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What's the deal with power ratings?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Sidecar666, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. Sidecar666


    Mar 27, 2004
    I've always wondered why a 100w tube amp blows the doors off of a 100w solid state? Not just a little louder, but WAY louder (on the same cabinet). Is there some different rating system for each? Does anybody know the answer?
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    The thing is this:
    Every amp can output more power than it's rating implies, but noise and distortion levels are higher than the level that were set as measurement specs.
    Since tube amps usually sound better when overdriven than transistor amps, you can exceed the nominal rating without getting unpleasant audio artefacts.
  3. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    Many people know the answer and if you do a search on tube vs. ss you'll get a lot of results.

    The short answer is that tube amps sound louder when pushed becasue of their distortion characteristics. A 100W tube amp will not sound louder than a 100W SS amp UNTIL they both get pushed to clipping. Tubes will add more mids and compress the signal thereby creating the sensation of being louder while SS amps will sound harsh and ... well, bad. If you're after a clean sound, tube or ss won't make a difference to you but if you don't mind some grit than a tube amp will have much more usable volume.

    Thing to keep in mind is that EQ plays a lot into how loud something sounds.
  4. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    Yes. My Mesa Strategy 400 can't compete with my QSC PLX 1202, but it's almost as loud. The reason for that is because it's mostly the attack of the note that takes up all the power. Occasional distorted peaks on a tube amp aren't really noticable, especially since the Mesa distorts relatively smoothly until you get into the fuzz region. I usually distort on loud note peaks, but other than that it's smooth. The QSC on the other hand will not allow me to peak, because when I do the limiter kicks in. Without the limiter, the peaks sounded very, very harsh. The Mesa will produce a bit of distortion, but it's more acceptable.
  5. Sidecar666


    Mar 27, 2004
    Thank you very much...that helps!