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Tube Watts to Solid State Watts

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by iriegnome, Oct 24, 2009.


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  1. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    Can someone please explain the Tube Watts to Solid State watts comparison thing to me? I mean, I use a 850 watt solid state (tube pre) amp, but my guitarist uses a 22 watt Fender guitar amp and it is as loud if not louder than my bass!
    Someone please explain to me about Tube vs. Solid State Watts
     
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    A banjo or a mandolin does not even need an amp and their sound cuts through. Frequency has a lot to do with it. Your bass' sound frequencies need power to sustain the sound. Seems like the lower the sound the more power you need.

    I have a 15 watt Fender Bullet Reverb for rhythm guitar and have to watch that my volume is not too high - like you mentioned. In fact in some rooms I go unplugged.

    Frequency of the sound makes all the difference in what cuts through and what needs help.

    Now the difference in tubes and solid state. The old guys swear by tubes, I guess there is better fidelity, I'm half deaf and really can not tell all that much difference. Solid state is a lot lighter, makes a big difference getting from the car to the stage as I'm sure you know all too well.

    Because of the weight and size our lead went from a large tube amp (how many watts I have no idea) to a solid state 100 watt amp running his old two 12 inch speakers. He is not as loud as before. I don't know if he just cut back or that 100 watts is having trouble with the two large speakers.
     
  3. Vamposaur

    Vamposaur

    Jun 4, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Tube's have the potential to get louder because they do not clip when being pushed. And you get a full sine wave out of tubes rather than a square wave when you push your solid state amp. There are also many other factors.
     
  4. B-string

    B-string Supporting Member

    Bass does need more power than guitar to be heard but if you truely have 850 watts and have trouble being heard it is time to move on from a single 10" speaker or trash that amp head ;)
     
  5. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43

    Nov 25, 2007
    NorCal
    :spit:
     
  6. B-string

    B-string Supporting Member

    ^ :bassist: :) :spit::scowl: :cool:
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Whoa, you should do a little more reading up. Tubes do clip. They just clip in a smoother way that gives the impression of more power, although solid state's really starting to close the gap. Not quite there yet, but getting close.
     
  8. MIJ-VI

    MIJ-VI Banned Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Hi iriegnome.

    You've been a member of TalkBass for nearly eight years and yet you're asking the amp question equivalent of 'fingers or picks'? :eyebrow:

    Alrighty then. For the benefit of newcomers...

    'Tube watts' and 'solid state watts' are the same. Watts are watts.

    It's just that when a tube amp is cranked to the edge of clipping, tube compression and a gradual rise in even order harmonic distortion make it seem louder than a transistor amp of the same rating.

    Conversely, *most transistor amps don't compress the audio they put out and, when driven into clipping, produce odd order harmonics which sound harsh.

    Tube compression makes a tube amp sound louder than a transistor amp in a similar manner to how the compressed audio in TV commercials sounds louder than the sound track of a televised movie.

    *An exception might be the output stage of tc electronic's new RH450 whose 'Active Power Management' tc claims mimics the response of a tube power amp when pushed to the brink of clipping.
     
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Your 850 watts is only twice as much potential audio loudness as 85 watts. The absolute amount of volume you can produce with that power has to be measured at a representative frequency. Since lower frequencies are simply harder for us to hear (See, Fletcher-Munson curves of equal loudness at varied frequencies) AND harder to reproduce (ask one the TB speaker gurus to point to a good thread on that), we face a double whammy, so to speak.
     
  10. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    300 watts tube or 300 watts solid state? your speaker cab doesn't know the difference, It's still 300 watts at the same preamp drive level at which 300 watts is obtained. To get 1 decibel louder than the either amp type, you have to double the amplifier power. That's a fact Jack...:eek:
     
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    BTW, whether it's 300w tube or 300w SS, you're still too freakin' loud!
     
  12. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    :DSorry Jimmy, if it's too loud, your too old!!!:D
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well that goes without saying, but where I come from, the saying is, "If it's too loud, you're fired."

    :bawl:
     
  14. SpamBot

    SpamBot

    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Doubling amp power gives a 3db increase in volume.

    Also, despite the fact that 300w is 300w, SS or tube, what we are talking about here is perceived loudness.
     
  15. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    Thanks for the correction, yes it is 3 db for every 2x amp increase. "perceived loudness" is also a hype that manufacturers and retailers rely on to sell their products which I think is misleading but not fraudulent. I think more people should be more aware what is fact and hype, wouldn't you agree?
     
  16. SpamBot

    SpamBot

    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Perceived loudness is not hype. The claims made my manufacturers may well be, but as has been discussed in the thread, tube amps have harmonic qualities that make them sound louder, despite not being of a higher wattage.

    Case in point: You'd have a hard time running out of juice on an SVT with an 810, but an 800RB will have a hard time in a louder band situation.

    300w=/=300w. Wattage is not the only variable here.
     
  17. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    and just what is that harmonic quality...
     
  18. SpamBot

    SpamBot

    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    It's already been discussed. It's a combination of musically pleasing clipping, increased higher-order harmonic content and compression.
     
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't get the compression part. The solid state amps I've played sound more compressed than my SVT.
     
  20. SpamBot

    SpamBot

    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Do you often talk about how you never take your SVT even close to cranked? The compression is one of those things you run into as you're pushing the amp to its limit.
     



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