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fundamental amp question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Phaidrus, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    Is it possible to really get the tone and dynamics of a tube amp (i.e. of an amp with tube preamp & power amp or only with tube preamp) with a fully solid state amp?
  2. 808State


    Dec 30, 2020
    Far as the Waveforms its already been done.

    Far as the feel of a transformer coupled amp.
    You need a transformer.
    Ive only noticed a slight difference using fullrange sealed speakers.

    The whole romance is the bottles themselves.
    No matter what it will " sound" different because people hear with their eyes.
    P Cheen, Jeff Scott, shoot-r and 5 others like this.
  3. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    It depends. There is no single “tube amp” sound, just like there is no single solid state amp sound.

    With the right design approach, it’s possible to get quite close IF that’s the goal.
    chadds, DrMole, teemuk and 14 others like this.
  4. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    Indeed, there's no single “tube amp” sound, just like there is no single solid state amp sound, as you say. But don't all tube amps/preamps share a common characteristic ("warmth," "brake-up" or whatever) in their tone, which characteristic cannot be replicated?
  5. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Yes. All the "tone" is in the pre-amp, and pedals before the "amp" part.
    Could be hardware or software that is used in most all recordings these days.
    The pre-amps these days let you go from one extreme to the other. They are very versatile.
  6. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Depends very much on the designer’s intent.
    Richard Martin likes this.
  7. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    The easy answer is "yes". But to get there, you really have to define in objective terms what you mean by "tone". Given a definition, e.g. a specific frequency response curve, one can engineer a circuit that will deliver it without a need for vacuum tubes. It may or may not be easy/cheap.
    lomo likes this.
  8. It all depends on what YOU think that 'tube sound' is . . . . . . Even if you've listened to lots of amps, it's different for every man, and some will think they prefer for the way it feels, how it's making the notes 'feels' different to them. It's all very subjective to the listener, the 'end user' out at the end of that guitar cable.
  9. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    So is the tone a matter of rational management of frequency response that can be achieved by the calculated application of any efficient technology available?

    Is there no unique and magical "Aura" in the output of a tube, impossible to be reproduced by other means, as Walter Benjamin would say?
    lizardking837 and whitelodge like this.
  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I suggest you find a nice healthy Hiwatt and play it through a full-range, flat-response speaker system so you can really hear what the amp sounds like. Get back to us on the amp's warmth, compression, and break-up characteristics and how it fits into your preconceptions of tube tone.
  11. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    I will, if I get the chance. But I don't really have a fixed preconception of the tube tone; I just espouse (for the sake of argument) the common wisdom, that tube amps sound "warmer" and "more organic".
  12. Steadfast


    Sep 28, 2015
    Search Me
    It does depend. A lot of bassist are shocked to learn that the Acoustic 360 is solid state.
    Lowbrow, lizardking837, DTRN and 3 others like this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    In many circumstances the warm aspect is going to come from speaker you pair with the amp. Hiwatts tend to have pretty aggressive high mids that can be difficult to tame if you run them through a full-range cab. Also, Hiwatt output sections are also designed to be relatively more HiFi than most instrument amps, and they tend to fight to produce as much clean power as they can. IMHO there are better choices if you want an amp that crosses over gracefully into output tube drive.

    That's not to say that Hiwatts are not fabulous. IMHO they are, otherwise I probably would not own a DR103, DR201, and a Reeves 400, which is a fairly authentic clone of a Hiwatt DR405.

    IMHO each person has their own idea of what sounds warm and organic. These terms are nebulous and somewhat subjective just like the term "tubey." You generally hear these terms when someone likes the sound, or when someone wants you to make the sound more pleasing, but they don't really know what you should do to make it better: For example, "Could you warm the sound up some?"

    I suggest that you try to identify and categorize the specific sound qualities that can be combined in various quantities to produce these qualities (based on your definition of the terms). If you can learn to be a bit more objective, you can wade through the BS better and make better decision down the road. You may also be able to communicate better with people since terms like warm and organic don't have precise meanings that everyone agrees on.

    Just because a million people think something sounds awesome and tubey, does not guarantee that you will like it. The gear might have certain tubey qualities that you don't care for, or the balance of tubey qualities may not work for the tonal goals you are pursuing at a given time. Compare a Hiwatt to an Ampeg SVT and both would be considered tubey, but they are going to sound drastically different. Each would be awesome under the right circumstances. It's really helpful if you can describe those differences in relatively objective terms.
    Socobass, mikewalker and musicman556 like this.
  14. Guitalia


    Jun 7, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    Setting aside the concept of tube amps sounding "more organic" (a frontrunner among current descriptors that purport to advance rational discourse but instead stymie it), tubes can indeed contribute to a given amp's sounding "warmer": driving tubes into distortion generally results in the lowest and highest frequencies being attenuated to greater or lesser degrees and in reduced dynamic range.
    Phaidrus likes this.
  15. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
    Being a university professor by day I do understand the benefits of identifying specific qualities, of being objective as well as of being able to communicate sufficiently. But, hey, thanks for the tip. I was just asking whether there is something in the output of tubes, whatever that may be, that contributes to the tone of a bass amp that cannot be replicated by other means. Like there is something in oil painting(s) that cannot be replicated with the use of acrylic colours no matter what.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    Wasnex likes this.
  16. smeet

    smeet Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    I’m of the opinion that there isn’t any “magic”, and if there is, it’s different for each of us. Personally I love the “clean” sound of an Ampeg SVT, mids boosted on position 3. It has “magic” to me. But none of the SS Ampegs do. The Fender Super 300 has it, maybe even more than the SVT. The Mesa Strategy does not have it. The Reiner Saturn V (tube preamp, SS class D power amp) has it. So... I know the sound and feel I like, but I don’t know if that comes from tubes. Nevertheless, when I say “tubey”, that’s the sound I am referring to.

    Oh, and just in terms of replication, digital simulation of amps and speakers is getting better every year. If we are not yet at the point where almost nobody can hear the difference between a tube amp and a high quality simulation of that amp, we will be in not too long.
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    If you could somehow cross and Ampeg SVT 8-Pro and a Mesa Titan you might get the authentic all-tube SVT experience in a hybrid. The 8-Pro nails the mids, highs, and grind pretty well, but not the feel and low mid push. The Titan does the low mid push and feel.
    DrMole, HolmeBass and Phaidrus like this.
  18. Guitalia


    Jun 7, 2008
    Baltimore, MD
    A Brazilian amp designer posted this story in a similar thread on another forum: he'd been asked by one of the most successful Brazilian rock bands to provide new amps for their back line, their previous amps having proven insufficiently reliable. He suggested that they buy several of his renowned solid-state amps, which he promised would sound as good as any tube amp, but they insisted that only tubes would do.

    So, for his own amusement, he built some special amps for them where the active circuitry was entirely transistor-based but which featured a full array of preamp and power amp tubes, all wired into a dummy circuit, but all behaving as they would in ordinary tube-based circuitry. For example, the solid-state amp's output was linked to the tubes' heaters such that the volume gradually came on as the tubes heated.

    The band was delighted with the sound of their "tube amps" and went out on tour. All went well, but they eventually got wise. How? After playing night after night on big stages for many months, they grew suspicious because they hadn't had to replace any tubes.
    RattleSnack, DrMole, byacey and 13 others like this.
  19. Phaidrus


    Oct 25, 2009
  20. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    True. I thought it was a tube amp when I owned it as there was an orange glow in the bottom of the cabinet. If course I was probably 16 and was coming from a Bassman 50. I didn't know tubes from transistors back then.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    Phaidrus and Steadfast like this.
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