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tube watts/solid state watts

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by RobTheSkanker, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. RobTheSkanker


    Aug 29, 2006
    Dundalk, MD
    I know tube watts are much more powerful than solid state. I Know what solid state watts are like(how loud I mean), but how much more powerful are tube watts. Say, if you have a 5w tube amp(I saw one through musicians friend) about how many solid state watts is that equal to? If anybody knows why exactly tube watts are more powerful and would like to shaer that would be cool.

    By the way, if you use a tube head, does that change what kind of power handling you need on account of tube watts being more powerful?

    Any help will be appreciated.
  2. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    Simple. They are NOT different! A watt is an engineering definition, and is an absolute. It is NOT possible for them to be different. What may be possible is that a tube amp rated at X may put out more usable power than a Solid State amp rated at X, but if you put the same signal through both, and set both to product Y watts into a cab, you would hear the same exact volume. It's physics, and it's inflexible . . . . . sorry!

    - Tim
  3. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    You (threadstarter) should read through the Amp FAQ page. There's a HIGHLY detailed thread about this.
  4. Dell


    Apr 7, 2005
    A watt is a watt is a watt. Wether it comes from a tube amp, transistor amp or a nuclear powerstation. Tube amps distort more, adding hamonics to the signal and making them sound louder. Transistor amps give a cleaner signal, but when they do start distorting it doesnt sound warm like a tube amp does which tends to make people with tube amps drive theirs harder than someone with a transistor amp.
  5. Post above is RIGHT, BUT, for some reason my Fender Bassman 300pro is LOUDER Than an ampeg SVT4pro- which is about 1000w mono!! I dunno why-perhaps what's said above is right also-tube amps have more 'useable' power or summink???? But- a watt is a watt! So technically they are NO MORE powerful. Again same is true when U compare a 40w SS combo GTR amp to a 40W combo tube/valve amp= the valve amp is WAY louder!! I'm NO tech -by a LOOOONG shot , but I do know what sounds good/bad/loud soft, & this I know 2 be true!
  6. +1 to what Tim said.

    What you measure to give you watts is not the same as what you hear, and this can cause confusion. Amplifier power is usually measured at a defined level of distortion, and the problem is that tube-amp distortion sounds nicer than solid-state distortion.

    So, for two amplifiers rated the same, you can turn the tube-amp up louder without feeling that you want to be somewhere else. However, below this distortion threshold, both amplifiers will deliver the same volume.

    Edit: The two previous posts were not there when I started this reply - must learn to type faster.
  7. The reason a tube amp will be louder than a SS amp of the same rating is:

    Tube amps overdrive in a pleasing manner, this is soft clipping that they undergo.

    SS amps overdrive in a nasty harsh way, which is called hard clipping.

    Also, Tube amplifiers tend to have a much richer harmonic content, which, with the added signal distortion increases the percieved volume due to the way the human ear reacts to this distortion.

    Basically, you could run a 300 watt tube amp at say 250 watts, and it'd sound fine! If you ran a 300 watt SS amp at 250 watts it would be just noise! The reason people like large power SS amplifiers is so they can be clean and have alot of headroom, to avoid any hard clipping.

    Remember, when playing bass, you arent creating a continualy constant signal.
  8. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Tube watts ARE loauder than SS watts...as long as you are comparing amps with equal wattage ratings. If they are accurate, the tube amp will always be louder...because of the nature of tubes. The distortion in a tube amp power section is much more pleasing to us than solid state power amp distortion, so you can turn up louder and still sound good. The solid state amp can probably turn up just as loud but sound like garbage.

    But as far as the actual unit of measure goes, a watt is a watt.


  9. Supertanker

    Supertanker Watch the dog! He is trained to bite!

    Jun 23, 2005
    Tube watts are more powerful than SS watts.

    The ratio is 1 tube watt (or "twatt") is equal to 0.234382762 Solid State watts.
  10. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    Well there you go then!

    Heh heh.


  11. RobTheSkanker


    Aug 29, 2006
    Dundalk, MD
    thanks dudes
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    It's a 9th grade algebra problem.

    Let's say:
    t = 1000w tube amp.
    s = 1000w solid-state amp

    And lets say they're equal
    s = t

    So we can say that a tube times a tube would be the same as a tube times a solid-state
    s^2 = ts

    We should be able to subtract t^2 amps from each and still keep the equality.
    s^2 - t^2 = ts - t^2

    And if we factor this out we get:
    (s + t)(s - t) = t(s - t)

    Note that (s - t) is common to both sides so we can divide it out of both sides:
    (s + t)(s - t)/(s - t) = t(s - t)/(s - t)

    Which leads us to:
    s + t = t

    Therefore a single 1000w tube amp is equal to a 1000w solid state amp plus another 1000w tube amp.
  13. FunkyFrosty


    May 28, 2006
    You know that some poor dude is gonna try and rationalize this don't you?

    Oops - sorry.;) ;)

    Great work Seamonkey,

    now pass that thing north:smug:
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Thus S = T = 0.

    -1 point (could have gotten -2 points but you showed your work)

    I didn't spend a semester grading algebra homework for nothing. :bassist:
  15. steamthief


    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    Based on the notion of better sounding harmonics and audible perception of tubes vs. SS, would a 200w all-tube Traynor provide similar, ear-pleasing volume levels vs. my SS Nemesis NA-650 running @ 4 ohms, 475w?

    Not looking for scientific/book learnin' answers, just opinions of those who've compared tube/SS amps with similar power ratings. :confused:
  16. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    One VERY important point people often miss is this:

    Do you like overdriven bass tones? Because if you want to be louder than an equal-wattage solid-state, but want to do this WITHOUT driving your tubes into rock-friendly dirty tones (i.e., keeping a clean tone), it's rarely going to happen.

    This is why an all-tube amp isn't always the amp of choice for the fans of clean, pure bass tones. However, this is also why an all-tube amp often is the choice of those who treasure the sound of a tube pushed to "11" :D

    I might love my GK amp, but that doesn't mean I hate Ampeg. Tubes can be good for those of us about to rock :bassist:
  17. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    I apologize in advance, I am currently a math major. Your step where you divide your equality by (s-t) is a big'ol no-no. Since s=t, this means that s-t=0. Can't divide by zero. Undefined. Humorous post however.

    I don't know what all the debate is about, it is clearly obvious that a pound of feathers weighs less than a pound of lead.
  18. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    And this is why you're not a physics major :p

    BTW, your sig is hilarious! But what's the 95% confidence interval for that poll? :D
  19. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA

    a big +1!