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paul, the

Valve amps vs Solid State

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[quote name='bigjohn' timestamp='1354127681' post='1882488']



[/quote]

Now that is a thing of beauty!

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I had a chance to play through a modern, point to point wired Hiwatt yesterday at Mor in York.



They let me crank it right up, and Ive been on a total high ever since - the experience was totally different to playing through a cranked solid state amp like a Trace, and that was just my bass direct into the amp. Im pretty sure the beast would bring out the best in my effects too.

However, for the price, the tone, though sublime, wasnt quite what I was looking for, a little too polite and not quite gnarley enough. When youre used to modern EQs, the passive jobs on the classic amps are a little hard to work with and I struggled to get a nice middy burp with a bit of grind when I dig in.

Maybe this amp is what someone here is after, if youre in the North and after a classic valve amp, you might want to give Mor a try.

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[quote name='Mr. Foxen' timestamp='1354474822' post='1886415']
Hiwatt were never point to point.
[/quote]


According to the front page of their website, the modern ones at least are:

[url="http://www.hiwatt.co.uk/"]http://www.hiwatt.co.uk/[/url]

[quote]Boutique Quality,
Point to point wiring,
Military Style Construction..[/quote]

I always thought point to point meant turret board, tag strip or similiar - is this wrong?

Edited by Mikey R

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[quote name='Mikey R' timestamp='1354484619' post='1886604']
According to the front page of their website, the modern ones at least are:

[url="http://www.hiwatt.co.uk/"]http://www.hiwatt.co.uk/[/url]


I always thought point to point meant turret board, tag strip or similiar - is this wrong?
[/quote]

Might say it, tell you more about Music Ground than how they are made. Turret is turret construction, instead of going from point to point, it goes from turret to turret, or turret to point. Odd things will be point to point, like the resistors on a valve base where they go between the connectors directly, but the main part of the circuit in Hiwatts is either on turret boards, or on a PCB. Either of which are superior construction methods than being point to point.

[url="http://mhuss.com/AmpInfo/"]http://mhuss.com/AmpInfo/[/url]

Edit: Also Military style = PCB, since military stuff is on PCB.

Edited by Mr. Foxen

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I have a difficult relationship with Hiwatt stuff..

I love the way it looks with it's timeless charm and excellent build quality both inside and out. Perfect neat lines from A - B, top quality componentry etc. I've heard great sounds come out of both EL34 powered 100 watters and the bigger '88 loaded 200w models but...

I just can't get along with any of them. I had an '80s 100w which was OK, it sounded nice enough but it never seemed right, my Linear L30 would maul it in terms of power let alone Beavis (50w at the time also EL34 loaded) so didn't keep it all that long. I tried a new set of Harma EL34s but it was still flat. Later I borrowed a friends' 200w and that was just not to my taste. It had this hard metalic character (1 - 4 kHz) that I simply couldn't get away from irrespective of what I did with it. There was plenty of power on tap but they're just not to my taste..

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Was it modded to adjustable bias? They weren't made with it initially because Mullards were consistent enough it didn't matter. If its off balance you get a nasty bit in the upper end.

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Truth is, I'm not sure..

I assume it was an adjustable bias model as it was a re-issue model bought from Doncaster. I think it had svetlana KT88s. I've never used these in anything so I'm not sure of their character traits. Maybe it would have been better with EHX or Shuguangs..?

My 100w model was adjustable but it wasn't so much a tonal issue with this one, it was simply a lack of stones..

I'd love to find one that I liked as I think they're the nuts to look at.

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[quote name='VTypeV4' timestamp='1355152232' post='1894666']
I assume it was an adjustable bias model as it was a re-issue model bought from Doncaster. I think it had svetlana KT88s. I've never used these in anything so I'm not sure of their character traits. Maybe it would have been better with EHX or Shuguangs..?
[/quote]

So whats the difference between the different makes of KT88 / 6550? Both the KT88s and the 6550s from EHX look like they are actually good value, what are their qualities in a bass amp? Whats the difference between them and, say, the much more expensive Genalex Gold Lion ones?

Is there a big difference between the makes in terms of efficiency, so that loading an amp with one type will cause it to have lower output as well as differing tone?

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[b][size=4]Tube reference[/size][/b][size=2].[/size]

[size=3]I thought i'd do a bit of a reference on my personal experiences of various output valves/tubes i've used over the years.
[b]Tung Sol re-issue 6550[/b].
I have used this valve in a number of applications over the years and have to say, it's a really good valve. I've never had one fail and still have the original quad i bought in 2004. I purchased them for use in my Trace Elliot V4 as an alternative to the Ruby Tubes KT88s it came with. These are a warm but tight sounding valve offering plenty of clean headroom before breakup with a really wide band of 'not quite breaking up but still compressing' thing going on. They really grind when they're thrashed offering a very aggressive edge. The bottom end is very tight although not as pronounced as other types I've used. In the middle is where this valve really shines, it's smooth and punchy without being unpleasant or obtrusive, just gives everything great body and definition. High frequencies are handled without drama being smooth and natural until driven hard when they get gnarly but in a good way.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Beavis 50 and Trace Elliot V4.
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Most certainly yes.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, 8 valves still intact, 6 still in service, 2 spares.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Great definition from a high power valve where detail and dynamics are paramount. The best 6550 I've used. Great valve.
 
[b]Shuguang KT88 98.[/b]
I believe this is the standard issue Shuguang KT88 valve on which even the super posh expensive 50th aniversary models are based. The expensive variants have detail changes such as the glass, gold pins etc. I have used two variants of this valve, the first being a Ruby Tubes branded quad and later a standard Shuguang quad purchased on ebay. Both were sonically identical in their delivery was generally very good. I did however have a vacuum failure in one of the Ruby Tubes quad which was a shame and in the Shuguang quad, one was duff out of the box but the supplier changed the valve without issue. This valve has a very warm sound being very smooth right through the range which makes it great for all applications. This valve seems to go 'lower' than the other 6550/KT88 variants but doesn't seem to offer the same control over the the real low stuff when worked hard.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Trace Elliot V4.
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Most certainly yes.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Yes, one vacuum failure and another duff out of the box. Still have 2 spares.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Lovey and warm valve giving everything a nice rounded bottom end. Excellent value tube.
 
[b]Electro Harmonix KT88[/b].
Not quite sure but I think these are made in Russia and re-branded. I have a matched sextet of these residing in my Ashton amplifier and are the best KT88 variant model I've used. They are a very loud and clean valve offering masses of clean headroom with an excellent dynamic range. When pushed, the valves don't so much distort as just compress which makes them great for bass guitar. The EHX valve offers a similar amount of bottom end to the Shuguang valve but retains control over it even at high output levels. Midrange is smooth and detailed but not pronounced and top end has plenty of sparkle with no graininess or harsh characteristics. I expect a set in a hifi amplifier would yield great results in both terms of power and detail. I've had no failures yet, they seem to be a really good valve.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Ashton BV300H and Trace Elliot V4.
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Most certainly yes.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, all six still in service.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
The best sounding KT88 I've used. Highly recommended.
 
[b]Shuguang/Ruby EL34B[/b].
I understand these were the first of the larger bottle 'heavy duty' EL34 valve. They came up cheap in a local music shop so I had to have them even though I didn't need them at the time. The pair are the Ruby Tubes branded variant. Having used them in two applications, they have performed very well in both. I tried them in Beavis for a while in place of the JJ EL34s that were in at the time but when it was re-configured to use 6550s, they went into my Linear L30 to replace the tired Mullard EL34s. In Beavis they weren't quite as smooth as the JJs, giving a noticeable crest at around 3kHz but did offer more clean headroom, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other I guess. They're better in the Linear helping its definition without coming across too harsh or unpleasant. Bottom end is natural and smooth with a pleasant roll off making for a 'normal' bass response but its in the upper mid-range where this valve will be liked or lumped. From 2k5 through to about 4khz, the valve has a pomenant character which can make it sound a touch brittle.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Beavis 50 and Linear L30
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Probably although I'd like to compare the to JJ KT77 which may have the best of both worlds.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, both still in service.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
High power EL34 great for giving definition but can be a touch harsh if pushed.
 
[b]Sovtek EL34G.[/b]
Not a bad valve but I think the Sovtek company have stepped their game up since these were in production. I used them for a number of years in Beavis as these were the brand new valves it was built with back in 1996. I think the later version of the 'G' was the WXT which I also used in the same amp for a short time. The bottom end on this valve is quite normal, not bad but nothing particularly exceptional to speak of. Midrange body and definition is more than adequate, the valve offers the typical 'bite' expected from an EL34 which can get quite crunchy when pushed hard. This does however mask the top end just a little above about 6 khz when pushed hard. It also clipped earlier than other variants I've used which whilst not ideal for hifi, is great for guitar work. I later gave these valves to a friend for use in his Marshall amplifier.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Beavis 50 and Marshall JCM800 combo
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Unlikely as I believe better valves are now in production for both power and sound considerations.

[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, both still in service.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
An outdated valve no longer in production but was rugged, reliable and good in guitar amps.
 
[b]JJ EL34. [/b]
A personal favourite in terms of sound within the EL34 family. In every application I used these in, they worked brilliantly and without drama. The valve looks to be well built big plates, getters in the top and a solidly mounted base. This is a very smooth sounding tube offering great dynamics and not that brittle edge that EL34s can be guilty of when worked hard. They don't quite have the same headroom offered by the EL34B but the overall character is somewhat smoother than any other EL34 I've used. It has no particular frequency band where its promenant or shy which make it great for hifi work although in instrument amplifiers, it offers plenty of warmth and body.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Beavis 50, Sound City 120 and Musicman HD65
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Probably although I'd like to compare the to JJ KT77 which may offer more power with the same tonal character.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, both still in service.
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Lovely EL34, my favourite. Great in all applications.
 
[b]Svetlana EL34.[/b]
I have no idea what these sound like as I never managed to get two working at the same time. I tried two pairs of these, both had a duff valve in each pair, both exhibiting spitting and buzzing through the speaker whilst lightning sparked inside the glass. I had my money back and put the Sovteks back in.
 
[i]Reference Amplifiers[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Beavis 50
 
[i]Would I use this Valve again[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
No, they never worked.
 
[i]Has one failed[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Yes two in two pairs
 
[i]Overall impression[/i][font=Times New Roman]?[/font]
Bad valves. I know it was probably bad luck but two consecutive bad valves put me off.
 
I've used other valves but not extensivley enough to pass comment on and frankly, I've probably bored everyone to death already.
Cheers, Matt.

Hope this helps. 
 
 
 [/size]

Edited by VTypeV4

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What a valve does depends entirely on the circuit you put it in. 'Tone profiles' of valves can only apply to specific circuits since the same valve in a different circuit will do different things.

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The depth of knowledge on any given BassChat subject never ceases to amaze me. Very intresting reading, it's a shame it didn't all stick.
For me it boil's down to this;
I've got a valve rig at the rehearsel room, very warm and creamy,300trace V6 watts into Eden4x10, cost 1600 quid and weighs 55kg. When I fancy a change or don't fancy lifting the Beast it's the solid state 600GenzBenz watts into a BarefacedMidget, cost 800 quid and weighs 15 kg, can be as punchy as you like sir!
It's a question of taste really, do you take the jazz or precision with flats?

Nice debate,

Phil

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[quote name='Mr. Foxen' timestamp='1355712225' post='1901766']
What a valve does depends entirely on the circuit you put it in. 'Tone profiles' of valves can only apply to specific circuits since the same valve in a different circuit will do different things.
[/quote]

+1 to this..

Which is why I put the reference amplifier at the end of each review and where I've used the same in a number of amps, it's a general overview.

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Just out of interest, what voltages does Beavis run the 6550s at? Im guessing V[sub]A[/sub] = 400V, V[sub]G2[/sub] = 270V, with R[sub]A-A [/sub]around 3.4k, from the 6550 data sheet?

Edited by Mikey R

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Speaking from personal experience, I would never go back to valves. I've used SS now for years and I honestly can't tell much difference in tone.

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I haven't got all the numbers but from the sheet the guy did when he modified beavis..

~575 volts on the plates
~49 ma current draw

This apparently was the starting point after he'd modified the bias circuit but finally ended up setting it a bit hotter as it sounded sweeter and made a tiny touch more power..

As for what the load the transformer presents to the valves, I have no idea. The original design was for EL34 valves if that helps with a guestimate. Inconveniently the secondary only sees 4 or 16 ohms which is a bit of a pain when wanting to try other cabs but if it ever fries, I'll get it re-wound for 4-8-16 ohms..

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[quote name='Mikey R' timestamp='1356547165' post='1911065']
Cheers V4! Youve got me hatching a plan...
[/quote]

A Beavis clone? I'd love to see that! :D

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Hi guys, sorry to keep banging on about this...

Ive been reading a few threads and Ive been hearing how people value 'all valve' designs - is this just for mojo? If you put a solid state eq pedal in the effects loop, then youve instantly got yourself a hybrid, if you then build that eq into amp then you have something like the Mesa 400+ with the graphic EQ.

Then theres the purist opinion that an all valve design shouldnt even use solid state diodes in the power supply, however valve rectifiers dont seem to suit the bass so well.

As bass players, we seem to value things like the option for headroom, bandwidth and accurate tone controls, which are so much easier when you allow transistors into the design. Granted, the early hybrid amps were a little nasty, but with modern amps, is this 'all valve' thing just marketing?

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It is all about people using terms without knowing what they mean. Like the obsession with saying point to point when pretty much nothing is all point to point, and its a terrible way of making an amp. The thing to differentiate is a valve power section vs a solid state one, and ditto with the preamp, because a valve power section is where a lot of the sound stuff is, but instead of just saying that, people go for 'all valve' to mean a preamp and power amp valves, even though it isn't all valve.

Also, the main advantage as far as I've observed, of a limited valve preamp is that people can't make their tone really bad with rubbish eqing by doing it by eye, which is really common.

Edited by Mr. Foxen

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Yeah, it seems half the trick is separating the truth from the stuff that everyone heard from someone else, who heard it from a bloke at a gig, who read it on the internet somewhere...

Cheers Oli, learning alot this holiday :)

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Mikey, i still have the original circuit design for Beavis somewhere altho he has been heavily modded since it was drawn. Let me know if you want it? I [i]think [/i]I know where it is at least..!

I haven't seen an L50 on ebay for a while tho.. :ph34r:

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Cheers dude, I would guess its kinda similar to a Marshall with master volume? Dont worry just yet, Ive got some experimenting to do before I get anywhere near that stage.

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