Opening a can of worms again: Why Tubes sound better

prem

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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.
 

Analogous

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These are mastered. If one wants "true" live sound, listen to some of the bootleg live recordings. Truly horrible! :)
In our younger days (think cassette tapes) bootleg tapes of Grateful Dead live concerts were precious to fans of the band. This band actually encouraged anyone to record their shows/concerts and share them as long as these were not sold for profit. Many concert goers used small cassette players to record their concerts. As you can imagine the quality of these were as @keith_correa puts it “Truly horrible”

But then there were others that sounded … pretty good (Europe 72’), as also other bands’ recordings from that era that sounded pretty good. “Peter Frampton comes alive” sounds lovely even today.
 

keith_correa

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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
Allman Brothers - Live at Filmore East is wonderfully mastered. Because it sounds brilliant!
 

surfatwork

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The reason a tube amp sounds good to you is because of your listening room, your ears and what lies in between them.
About 15 yrs back, I had a NAD with a pair of Missions, fed by a Marantz CD player. Hardly top tier. But in that room, it sounded fabulous. We moved house and the magic was gone.
 

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Allman Brothers - Live at Filmore East is wonderfully mastered. Because it sounds brilliant!
+1 . Except for Nirvana live , have all the others on LP. Filmore sounds exceptionally good for a live album.
 

Analogous

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The reason a tube amp sounds good to you is because of your listening room, your ears and what lies in between them.
About 15 yrs back, I had a NAD with a pair of Missions, fed by a Marantz CD player. Hardly top tier. But in that room, it sounded fabulous. We moved house and the magic was gone.
I completely agree the room makes a huge difference. I move the setup to the hall and the magic disappears.
 

Kannan

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listen to some of the bootleg live recordings. Truly horrible!
In my late 20s when I spent 2 years abroad, I had amassed a massive collection, close to 90% of all Pink Floyd albums and live shows including their bootlegs, underground shows and many of Syd Barret live shows. I would say the bootlegs and underground ones would have constituted 70% of the collection and as you rightly put, 90% of it was garbage and sounded horrible.
But it was then a pride to own your favorite groups collections, especially the rare and bootleg shows
 
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aljojohn

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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.
wow
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
Souls Alike - Bonnie Raitt
Bruce Springsteen- TRACKS
 
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Analogous

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Found this in a three year old blog by Archimago. As the interesting year ends, some of these thoughts might resonate…He wrote:

“ I thought I'd just highlight a few points and potential changes that would be very nice to see in the years ahead for the audiophile hobby.

1. Audiophiles embrace objectivity again. I know many (like probably you folks here) already do. But it does need to be a shift of generally accepted sentiment. Remember that we are not living in some kind of unique alternate dimension of physics with our own principles divorced from mainstream science and engineering. It would be truly bizarre to think so since the gear we buy are borne out of the hard work of scientists and engineers. And the music we enjoy went through the studios and tweaks of various audio engineers. I would hope that audiophiles see themselves in some ways allied like a "lay person" extension of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) who represent the professional members. Hopefully in many ways we're able to share similar values and educational goals. To act and believe otherwise would result in the loss of respect and engagement with the world.

2. The audiophile hobby maturely embraces the tensions, promotes discussions, explores controversies. Mature people discuss things calmly. Mature people examine the evidence and explore the facts rather than offer opinions as if this is all that constitutes "truth". Mature people recognize that the world is complex and there are always "shades of grey" that are acceptable and within reason. Mature people also hold on to values, appreciates goals, and sees limits externally and also within themselves.

Most importantly, mature people also have thick skins and don't just propose banning alternate points of view (unless truly confronted by mindless trolls). Remember, this is not some kind of theology class, there were no ecumenical council decrees, and the "high priests" of the audiophile press are just as fallible as any of us whether some of them know it or not!

3. Audiophiles remember that their raison d'être is to remain in the service of high-fidelity. That is "our" purpose, specialty, and potential value in the world. Audiophiles are the people interested in high quality reproduction not just in having reliable, thoughtful, and insightful suggestions into the hardware side but having understanding also about the media we listen to. At times, it also means taking a stand and having the courage to render an opinion contrary to the beliefs of some (but in a mature fashion as #2 above). In my experience, when positions are taken on objective grounds and arguments put forth rationally especially with evidence, this opens up productive discussion and dialogue.

4. Individually, remember to stay gracious. Even the most ardent "enemy" can in time be one's strongest ally on virtual battlefields called "forums"! Be on the lookout for young folks interested in audio. Watch the use of those terms like "high end" and thoughtless hardware suggestions with four-figure+ price tags. Be humble enough to realize that many of those prized mega-buck components often do not produce higher fidelity output than many less expensive products. In the same way, realize the truth - that in this age of advanced digital audio, something as inexpensive as a <US$100 audio streamer like a Raspberry Pi 3 will easily produce the same digital output as any expensive "audiophile" computer. This, folks, is the "democratization process" but it still has a ways to go. Always remember the non-utilitarian functions inherent in luxury goods and be mindful of these factors. I have seen the word aspiration applied to owning hi-fi products - it's much cheaper to aspire for good sound quality than jewelry.

5. Enjoy the music of course... But stay curious. Like the videophile and her movies, the computer gamer with his online death matches, the DIY computer geek looking out for the next speed upgrade... This stuff is fun. Speaking personally, when I started this blog I thought I'd maybe post 10 or 20 items and be done with it. Instead, after >220 posts, I can still see many experiments to try and tests to perform to help me understand the technology better as a "hardware audiophile" while enjoying the music as I evaluate, compare, and verify! I don't expect everyone to take out their measurement equipment of course, but I hope folks find an "academic" curiosity and apply critical thinking while going along in the hobby... Particularly important given the unsubstantiated claims, and at time grossly distorted opinions out there.

6. Finally... Don't like the music at audio shows? Well let's not just sit and complain. Why not do something to encourage improving recording quality. Contact your favourite artist when all you see are DR0-10 albums (if you don't know what this is, see here, here, and check the database here). Maybe spread an idea like a two-tiered system for high-resolution audio. Maybe encourage adjustable dynamic compression (eg. my thoughts about Neil Young's XStream). "Hardware audiophiles" might be a small group but I think with our "music lover" brothers and sisters, the consumer can have a very potent impact. Maybe then your favourite artist can be showcased with a megabuck sound system which not only promotes his/her musical talent but the recording also sounds great with high fidelity reproduction.

Audiophilia is not dead because it cannot be killed. For the foreseeable future, there will still be "audiophiles" - the folks who have a special place in their souls for high-fidelity sound reproduction. The ones who will seek out the better quality products and strive for ideals; most of which can be verified objectively. In this regard, I don't believe there will ever be a dearth of excellent products to serve this market. As always, there will be companies that fall by the wayside due to poor marketing, poorly conceived ideas, or whose products fail to satisfy consumers. I do believe as well given my position as a "more objective" audiophile that there are segments that deserve to fail (I'll leave you to guess what I might be referring to :). But for the typical audiophile, the business cycle in the audio world is not something we need to particularly concern ourselves with.

Arise, dear audiophiles, and proudly display your knowledge, understanding, and most of all, ability to engage in rational discourse.”
 

moktan

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Van Morrison - It’s Too Late To Stop Now … sounds really good .. or maybe I am just too much of a Van the Man’s fan ..

Van Morrison - It’s Too Late To Stop Now … sounds really good .. or maybe I am just too much of a Van the Man’s fan ..
 

Analogous

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Why the SET and efficient loudspeaker approach works
I enjoyed reading this article @muralimmreddy. Deckert writes with so much wisdom, experience, insights and clarity.

This article, IMO should be in the “articles and guides” section also for more FM to discover!
Thanks for sharing.

On the same site I found this article which asserts that a “great value to our musical enjoyment and our ability to pick or to put together a great sound system is “learning how to listen”. Have a read:
 
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yogibear

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Simplicity has been my way of DIY or choice be it component itself or the whole line up. Not trying to imply as what is the best choice but one must try it atleast once.

3CD1F54D-E0EB-47FA-8B85-A016ADE996D7.jpeg


FF517BC7-EC08-4268-9531-043BB6788A23.jpeg

It’s a Pure Class A, no NFB SE 6BM8 tube amp with hardly 10 components each channel. A tiny OPT which is 1/4th size of the filter choke, a huge Torroidal transformer, on the test bench. Windows audio optimized laptop ( Thanks to a great friend ! ) feeding the ECDesigns PowerDAC R which drives the tube amp playing 12” British FR, frequency response from 15k to 50hz. No dearth of dynamics of bass. Imaging and soundstage is exemplary.

Once you get glued to the hot seat, it’s hard to get off and your head would spin in disbelief after a good listening session.

Not trying to prove that tubes are the best. But it’s an experience of it’s own kind. Am yet to put my pure class A SS and Hybrids to the duty and I hope to discover more interesting things….
 

Vineethkumar01

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What a great explanation of the differences between SS and Tube amplification!
Thanks for sharing this.
Actually the harmonic distortion aspect wise, the explanation in the video maybe correct.
But I felt he exaggerates a bit about noticeability/audibility of high order harmonic distortion in modern well-designed solid state amps (as long as they are not overdriven to limits). So please take the information in that that video with a pinch of salt.. :D
 

drlowmu

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Bump this thread - Why tubes sound better.

One of several reasons for me, is that all of my tube amplifier designs since 1982 use no negative feedback loops, and for the past 18 years, bypassed Cathode resistors - which equals ZERO NFB.

SO, I get to hear the music in the time of the music, and not in the time of an " out-of-time " / music-destroying NFB amplifier.

Solid state devices, being less linear, require forms of Negative Feedback, which I object to musically / listening-wise..

Sure, people like Nelson Pass use NO feedback loops, and will advertise that. But those solid state units he designs have forms of NESTED feedbacks in the circuit, that for marketing considerations never are mentioned ........or likely admitted to.

In 2020, two audio friends each individually had me use my own eBay account, to sell off their DIY ACA ( Amp Camp Amp ) builds,. This was after several months of their ownership and serious evaluations. Each ACA just could not compete - with their existing DIY 2A3 two-stage SE DC amplifiers .

Each of their own tube amps, along with other circuitry niceties, had zero NFB .

YMMV, fine !

Jeff
 
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bhaskarcan

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There's no absolute verdict on this subject. IMHE, our brain listens to and likes the concepts we agree to.
If we agree to that tube sounds better than SS, then while listening music we align ourselves accordingly.
If the "concept" of absence of NFB appeals to me, as soon as we come to know that an amp doesn't have NFB, it starts sounding good automatically.
Same goes for Class A vs other Classes, sound of various capacitors, use of various wires etc.
It has been proven that in a double blind test those claimed differences in sound reproduction couldn't be pointed out or attributed to with confidence.
There is a huge following of Pass Lab SS amps which sell for astoundingly high price. So, if, tube sounded universally good, those Pass Lab amps wouldn't have had any buyer.

P.s. I myself use both tube and SS amps. The tube amp is a commercial amp that's possible for a normal mortal being like us to buy from shop. In my mind it's supposed to sound fantastic and so thus it sounds.
The other main amp is a 10 years old diy SS amp. And it sounds so good to me that I use it to drive my Tannoy MG15 speakers. The secret behind it's good sound is that I made it myself. ..😊😊
 

drlowmu

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Tubes VS solid state :

Nelson Pass himself knows !!


In a phone conversation on amp design, with another Manufacturer who builds tube amps, Nelson stated the following . ( Second hand and not exact words.) but he acknowledged that " tube design has a distinct advantage, and that one can not compare the devices of solid state VS tubes. "

Nelson is a good guy, has a very lucrative business model, and a persona to maintain, so you will not normally hear this , other than in this post here.

It IS true, that solid state amps have gotten to be much better. In cases where people use less than high efficiency speakers, solid state can be a " must " to use. MBL ( Germany ) and the newest Krell ( USA ) amp circuits s are supposed to be good.


I personally always generally advise audiophiles to run at least 101 dB speakers and the best possible low powered SE tube amps. YMMV, fine !

Jeff
 
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[email protected]

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There's no absolute verdict on this subject. IMHE, our brain listens to and likes the concepts we agree to.
If we agree to that tube sounds better than SS, then while listening music we align ourselves accordingly.
If the "concept" of absence of NFB appeals to me, as soon as we come to know that an amp doesn't have NFB, it starts sounding good automatically.
Same goes for Class A vs other Classes, sound of various capacitors, use of various wires etc.
It has been proven that in a double blind test those claimed differences in sound reproduction couldn't be pointed out or attributed to with confidence.
There is a huge following of Pass Lab SS amps which sell for astoundingly high price. So, if, tube sounded universally good, those Pass Lab amps wouldn't have had any buyer.

P.s. I myself use both tube and SS amps. The tube amp is a commercial amp that's possible for a normal mortal being like us to buy from shop. In my mind it's supposed to sound fantastic and so thus it sounds.
The other main amp is a 10 years old diy SS amp. And it sounds so good to me that I use it to drive my Tannoy MG15 speakers. The secret behind it's good sound is that I made it myself. ..😊😊
100% agree.
Having listened to both of Bhaskar da’s setup as described several times , I can testify the DIY SS driven Tannoys sound absolutely wonderful. They have a certain flavour which one appreciates better the more one listens to them. I liked them better on second hearing , and even more on the third.
 
Perfect for audiophiles wanting both excellent music quality and flexible operation.
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