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paul, the

Valve amps vs Solid State

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The venue I play the bass will get DI to the PA so the good tone I get is for me to enjoy on stage. Not sure what the audience hear but if they all nodding away then is all good. The only thing on my list when it comes to playing live is for me to hear myself, if I can't hear myself onstage then no point having all the high end stuff onstage. Then again having a SVT and ampeg 8x10 onstage I should be able to hear myself, if not something is going wrong lol.

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I dont think it is necessary to have the whole rig valve, what i mean by that is that any amp has a preamp and power amp stage. But they can be separated you could have the preamp transistor and the power amp valve or the other way round. At one time or another i have had all the combinations, i have now settled on a valve preamp and transistor power stage,
I use an ampeg preamp and a 2k digital power amp, i find it gives the warmth and consistency for the tone i prefer. Some people would say why do you need that kind of power on stage, its not the power but the clarity i require large amounts of head room. many dont realise that turning up the low eq on a rig uses lots of power and you can go into clipping very quickly. If you use a compressor you start loosing dynamic range as the low end drives the threshold into tripping, so i get the tone i want in a very compact and portable rig.

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'Hybrid' amps are nothing new - stuff a valve input stage on to a class D solid state and you get something fairly close to a cooking great valve amp without the drawbacks - try it with a Crown xls - it's an interesting mix..........

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[quote name='taunton-hobbit' timestamp='1410198093' post='2547055']
'Hybrid' amps are nothing new - stuff a valve input stage on to a class D solid state and you get something fairly close to a cooking great valve amp without the drawbacks - try it with a Crown xls - it's an interesting mix..........
[/quote]

Most hybrids have a valve front end but much of the valve sound comes from the power supply and output transformet. Surely an SS pre with a valve power amp ia the right way?

I should add that as an electronic engineer of 62 years, no valve will find its way into my pre amp or power amp.

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[quote name='Chienmortbb' timestamp='1410216124' post='2547318']
Most hybrids have a valve front end but much of the valve sound comes from the power supply and output transformer. Surely an SS pre with a valve power amp ia the right way?
[/quote]

Tru, dat. You get a better sound from a valve power amp with a VT Bass (or similar) as pre than you do with a valve pre and SS power stage.
I'm loving my Streamliner - which has a high-voltage 3-valve pre and Class D power stage - but in no way does it have the heft of a proper valve power stage. Just sayin'.

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Didn't MusicMan make their combo's with a SS pre and valve power section?

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[quote name='Chienmortbb' timestamp='1410216124']
I should add that as an electronic engineer of 62 years, no valve will find its way into my pre amp or power amp.
[/quote]

Could your say why?

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I have already said that the supposed valve sound comes mainly from the power amp and power supply, so a hybrid where the preamp is valve based is not very useful.

A valve power amp will give up its characteristic sound usually when being driven hard so if we want to play at low or medium power, the effect is very small or non existant.

So for many applications, there is no need for a valve amp. Add the fact that many or most valve amps need rebiasing when a valve is changed, can develop microphony and weigh a ton...

In my opinion, a good, flat, quiet, powerful silicon based amp together with the correct techniques and carefully chosen effects is much more versatile.

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One of the better (& loud) Jamaican/English sound systems that I stumbled across in the '70s, was a simple valve preamp tied into four large transistor chassis amps, about 250w each, powering a number of Tannoy Golds & 18" bass drivers. The amp chassis replaced an equal number of KT88 driven sets, and the difference was impossible to spot when the system was fired up at a gig.
....Just sayin'......

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[quote name='Chienmortbb' timestamp='1410216124' post='2547318']

I should add that as an electronic engineer of 62 years, no valve will find its way into my pre amp or power amp.
[/quote]

what do you use out of interest?

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[quote name='Chienmortbb' timestamp='1411043906' post='2555850']
I have already said that the supposed valve sound comes mainly from the power amp and power supply, so a hybrid where the preamp is valve based is not very useful.
[/quote]

It's true that a valve preamped hybrid won't capture the full character of a valve amp, but some of those valve preamps are very musical and can sound excellent when combined with a good SS power stage. The practical shortcomings of a valve preamp are quite small compared to those of a power amp (less iron required, less heat generated, longer lasting valves, no need for bias adjustment), so I'd argue that valve preamp hybrids can be a perfectly valid concept provided we're realistic about what they can and can't achieve.
The popularity of line-level valve studio gear supports the idea that preamp valve colouration can be a pleasing thing in its own right.

Edited by Beer of the Bass

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[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1411846242' post='2563313']
The popularity of line-level valve studio gear supports the idea that preamp valve colouration can be a pleasing thing in its own right.
[/quote]

Just playing devils advocate for a second, that may be a function of marketing - perception rather than the actual quality of the product.

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[quote name='Chienmortbb' timestamp='1410216124' post='2547318']

I should add that as an electronic engineer of 62 years, no valve will find its way into my pre amp or power amp.
[/quote]

Interesting take. Please could you explain and give us some insight?

Thanks Sean

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Wow! I can't believe the legs on this, all you have to do is decide if you like the amp or not, and don't worry if there are any valves in there.

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[quote name='Handwired' timestamp='1417719951' post='2623474']
Wow! I can't believe the legs on this, all you have to do is decide if you like the amp or not, and don't worry if there are any valves in there.
[/quote]

Valve amp vs. Solid state. It's like the difference between getting close to a real woman (or man) versus a mannequin. It's like the difference between Bacardi Breezers and great vin rouge or Real ale. Margarine vs Butter. The result is the same but the experience is completely different. Lightweight stuff is "just a phase" ;-)

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Ive been using a roland db210 at smaller gigs and ive just got a peavey VB-MA rig with the 410 and 118 matching cabs , at bigger gigs /festivals I just turn up and plug into whatever is onstage and listen to the monitor sound when I am not running about and pulling faces at punters whilst leaning over a monitor for a great picture...pmsl . But for a top notch sound sometimes ive gone TOTP and fed the album sound through the pa so i can just drink jd and ponce about whilst hitting any string that looks best because nobody in the audience can tell the difference... tube tranny or tape they don't care as long as you look good

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[quote name='Bolo' timestamp='1410284213' post='2547849']
Didn't MusicMan make their combo's with a SS pre and valve power section?
[/quote]

That's true. They sound absolutely great too. nothing touches them for super clean and warm Fender-like valve tone. Most of the tone in a valve amp comes from the power stage. SS is more efficient and less prone to distortion, which means you get all the juicy tone of valves and all the cleanness of SS.....Leo was a smart guy!

Valve pre and SS power just doesn't work in my book....

Edited by Bassnut62

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[quote name='Bassnut62' timestamp='1420235696' post='2647113']
Valve pre and SS power just doesn't work in my book....
[/quote]

I'm not so sure, as putting something like an Alembic F2B (based on the Fender Showman preamp stage) in front of a powerful SS power amp is a bit of a classic setup. If you wanted it to sound like a Fender Showman you'd be disappointed, but this sort of rig can be great in a cleaner, more modern sounding way.

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After playing loads of higher end SS amps over the past few years in a (failed) attempt to find something I like, I recently tried an Ashdown CTM15. I loved it! But then I appear to have mixed tastes re SS vs valve; I've never liked Ampeg valve, always loved Trace SS, generally really liked Marshall Superbass, hated my Marshall 2001, never got on with Markbass/Epifani/GB etc etc, preferred my Ashdown ABM to my Trace Twin Valve; it seems to more dependent on the amp itself, the cab, and what I'm putting through it. Can't wait to try some more CTMs or LBs though.

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[quote name='Lfalex v1.1' timestamp='1179655295' post='2773']
Uh-oh. Counterpoint time.
I've owned ONE fully tube device, an Ampeg SVP-Pro. It can work fine, and when it does, it sounds lovely. It has never made it through a whole gig, no matter how short.

It just cuts out, and won't come back. It's been looked at 3 times, and no-one can fix it.

YES! Of course it's out of warranty.

And it always brings its buddy, captain 50hz hum to the party.

It has had a second full set of valves, supposedly "good" ones, yet still it happens.

[/quote]

Mine did this too - there's thermal cutout on the transformer (single strand of wire across the top) that might need looking at.

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I've been through a few amps in my time (both SS and Valve) and have come to the conclusion that you can't beat the warmth, heft and juicy richness of a good valve amp. That said, it undoubtedly just a personal preference...

Valves in the pre may or may not help but the sound of a SS amp probably owes more to the overall design of the SS amp rather than simply having funky glowing stuff in the pre (Genz Benz 12.0 shuttle sounded too sterile, but the Mark Bass TTE500 is as close as I've managed to valve-y goodness from SS).

However, there is no getting away from the fact that valve amps are not light so I'm going the route of valves for gigs (my luvverly MatAmp :wub: ) and a loud-ish lightweight SS combo for grab and go rehearsals etc. Hopefully this will put an end to my bl**dy GAS!

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Thought I would throw in my thoughts on this debate. I hope its an interesting one too.

I use both..... At the same time.

I'm currently running a Warwick Tubepath 5.1 and Gallien Kreuger 400rb (I think thats the right one). I use a BOSS ME-50B multi effects pedal. Its got stereo outputs so I decided to run both at the same time. And it is awesome.
I use the GK for majority of the treble and Warwick for all the low ends.
My low ends are really warm and have a nice sub feel, while my treble is very responsive and nice and bright.
The GK reacts really well with all the effects and distortions. The Warwick not so much.

You can kinda hear when the heads "swap" when I play from the low strings to the high strings. Its taken me a while to make the blend sound seamless (a few years lol), but its been worth it.
Plus seeing some peoples reaction when they see The Rig and then hear it is always great to see,

So in my experience with a valve and SS is this:
SS are very warm bright sound and reacts really well with effects, especially distortion/fuzz. However they seem to lack warm low end sounds.
Valves have that great warm distinctive sound. And the bottom end are what makes them worth it.

And if you guys and girls were wonder here is The Rig

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[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1420307225' post='2647902']
I'm not so sure, as putting something like an Alembic F2B (based on the Fender Showman preamp stage) in front of a powerful SS power amp is a bit of a classic setup. If you wanted it to sound like a Fender Showman you'd be disappointed, but this sort of rig can be great in a cleaner, more modern sounding way.
[/quote]

Yep, that's pretty much what I do. Except I also put an SVT preamp through the effects loop. Like that it does a pretty good impression of an all valve amp.

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[quote name='Sean' timestamp='1393759455' post='2384000']
I spent years trying to find the sound, as many of us do and it wasn't until I heard and played through the 400+ that I found it. I tried Ashdown ABM, Trace SS, GK, Markbass, Laney, Hartke, Genz, TC, EBS, Aguilar and others but until I got that thump in the chest from the 400+ everything else was like alcohol-free beer.

I have since tried a Matamp GT200 and that is like a very different flavour of what I like. I'd like to try a VBA400, CTM300, the big Laney and some others before I decide on a second head but the heft of a big valve power section is just an unbeatable experience for me and the 400+ has more personality than all the other amps I've ever had put together. Sure, it's got weird EQ and the DI is the usual Mesa impractical nonsense until you get used to it but the ownership experience is fabulous, it's so much more than a tool to do a job, it's a thing that's almost alive.
[/quote]

I've been using the 400+ for nearly 15 years and it does indeed have a character nothing else does, and just doesn't seem to run out of power..
I have used Ampeg's (classics and SVT2s as hired in backline) and have had a Marshall VBA 400 stack as spare for many years, and love the whole valve thing... It's a very effortless more dynamic experience, but it depends on the player. If you're a compression loving super clean sound freak it may not be for you..
Saying that I do more gigs with my Orange terror1000 now, just for ease of use.. :(

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The problem I have had with valve amps is not with the amp per say but with the so so quality of the valves available today. Not near as reliable as those made back in the 50's-60's-70's. The biggest difference I've noticed between Valve and SS is more of how they respond to my playing and not so much as to how they sound. They just feel different and they both take some getting use too. I've settled on a lightweight SS amp (Ampeg PF-500) Once I got use to how it responded to my playing I'm just fine with it. It is all about figuring out how you, your guitar, and your amp all work together. Is Valve better than SS, NO they are just different. As for a 300 watt valve amp sounding louder than a 300 watt SS. The answer is YES and the reason for that is the Valve amp can operate at 300 watts and can be pushed into soft clipping which sounds louder because of the changed harmonic content, while this sound is distorted it is still musical. The SS amp has no soft clipping sound like a valve. When it is pushed into clipping it get real ugly real fast. But, valve amps tend to top out at 300-400 watts and SS bass heads 800-1000.

Edited by GreyBeard

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