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Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by only4him012, Dec 22, 2002.

  1. only4him012


    Nov 11, 2002
    is tube always better than solid sate amps?
    what's the difference?
  2. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    That depends who you ask. Solid state amps can accurately amplify a signal. Tube amps amplify a sound and add their own tonal characteristics to the sound.

    Electronically, there is very little similarity at all when you start looking at details.

    It's a matter of personal taste which you prefer. Tube amps generally cost more, require more maintenance, and are heavier.
  3. Audiosolace

    Audiosolace Guest

    Oct 8, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    Solid state is getting to the point that it can emulate a clean tube sound fairly accurately (the Ampeg SVT-350 comes to mind). The tube sound you might find to be a bit warmer, for lack of a better way to describe it.

    If you're looking to add any amount of gain to your tone, tube is really the only way to go - solid state distortion tends to sound a bit... like crap.
  4. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Tube is never better than solid state.
  5. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    You should try some of each and see which you like better soundwise, regardless of the technology that is in the box.

    At low volumes, there is no significant difference between tubes and SS. What you are hearing then is the amplifier circuit only, and every circuit, tube or SS, will add its own flavoring to the sound. The difference comes into play when the amps are pushed hard; tubes will distort the signal in a different way than SS.
  6. Yes.
  7. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois


    Use your own ears and decide for yourself. I have played through many tube amps trying to find one that I like better than my SS amps. I've come to the conclusion that SS amps are what I need to get my tone. The tone you want may require a tube amp. Neither is better than the other. Just different tools for different jobs.
  8. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    What do you mean by "better?" Tone? Reliability? Convenience? Efficiency? Lots of factors.

    Some prefer tube preamps for tone and solid state power amps for clean, high-wattage amplification. Some don't. It's very much a matter of taste.

    If you've ever heard a modern rig with a great tube preamp and a powerful solid state power amp, you'd be hard-pressed to say it's not "good." Same thing applies to the sound of a properly maintained vintage SVT. Words like "good" and "better," however, are rendered essentially meaningless when confronted by individual preferences.

    You've heard the phrase "your mileage may vary?" A more realistic predication is probably: "your mileage will vary." :cool:
  9. Bah!
    Geez Munji, you keep getting that backwards...
  10. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    There's always hybrids. They don't sound to different to me than SS or tube. But come to think of it, SS and tube don't sound that different to me. But if you like both, you can invest in a hybrid. I think the main hybrid setup is SS power but it has pre-amp tubes. Someone tell me if I am wrong?
  11. bassman60


    Jun 5, 2001
    Yeah I personally think Hybrid is the way to go when it comes to bass amps. I really wouldn't wanna deal with an all tube monster. I'd settle for an ampeg preamp and good power amp any day of the week.:oops:
  12. i would agree given the subject is portability alone.
  13. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    My own personal preference is tubes... to be exact, a vintage Ampeg SVT stack running loud enough to be in the "sweet spot" (my definition: the point at which the power tubes just begin to clip).

    The problem is that the sweet spot isn't always available: in other words, sometimes I couldn't turn the amp up loud enough to hit the sweet spot, and every once in awhile (outdoors, typically) the amp got too dirty from too much volume. This factor (along with the size and weight of the SVT stack) is why I switched to tube preamps and solid state power amps. They don't quite sound as good as the SVT to my ears, but tone is excellent and consistent at any volume. I sometimes use the SansAmp Bass Driver DI, which is a solid state "tube emulator" pedal. That's just one of a number of interesting devices which add tube-like warmth to (otherwise) solid-state amp rigs.

    I still do understand the love of tube amps, and why so many bassists are willing to tolerate their inconveniences.
  14. I've recently purchased a tube amp after using SS for the past 20 yrs or so. Before the SS stuff I used tubes of course. To my ears I can hear the fundamental and it's associated overtones of each note more clearly through tubes than through transistors. It is almost like each part of the note is isolated from the others. With SS the fundamental and overtones are sorta globbed together. I really noticed this years ago when I was using a Kustom 200 through 2x15's and was playing in a club in SC. I accidentally spilled a drink down into the Kustom and shorted the whole thing out. The only thing we had to use in its stead was an old Bogan M60 PA amp. What a difference. Like night and day. To my ears only though. The other players didn't really notice that much difference. And that is because the way an amp sounds when you are playing it is really a combination of sound and reaction or feel. Anyway, I switch to SS about 20 years ago because tubes got just too hard to come by and have worked on. Now they are making a comeback and I've decided to start using them again. I will however keep my trusty SS amp close at hand in case the tube decides to go south.....:D
  15. This is a popular misconception. ALL amplification devices, be they tube or solid state, add their own inherent forms of distortion to ANY signal they are asked to amplify. As a matter of fact, it's MUCH easier to design a 'cleaner' tube gain stage due to the high voltages involved than it is to design a 'clean' solid state gain stage. Solid state is more practical for multiple cascade staging, however, and MUCH cheaper to produce, hence its widespread use. Stage for stage, tubes are MUCH 'cleaner' than transistors.

    That's simply not true at all. Both devices are voltage amplifiers and do exactly the same thing exactly the same way. It's their emission properties and operational voltages which differ.


    ...but well worth it if it's the sound you are looking for.
  16. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    I've had a really similar experience to that described by Greybeard recently. I started out, at 13, with an old Ampeg V4 head that was really heavy for a kid to be lugging around. I made the requisite 20 year journey through bi-amping, all sorts of rack mounted gear, back to hybrid heads and finally, in the last 6 months, back to an all tube head. Never say never and all that, but I think I'm sticking with all tubes from now on. It simply sounds more like a bass, not all sterile and hi fi. I get a much more intense emotional response to the sound coming out of my bass amp and the extra weight is a small price to pay for that. Of course, it could be a case of googlephonics and I could get sick of it a few months from now, but I don't think so.
  17. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Many (tube) amps are designed to color the sound (for instance a distorted rock sound, or a "warm" tube sound). The Hevos amp I just got is however not designed this way, the tube preamp can almost not be driven into distortion, it's designed for a clean sound with lots of headroom. The tubes are used to better handle transients, which as Psycho Bass Guy said can be done because of the high voltages involved, and for the tastier overtone characteristics. Most tube microphone preamps are also very clean. I think the optimal combination is a hybrid with tube preamp and solid state power amp. There is something about tubes that makes the amp feel more "expressive" if you like, whereas many solid state amps have a "stiffer" response. Hard to define, just a difference in feel.

    But as always, there is no "better", only "different".
  18. LarryJ

    LarryJ banned

    Dec 12, 1999
    Encino, CA (LA)
    Uh, yeh, whatever you say...
    I guess that would be why the top audiophile engineers in any form of musical amplification choose to design tube circuitry for their concept of sonic presentation, and why mass-produced products including your beloved Eden, use solid state (Except on their very proudly presented all-tube amplifier) due to its higher profit margins/lower mfg. costs.

    WHERE do you get your concepts from???

    Hey, never mind, I don't care, I'm too busy diggin'
    the RESONANCE of my all-tube power in my MESAand AMPEG gear.Heavy & Hot! I LOVE IT!

  19. For your bass amplification, solid state amps can do the work pretty well, unlike guitar amplification.
  20. I agree on this point. SS amps do much better for bass than they do for guitar. Also, weight is not near as big an issue with a guitar amp. A 50 watt 2x12 guitar tube guitar amp probably doesn't weigh much more than the same thing with a SS amp. It also has to do with the fact that tubes have a usable musical distortion that can extend up to 12 db above the onset of clipping. Guitar players love this aspect of a tube amp. As anyone can attest, once a SS amp goes into clipping, the sound is anything but musical. I don't, however, think bass players are as interested in that (12 db above clipping) region as guitar players. They tend to stay in the "clean" region of the power band. The sonic differences between tube and transistor in the clean region are a lot more subtle. When I'm playing, I can hear the difference and I prefer the tube . I do not however, think a passive listener at a live performance could hear any differences.