 or 50 watts, depending on the softness of the utilized limiter setup. This explains why inherently soft clipping amplifiers - be they solid-state or tube - are louder when compared to ones that clip abruptly."
  3. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 8, 2011
    Raleigh NC
    Yeah for Jazz I would want quick and sharp attack, no sag.
    JustABluesGuy and davidKOS like this.
  4. Stormy Monday

    Stormy Monday Weeee doggie Strat-Talk Supporter

    understand. I am always worried that all those electronics classes in my past have been obsoleted.
    davidKOS and Electgumbo like this.
  5. chrimturn

    chrimturn Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jun 14, 2013
    The thread I referred to was not supporting the debate that tubes are in fact louder than SS. Sure, there are posts in there that try to sway the reader in that direction. But there are also some posts that expound on how tubes are really just perceived as being louder, and get more into detail of why that may be so.

    In the minority maybe, but not alone. I also prefer a clean amp tone (if dirt, then from pedals) and also support SS amps. I have both types. Some tubes I prefer over some SS and vice versa.

    I'm not a die hard tone chaser. There are many amps in the world today. Too many for me to worry about one being better than the other. If I like what I'm hearing and feeling out of one, then that's the amp. Whether it's $100 or $1000 or tube or SS.
    Artunes, davidKOS and JustABluesGuy like this.
  6. steben

    steben Senior Stratmaster

    Aug 9, 2012
    Zulte, Belgium
    @Electgumbo Really? Oh well, it seemed il'd better bugger off with obsolete info :)
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017