Tubes or solid state...are tubes worth the extra money?

Discussion in 'Tube Audio' started by Rosie, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. invaderzim

    invaderzim Active Member

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    I'd say what sounds good or better is really subjective. You pretty much have to listen for yourself. Amongst tube or SS there are vastly different sounds so it is hard to break it into just the difference between SS and tube for sound.
    If the only thing that mattered was the exact replication of the sound to perfect specs we would all be listening to the same amp with the same speakers. Yet I can go into a listening room and compare a dozen different speakers and pick completely different ones as being the best than you would pick.
    For people that like to tinker I think tubes are more fun because you can continually change things and see how it affects the sound. Which is why they often get quite expensive. With SS you pretty much have to build a new amp.
    One being more expensive than the other depends on what your goals and methods are. Are you going to buy a $200 receiver at the big box store and be happy with it? Or are you looking at higher end specialty receivers? Are you building it yourself? Are you looking at a mosfet type SS or a cheaper chip amp one?
    I don't know what exactly 'tube sound' is. I think the term gets used to describe multiple different things so people that talk about it are often aren't talking the same sound.
    I'm ending up with quite a collection of different tubes which all have slightly different sounds to them. So which one of those tubes is the true 'tube sound'?
    All I know is that for around $600 I built a stereo tube amp that is so clear it puts the musician in the room with me and still occasionally makes me jump when the artist says something after a moment of quiet on the recording because I think someone is there. With good speakers connected to the amp the sound of a piano finally sounds like a real piano.
    Plus, I think, it looks cool and I can say that I built it wiring every part of it together myself.
     
  2. Rosie

    Rosie New Member

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    16
    Thank you all for your input. I particularly like the idea of having both ss and tubes. I'll measure that on the WAF o'meter and see what the possibilities are:)
     
  3. drtool

    drtool It might get loud In Houston Subscriber

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    Buy her new shoes first. Getting new gear that is big....send her on a cruse, then sneek it in while she is gone.
     
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  4. Ziradog

    Ziradog AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My wife actually likes the looks of the tube amps, especially topless ones. And the Sherwood S5500 is the only piece of gear that she ever commented sounded good.
     
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  5. Crammit

    Crammit New Member

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    23
    I don't think there's much question if tubes are worth trying. You live once, you work hard, and you love music and sound enough you're on AK. Do some research, you buy well - second hand, and your chance at significant loss, barring horror story, isn't enough to deter. But what you may stand to gain is well worth it. You hear no difference? It's good you tried them. You are enthralled? You win. :) What you don't want is to hear tubes 10-20 or more years from now, fall in love, and kick yourself in the butt for not having checked them out earlier. Lol. And while a lot of people lament extra money, should they blow that extra hundred or two? Keep in mind what a tank of gas costs. Lol. Well worth trying, brother. You owe it to yourself.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  6. hunter00

    hunter00 Super Member

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    Are tubes and tube amps/preamps worth the extra money.... do bears shite in the woods?That reminds me ,have to make room for another pair of tubed mono blocks that will be comeing home soon

    hunter
     
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  7. FlaCharlie

    FlaCharlie Active Member

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    303
    Location:
    Gainesville, FL
    As you see a question like this on a Tube Forum yields predictable responses in favor of tubes. Big surprise. Yeah, we all like our tubes here. But does that really help you in any practical way?

    If you would include some more information you might elicit responses that are more specifically useful. What level of cost do you consider to be budget-friendly? What SS amp, speakers and source (CD player, turntable, tuner?) are you using now? Until you include more information it's impossible to offer specific suggestions in a particular price range.
     
  8. CohibaJoe

    CohibaJoe AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Agree on your comments as I also feel when I listen to Tubes and also Love Mixing up the Tube Brands....Smooth as a Jazz Club, Very Rounded, Very Deep Sound and Whole. Now the SS Luxman M-2000, L100U does this to me also
    but not as Deep Deep to the sound as Tubes. Pioneer SPEC system....That is SS sound. Very Precise yet has a Big Sound.

    What EYE candy!!!!!!
    Gear3.jpg

    My other is a Scott LK-72b....Not given that up. The SPEC and 2 Luxman's.
    Gear2.jpg Gear1.jpg
     
  9. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Super Member

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    I think it depends on finding a good rebuilder that knows what they are doing and don't charge an arm and a leg to get it done. The last generation of tube equipment that was mainstream before SS was introduced was built quite well and can be found at different prices irregardless of name brand. That's the great thing about using the internet if you have the patience to do so. Anything can be found at any price, it just takes time to find it. There are Canadian resale websites for used stereo equipment that sell units consistently at under valued prices. Then there is Goodwill online that occasionally has some tube equipment way under value. Search and seizure has always been part of the audio game. I paid a little over eight hundred bucks for a shop in Tacoma to go through a preamp, amp, AM/FM tuner and an MPX switching device that is a hookup for a R2R.....a rare Ampex stereo cabinet that puts HK to shame and the initial investment in buying the cabinet was $68.00 ! The MPX switching device allows for playing true stereo or true mono using two early JBL speakers. So for under a grand I have a wonderful sound. More money is always spent when less time is used to facilitate the process...
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  10. hunter00

    hunter00 Super Member

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    This cant be overstated,especially with the great vintage 50's and early 60's vacuume tube gear.Excellent power supplys and point to point wireing ,strudy metal chassis,tube rectified/chokes/ all those bits and pieces usually just need Capacitor replacement .Finding a good tube tech that cares about your build will make a huge difference.
    Ive had the good luck to travel home audio with a buddy for many yrs that's my tube tech,all my pieces get the premium treatment

    hunter
     
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  11. Hyfi

    Hyfi Super Member

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    I am a little late, but thought I responded to this thread a while ago. But, who said Tube Gear cost more than SS gear as a rule? I can show you a ton of SS gear that costs way more than Tube gear and vice versa. So you don't HAVE to spend more money for Tubes. That said I have both. I like my SS setup for what the Tube gear does not do, and I like the Tube gear for what SS does not do.
     
  12. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Super Member

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    That's cool....

    I know a shop on S. Tacoma St. down the street from the courthouse that has been operated by the same group of audiophiles since the late sixties. They even keep a stock of NOS tubes for servicing customers equipment just like the old days, fact is walking into the place and dealing with these people is just like the old days....and I'm kind of old so I forget the name of the place, but I can find it ! These guys fix what might possibly go wrong in the future so you don't have future problems with your equipment.....but that is within reason of course ! The place is a total time capsule with ancient concert t-shirts and all !
     
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  13. GordonW

    GordonW Speakerfixer Subscriber

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    Sometimes, restoring a SS piece can cost MORE than a similar-function tube piece.

    If you're trying to get a scarce, out-of-production transistor, you may wind up in a bidding war!

    OTOH, most tube restoration is much more straight-forward- off-the-shelf caps, resistors, and such. And even the tubes are generally available- and not specific to one individual model, like transistors- and especially IC (integrated circuit chips) can be.

    Now, if you've toasted a transformer- that can be more expensive. HOWEVER- in most cases, a transformer can be rewound- which means the unit is still repairable. Compare that to some transistors and ICs- which, after they go out of production and the supply is exhausted- there simply will NEVER be any more. Unless the unit can be modded to use something else (which in itself is harder than modding tube gear, usually), the unit becomes a paperweight...

    Regards,
    Gordon.
     
  14. triode17

    triode17 Active Member

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    406
    When I first got my Dynaco 70 and PAS-3x and rebuilt them, I couldn't believe how good the bass sounded. It was like a subwoofer was added to the system, but without all the crossover settings and placement issues. As a recording engineer, I know what bass guitar sounded like ether coming from an amp. or direct into the console. My tube system reproduces what I heard in the studio using 15IPS half-track tapes and JBL monitors.
    Plus, SS amps. are so inherently distorted that tons of feedback has to be used to linearize it. So the distortion is gone, but so are the dynamics of the music.
    I try, but just can't listen to SS anymore. The soundstage is so flat , every instrument and voice sounds like they are all up at the front of the stage. There's no depth.
    Finally, tubes sound NATURAL. Our brains recognize that. That's what makes a tube system so involving. Is it worth it, absolutely !
     
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  15. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, but can you get the same value for the money? I think that was the point. For example, if my budget is only $600 can I get something that is in good working order that sounds good? Is a new Chinese tube amp better in general than say a Pioneer SX-xxxx?
     
  16. hunter00

    hunter00 Super Member

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    For 600.00 you should be able to score a Dynaco st70,mind you you will then need a tubed preamp like what triode17 has ubove.My old dyna st70/pas2 pre was heads ubove any of the big pioneer sx recievers but its to be expected with seperates and tube to boot.My st70 had all premium caps/paper and oil.
    A matching dyna pas2/3 tube preamp runs about 350.00 here so tubed seperates are within reach

    hunter
     
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  17. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Perhaps to condense a few matters down and proceed from there?

    1. Tube sound and transistor sound are 95% dependant on the design/execution with which and not whether the active elements are tubes or transistors. In that sense alone the question is moot, classifying instruments as "tube" or "transistor" in itself denotes very little by way of audio acceptability, if anything at all.

    2 In as much as the comparatively poor measuring instrument viz. human hearing is used as an arbiter, comparison is further compromised.

    3. The role of folk-lore is almost impossible to eliminate (see psychologists' evidence to the same human trend). E.g. somewhere someone started the notion that class-A operation is pure, and since then one is forever saddled with the phrase "pure class-A" (it is not necesarily, but never mind). I won't even start on the "feedback-is-bad", "tone-controls-are-bad", "cross-over distortion" and other fables.

    3. On the other hand specs alone are held preferent by some, thus the meaningless spec chasing s.s. equipment down the avenue of "0,umpteen zero x%" distortion, irrespective of the disadvantages inherent in such. The fact that there is a limit to audio perception is completely ignored. (Is the topic audio amplifiers or instrumentation instruments?)

    None of this is intended to belittle any of the aforegoing comments - with great respect. But judging a technology by a product here and another under different circumstance there do not constitute statistics ..... if such was the purpose in the first place.

    But to be fair, the OP did not ask for a comparison in the first place. By now the answer to his question should be clear - you pay (somewhat) more because YOU like it. Economy, technology, science, whatever, cannot govern the final decision to any worthwhile logical degree.
     
  18. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it must be right... Subscriber

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    If I had unlimited funds, I would have an all tube system. I would also have a tech come to my home and check out all the tubes every few months and make amp adjustments if needed. Since I don't have unlimited funds, nore can afford a tech to come in, I it tend to stick to tubes in the pre-amp stages and SS in the power amp stages. Seems to be a practical, affordable and pleasant solution.
     
  19. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Super Member

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    A Pioneer SX-1250 rebuilt and not just the caps replaced will be better than the best Chinese amp and the Pioneer is appreciating in value while the Chinese amp is deprecating in value. So no matter how much money you spend on an SX-1980 or an SX-1250 you will always get your money back....also the Yamaha CR 3020 or the Sansui 9090 !
     
  20. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Super Member

    Messages:
    4,868
    Location:
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    Then if your really interested.....

    Checkout the used McIntosh equipment on sites that don't sell new Mac equipment.
     

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