Deluxe Reverb blind test - tubes vs solid state

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by Wound_Up, Sep 1, 2020.

  1. mascis2000

    mascis2000 New Member!

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    Ah good question! Firstly, I would CRY :(.

    Then, it depends on what I was trying to achieve with the music. If I'm just playing classic traditional blues rock or something like that, I would still choose the valve amp even if it didn't sound as good... I know that does sound deluded but hear me out!

    It would be because if my heroes who originally used those amps could inspire millions by working creatively within the limitations of that original equipment, then I should learn how to do the same. I would try to raise my game by improving playing technique, refining amp settings etc... to get as good a tone as possible, within the limitations of the equipment.

    But! If I was playing in a less traditional setting, maybe an originals band where I'm being more experimental and maybe trying to get synth sounds from the guitar, creative use of pedals, playing the guitar with an electric razor, anything like that, I wouldn't have a problem using a solid state / non traditional amp if that's what did a clearly better job and got a better sound.

    For the record, I have done some gigs just running through a multiFX with amp modelling direct to PA with in ear monitoring. It's weird and feels pretty lame compared to a proper amp, but in certain situations there's just no other option. I've done it with a wedding venue that insists on no amps on stage for noise restriction reasons, and an amp modelling setup is great as a compact backup solution. I just think if you have a choice between the real thing and a copy, go with the real thing whenever possible, even if it's less convenient and more difficult to work with, it will help you develop and work within limitations.
     
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  2. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    Glad to see some reasonable responses to this thread mixed in with the typical B.S. about "get a real tube amp", etc.

    I have a TMDR. I have owned and gigged with an almost embarrassing list of nice amps, some by boutique builders and some mass produced (Boogie, modern Fenders, etc). I love tube amps. There are few bucket list tube amps I'd still like to own one day. The TMDR sounds AND feels as good as any amp I've owned and it's more flexible and useful than many I've owned. It's simply a great sounding, fun amp that makes me want to play through it. But I'm first and foremost a player and musician, focusing less on gear these days by my own choice. I'm not someone who repairs amps. I'm not someone who is going to sit in a quiet room to find and obsess over the slightest, most minute details of tone or comparison to another amp. I've played a long time and I've done lots of gigs. When I plug into an amp I know within five minutes or less if it's good or not. The TM easily meets that criteria.

    I'll add two more thoughts. I will absolutely agree that a simple tube circuit is easier to repair. But I have a TON of non tube gear that has been used and even abused and it still works fine. I have no reason to believe the TMs aren't going to be equally reliable and last for many years. Second thought: if you haven't played through one and you're even semi-interested, go play through one. Don't rely on what people say in internet forums, and don't make a decision based on a review video. In the end you might not like the amp and that's totally cool - not everyone likes everything. But I think a lot of people jump to conclusions on these amps without ever having been in the same room as one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
  3. mascis2000

    mascis2000 New Member!

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    That's interesting. I get that it's a more convenient and a bit cheaper, but does a little piece of you not just crave the real thing despite the inconvenience? (C'mon, a real DR doesn't weigh that much.)

    I'm not trying to change your mind or anything and it's always great to hear that someone is enjoying using their gear and playing guitar. I'm just trying to understand why someone wouldn't just go that little extra mile for the real thing. I just know it would bug me.
     
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  4. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    With this video, it's impossible to tell how it was recorded. How many mics were used--one microphone in the room sounds different on the recording from mic'ed up cabs--and the difference of an inch or two in mic placement makes a difference you can hear on tape. He talked about using the same settings on both amps, and it looks as though the amps were next to each other in the room. Do room acoustics play a role in the sound? You bet they do. Was any sound editing done in putting the video together? That would potentially make the comparison useless.

    Next question, how precisely did they attempt to get the same settings on both amps? It honestly sounds to me as though the "treble" knob on Amp 1 is turned up about .5 higher than Amp 2. Which could be no more than where dude was sitting when he turned the knobs. But even if the settings were exactly the same--the sound would be a whole lot closer if the treble on Amp 1 were turned down a touch, or if the treble on Amp 2 were turned up a touch.

    I did hear a slight graininess on Amp 1 when the gain was turned up, while Amp 2 sounded smoother. That's enough to tell me which is which. But they both sound good.
     
  5. Mike Manhost67

    Mike Manhost67 Strat-Talker

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    I get your point, but I owned many tube amps in my youth, among them both a BF Super, and Deluxe, Pre-CBS both, so been there done that.

    The Super had a Tube issue, and it took me a while to figure out the problem and fix it. Maybe that scared me.

    Not having to worry about any maintenance issues was a big load of my mind. I bought the TMDR as a impulse purchase right as stores where closing down due to Covid. At the time I honestly thought it probably can't be as good as I think it is, and that I would probably return in within the 30 day period.

    The attenuator sealed the deal. I can set it to .5 or .2 watts and get a breakup sound playing at low volume without waking up anyone in my house. Anyway its still here and I love it, and I never looked back.
     
  6. mascis2000

    mascis2000 New Member!

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    That's cool. Maybe I'm just overly romanticising the history of valve amps. I'm now going listen to some music (on cassette) while writing a strongly worded letter (on my typewriter) to Fender about how they should do a handwired Twin reissue.:oops:
     
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  7. Mike Manhost67

    Mike Manhost67 Strat-Talker

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    I don't think you can over "romanticize the history of valve amps", so I'm there with ya.

    The sound of a driven tube amp is classic, beautiful, and basically the historical sound of blues, jazz, and rock and roll. Leo Fender was a genius for developing them (much more for amps then guitars I now realize, and he was no slouch on guitars).

    But with the TM, I can get "that sound", along with other conveniences. You will get no dis on tube amps here from me sir :)
     
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  8. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    I think a big part of the wanting the "real thing" is caused by reading forums like this one. Guitarists are funny. We (and I say we because I’ve probably been guilty of it) select gear based on what we think is supposed to be cool based on what others say. I’m not saying that’s the only criteria. But when you hang around these forums I think it does affect your gear decisions subconsciously.

    I honestly don’t think that I would be able to tell the tube version from the TM if I were blindfolded.

    IMO, they are both the real thing. They just have different stuff inside the box to make the noise.
     
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  9. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    I thought they both sounded good for the first 80% of the recording. It was a toss up but the #2 amp sounded better for the soaked reverb and tremolo/vibrato stuff.

    When he dialled up the volume the #2 amp sounded like every high gain solid state amp from the 80’s. It got ridiculously thin, high gain and one dimensional. I stopped watching at that point but I gather from the discussion that it was the tube amp. I’ve never heard a tube amp sound that horrible. That’s usually where tube amps shine. If it were mine, I’d tear into it and figure out the issue if it’s not under warranty. That was weird.
     
  10. hogrider16

    hogrider16 Strat-Talk Member

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    I've had my DRRI since 1994. I've played literally thousands of jobs on it. It's well worth a two or three hour drive to make sure you get the right amp. Just saying.

    I'm an old fart. In the 70's that was your ONLY choice. Two or three guys would get together and make a day trip of it.
     
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  11. hogrider16

    hogrider16 Strat-Talk Member

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    I don't judge. Oh, who am I kidding? I LOVE to judge!!
     
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  12. Rudedawg

    Rudedawg Senior Stratmaster

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    Oh yeah, I remember those days when we did the same thing. I bought my first 2 Fender amps and strats, a Taylor acoustic plus both my wife's Yamaha Clavinova and upright grand piano that way. Today is so different as those shops have long since closed and with the more generous return policies that the better online stores offer what's not to like about ordering online.

    The bulk of my guitars have been bought online sight unseen and only one was returned due to issues; the seller promptly sent a prepaid label and I got full credit for it. Of course I turned around and bought another from them in its place which was a keeper. There is a GC a little over 2 hours away from us and an even larger one about 4 hours away in Baton Rouge. There is a smaller independent store closer by but they don't stock much at all but will order what you want so that's basically the same deal as ordering online.
     
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  13. JB74

    JB74 Senior Stratmaster

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    I'd buy a Katana 100 and pocket the difference. Actually I could buy TWO katana 100's and still pocket the difference.

    So a wet-dry rig for less than a tonemaster.
     
  14. Bill

    Bill Strat-Talk Member

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    Maybe it’s because I have an original ‘66 DR, but I fast forwarded to the first sample of amp 1 and 2, decided, and fast forwarded to the end, and I was right.

    I definitely don’t have golden ears, but I don’t think I’ve ever been wrong on these digital vs. tube blind tests.

    Typically they don’t even sound like they’re comparing the same model of amps to me.

    And I don’t mind modelling amps. They’re brilliant. I have a couple.
     
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  15. mazzolar59

    mazzolar59 Strat-Talk Member Silver Member

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    Great sounding amp if you plug straight in. Like most SS amps, they don't take pedals as well as their tube counterpart.
     
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  16. Andrew Wasson

    Andrew Wasson Senior Stratmaster

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    I think I’ll go that route for the next purchase too.
     
  17. chicago slim

    chicago slim Senior Stratmaster

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    I played nothing but vintage, Fender tube amps, for the first 30 years. I've never owned a re-issue. When I turned Pro, I started finding PCB tube amps, that thought sounded better. Plus, giving lessons, playing 4 to 8 hours a day, I didn't want to wear and power cycle tubes, every time I played. So, I picked up a couple of solid state amps. I rarely power cycled tube amps, unless I was being paid. And yes, I played enough that I've experienced tube failures, at the worst possible times (first practices with recording artists).

    Today, I own an all tube amp, 2 hybrid amps, 2 solid states (acoustic) and 2 Katana's, whether you want to call them modelers, or what. There are reasons for different types of amps. If I were into Fender Blackface sounds, I would probably own a Tone Master, Deluxe or Twin.
     
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  18. Anacharsis

    Anacharsis Strat-O-Master Platinum Supporting Member

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    A few years ago, I completely stopped thinking about amps in terms of brands, models, tech (old or new), or anything other than how they sound, respond, and work for me. The only tubes left in my house are the 12ax7s and 12au7s in my Blackstar HT-1 heads and the 12ax7s in my "for fun" Joyo Bantamps. Everything else is solid state with or without some degree of digital. I don't have a ToneMaster, but I would absolutely consider one if I wasn't totally satisfied with my (frankly overabundant) amps.

    I am really grateful that my ears aren't "trained" enough to dissatisfy me. And while I don't disagree on the concept of easier repair, in nearly 30 years of playing, I've never had a solid state amp fail on me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  19. Scooter

    Scooter Strat-Talk Member

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    This is not at all my experience. I'm using a Timmy, Zendrive and M9 in front of mine and it sounds great.
     
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  20. Watchdogg

    Watchdogg Strat-Talk Member

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    The TM is lighter cheaper has direct out cabinent emulator and a built in attenuator. It sounds good perhaps a good option for gigging but personally im keeping my 78 deluxe reverb and modded SS22.