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Tube and solid state volumes

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by CliffHarrisFan, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. CliffHarrisFan


    Apr 11, 2009
    Hi all,
    I was wondering, how comes the highest wattage tube amp that I have seen is 400w and that solid state goes up to

  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Because the only way to make tube amps more powerful is to keep making them bigger and bigger and more expensive, whereas technologies for solid state amps have allowed them to stay within tolerable size, weight, and cost boundaries.
  3. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    What he said. My Sunn 300-T at 300 watts weighs in at a lovely 70+ pounds.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    interested in a 200 lb head that needs 2 or 3 large fans to keep it cool? ya, me neither.
  5. mulchor


    Apr 21, 2010
    St Pete, FL
    I think that's the most of it. But also there's rapidly diminishing returns (logarithmic) in that 100-200 watts is already enough to damage hearing, yet doubling power doesn't get you double the sound.
  6. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    Guess I got the short end of both sticks with my Peavey Mark III :smug:
  7. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    My take: A tube is a high impedance, high voltage but low current device. In order for them to produce a higher wattage than 100 or so watts you need to increase the voltages that they operate on. 100w around 450 to 500V, 200W 550 to 600V, 300W around 600 to 700V 1000W in excess of 1KV. Only transmitter tubes are logical in this range and they need cooling systems to work. Efficiency in the ball park of 15 to 20% means an independent specialized AC feed. All of this adds weight, cost and complexity. Not a reasonable choice for a travelling musician.

    Compare to a Class D amplifier delivering a couple of kilowatts of power weighing 15 pounds with efficiencies closing on 100%

  8. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    It even happens with SS
    SS amps of 20 years are being beat to death by tiny new technology.
    A standard cell phone has more computing power than all the computers used on the Apollo moon missions. These computers were all SS
    Check out these schematics
    The actual number of transistor in your cell phone dwarfs this.
  9. St Drogo

    St Drogo

    Oct 9, 2009
    LIES! Everyone knows we never went to the moon. :D

    To the OP: Just guessing here, but maybe more than 400 watts isn't really necessary with tubes? I've never had a tube (bass)amp, but I've heard they are generally perceived as being much louder than a transistor model at the same volumes. I thought it had something to do with certain harmonics being amplified more or somesuch. Somebody else knows more about this probablizzle.
  10. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Cool. Good info.


  11. CliffHarrisFan


    Apr 11, 2009
    Thanks for the help guys, it's because I am in the market for a new amp and will be competing with 200w of guitar. Wondering if tube could get the job done.
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Watts don't matter much.
    Given the same frequency it would take 2000W to be twice as loud as 200w.

    The amount of sensitivity (efficiency) of the cabinets is what's going to make the big difference.

    Bass needs more acoustic power because ears are less sensitive to bass frequencies than to frequencies where guitars and cymbals play in.

    In either case, you don't need to keep up with 200w guitar watts, you need a player behind the guitar that understands the music balance may mean he/she doesn't run cranked all the time.
  13. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Banned

    Jun 30, 2010
    I always felt tube amps sounded less powerful, watt per watt.

    I love the sound of a tube head at a low volume, where I think it works best. But once you crank it, tubes will overdrive. (The reason they sound good for guitar amps). That's great if you're playing in a Humble Pie Tribute band, but less so it most other situations.
  14. CliffHarrisFan


    Apr 11, 2009
    So like most, is it better to stick to a hybrid?
  15. mattwear


    Aug 7, 2006
    Wellington, NZ
    My understanding is that the svt's rating of 300 watts is measured at the point of break up so you get 300 CLEAN watts. When the Volume is pushed into overdrive it can get louder than 300 watts. Whereas Ss amps need to be treated differently because I'm told they don't distort so musically, so you need a lot more wattage in order to retain enough headroom so as not to clip the ss power amp.

    So this means (please correct me if I'm way off) that a 300 tube amp can get as loud as a solid state amp with a much high wattage rating.
  16. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Volume, in and of itself, has much more to do with your speakers. Otherwise, a watt is a watt. It doesn't change from one system to another, it's just a measurement of electrical output, (or power)- Choose an amp based on how it sounds to you, and choose your speakers carefully, 'cause they will decide how loud you get.
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    If the guitarists have 200 W among them, I would not even try to win that arms race. It can't be won. Like the Soviet Union vs Afghanistan, you will end up with superior firepower and a blown economy.

    Get an amp that is appropriate for the music, audience, and venues that you expect to be dealing with regularly. An oft-discussed strategy is to get a reasonably powerful head and a decent speaker, with the option to add a second speaker if you need to make more noise in the future.

    The irony is that if the guitarists knew how to control their volume, they would probably also be playing smaller amps, so the situation is probably not hopeful.
  18. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Very true. 30 watts of guitar amp through 2 12's is massive power and volume for a guitar. When a guitarist goes beyond 50 watts, and 4 12's, it just becomes rediculous, and out of control- unless they're playing stadiums.
  19. CliffHarrisFan


    Apr 11, 2009
    I was thinking of a Trace Elliot ah600-12 with a marshall mbc410. Thoughts?
  20. My Boogie D180 has plenty of volume, and it can be clean or dirty by adjusting the various tone controls. My Orange Tiny Terror sounds good too, at 1/4 the weight, so I've switched to the Orange. Remember Detective Frank Cannon's cell phone? It was huge!