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Which blows up more speakers TUBE or SOLID STATE?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Calaverasgrande, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. In my experience of playing bass for punk, metal, noise, new wave and industrial bands I have blown a lot of speakers over the years. Some of my best sounding amps blew speakers like a bad habit. The Acoustic Control Corp 456 head for example.
    IME I blow a lot less speakers with tube heads. It isnt that I play less loud, I am pretty sure I am just as retarded loud with my Traynor, Mesa etc rigs. But even at crazy SPLs the speakers dotn give up the ghost as quick, if ever.
    I can think of dozens of poor speakers I blew with my modest Ampeg (SS), Acoustic, GK, QSC (With preamp) and Peavey heads.

    I went to audio engineering school, ran a small regional PA company for a while. Never have been able to nail down an answer to this one.
    Brain trust at TB?

    ps,rats I wanted to do a poll. Oh well. :scowl:
  2. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA

    I wonder if it has to do with the natural compression that tubes provide, slightly attenuating the peak "hits" and thereby giving the speakers a slightly softer signal to deal with. That's just a guess on my part.

    Since you went to audio engineering school, I presume you have already discounted the possibility of the solid state amps clipping which can ruin speakers.
    Bill Whitehurst and Matthew_84 like this.
  3. haha, that is widely discounted here, but that I was taught is that it is a very big problem. Honestly of the teaching staff, the SR guy wasn't as good as the recording, mastering, theory and producing profs.
    Quite a lot that he taught us was BS! But the stuff about CM loadstars was right on. This was in the late 80's early 90's though.

    In further research, solidstate amps squarewaving is a very bad thing....for compression drivers. It is not such a nasty issue for regular paper cone drivers such we bassists use. I think the "bad for compression drivers" thing got extended to all drivers by mistake and took off from there.
  4. shadow_FIX


    Feb 23, 2010
    When you overdrive a tube amp, it slightly compresses the waves at the peaks...if you think of a wave form (think sine curve from math class), the overdriven tube amp will have rounded edges at the peaks/troughs. On the other hand, a clipping solid state amp will "saw off" the peaks, which result in (I believe they are called) square waves. Not only is doing this bad for your amp, but if I recall correctly this can also damage your speakers.

    Someone more knowledgeable, feel free to chime in and fill in the gaps where my experience lacks, or please correct anything that I've said that's wrong.
  5. demon666


    Jul 16, 2005
    Providence RI
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Good guess, as that's it. That natural compression also makes a tube amp subjectively seem louder with less power, which also helps preserve drivers. You can accomplish very much the same thing with a good tube compressor and SS, but a tube amp has it there already.

    That's the myth of under-powering, which is to say that yes, that part is wrong.
  7. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
  8. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Pretty much.....

    Boosting or cutting treble bass or midrange will change the waveform......and the peaks can be rounded or square or saw wave ....all depends on the level of clipping and what filter its running threw. regardless of tubes or solid state

    understood more if you stop believing BS on the net and actually seen a waveform on a scope.

    Solid state is symmetrical distortion...tube is asymmetrical distortion.....another pile of carrots that fell out of a elephants butt.......both are capable of either

    1 watt is 1 watt rather its tube, solid state.....ceiling fan...toothbrush or a freakin high powered Vibrator.

    any large peak pounding away at a over heated speaker is going to blow it.......
    and depending on how old and slow your power supply caps are i would say that yes most likely a solid state amp is able to provide a hard peak to a speaker......way before a tube amp could deliver a blow.......
    since on average alot of old tube amps still work but have rather old lacking caps......a brand new tube amp or a old tube amp with a strong power supply and refreshed caps....is perfectly capable of putting a speaker to its grave.

    But on avearage the highest powered tubes amps are not much more than 280 to 300 watts

    and there is plenty of 400 watt or higher solid states able to deliver a final punch good bye.......
    catcauphonic likes this.
  9. shadow_FIX


    Feb 23, 2010
    Thanks for clearing that up. But to clarify, clipping a SS amp is generally NOT a good thing, correct?
  10. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    Thanks Bill. I always feel good when I find out from someone at your level that what I surmised is in fact correct.
  11. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    That depends. A fuzz/distortion pedal is a clipped SS amp. So is the grit you get when you run the gain high and master low on an SS amp.
  12. well there are different kinds of clipping.
    I like what a clipping rat pedal sounds like. I dont like what a clipping QSC sounds like. Those two are about as far apart as tube and soild state.
    Just saying. Not all transistor clipping is created equal.

    As far as tube amps "only" being 300 watts or so, as mentioned above and elsewhere (and by BFM) tube amps generally compress the dynamic range of the musical signal. This gives you a lower peak to average ratio and higher average output. Tube watts.
    Still, I have smoked an ampeg 4x10 with an ampeg soild state head. I buried a lot of 15" drivers with my old Acoustic 456. Ditto for GK400RB and many 12", 10" and 15" speakers.
    I have yet to blow a speaker with any tube amps. Believe me, I pummel the daylights out of my speakers with my Mesa Bass 400.
    This is where I start to wonder if all that hippie audiophile talk about damping might come into play.
    If tube amps have less robust damping they wouldnt be bossing the voicecoil around as much as a soildstate amp right?

    About the power supply thing, I had my Mesa's power supply redone at Mesa when I worked across the street at Lagunitas brewing. Mesa tech guys loved our beer. And both companies started in the same town! So it was an easy favor, Mark actually kind of insisted when I he saw my amp and how old it was. I didn't appreciate the "free" switch over to 6L6's though. I corrected that a year later!
    6550 for life yo. (personalized lic plate maybes?)
  13. madmatt


    Apr 28, 2009
    I would blame users for blowing up cabs.
    Mike A and Munjibunga like this.
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    right. total number of speakers i've blown in 35 years using both solid state and tube...0.
  15. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    But how many minds?
    catcauphonic likes this.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i blow more minds offstage than on ;)
    catcauphonic likes this.
  17. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Really simple tube create distortion.......distortion creates more harmonics...harmonics make it sound louder.

    you can get compression, soft clip, hard clip from tube or SS

    1 watt is 1 watt

    how many watts is a mesa 400?
    and how may watts is a GK400 and Acoustic 456?

    6550 in a mesa 400?

    "This is where I start to wonder if all that hippie audiophile talk about damping might come into play."

    no way....the output impedance of a tube amp and ss are different....really.....SS uses more Negative feedback...no way
    the hippies were right...no way...

    what dah heck is that output transformer for anyways
  18. If you're blowing cabs regularly, you're doing something way wrong.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  19. Korladis

    Korladis SUSPENDED

    Tube amps compress, as others have said. Also, most tube amps are less than 300 watts, and almost all are 400 watts or less. Yes, they can put out more than this when cranked into distortion, but still not on the level of a lot of the SS amps people use.

    However, I've only blown a speaker once, and that was in a 15 watt squier guitar combo (gimme a break, I was barely 13 years old).
  20. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I agree with Matt and Jim and Kwesi. It's user behavior -- mostly ignorance or inattention or a combination of the two -- that blows drivers.
    Munjibunga likes this.