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Tube Watts Versus Solid-State Watts in a "battle royale"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Hoyt, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Tube Watt

  2. Solid-State Watt

  3. A Watt is a Watt

  4. Mike Watt

  5. Is it a "Jazz watt" or a "Rock" watt"

  6. It's not about volume, tubes=tone

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Some of you might have answered my "to be or not to be" amp question between a Mesa Boogie 400+ and an Ampeg SVT 4Pro. I'm loving the Mesa:bassist: , but something is bothering me. The Ampeg SVT 4Pro is supposed to be one of the most powerful amps out there, but this all-tube 400+ can match its volume even though its wattage is rated at about a quarter of what the Ampeg is. I'm playing with a rock drummer/beater, a guitar player whos rig consists of a Line 6 Vetta II 300 watt amp and a Mesa Boogie full stack. I'm pumping this 400+ through an Ampeg 4x10 pro (600 watts @ 8 ohms) and an ampeg 1x15 classic that I put a Carvin 15" speaker in (600watts @8 ohms). I know manufactures can be somewhat "liberal" in thier power ratings, but how do Tube watts and Solid-State watts compare? I thought a watt was a watt!:confused:
  2. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    It is, the product of volts x amperes. Keep in mind that amps are rated based on how much power they will put out distortion-free. Tubes can be pushed well beyond their nominal rated power and still sound good, do so with SS and it sounds nasty. So while you're not likely to push an SS amp at 150% of its rated power you may well do so with a tube amp.
  3. PWV

    PWV Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    I voted for Mike Watt - cuz he's cool. :cool:
  4. JanusZarate

    JanusZarate Low End Avenger Supporting Member

    Feb 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    YES! +1 :D

    That's why you always see solid-state amps that are rated for MUCH higher wattages than all-tube amps, at the same price as seemingly low-wattage all-tube amps.

    Example: Let's compare two flagship artist heads. An Ampeg SVT-CL head is 300W RMS, all-tube. A GK 2001RB head is 1080W solid-state (nevermind the GK's tweeter section for now). With good cabinets, both will get comparably loud. The GK might probably win in the "clean sound" comparison, but for sheer volume, they're on similar ground, IMO (it's all about what cabinets you use!). That's why a solid-state head delivers so much extra power for the same cost... so it can easily compete with an all-tube head!

    My advice: NEVER use the power rating of an all-tube head and a solid-state head to "compare" their loudness. It just doesn't make much sense to do that, because they work with their power in very different ways.
  5. Gothax


    Apr 22, 2006
    Heerlen, Netherlands
    Endorsing Artist: Jim Dunlop strings
    a watt's a watt, it's about the tone :cool:

  6. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    My Traynor Bassmaster (50W) eats my GK 800 RB (400W) for breakfast. You can draw your own conclusions.
  7. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Man, I almost whacked this thread because the poll doesn't have a "carrot" option but I'll let you slide this time. ;)
  8. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    And this will make it's way into the Bass Player's Bible: Book of Bill, Chapter 1, Verse 1.
  9. It takes thousands and thousands of SqualidState watts to match 300 tube watts. Even then it'll sound like junk because it'll have that tinged with metal aura around it. Some call that sterility. Dunno.

    Ever compare a 100 watt tube head vs. a 100 watt SS? That's a real eye opener :eyebrow:.

    Oh, and for those who think watts are watts (and I'm not saying they're not), whaddya think a thousand tube watts sounds like vs. 1000 SS watts?

  10. Probably something like this:

  11. Gothax


    Apr 22, 2006
    Heerlen, Netherlands
    Endorsing Artist: Jim Dunlop strings
    Read my previous post :hyper:
    by the way, when you compare the clean volume of tube amps vs SS, the tube amp may sound slightly louder. SS amps are not that efficient, as an example look at household radiators -not all the energy (oil, water, whatever) put into a radiator will be converted to warmth/heat.
  12. This thread rocks! :bassist:

    So, as far as SS watts are concerned, is there a formula for determining the percentage of useable watts out of the rated watts?
  13. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    No. There are too many variables involved. Not only do tubes sound good when distorted while SS does not, tubes also compress the signal when pushed hard, and a compressed signal sounds louder than an uncompressed signal of equal level. You can use an external compressor with the SS amp to level the playing field somewhat, but not totally.
  14. Thats one thing in particular that I noticed immediately (compression). On the SVT 4Pro, I would use the compression knob with good results, and I was worried that I might need to buy a compressor pedal or something to compensate for the tube head, but it sounds so "punchy" already when I crank it up, that I don't think it's necessary to buy the pedal... Which is good, because what I am really hoping to buy after the holidays are some great smelling carrots!;) :bassist:
  15. barthanatos

    barthanatos Insert witty comment here

    Feb 8, 2006
    South Carolina
    And that's the hardest I've laughed on talkbass in quite a while. Thank you sir.
  16. For my sound I prefer a fat tube sound. So I voted tubes = tone.

    But I think it depends on the bass also. My Warwick Corvette sounds better through my SWR 750, than my Mesa 400+. But my Stingray 5 sounds better through my Mesa than my SWR.

    Sounding better is IMO of course.
  17. +1 :crying: :D
  18. Willem


    Dec 26, 2005
    How hard? Can you have a compressed-by-tubes, but still clean sound?
  19. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The Eleventh Commandment:
    "Thou shalt not live in dwellings made of Aluminum, for they are an abomination in mine eyes, and I shalt smite them mightily with the Hurricane, the Tornado and the Flood, lest they give shelter to Trash that might begat and multiply within them.
  20. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I replaced a 1100 watt SS power amp with a 400 watt tube head for no change in perceived volume but Mike Watt is still louder!