Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ? - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph R. View Post
    Just simple ones, like tube degradation, low power, limited ability to handle less than 8 ohm loads, bass overhang, rolled off high frequencies, quality tube availability, high cost of power tubes, need for a vacuum tube tester, tube biasing, tube matching, sound variability dependent on tube brand or date of manufacture, total tube failure, high heat and overall reliability.

    I understand that all of these rarely apply. But every one can be a possibility and therefore a trade off. Oh, and I forgot that sometimes the tubes needed go out of production. The stock pile of NOS is not going to last forever.
    Yeah, but why not start a thread bashing tube gear anyway?
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  2. #12
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Dan, what a great answer. The only issue you did not address what what happens when a transistor fails in your SS amp. I have seen SS amps fail and when they do they get thrown away at times. Other times they can not be brought back to original spec so they sound different after repair. What do you think is going to happen to your First Watt amp when those not in production parts are gone. I bet, don't know for sure, but I bet tube amps are found to last a lot longer than SS amps. They may require upkeep and maintenance, but there are a lot of tube amps from the 50s still doing just fine.
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  3. #13
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Dan, what a great answer. The only issue you did not address what what happens when a transistor fails in your SS amp. I have seen SS amps fail and when they do they get thrown away at times. Other times they can not be brought back to original spec so they sound different after repair. What do you think is going to happen to your First Watt amp when those not in production parts are gone. I bet, don't know for sure, but I bet tube amps are found to last a lot longer than SS amps. They may require upkeep and maintenance, but there are a lot of tube amps from the 50s still doing just fine.
    Kingrex.......Thank you for the compliment. I thought about digging into solid state amplification in last night's post but it was 12:30 AM, I was getting tired, and the post was getting lengthy. You bring up a good point about solid state failures. They are not as uncommon as people tend to believe, and often can result in catastrophic damage to the output stage and power supply. Like you said, matching critical parts like outdated output transistors can be a challenge when repairs are made, with some repairs ultimately altering the sonic signature integrity. I have owned many solid state amplifiers, Hafler, Dynaco, Adcom, Kenwood, and at least 10 McIntosh solid state power amps, as well as 10 McIntosh tube power amplifiers. I have been fortunate that only a couple components caused repair issues. The majority have been reliable performers.

    There is no guarantee that audio equipment will not fail at some point. Being a solid state component doesn't make it immune to failure. If it were a given that all audio components would last a half century there would be no such thing as a factory warranty. Who would need one. Then again, there is no reason not to believe well designed and built audio gear can't last an indefinite period of time. I have a 50+ year old McIntosh MA230 integrated amplifier (solid state preamp/tube power amp) that still sounds marvelous. Listening to it, you would not have any thought of its age. I had the power supply rebuilt with new caps, but beyond that the MA230 integrated amp is still making sweet music after all these years. This is my YouTube video of the McIntosh MA230 playing in the studio.


    Dan

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  5. #14
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Quote Originally Posted by CPP View Post
    I don't buy gear based on what someones likes or dislikes. , I buy what I like.
    Like you Chris, I do too. When I go to audio shows like RMAF, Axpona and now the Florida Expo, I am amazed at how many power amplifiers are super impressive. Soulution, Constellation, Roland, Pass, Nagra, VAC, Quicksilver and Van Alstine, to name a few. Some are SS, some are tube. There is so much quality gear out there, I wonder if those little glass bottles are buying anything ? One disadvantage I forgot to mention is the tubes that don’t work straight out of the box. I have retuned a good number of tubes.

  6. #15
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Dan, Your amp is beautiful. In the unlikely event you decide to sell it, let me know. Thanks, Jim
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  7. #16
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    I've read this thread with interest, and Dan has provided some really exceptional background, information and context.

    Here's my perspective, having used tube power and preamps now for 10 years, since getting back into high-end audio: today's tube components are excellent quality, provide superb performance across the audio spectrum, and per some of Joe's concerns, are both reliable and durable (which are different quality attributes). Tubes today have excellent spec to spec consistency and little to no unit-to-unit variabilty. and excellent tube durability.

    Last, and this point may be a bit controversial, but in my personal view, you have to spend considerably more on a SS amp to obtain or match the performance of a well-designed and manufactured tube amp.

    So, while I am in agreement with the points of concern Joe raised in his first post, from any practical (that is, real-world rather than hypothetical) perspective, the concerns or problems raised are non-issues.

    Just my 2¢. Cheers,

  8. #17
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    I bet tube amps are found to last a lot longer than SS amps
    Worldwide space programs long abandoned solid state hardware for audiophile tube technology, especially in deep space probes. Believe me.

  9. #18
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Tube versus solid state really is a personal preference. I have gone through the gamut since getting back into this hobby a few years back.

    I have had tube amps; ARC, Quick Silver, Audio Mirror; and solid state; McIntosh, First Watt, Wyred 4 Sound, PS Audio, Job, SST, and T+A. I might have forgotten one of two ...

    I had tube pre-amps; ARC, Dennis Had; and solid state; W4S STP-SE, W4S STP-SE Stage 2, McIntosh, Benchmark (DAC pre), NuPrime (DAC pre), T+A (DAC pre), etc.

    I have had a tube go bad... startled the crap out of me, and had to bias with built in meter and even bias using a multi-meter. I have had a tube amp that acted very flaky, had SET mono-blocks, etc. None of that would stop me from getting a tube amp again. The ones I had sounded great and were satisfying. Tube rolling is the devil . I constantly thought maybe this other tube would sound better. I bought NOS tubes, Sylvania Bad Boys, CBS Brown Base, Black Treasures, Golden Lions, etc. I dealt with a lot of heat... ALOT OF HEAT... that still didn't turn me off to tubes, and at some point, depending on what comes along I might try another.

    However, I found that I never felt settled... always feeling like a need to try a different tube, every time I heard a little noise I would think, is another tube going bad. I finally felt that the tubes were stopping me from really getting into the music... I keep worrying too much about the gear, about tube rolling, heat, looks... etc. I never would listen to my tuner because I always felt I was wearing out tubes listening to background music.

    And then I found the Wyred 4 Sound Stage 2 pre-amp and the T+A amplifier. They sound as good as any tube I have ever heard, but most importantly, I felt like I no longer worried about the gear and could just listen to the music. I could just turn on the equipment and listen to music. I didn't worry about the gear any more. The convenience and ease won out. Music won out for me.
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  10. #19
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Quote Originally Posted by AJ Soundfield View Post
    Worldwide space programs long abandoned solid state hardware for audiophile tube technology, especially in deep space probes. Believe me.
    AJ you crack me up, but sometimes you are just weird... I love it!
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  11. #20
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    Re: Tubed Power Amplifiers. Are the disadvantages too great ?

    Joseph, I guess I don't truly understand the basis for the thread. It is kind of like starting another Cable Thread.
    Anyone that has been around or owned tube equipment clearly understands the possibilities of amazing sound and catastrophe of failed tubes and taking out resistors and capacitors. Not to mention the cost of new tubes.
    When one purchases tube equipment you come to grips with in a not to extend period whether they are for you.

    Just my .02 and personal feelings burning aprox. 50 tubes at any listening moment.
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