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Do tube amps push more air than solid state amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by davidjbass, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. I have always wondered about why bass players use heavy tube amps rather than lighter solid state ones. I have been a life long solid state user. I never like the weight of the tube amps. But I have heard that 300 watt tube amps really move a lot of air. Especially with an 810. Which I just recently bought. Can anyone give me some insight on this.
  2. dean owens

    dean owens

    Sep 23, 2008
    pittsboro, nc
    a watts a watt.
  3. JMDT


    Jan 30, 2008
    Louisville, Ky
    Tube amps are rated for clean watts, but they begin distorting early in their potential power so it is possible to get 3-4 times the power out of a tube amp than what they are rated for. Solid state amps do not distort until ~95% of their power rating so they are pretty much what you see what you get.
  4. chroma601


    Feb 16, 2007
    Sylva, NC
    No amp pushes air; that's why we have speakers! There are differing opinions as to the tone quality of SS and tube amps. Any given 300 watt signal theoretically will move the same amount of air through the same cabinet, but the difference is in how the waveform is shaped and thus the tone of the sound.
  5. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    I have posted "a watt is a watt" several times on here. I am not a purist or a tube guy. However I recently did an A/B test of my Ampeg SVT vs. Hartke SA4000 on the same 4 ohm cab and the SVT blows it away. The SVT puts out 280 watts RMS on the bench, clean. Hartke is rated at 400 watts @ 4 ohms.
    The SVT was only about half way up or so during my test, probably not entering distortion, even with full blown distortion it can only do 400 watts at the most. .....:confused:
  6. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    it's tone, not volume (kind of like quality over quantity)
  7. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Tube amps have a sound that some guys can't live without. I love that tone, but not enough to drag a 45 lbs. 100 watt amp to gigs when I have a 4 lbs. 600 watt amp. Perhaps I'll drag it out if my band plays the block party in front of my house again.

    I will say that 50 to 100 watts of tube amp into the right cab (say an efficient 4x10) can keep up with a fairly loud drummer. I won't get drawn into a comparison of tube watts vs. solid state watts though.

  8. Tube amps sound sweeter when pushed into distortion, whereas solid state amps sound crappy when pushed into distortion. It has to do with the harmonics created during clipping. Do a search.

    But to answer your original question, amps do not push air....speakers push air ;)
  9. I started a thread similar to this a few months ago and it got locked pretty fast.

    We've had the debate many times, the bottom line (IMHO) is that if it sounds louder, it is louder. And tube amps sound louder. "A watt is a watt" is just a meaningless truism. Put a 300W SVT up against a 300W Crate and it's obvious that the SVT is louder in every possible way. More volume, more bass, more "air," it's just plain louder. Explain it however you want.
  11. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Various specs are fudged constantly in this industry, though. Look through many manufacturers' speaker cab specs and you'll see it time after time. Same happens with wattage specs pretty frequently.

    Those old Peavey TNT 100 combo amps that every young bassist had in the late 70's and early 80's were very easy to hear. Is it the cab? The way the watts were measured then vs. now? Distortion characteristics? Frequency response?

    Who knows - some combination of factors. They were bullet-proof, inexpensive and audible. Three good things to have in a bass amp back in those days.

  12. No, Laughing Groove, you're all confused. The fan PULLS air :ninja:
  13. watt?:bag:
  14. heavyhitter


    Jan 24, 2008

    true dat!
    The only air my amps push is with the fan in the back. :bag:
  15. I've never even owned a tube amp (though I have played a couple), but I love the sound. I'm by no means an advocate of all things solid state, though that's what I play. I say that to say that (I think) I'm pretty neutral on the subject. While I agree with (to some degree) "if it sounds louder, it is louder," it's not entirely true. A technically louder low frequency may not sound as loud as a technically softer higher frequency because of how our ears hear. That said, we're talking (mostly) low frequencies here... Even still, those saying that they've heard the technical arguments but are gonna trust their ears and their ears say tube amps are louder, watt for watt... Have you measured the actual wattage being put out by the amps when making these comparisons? Just because the amps are rated the same, doesn't mean they're actively putting out the same amount of power at any given moment. And if the tube amp is, in fact, overdriving some (even just a little), the added harmonics could be part of why it sounds louder... as those higher frequencies could (I'm no scientist or technician) be perceived as louder than the fundamental... Not to mention the much stated point that tube amps can be cranked MUCH further into distortion than solid state amps and still sound pleasing...

  16. I just *pushed some air*
  17. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    My Mesa 400+ *sounds* about as loud as my 600w Shuttle did through a 4 ohm cab.

    I attribute that to two things:
    1) 600w is only barely audibly louder than 300w (3db)
    2) Power tube breakup sounds loud for some reason. I do not know why :)
  18. Good info so far. Didn't mean to open a can of worms. My main issue is that my Hartke LH1000 which is rated at 1,000 watts at 4 ohms bridged isn't sounding that loud going through my Ampeg 810. The Hartke sounds huge through my Avatar 410 which is 500 watts at 8 ohms. I thought that the Ampeg 810 would knock my house down when combined with the Hartke's 1,000 watts. But that isn't happening. It seems like the 810 is sucking the life out of the Hartke. I had heard that tube power sounded bigger and fuller. Especially combined with an 810. Some of the opinions expressed stated that.
  19. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    The Ampeg 8x10 is less sensitive than many 4x10 cabs, so that's probably more what you're seeing. The 8x10's 100db sensitivity is just about comparable to Greenboy's 1x15+midrange cab :p
  20. Red Planet

    Red Planet

    May 29, 2005
    Talking Rock GA
    OEM Manufacturing Supplier
    My solid state rig pushes air on occasion.