Opening a can of worms again: Why Tubes sound better

Analogous

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Another festive year end season is here; maybe adding some warmth makes it better?
Having explored SS amplification in various avatars over the years, I started exploring the Tubed amplification recently, cautiously with small investments in cheap tube amps and gradually moving to somewhat better ones (latest one being a Lyrita SET amp). To my surprise I am finding them very enjoyable. My music tastes have also gravitated to more melodic and lyrical sounds and this could have an effect on my preference for the “tubey sound”
In a casual quest to understand why I found this article.
I suspect I may not be a true audiophile after all…:(

Have read of this article below and share your thoughts (pleasant language even if you disagree please)

 
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I think there are some stereotypical assumptions here about tube amps here in this post, and in this forum in general. Old school or cheap tube amps sound Tubey (whatever that means -- fat midrange, limited treble or bass extension, highly coloured). Well executed modern tube amps designs (Nagra, AR, Kondo, Shindo, Octave, Luxman, Air tight, Wavac, Coincident, LTA, Berning etc etc) typically equal or exceed similar priced SS amps in all respects (resolution, detail, extension in higher/lower freq) except perhaps deep bass while they also add that last mile of magic which musicality (whatever that means, but it makes the sound engaging). Some call musicality sound of tubes as coloured, but if your goal is for your system to sound as close to "live" music (which is my benchmark), nothing beats tubes. And live music is always "musical". Most serious audiophiles go for tubes, so no, preferring tubes MAKES you an audiophile :)
(Whilst saying this, I have moved from tubes to SS -- perhaps Accuphase is an exception (for now), I will eventually move back to tube me thinks :)
 
OK, one of my pet peeves is people chasing the reproduction of "live" sound in their rig. What "live" sound are we chasing? An unamplified (no electronics involved) live performance? Amplified vocals but unamplified accompaniments where the vocals overwhelm the accompaniments? Played in a cosy non commercial venue? Performed in a treated or built to purpose venue? Arena/stadium concerts where electronics WILL be involved? There's all sorts. To me, arena/stadium gigs mostly sounded quite horrible! Same with most concert hall performances. Sound is "meh" to say the least. Flat and unexciting! Loud, yes; emotive yes, but that does not stem from the sound. The goosebumps, adrenaline and fainting spells is a result of the ambience and mainly due to smelling the sweaty armpits of the fellow great unwashed around us or in case of the chi chi crowd - from their oversprayed perfume/cologne. Wherever amplification/electronics is involved, go see their quality - more often than not, it will be bottom feeder grade. And we chase that? I'll take a mediocre amp and good speakers at home over that anyday. I've never heard the lush midrange of a tube amp in live sound. Frankly it's overdone in most tube amps. Not saying that it doesn't sound good and euphonic but it's not the way most live performances are. Go place your non tube or tubed rig in an arena or in a concert hall and play recorded sound over your speakers placed there. It will sound "live" the same as a live performance more often than not. Go hear Dylan live. He cannot sing for nuts and sounds screechy and bores a hole in eardrums. Yet on our rigs he often sounds good and I'll take that over most of his live performances any day. This post is not meant to demean anyone in particular but meant to demean all of us. :p

Quite frankly, IMO, most of the time we are chasing ghosts and sprites supposedly living in tubes or solid state devices. YMMV! :rolleyes:
 
OK, one of my pet peeves is people chasing the reproduction of "live" sound in their rig. What "live" sound are we chasing? An unamplified (no electronics involved) live performance? Amplified vocals but unamplified accompaniments where the vocals overwhelm the accompaniments? Played in a cosy non commercial venue? Performed in a treated or built to purpose venue? Arena/stadium concerts where electronics WILL be involved? There's all sorts. To me, arena/stadium gigs mostly sounded quite horrible! Same with most concert hall performances. Sound is "meh" to say the least. Flat and unexciting! Loud, yes; emotive yes, but that does not stem from the sound. The goosebumps, adrenaline and fainting spells is a result of the ambience and mainly due to smelling the sweaty armpits of the fellow great unwashed around us or in case of the chi chi crowd - from their oversprayed perfume/cologne. Wherever amplification/electronics is involved, go see their quality - more often than not, it will be bottom feeder grade. And we chase that? I'll take a mediocre amp and good speakers at home over that anyday. I've never heard the lush midrange of a tube amp in live sound. Frankly it's overdone in most tube amps. Not saying that it doesn't sound good and euphonic but it's not the way most live performances are. Go place your non tube or tubed rig in an arena or in a concert hall and play recorded sound over your speakers placed there. It will sound "live" the same as a live performance more often than not. Go hear Dylan live. He cannot sing for nuts and sounds screechy and bores a hole in eardrums. Yet on our rigs he often sounds good and I'll take that over most of his live performances any day. This post is not meant to demean anyone in particular but meant to demean all of us. :p

Quite frankly, IMO, most of the time we are chasing ghosts and sprites supposedly living in tubes or solid state devices. YMMV! :rolleyes:
@keith_correa you introduced olfactory sense into a discussion on tubes!!! and topped it all with ghosts and spirits :D

Totally agree with you on the part about recorded sound and the futility of chasing “live” sound in our setups.
As someone once pointed out, we need to keep in mind that all recorded music is just what the mikes pick up from the music session (live or in the studio) and what ever decisions made by the recording engineers is what we get.

But with the same recordings, I am enjoying the sound through the tube amplifier more than the SS. I listen longer and pay more attention to the music. It’s like … a slow train coming
 
OK, one of my pet peeves is people chasing the reproduction of "live" sound in their rig. What "live" sound are we chasing? An unamplified (no electronics involved) live performance? Amplified vocals but unamplified accompaniments where the vocals overwhelm the accompaniments? Played in a cosy non commercial venue? Performed in a treated or built to purpose venue? Arena/stadium concerts where electronics WILL be involved? There's all sorts. To me, arena/stadium gigs mostly sounded quite horrible! Same with most concert hall performances. Sound is "meh" to say the least. Flat and unexciting! Loud, yes; emotive yes, but that does not stem from the sound. The goosebumps, adrenaline and fainting spells is a result of the ambience and mainly due to smelling the sweaty armpits of the fellow great unwashed around us or in case of the chi chi crowd - from their oversprayed perfume/cologne. Wherever amplification/electronics is involved, go see their quality - more often than not, it will be bottom feeder grade. And we chase that? I'll take a mediocre amp and good speakers at home over that anyday. I've never heard the lush midrange of a tube amp in live sound. Frankly it's overdone in most tube amps. Not saying that it doesn't sound good and euphonic but it's not the way most live performances are. Go place your non tube or tubed rig in an arena or in a concert hall and play recorded sound over your speakers placed there. It will sound "live" the same as a live performance more often than not. Go hear Dylan live. He cannot sing for nuts and sounds screechy and bores a hole in eardrums. Yet on our rigs he often sounds good and I'll take that over most of his live performances any day. This post is not meant to demean anyone in particular but meant to demean all of us. :p

Quite frankly, IMO, most of the time we are chasing ghosts and sprites supposedly living in tubes or solid state devices. YMMV! :rolleyes:
Hmmm...maybe our concert experiences have been quite different, or we listen to different genres of music :)

Also, the misnomer of tubey sound is very very dated. Do listen to some of the tube amps I have listed before you stereotype "tube sound".

I will chase the "live" or "alive" sounding experience, your goals might differ. To each his own.
 
The same way as an electric guitar distortion sounds good for the ears.
I understand many guitarists prefer tube guitar amps…for their “live” performances?

Hmmm...maybe our concert experiences have been quite different, or we listen to different genres of music :)

Also, the misnomer of tubey sound is very very dated. Do listen to some of the tube amps I have listed before you stereotype "tube sound".

I will chase the "live" or "alive" sounding experience, your goals might differ. To each his own.
Please do share the list or a link to this post.
 
@keith_correa you introduced olfactory sense into a discussion on tubes!!! and topped it all with ghosts and spirits :D
Yeah, I know. Talk about getting totally OT! But, just couldn't resist! :)
But with the same recordings, I am enjoying the sound through the tube amplifier more than the SS. I listen longer and pay more attention to the music. It’s like … a slow train coming
Yes, it is euphonic and pleasing to many. In the end, it boils down to what one enjoys. Good for you!
Hmmm...maybe our concert experiences have been quite different, or we listen to different genres of music :)
Of course! It stands to reason that our experiences would be different. I was expressing my experience.
Also, the misnomer of tubey sound is very very dated. Do listen to some of the tube amps I have listed before you stereotype "tube sound".
Never stereotyped tubes in my post. It was actually never about just tubes.
I will chase the "live" or "alive" sounding experience, your goals might differ.
You should. Everyone should have goals. :)
To each his own.
I couldn't agree more!
 
He has won 10 Grammies and one Nobel (literature)
Liking his singing style and ability? Maybe an acquired taste…
Some of his collaborations with other musicians have helped for sure.
 
I think there are some stereotypical assumptions here about tube amps here in this post, and in this forum in general. Old school or cheap tube amps sound Tubey (whatever that means -- fat midrange, limited treble or bass extension, highly coloured). Well executed modern tube amps designs (Nagra, AR, Kondo, Shindo, Octave, Luxman, Air tight, Wavac, Coincident, LTA, Berning etc etc) typically equal or exceed similar priced SS amps in all respects (resolution, detail, extension in higher/lower freq) except perhaps deep bass while they also add that last mile of magic which musicality (whatever that means, but it makes the sound engaging). Some call musicality sound of tubes as coloured, but if your goal is for your system to sound as close to "live" music (which is my benchmark), nothing beats tubes. And live music is always "musical". Most serious audiophiles go for tubes, so no, preferring tubes MAKES you an audiophile :)
(Whilst saying this, I have moved from tubes to SS -- perhaps Accuphase is an exception (for now), I will eventually move back to tube me thinks :)
I do not know of any live album which are sonically superior to their studio counterpart. Live albums have a presence accentuated by audience engagement, all that clapping and roar and whistles that is not there in studio albums ( although many bands have simulated this in some of their studio recordings- The Beatles being the foremost, courtesy Sgt Peppers) , but no live album in classic rock at least is sonically better than studio albums in my experience. There are of course exceptions , most notably in jazz ( Keith Jarrett’s The Koln Concert comes to mind ) but they are few and far between.

So I too would like to know names of such albums that you are alluding to.

Edit: In case you referred to live music as experienced first hand and not to live albums per se , my apologies.
 
There are several live albums that sound fabulous

Deep Purple Made in Japan
Neil Diamond Hot August Night
Neil Young Live at Massey Hall
Allman Brothers Live at Filmore East
Evening with John Denver
Eric Clapton Unplugged
Nirvana Unplugged
Simon Garfunkel Concert at Central Park
 
Tubes sound holographic and add texture to vocals with richer and fuller midrange. SS sounds more transparent, cleaner and truer to original source. Its debatable if they are really better but they appeal more because of the effects they add.
 
There are several live albums that sound fabulous

Deep Purple Made in Japan
Neil Diamond Hot August Night
Neil Young Live at Massey Hall
Allman Brothers Live at Filmore East
Evening with John Denver
Eric Clapton Unplugged
Nirvana Unplugged
Simon Garfunkel Concert at Central Park
These are mastered. If one wants "true" live sound, listen to some of the bootleg live recordings. Truly horrible! :)
 
All legit releases are generally mastered. There a lot more rawness to the live albums that I mentioned in the above post as compared to studio versions. And that’s what I like about them.
 
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