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Tube and Solid State

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by grass132456, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. grass132456


    Sep 12, 2011
    Why is there such a big difference of wattage. I see like 300 Watt tubs amps that are supposedly awesome for their loudness, but I also see 1000 watt solid states. How come the wattage of each are different by a lot?
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    A 1000 watt tube amp would weigh 600 lbs.
  3. grass132456


    Sep 12, 2011
    Is there a average ratio of tube amp power to solid state amp power?
  4. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
  5. grass132456


    Sep 12, 2011
    o_O Then how come 4 watts of an guitar amp can get as loud as my 75 watts of bass amp?
  6. webelo


    Jun 7, 2011
    Douglas, MA
    A 1000 watt tube amp would also require a ridiculous amount of power tubes. As it is, it costs a small fortune to replace the power tubes in a 300 watt SVT, for example.
  7. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Very different frequency outputs, harmonic distorsion, speaker voicings/number/arrangement, etc, etc. Power output as such is a small part only of your loudness overall.
  8. Hactar


    Sep 25, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Because guitar is at an entirely different frequency than bass, for one thing. Your ears are much more sensitive at 500-2kHz than 80-300Hz, for example.

    Also, that 4 watts of guitar could come from solid-state, and it would still be quite loud.
  9. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    My little 4 watt Vox AC4TV10 seems pretty loud for 4 watts but the truth is it would be completely lost in a band if it weren't miked. All about frequency.
  10. kander


    Feb 3, 2007
    The wattage is the same between tube and SS. The crucial difference is how each breaks up when pushed to distortion, clipping: tube amps sound "good" when pushed and SS amps don't. That's essentially why you see SS amps with higher wattages; the extra watts allow them to get loud without clipping.

    I'm not an expert by any means; hopefully someone with more knowledge can go into greater detail.
  11. will33


    May 22, 2006

    Tubes sound musical when pushed into distortion, transistors don't. When a transististor hits a certain level, that's it...you don't want to hear what happens past that. With tubes, you do....or might.

    A watt is a watt is a watt. It's a scientific measurement. At equal levels of distortion, a tube and a transistor put out equal power. It's just that beyond that level of distortion, transistors sound like crap, tubes don't.

    Everything the other posters said about frequency and ear sensitivity is true as well, that gives the guitar the advantage in loudness.

    Should also be said that it takes less power to produce higher frequencies at the same volume as lower ones....on the order of 3db per octave. That means what takes 100 watts at 200hz (guitar lows) takes 200 watts at 100hz and 400 watts at 50hz (bass lows) to end up at the same apparent loudness. Likewise it takes only 50 watts at 400hz and 25 watts at 800. Couple that with the fact that the human ear hears middle range frequencies much better than it does lows or highs (mids are where our voices are) and you can see why it takes a couple hundred watts and really good or multiple bass speakers to keep up with a 30 watt guitar amp that has one speaker.

    It's also why a standup bass seems quiet sometimes and trumpets sound loud, or why you can hear someone "shout from the mountaintop". Those frequencies take less power to reproduce and we can naturally hear them better.

    *my example completely ignores horn loading principles that are present in any horn. They serve to make everything louder but the comparison, in relation, is still the same. It still amazes me how you can get a little buzzing of the lips to end up as a big tuba sound but that's been around far longer than things like pickups, amplifiers, electricity, indoor plumbing, etc.
  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    The power needed to produce an open E on a guitar is less than what's need to produce an open E on a bass at the same volume.

    Edit: Oops, Will already made my point.
  13. The amount of tubes needed is not the issue. The power and output transformers are the issue. I know of one tube type that could do it with four tubes nicely, don't think you would get the open anode cap with 6500 volts approved for production release though? The transformers would demand a road crew and no 120 outlet would do.
  14. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004

    Old Old wives tale

    Not true

    Modern SS is fine being clipped. Your iPod, your TV, your car radio, crank them and they will be well into clipping and still sound fine, musical, and everything.

    Old SS had problems with feedback stability when cranked. 30-40 years ago.
  15. will33


    May 22, 2006

    Cool, thanks.

    Ya know, despite your genocidal view of tube amplification, I have learned a few things from you too over time.....I appreciate it.

    I had no idea solidstate amps cranked into oblivion sounded so much better than they did 30 years ago. Who'da thunk it?........and who's to say they do? :)
  16. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004

    go back and read up on early transistor amps.

    times have changed. Wattage in TV's hasn't much and yet they sound better than yesteryear. Big name studio who can afford any amp use SS for many reasons.

    I did not say cranked to oblivion. But let me put a number to it - Within 20% THD everything is fine - it's not a freak show you'd have people believe.
  17. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Wierd...then why is it that most of what those studios are micing up and the absolute vast majority of what those emulators are trying to emulate are tube amps? Outside of Roland's JC120 (nice amp by the way), I don't see many trying to emulate some iconic solidstate amp....maybe the acoustic 360/370 or some variant?
  18. TheRealKong


    Mar 17, 2011
    If You ant to see it....

    Here is a link to bassic.ch, a german/swizz bassmens forum. The link leads to a thread where a guy constructed a real monster of a tube - bassamp, it delivers at least 950 Watt of pure tube power!

    He uses some russian radio tubes, that are used in submarine radios with a fu**ing really high all-tube power output. The weight is about 60 KG.

    The link: Bassic Forum - Bassamp für Männer ...
  19. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    Hehe, I like the comments of the other users. Seriously, 950 Watt pure tube power - The guy mentioned that he even tried to reach more, but with 950 Watt output power his amps needs about 2800 Watts from the power net which rates at the max for most home power nets. Looking at the pictures I guess this guy does not need any mood- or ambi-light in his rehearsal-room :)
  20. Korladis

    Korladis SUSPENDED

    Another thing is that tube amps naturally start to compress as they get closer to their limits. This also can contribute to their greater apparent loudness.

    Solid state amps generally don't, unless they include a compression feature.

    As well, this isn't always true, but people tend to play tube bass amps through bigass cabs quite a bit. Play a solid state head through an 810 and it will also probably be very loud.