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Tube Watts vs. Solid State Watts, Conversion?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Colonel129, Mar 19, 2010.

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  1. Colonel129


    Feb 23, 2010
    Baltimore, MD
    Is there anyone who can give an approximate conversion between the volume output from power tubes vs. solid state? I understand power tubes have a significantly louder volume output, but by how much? If anyone might be savvy to an algorithm or formula that converts tube watts to solid state.
  2. Watts are watts. The only difference is the frequency that gets put out. I believe tube amps are "louder" because generally they put out less bass and sub bass frequencies, which really take a lot of power to turn into sound, and put out more mids, which seem louder.
  3. Sure............here is the conversion formula:

    ebob likes this.
  4. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Is that why some basses sound so good through a tube head but just ok through a SS?
  5. Colonel129


    Feb 23, 2010
    Baltimore, MD
    K smart a$$, I get the notion of a watt, is a watt, is a watt... But if you would have read my post more carefully I noted the idea of volume, which is measured by decibels. So maybe I should have asked: Is there a tube conversion to decibel output @ 100 watts, and in turn what is that same solid state conversion to decibel output @ 100 watts? And, if there is not an actual difference, what contributes to the "perceived" difference?
    descendent22 and ebob like this.
  6. jellymax


    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    there is no difference. tube amps, however, can be used above their rated power and
    still sound good. SS would not fare as well...

    amps are rated for what they can produce without distorting. so a 300w SS can
    do approx 300. a 300 watt tube head may possibly do 450w or more & still
    sound decent to some ears.
  7. As I said, the midrange and treble frequencies contribute to the "conceived" difference. Calm down. There have been threads on this before.

    I also believe that it's not really going to be possible to really figure out some kind of equation because not ever pluck/pick on the string is going to max out wattage, and there is always peak wattage blah blah blah...
  8. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    Never ending story. A watt is a watt is a watt. Bottom line SS and Tubes are different animals. You can't really compare.

    Next question. Is Fender watts the same as Peavey watts the same as Eden watts the same as Ampeg watts? Same never ending story.
  9. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    Here's my take on it. Everyone who is educated says, watts is watts. I have played for 41 years now. Hadn't played through a tube head for 35 years, untill I tried the new Eden E300T. It claims 300 watts, I'd say double that. From all my years with solid state now, thats what my ears say. YMMV.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    ^^^ This. There is no actual formula, because the real deal is that cranking a ss amp past its clean rating usually sounds terrible, while cranking an all-tube amp past its clean rating results in massive compression, distortion, and sag, which all increase "loudness" by a big factor, and it also results in the tube amp actually cranking out a lot higher wattage than it is rated for. The combination of all those factors results in this thing about tube amps being louder.

    If you want some point of comparison, just note that most people consider an SVT to be the end-all of loud-ass rock amps, and it's rated for about 300W. So you want loud, and you want distorted, compressed, hard rock tone? A 300W tube amp is sufficient. But that does not mean there is any such thing as "tube watts".
    RiZzBot likes this.
  11. 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
    Well perhaps, but only a few thousand.
    BawanaRik likes this.
  12. Cates


    Oct 30, 2009
    Everybody who has tried to equate Tube watts to Solid State watts has said different things.

    It seems like from what I've heard, 1 SSW = 6-8 TubeW

    My own ears seem to confirm that...for example...the Ampeg V4 I have has been the loudest amp I've ever played (I've not played an SVT...), and that's comparing it to some 600W and 800W SS amps who were just flat-out blown away volume-wise by the V4.
  13. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Tube amps are subjectively louder because they compress the signal when pushed hard. 6dB of compression is like quadrupling your power. You can get exactly the same effect from an SS amp if you have a high quality tube compressor, like this one:

    But I'd take the six grand and buy a tube amp instead. :eek:
  14. Rimshot

    Rimshot Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    I thought it had something to do with odd and even order harmonics...but I also thought cheese was a health food.
    armybass likes this.
  15. Not being smartalacky.. just giving some first answer (so everyone can flame me wrong)

    SSx1.35=tube sound

    Totally different beast.. I play SS exclusively.. 2x200w heads and can pierce through a plexi.. as noted much of this is all in eq and spectrum setting.

    I have some basses that alone will make a 50w combo amp out sound an SVT _ Pbass... not the same oomph.. just loud.
  16. Now back to the watts discussion...

    More drivers are louder than more watts
  17. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Forget watts altogether. Watts alone do not equal "loud".....

    With tube amps, you get something that solid state does not offer, perceived loudness from both odd and even order harmonics ,so a 300 wat tube head may be perceived "as loud" as say a 900 watt SS head. Do a search on odd and even harmonics, if you need that answer.... Not enough space in a post to fully describe them both.
  18. TortillaChip520


    Jun 3, 2008
    Well then, to not be a smart ass, the answer to your original question is "no".
  19. jellymax


    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    perhaps its time now for the Seinfeld dude eating popcorn really fast video
  20. "Percived" loudness will not equate to a measured "loudness" as in db. It is percived loudness. Owned lots of tube and solid state, old SVT, V4-B, 2000s, Dual Showman. 300watt 800rb was louder by far than the V4-B, 2000s or Showman. Seemed to me to be almost as loud as the SVT with the same 215 cab but not the same bass, the bass was stolen with the SVT.

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