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Are solid state amps inherently superior to tube amps for bass?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by drboyd, Oct 12, 2008.

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  1. drboyd


    Apr 20, 2008
    OK, with a tube amp you generally have (except for a couple special cases) an output transformer. As electronic geeks (and geek-wannabees, like me) know, continuous DC won't pass through a transformer; only a pulsed wave or AC. And the closer you get to DC, the more difficult it is to pass.

    Solid state amps don't use output transformers, and transistors (generic solid state devices) don't require output transformers, and are able to switch on and off at intervals as long as you like.

    So, are solid state amps inherently superior for very low frequencies?


  2. I would think they would be ok at low freq. Still AC none the less. Cost required to produce those frequencies certainly plays a huge factor. Solid state is much cheaper per watt and you need watts to produce those lows.

    I think tube amps have a place just as solid state amps do.

    I would rather see my expensive tube amps producing more of the mid range where detail and accuracy is important and let my solid state amps produce the lows through subs.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Virtually all solid state amps for music use (i.e., excluding some esoteric "audiophile" types) are designed to block the DC portion of the signal. So in practical terms there is no difference on this particular score.
  4. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I love the smell of a can of worms being opened in the morning.
  5. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    +1. Subscribed to see where this goes :D
  6. Greyvagabond


    Aug 17, 2007
    ....you know what, nevermind
  7. Guest043

    Guest043 Guest

    Apr 8, 2008
    your gana get yourself into trouble starting a thread like this..

    judging from a non-geek (just close listener) standpoint, i would never purchase a tube amp. a good soilid state amp is all around better.

    but purist will call guys like me a sissy, then break their back lifting their svt..
  8. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Good amps are better than bad amps for bass.

    Plenty on both sides of the spectrum of this discussion.
  9. GreggBummer

    GreggBummer Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    Southern New Jersey
    I don't know. However, pound for pound, the tube amps cost more. Superior? That can be found in the eye of the beholder... but I tend to believe what fDeck said. He hasn't steered me wrong in the past.

    I would love to do a blind taste test with a good solid state and a good tube amp. Sounds like a fun test at a GTG.
  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Note that I was being extremely careful to limit my comment to a narrow and purely technical issue. :bag:
  11. Sub5ound

    Sub5ound Banned

    Sep 6, 2008
    Catskills, New York
    I think Tech21 has made the choice easier to make in recent years...
  12. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    I don't know the technical stuff, but in terms of sound I don't think that either is inherently superior.


    BASSKADET Gold Supporting Member

    May 17, 2007
    Here you go:
  14. X Wolf

    X Wolf Guest

    +1....My only other comment would be, I prefer All Tube Heads but I can no longer lift them.

  15. Absolutely. For pure low register clarity tube amps just can't keep up. If I was going to play in Drop A or A standard (on a five string, for reference) I would always use my 1000 watt solid state Carvin amp - for anything above that, say D standard, standard, or Drop D, I'm going straight for the all-tube SVT every. single. time. Because you simply cannot beat a tube amp's mids and highs, especially at medium volume when there's just the slightest hint of break-up and sag.

    Lucky for me both amps are built into my live set-up (the Carvin amp is built into the same enclosure as my 2x10+1x15 speaker cab, with the SVT resting on top), so I'm two power switches and a Speak-on (spelling?) cable away from either amp. I figure, why compromise when I can always have both?
  16. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    All that wamping thunderous bass you hear in theaters and large concerts comes from SS amps. And every pro audio SS amp has built in DC blocking, AKA rumble filter, AKA high pass filter. No need to go to DC or below 30hz. If you're a teenager you can probably hear 20hz - 20khz, if you're the average person - it's going to be much different, even low B is going to be tough - but you'll hear overtones, and derive the fundamental in your brain.
  17. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
  18. Drboyd, if you're really an electronics geek, look into a property called inductance. And to answer your intial question, no.
  19. strangeFace


    Oct 9, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    this may be the smartest thing ever written about amps in general. That said, I'll take my chances with tube amps any day - but I play in a rock band and I'm obsessed with tubes (I'm even using a tube DI).

    Any amp aficionado will tell you that there are a bunch of great SS amps too.
  20. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe

    Jan 19, 2007

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