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how strong are 100 W. all tube compared to the wattage of 550W SS

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Terrorstorm, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. I have a SWR 550 x which is 550 W strong (SS) and I wanted to know if a 100 W all tube head (like the ampeg) is as strong or not as strong or stronger than 550 W SS.

    thanks for your help
  2. The SWR will blow its tubes off.
  3. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Maybe, maybe not. Tubes can be pushed well into clipping without sounding harsh, with a natural compression that often allows them to subjectively sound much louder than solid state amps of the same rating. If a 100 watt tube amp exhibits 6dB of compression that would allow it to sound like a 400 watt amp with no compression. The difference between a 400 watt and 550 watt amp is inaudible, so 100 watts tube may well compare with 550 watts SS.
  4. Well I don't know about all that, but I've used 100 watt tube amps and I've used 500 watt solid state amps and I still say the SWR will blow its tubes off.
  5. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    All the SWR 550x's i've played have been fairly quite for a 550 watt amp...
  6. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    Well, running through the same cabs, it depends which tube amp. We'll use the Ampeg one, because I've played through it. SWR electronics, from my perspective, are pretty quiet for their wattage. Every tube watt is worth about 4 average SS watts, but may be worth more in SWR watts. I'd say that they get about the same volume, but if you run different cabs it would effect the volume drastically.
  7. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    My Traynor Bassmaster tube amp (40-50 Watts), eats my GK 800RB solid state (400 Watts) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    That help ya any?

    Granted, they are VERY different animals, but the Traynor positively KILLS.
  8. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
  9. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    A watt is a watt is a watt. Its a physically measurable quantity. It makes no difference if its coming from a tube, a transistor or a garden hose. Saying that watt A is more than watt B is like saying a pound of concrete weighs more than a pound of feathers.
  10. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Sure, a watt is a watt, just ask mike watt.... :bassist:

    but... I don't know anyone who has used both solid state and tube heads through the same cab that doesn't come away thinking that their 100-150W tube head seemed louder or about as loud as a 4-500W solid state head. I have a Music Man HD-150 and a SWR SM500, and I like them both, and both get loud, but the SM500 is not an order of magnitude louder. The HD-150 sounds different, sure, but it is maybe a "notch" less loud.

    Say we agree that you need to double the power applied to realize a 3db increase in output, which may or may not really happen but the theory is sound, then you might be having 6db less max volume from the 150W head. Nothing to freak out about.

    Another thing that gets overlooked is that most of the tube amps like a bassman, V4B, HD-150, were designed in an era predating the low-efficiency high-fidelity cab era, so they were pushing cabs that probably had higher efficiency, and made more volume with less power. I'm old enough to have used a Bassman through a 2x15 rollaway when it was a "state of the art" bass rig, and that made a lot of volume with not much wattage.

  11. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    From the standpoint of volts x amperes = watts your statement is technically correct, but from the standpoint of what makes an amp sound the way it does, its Transfer Function, there is a world of difference not only between tube vs SS amps in general but between individual amp topologies within each type. That's one of the reasons why when discussing both amps and speakers the matter of wattage is not only generally insignificant it is more often than not irrelevent. Otherwise why would those both knowledgeable and wealthy enough think nothing of spending $10k for a 25 watt pure Class A SET amplifier when they could get a hundred times the wattage for a tenth the price?
  12. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    Something else to consider is also the speaker in which the amp is being played thru. Some speaker cabs sound better with tubes than solid state amps and vice-versa. I have berg cabs that really sound better with solid state amps and other cabs such as Aguilar that actually sound better with the tubes. The sound and volume is also related to the efficiency of the speaker. Effecient speaker don't necessarily need a lot of power and can sound great with 100 watts. Others, may need 800 watts to produce a good sound
  13. mikeyvr6

    mikeyvr6 Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2002
    Plymouth, Wisconsin

    This example is a little more extreme, but I use either a 70s vintage Ampeg V4 head @ 100w or an SVP-CL pre/QSC RMX1450 @ 1400w through my Ampeg 8x10. I can get plenty of volume out of either for gigs w/o PA support.

    The main difference between the two is usable clean headroom. The V4 will start to break up at about 1 o'clock on the volume knob when i really start digging in. The pre/power will stay clean until the speakers jump right out of the cabinet (although I've never had it up that high). I think this is the issue that most people face when comparing 500w SS amps vs. 100w tube heads. If you need the volume and it has to remain clean at ear-splitting levels, buy a SS head. Or a higher wattage tube amp, e.g. SVT, 400+, etc. Simple as that.

    As the old hot rod guys say, "there no replacement for displacement"--if you want to run a lower wattage tube head on stage and need to be heard make sure you have the speaker surface area to get the volume out.
  14. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    A watt = a watt is exactly right. The question while worded odd basically asks what is louder. Power dissipation capability has everything to do with SPL which is the topic of discussion here. You are right that there is a world of difference based on all the variables... speaker sensitivity, operation in the linear range, harmonic content and all that.

    Your last statement doesnt prove anything though except that some are willing to spend whatever it takes to get botique audio gear. Do the folks who spenk $10k on a 25 watt amp hear something better? They must think so however I believe that "golden ears" are biased heavily by expectation in the ultra hi fi audio world.
  15. Joe Beets

    Joe Beets Guest

    Nov 21, 2004
    Go down to GC and do a side by side. They always have a VB4H and a 550X sitting there for the kids to thrash on. Last time I was in, there was one kid thumping away on a Korn tune with the Ampeg and another guy slapping and smacking something out on the SWR. All the knobs were turned up all the way and I think the SWR was way louder. However, the Ampeg was putting out some real good tube overdrive with the gain and volume maxed. :eyebrow:
  16. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I have a good amount of experience with using one channel on my PLX 2402 amp into 4 ohms which is around 700 watts. I have seen it clip a little at times. This is using a Demeter VTBP-201s as a pre.

    Last week I got a sweet 70s Ampeg V-4B and had a chance to crank it up. In the clean zone I would say its as loud as the one channel of my PLX and if not its close. The Ampeg has a fatness/thickness and enveloping quality to the sound that the PLX cant match even with a DB 680 as a pre though. It shakes the foundations more then I could get the PLX/DB 680 to and that rig is NO slouch! Boosting a little bass and low mids makes it sound outrageously fat!

    After reading so much about how an old V-4B is not that loud and then hearing one myself Im thinking not all that loud...?!? Compared to what?! :D I wouldnt crank it without earplugs. :bassist:
  17. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    I think the V-4B would be just as loud or louder... except you'd have tube distortion. Sounds like a winner to me :cool:
  18. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Exactly. Pushed hard enough both tubes and SS will distort. Tube distortion sounds good, SS distortion doesn't. There are those who think that tubes pushed into clipping sound better than SS when its clean. I'm one of them. Why should guitar players have all the fun?
  19. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Well actually the V4B was competing with the 400-700 SS watts within its "clean" range of volume! There is a fine line between the clean zone and all out distortion though and it really doesnt get a whole lot louder at that point. I was truly suprised at how huge that old amp sounds. Dont get me wrong I love my pre/power rig but Im not going to use it if I dont have to! :D