# Valve amplifiers

E

#### esox

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi
Guitar question.
It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a
transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w
tranny.
Why do they sound so loud?
I had thought it might be that they are often class A.
Any ideas?
Cheers

S

#### [email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
esox said:
Hi
Guitar question.
It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a
transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w
tranny.
Why do they sound so loud?
I had thought it might be that they are often class A.
Any ideas?
Cheers

Is it that the distortion is more 'graceful' so you just push it
harder?
GG

P

#### phaeton

Jan 1, 1970
0
esox said:
Hi
Guitar question.
It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a
transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w
tranny.
Why do they sound so loud?
I had thought it might be that they are often class A.
Any ideas?
Cheers

First off, careful with this question. I've asked it several times
(not in this ng, but other places where electron-heads hang out) and
i've gotten a lot of response to the effect of "tube amps louder?
that's b.s.- watts are watts".

While "watts are watts" is definately true, my best scientific guess is
that tube amps have a much broader and more powerful frequency response
in the midrange, which means they put out more of the waveforms that
the human ear can pick up best. SS amps can put out the same power
(watts) but the frequencies will always be different, some of which are
in the frequencies that the human ear can't hear so well, some more of
which might be "wasted" in freqs that we can't hear at all (above 20khz
or below 20hz).

There is also something like an empathetic vibration amongst harmonics
that tube amps are better at creating- i.e. the whole even-order /
odd-order harmonics difference. SS amps tend to create more odd-order
harmonics that clash and fight with each other, so some of the power is
affected that way before it even gets to the speaker.

(I don't have any references to data or any better explanation to hand
out, so it is very possible that someone may come along and correct
me.)

I don't know about the 30w Tube == 100w Transistor comparison (this is
like saying 1 Mhz on a Mac == 4 Mhz on a PC... too much other things to
consider)...

But i will say that my 5W Reverend Goblin (All-tube) will completely
blow away my 45W Peavey Pacer (All Solid-State). Yeah we're talking
different qualities of amplifier and different price points, but the
proof is still in the puddin' :-D

If there are any non-believers, i usually suggest them to go into a
music store, and ask one of the sales d00ds to plug into a 30W or 60W
Peavey Classic or Fender Blues Deville with the eq set flat. Let the
non-believer twist the gain and volume knobs around. Then have them go
to a Solid State amp of the same wattage and repeat. Another good
comparison is a 10W Champ vs. just about any SS amplifier on the floor
under $300. Nobody's ever done it tho... or at least has told me afterwards.. R #### Roger Johansson Jan 1, 1970 0 phaeton said: Then have them go to a Solid State amp of the same wattage and repeat. If you add a preamp stage which compresses the signal, a simple cmos unbuffered logic gate, or some other way to add soft clipping to the solid state amp you will find that they sound equally loud. Solid state amps use most of the available headroom for the occasional high volume peaks in a signal so it has to be run at a much lower total power than a valve amp which you can drive very hard whithout blowing the speakers or sounding really bad. Most modern music use compressors in the mixing process, to allow for a loud volume without letting really high peaks of voltage through, and that is a similar effect as a valve amp creates. Electric guitars sound really bad if used without any soft clipping at all, it sounds like plink-plonk. So electric guitars are always used with either effects boxes which add the soft clipping, or with valve amps which affect the signal in the same way. By the way, commercials in tv often use harder compression than usual program sound, so they can create a higher subjective sound volume without it looking like higher volume on a VU-meter in the transmitter control. That is why commercials often sound louder than other program material where the sound technicians care more about the sound quality. The peaks are just as high as the peaks in the normal programs, but the compressed sound sounds a lot higher. P #### phaeton Jan 1, 1970 0 Well yeah, then there's compression- natural (tube) or otherwise (compressor/limiter), and that plays a big part too... gently clipping the peaks off the louder stuff so you can bring the softer stuff up... Sometimes i find modern music mixes, where everything is squashed to be somewhat fatiguing to the ear... but that's another subject for another rainy day J #### Jamie Jan 1, 1970 0 esox said: Hi Guitar question. It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w tranny. Why do they sound so loud? I had thought it might be that they are often class A. Any ideas? Cheers no, they are just basic Push Pull types into a transformer. the transformer tends to suppress some of the harmonics that are created from all those over driven jammers. Ha,. Valve Amps. who ever thought of that one!~ P #### petrus bitbyter Jan 1, 1970 0 esox said: Hi Guitar question. It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w tranny. Why do they sound so loud? I had thought it might be that they are often class A. Any ideas? Cheers Ever heard a guitarist telling that a real guitar should not need to be amplified... Electric guitars are hardly instruments on their own. The amplifier can be considered a part of the instrument. They deliberately color the sound. Last Thursday I heard a gitarist playing severel guitars using several amplifiers. No doubt the Fender sounds best. Guitar amplifiers has been tube amps only for some time as solid states tend to blow the speakers. They did not sound either. A lot of guitarists still want to use only tube amps. Usually this amps are class AB. The secret most of the time is in the transformers. Along with the tubes they tend to smoothen high peaks without giving the sharp scratching sound some older solid state amps did. Another point are the Watts. No doubt a Watt is a Watt but is everything that's named a Watt really a Watt? Most tube amps grow in a time exaggeration did not go that far. Solid state amps tend to be overrated much more. Ever saw a 2x10W stereo amp powered bij a 12V/1A wallwart. (BTW this was not a guitar amp.) These days solid state amps can be made much better but even then some people still hear the difference between a tube - and a solid state amp. Then the loudness you hear is hardly to be measured in Watts. If you double the Watts you will hear only little more loudness. Adding all together it's not strange some say a 30W tube amp sounds louder then a 100W solid state. petrus bitbyter B #### Bob Eldred Jan 1, 1970 0 esox said: Hi Guitar question. It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w tranny. Why do they sound so loud? I had thought it might be that they are often class A. Any ideas? Cheers You need to measure the power to make a statement like that. You can't go by the rated power in the sales lit. or on the name plates. Secondly the signal sources have to be exactly the same and not be in distortion which alters the harmonics. Sounds may sound louder or softer depending on their harmonic character. Thirdly the speakers they play into have to be exactly the same. Speaker efficiencies vary greatly. Set up two systems that way and actually measure the power to the speakers in each and adjust the gains until the powers are exactly the same, measured, then tell us which one is louder. Assuming you do not drive into distortion on either I doubt you could tell a difference. Do it and let us know. Bob K #### Kevin Aylward Jan 1, 1970 0 esox said: Hi Guitar question. It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w tranny. Why do they sound so loud? I had thought it might be that they are often class A. Any ideas? Cheers *One* potential reason (of many) is dynamic headroom. Most amps are rated at steady state average power. This is what heats the amp up and forms its fundamental power limit. In some cases tube/valve amplifiers have power rails that stay up for a lot longer then transister amps, so that the average transient power can be much higher (say for 20ms). This is because for a given physical size of power supply filter capaciter (size=CV), the higher voltage of a valve amp allows more energy storage, by C.V^2. A guitar signal is quite high for the inital transient, than decays quite rapidly to a steady state value, before finally decaying to zero. Therefore, if the amp is set to not distort on the initial string pick, the mid time signal will be have to be set lower for an amp with no dynamic headroom. An other more obvious reason is speaker sensitivity. I use a Fender twin reverb combo. Sure, its a valve amp, but I have no doubt the that the main reason its way louder then even other valve amps is simply because the speakers simple give more output for a given input. Sensitivities of speakers can vary tremendously, e.g say, 90 dbspl/1W/M to 105 dbspl/1W/1M. i.e. equivalent to a factor of at over 5 times. Kevin Aylward [email protected] http://www.anasoft.co.uk SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture, Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design. K #### Kevin Aylward Jan 1, 1970 0 petrus said: Ever heard a guitarist telling that a real guitar should not need to be amplified... Electric guitars are hardly instruments on their own. The amplifier can be considered a part of the instrument. They deliberately color the sound. Last Thursday I heard a gitarist playing severel guitars using several amplifiers. No doubt the Fender sounds best. Pardon!!! The fender twang, for the most part is all twang. Suitable only for hillbillies. Guitar amplifiers has been tube amps only for some time as solid states tend to blow the speakers. Completely untrue. What drugs are you on? Sure, tube amps don't put DC on the speaker if they fail like a transistor one does, but the likely hood of a transistor amp killing speakers, today, is very low. In part, because the decent ones have protection. Guitar amplifiers are made with tubes simply because people want to use tube amps. It certainly has nothing whatsoever due to the dubious probability of taking out speakers. They did not sound either. A lot of guitarists still want to use only tube amps. Usually this amps are class AB. The secret most of the time is in the transformers. Nonsense. There isn't *one* secret. There are a number of factors that go into the tube sound. For example, the higher output impedance. e.go. a few ohms verses milliohms. This can be very significant to frequency response as the speaker typically varies over a range of 100 ohms down to a few ohms. Along with the tubes they tend to smoothen high peaks without giving the sharp scratching sound some older solid state amps did. This is a bit vague aint it. A transistor amp input stage (+/-15V) will clip on its input for initial transients if its input has a gain of more then about 20 or so. That is, a good humbucker can put out around 1V pk. A valve amp input stage sits on 300V-400V, so it can handle way more. So, the dynamic range of the input stages are much better. This means that the signal might not clip until the output stage for a valve amp. Kevin Aylward [email protected] http://www.anasoft.co.uk SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture, Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design. K #### Kevin Aylward Jan 1, 1970 0 phaeton said: Well yeah, then there's compression- natural (tube) or otherwise (compressor/limiter), and that plays a big part too... gently clipping the peaks off the louder stuff so you can bring the softer stuff up... The valves sound louder than transistor claim is present even when both signals are totally distorted, i.e. constant volume, so compression cant be the explanation. Kevin Aylward [email protected] http://www.anasoft.co.uk SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture, Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design. K #### Kevin Aylward Jan 1, 1970 0 phaeton said: First off, careful with this question. I've asked it several times (not in this ng, but other places where electron-heads hang out) and i've gotten a lot of response to the effect of "tube amps louder? that's b.s.- watts are watts". While "watts are watts" is definately true, my best scientific guess is that tube amps have a much broader and more powerful frequency response in the midrange, Oh dear....now don't get offended, but this is completely incorrect. By and large, the frequency response of transistor and tube amps are the same if the load is a resister. They usually cover the mid range, when tone controls are set "flat" the same within less then 1 db in this case. There is an effect due to output impedance, but this makes the tube frequency respose technically worse, not better. which means they put out more of the waveforms that the human ear can pick up best. SS amps can put out the same power (watts) but the frequencies will always be different, some of which are in the frequencies that the human ear can't hear so well, some more of which might be "wasted" in freqs that we can't hear at all (above 20khz or below 20hz). Again, this is all complete nonsense. I don't know of any other way of putting this to soften the blow to your ego. This is like me giving play tactics on American football. There is also something like an empathetic vibration amongst harmonics that tube amps are better at creating- i.e. the whole even-order / odd-order harmonics difference. SS amps tend to create more odd-order harmonics that clash and fight with each other, so some of the power is affected that way before it even gets to the speaker. Non of this is relevant. Even when set clean, a tube amp is often claimed to sound louder. (I don't have any references to data or any better explanation to hand out, so it is very possible that someone may come along and correct me.) Yep. I don't know about the 30w Tube == 100w Transistor comparison (this is like saying 1 Mhz on a Mac == 4 Mhz on a PC... too much other things to consider)... Yes. The dynamic range. See my other post. But i will say that my 5W Reverend Goblin (All-tube) will completely blow away my 45W Peavey Pacer (All Solid-State). Yeah we're talking different qualities of amplifier and different price points, but the proof is still in the puddin' :-D These are combos, therefore the speaker sensitivities need to be considered. Valve amp combos cost more, so they can use more efficient (sound out/watts in), but pricier (better) speakers, and still sell within market constraints. One needs to compare apples with apples. If there are any non-believers, i usually suggest them to go into a music store, and ask one of the sales d00ds to plug into a 30W or 60W Peavey Classic or Fender Blues Deville with the eq set flat. Let the non-believer twist the gain and volume knobs around. Then have them go to a Solid State amp of the same wattage and repeat. Another good comparison is a 10W Champ vs. just about any SS amplifier on the floor under$300.

Again, most solid state combo amps use crap speakers. Its a cost issue
that isn't so relevent in valve amps.

Kevin Aylward
[email protected]
http://www.anasoft.co.uk
SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode
Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture,
Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design.

B

#### Bob Masta

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hi
Guitar question.
It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a
transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w
tranny.
Why do they sound so loud?
I had thought it might be that they are often class A.
Any ideas?
Cheers

This might be relevant:
Many years ago a manufacturer of high-power solid state
stereo amps ran an interesting experiment. They got
together an assortment of solid state power amps rated from about
10 watts to 200 watts, and rigged them so subjects could
subject to adjust a test amp until it was "loud". Then
they measured the actual output power. It turned out
that "loud" levels correlated more with distortion than
actual watts: A 10 watt amp putting out max power
was regarded as loud, but a 200 watt amp putting
out a clean 100 watts wasn't. Something to think about.

Best regards,

Bob Masta

D A Q A R T A
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
www.daqarta.com

P

#### petrus bitbyter

Jan 1, 1970
0
Kevin Aylward said:
Pardon!!!

The fender twang, for the most part is all twang. Suitable only for
hillbillies.

Well, er.. may be. Did you hear the others?
Completely untrue. What drugs are you on? Sure, tube amps don't put DC on
the speaker if they fail like a transistor one does, but the likely hood
of a transistor amp killing speakers, today, is very low. In part, because
the decent ones have protection.

Guitar amplifiers are made with tubes simply because people want to use
tube amps. It certainly has nothing whatsoever due to the dubious
probability of taking out speakers.

Sure. But I was talking about the first solid state amps. Some did blew
speakers particularly the cheap ones.
Nonsense. There isn't *one* secret. There are a number of factors that go
into the tube sound. For example, the higher output impedance. e.go. a few
ohms verses milliohms. This can be very significant to frequency response
as the speaker typically varies over a range of 100 ohms down to a few
ohms.

The sound of a tube amps, all tube amps but the transformerless ones,
largely depends on the output transformers. This even holds for the so
called HiFi tube amps that should not have a sound of their own. That is not
to say there are no other factors. There are a lot. For instance, some
freaks claim to hear the difference between two (sets of) the same type of
tubes but from different manufacturers. But design and component choice can
make a lot of difference for normal ears too.

M

#### Michael A. Terrell

Jan 1, 1970
0
Kevin said:
The fender twang, for the most part is all twang. Suitable only for
hillbillies.

You mean the ones who made millions of dollars playing the guitar and
have a wall covered with gold records? How dare they!

BTW, the term is Country, not hillbilly.

E

#### esox

Jan 1, 1970
0
Glad I posted this on basics. Hate to see it get too technical

K

#### Kevin Aylward

Jan 1, 1970
0
petrus said:
Well, er.. may be. Did you hear the others?

Sure. But I was talking about the first solid state amps. Some did
blew speakers particularly the cheap ones.

That was a way, way, long time ago...Like 25 years.
The sound of a tube amps, all tube amps but the transformerless ones,
largely depends on the output transformers.

Just cant agree on this one. Care to back this up with some experimental
data?

Sure, transformers might well make a bit of a difference, but there are
other much more significant effects that even from a technical point are
quite measurable. To wit, dynamic output power, the input stage not
clipping, the frequency variations that come from the several ohm output
impedance interacting with the speaker etc.
This even holds for the so
called HiFi tube amps that should not have a sound of their own.

Rubbish. Competently designed valve *hi-amps* that say, have 0.01% Thd,
flat response etc sound exactly the same as Competently designed
transistor amps with similar specs. Period.

The sound differences between say, guitar tube amps and guitar
transistor amps are all identifiable with measurements that actual say
they *should* sound different.
That
is not to say there are no other factors. There are a lot. For
instance, some freaks claim to hear the difference between two (sets
of) the same type of tubes but from different manufacturers.

Mismatched tubes may well put the transformer core into saturation with
smaller signals.

Kevin Aylward
[email protected]
http://www.anasoft.co.uk
SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode
Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture,
Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design.

B

#### Barry Jones

Jan 1, 1970
0
esox said:
Hi
Guitar question.
It is said that a 30w valve amplifier is very loud compared to a
transistor amp. I've heard that 30w valve puts out more than 100w
tranny.
Why do they sound so loud?
I had thought it might be that they are often class A.
Any ideas?
Cheers
I noticed the same sort of thing in tube vs. solid state stereo amps or
receivers. Since they drove the same speakers, quality of speakers was
not an issue.

I'd be interested to see how the companies defined their maximum output
wattage.

You can drive the amp until there is, say 1% harmonic distortion, and
call that the max wattage. You can drive the amp until there is 5% or
10% distortion, or more, and define that as your max wattage. It may not
be usable wattage, but it sure looks good on the label.

Since tube (valve) amps are mostly older models, they may have been more
inclined to rate their products more conservatively.

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