Preamp Sound Sample Test! Tube Vs. Solid State

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jnprather, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. Amp1 is Tube, Amp2 is Solid State

    28 vote(s)
  2. Amp1 is Solid State, Amp2 is Tube

    12 vote(s)
  1. Hey guys, this week I purchased a BBE BMax from one of our own here on TB (Thanks again Paul). After playing around with it for a day it's interesting to me the difference in tone to my other amp (an SWR SM-900). As you may or may not know, the BBE is a Solid state preamp, while the SM-900 has a tube preamp section. So, I went ahead and recorded both of them.

    Caveat: I understand that the difference in tones has as much to do with the make and model of amp as it does the tube vs non-tube amp. I understand that people's personal experience with either amp would likely help them guess correctly but that's okay. A better *strict* test would be the BBE Bmax vs the BBE BmaxT, but this isn't meant to be a scientific survey, more just an interesting little quiz. That's why I am letting people know the make and model of each amp rather then saying "tube vs solid state" test.

    In both situations, all settings are flat both on my bass and on both amps. The bass is a 1997 Warwick Thumb 5 with stock MEC electronics, with all tone knobs in the flat (middle position). The settings on the SWR are completely flat and the settings on the BBE are 'flat' as per the BBE manual. I recorded the samples back to back using an MAudio Delta44 into Cakewalk Sonar 4.



    I will leave the poll open for 3 days.

  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    SWR tube preamps are some of the most non-tube sounding preamps IMHO. I can't listen right now because i'm on my laptop, and it's too late to fire up the regular speakers.
  3. I'm not gonna guess which is which, but AMP 1 sounded better to my ears. Pretty good in fact.
  4. I'd say amp 1.
  5. biggity bump
  6. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett Commercial User

    Nov 25, 2001
    Cane Ridge, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer, Builder
    I would say Amp1 is generally the fatness you want out of a tube, but on the other hand thats not to say that Amp1 is a tube and not the solid state because tubes are very different sounding and you can have a very dry and harsh sounding tube that many might consider a solidstate sound. Solid state can be very warm as well....... so whats my answer.. :D
  7. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I kinda' liked the way Brian waffled on his answer :spit: :D , but let me put it this way, I think Amp1 sounds more like the way most folks describe tube fatness and warmth. :) The only reason I don't say "Amp1 is the tube one" is because THIS FEELS LIKE A TRAP! :)
  8. Moo

    Moo Inactive

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    I thought 1 was the tube pre but 2 was the SWR. There, that should cover me :)

    I did prefer 1 far above 2, please don't tell me that's the BBE.
  9. I agree as well that AMP 1 has a tube-like warmth and fatness, but it doesn't necessarily automatically indicate it's a tube amp.

    Listening to clips on basstasters, to me the Avalon U5 and Thunderfunk both sound like they have tubes, but they're both solid-state.
  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I didn't vote because I really don't know, but I thought Amp1 had more bass and Amp2 more mids. Amp1 was running out of dynamic range on the lowest notes.

    If you are really in for some fun, download a free program called RMAA, and use your PC to measure the frequency response and distortion curves.
  11. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    +1 ...also, my grandmother just died (again) and I have to go to the funeral, so I won't be able to listen to these clips, and anyway you didn't say what type of tubes and maybe these are cheap Chinese knockoffs so they ... arg, oopf..
  12. Besides the preamps inherint characteristics, someone could EQ a tube amp very carefully to sound more hi-fi and could make a SS amp sound tubey to a certain degree. I think both are not quite as warm as I like.
  13. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
  14. westland

    westland Supporting Member

    I agree on Amp1 ... I'd actually be very interested if it were a 'TRAP' ... it would be an indication that tube emulation (within limits) has finally arrived
  15. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Not really, it probably sounds like ass overdriven.
  16. +1. I've had very good sound out of solid state in the past, but I like clean sound. Once you get into a little overdrive, the tube wins hands down. Otherwise, I think most of the "tube" superiority is the same psuedoscientific mumbo jumbo that has people spending big bucks on "Special" speaker cables.

    I'll give barely more credence to tube v solid state diffs due to way more negative feedback in SS circuits to keep them hi-fi compared to tubes, other diffs of how they amplify signals. But the distortion of SS is barely measureable nowadays, so I still tend to think any diffs people hear are mainly due to the different EQ curves of different amps, not the tube or SS differences. Tube v SS "diffs" are psychosomatic, closer to the speaker cable sellers than not.

    Note I'm talking strictly about "clean" sounds, not applicable to overdriven sounds where tubes are clearly superior to solid state.

    Looking for my flame retardant underwear, I feel a flame war coming on....

  17. You have angered the tube heads...and they are glowing mad (not to worry, when they start yelling at you, it will be in a pleasing "fuzzy" kind of way).

  18. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Awesome. :)
  19. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    I have the Bmax, so I can tell you which one sounds more like my setup....

    but...I run a rather outrageous EQ curve(so I've been told, I love the sound) on my guess could be completely wrong...
  20. seakamp


    Jun 30, 2005
    +1 all around :cool: