Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
paul, the

Valve amps vs Solid State

Recommended Posts

[quote name='Muppet' post='8018' date='May 28 2007, 12:06 PM']on Ampeg SVT ...
Definitive in terms of image more than sound I reckon. A lot of these are rented mate, and chosen for the image rather than the sound. I've known one big festival to use the same bass rig for four bands - wheeled off at the end of each set only to be wheeled back on again for the next band.[/quote]

I've come late to this discussion, and unlike most I have a foot in the Solid State camp.

Most of my experince with valve amps is dep. gigs, festivals etc. where the backilne is provided by the promoter and invariably there will always be one of those Ampeg SVT's of some kind or another lurking at the back of the stage waiting to belch out some muddy midrange guff.

I really, really don't get on with them, they always cut out on me and sound muddy and unprecise.

Most of the time your amp is only for onstage sound anyway, I prefer to DI to the desk straight from the bass I think it gives the engineer more control over the sound. And if your amp is only for onstage monitoring then all I want is a nice clean straightforward sound.

With this said i am only talking about my experince with Ampegs. On one or two lucky occasions I've had an SWR (which I think I'm right in saying has a valve pre amp) and that has a warmth without the muddiness, they are beatiful sounding amps.

My own amp is an old Solid State Trace Elliot form the ealry 90's but it doesn't get used that much and is on it's last legs, I'm thinking about a markbass little mark, then I can take it on flights and use it instead of the Ampeg! Any one know how these compare to Trace?

Edited by gilmour

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's one of the upsides of current SS heads v. valve heads: they make 'em tiny now. The Eden WTX-260 is stupidly small.

I wonder if the technology that Oxblood talked about above could be applied to making miniature valve heads of a comparable size and power output.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='chris_b' post='2824' date='May 20 2007, 11:57 AM']I suppose everyone should own a valve amp, I have, as I started playing when valve was the only option. But I my opinion these days valve is more trouble than its worth.

The worst amp I ever owned was a Boogie 400+, hundreds of expensive valves and always blowing one. OK, so I know that amp had a problem, which was never identified, but you can't accept unreliable equipment. The best amp I owned was a Dynacord BS412, which was solid state and a fabulous sound. The current SVT3 has a valve pre-amp and mosfet power section. That is as far as I'll go on valves now and this seems to be a good combination.

Spend as much as you can, then a bit more. High end bass gear seems to be mosfet these days, Epifani, Markbass, EA, Eden etc. High end hi-fi got rid of valves years ago, until you get to the stupidly expensive stuff. Even if you get a wonderful valve amp you will always Di through a valveless PA system. No one expects to use valves in a PA system do they?

In my opinion it is a myth that valves sound better. They are different, but an average bass and bad technique will affect your sound much more than the amp you play through. If you want to improve your sound put your favourite amp through a good speaker.... in my opinion EV's are the best sounding speaker you can get. A good cab with an EV will really make you go WOW!![/quote]........DITTO THAT!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I unwrapped my early '70s Kustom Charger on Sunday. Solid State and a tone that makes me grin uncontrollably.

Very 'warm' on the bridge pup.

I'll start a thread at somepoint. Is there an amp porn thread?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='The Funk' post='65228' date='Sep 25 2007, 10:57 AM']I wonder if the technology that Oxblood talked about above could be applied to making miniature valve heads of a comparable size and power output.[/quote]

The forthcoming Peavey VB-3 uses an SMPS to get the weight of a 300W valve head down to about 30lbs.

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are certainly many ways to reduce the weight, to some extent, of valve amps, but you can only go so far, as yet.
One thing that I think no-one has yet mentioned as a down-side for valves is the need to match impedances always. Unlike SS, where a 4ohm output can be run into 8 with merely a loss of output power, doing this to a tube amp will wreck the output transformer sooner or later, usually sooner.

My personal take on the whole thing? SS every time, purely to save my back! I'm certainly old enough to have been around when SS wasn't often an option!
My favourite valve amp of those I used was a Vox AC50 head. Great amp, and reliable, too. But I wouldn't have a valve amp now even if i had free roadies! I prefer not needing a big car...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='alexclaber' post='66399' date='Sep 27 2007, 01:32 PM']The forthcoming Peavey VB-3 uses an SMPS to get the weight of a 300W valve head down to about 30lbs.

Alex[/quote]

I still don't understand how they get 300W from only 6 EL34s, I think they mean peak and not rms. So I would say its more likely to be 150-160W rms.

Or am I missing something :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I might add a POV to the argument - I judge each amplifier on its own merits where possible. I have played really bad sounding all valve rigs, and solid state rigs that made me want to cry they were so sweet. I have played valve rigs that sounded just amazing and tight, sweet and clear, and solid state rigs that were thin and boring.

I just so happen to have a very nice valve combo at home mainly because it is a lovely piece of British engineering and simply a joy to own. Live, I use a digital pre-amp and in ear monitors, so a completely different thing on paper - but the tone I get from both is in real terms is just the sound of my bass and me making a hash of it. Just very clear and.. well.. louder!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='DHA' post='67034' date='Sep 28 2007, 04:32 PM']I still don't understand how they get 300W from only 6 EL34s, I think they mean peak and not rms. So I would say its more likely to be 150-160W rms.

Or am I missing something :)[/quote]


I must be missing summink [email protected]@@ I had a 6 EL34 amp (sure it was a 1975 baby) & it put out about 170w when we tested it! Do PV do what Fender did yrs ago w/ the 400PS & stick a valve in another section to "pump it up more" ?!?!?!?!?????
The Fender 400PS did 435w & had 6x 6550's-normally about 300w. I dunno, but would like to
! :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='rodl2005' post='71422' date='Oct 9 2007, 07:59 AM']I must be missing summink [email protected]@@ I had a 6 EL34 amp (sure it was a 1975 baby) & it put out about 170w when we tested it! Do PV do what Fender did yrs ago w/ the 400PS & stick a valve in another section to "pump it up more" ?!?!?!?!?????
The Fender 400PS did 435w & had 6x 6550's-normally about 300w. I dunno, but would like to
! :)[/quote]

It's to do with what you mean by watts? Watts is not an audio measurement, dBm is. But, because we don't think in dBm amp manfactures state the wattage of the output stage as a gauge. How loud it is depends on how much current you can put into the speaker. I(current) squared x R(resistance) = W(watts). My point was that there is a max each valves plate can take before it burns out and the figures don't stack up if you take the huge losses in the output transformer and speakers into account.

How did you test the amp to get 170w or 300w? If you measured the current into the speakers with a meter this would account for it as the meter will not read rms but mean so your reading will be higher. This is what manufactures state when they say "music" or "peak" power, trust me it's rms that counts.

Using a valve to pump it up more will not help get more volume as there is a maxium each valve will get to however hard you drive it. All this will do is overdrive the output stage which will then distort, sounds good but its not louder.

But, I think I have worked out what the Peavey VB-3 is doing since my comment.

It's very clever if I am right. I believe they are running the output valves in switchmode class D. This way, just like solid state versions of class D you can get a lot more power than the output devices can deliver if running in other modes, class AB mainly. The mains transformer will still be very big but the output transformer will be much smaller.

In Class A the output stage is on all the time so the current drawn is the same at full or at no audio out.

In Class AB each half of the output stage is on half the time and current drawn changes with output level.

In Class D the output stage is switched off and on at a frequency higher than the audio with a duty cycle than means that the current drawn is only a fraction of class A or AB. This means a smaller transformer.

Saying that, this is much easier to do with MOSFETs that's why all class D amps are solid state. There will be some very big technical issues to get around using valves such as the MOSFETS will be switching at 40-50V and the valves at 450-500V. Suppressing those switching spikes will be fun.

Or, I have put 2 and 2 together and made 5 and they are just using clever marketing.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='DHA' post='71439' date='Oct 9 2007, 08:40 AM']How did you test the amp to get 170w or 300w? If you measured the current into the speakers with a meter this would account for it as the meter will not read rms but mean so your reading will be higher. This is what manufactures state when they say "music" or "peak" power, trust me it's rms that counts.
Dave[/quote]

I dunno what my valve "guru" tech did to measure my old amp, But it was definately RMS he informed me of. Definately not "peak".
Re the valve to "pump up" the output... I read this in a thread on Talkbass- I think it was the "show yr Fenders" thread. there they talk re how Fender-with the 400PS- got a valve amp with 6 x 6550's to put out 435w RMS!!!!!!!!!!! :)
I've not seen or heard one 'live'-just in the pics on TB. But it sounds like it was a "MOTHER" of an amp!

ps. thanx for yr description & thought re the Peavey's power!

Edited by rodl2005

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='rodl2005' post='73152' date='Oct 12 2007, 06:59 AM']I dunno what my valve "guru" tech did to measure my old amp, But it was definately RMS he informed me of. Definately not "peak".
Re the valve to "pump up" the output... I read this in a thread on Talkbass- I think it was the "show yr Fenders" thread. there they talk re how Fender-with the 400PS- got a valve amp with 6 x 6550's to put out 435w RMS!!!!!!!!!!! :)
I've not seen or heard one 'live'-just in the pics on TB. But it sounds like it was a "MOTHER" of an amp!

ps. thanx for yr description & thought re the Peavey's power![/quote]

I did some checking on 6550s and they are a very powerful valve and it's just possible to get the 435W but that is running the plate current and voltage at max. The Fender must pop valves like there is no tomorrow!

The 6 EL34s in your old amp just broke the laws of nature as their plates are rated at 25W max each. What with the transformer losses I don't see were 170W comes from. If he measured the mean then 170W is correct as this is 120W rms which is about right.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[url="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7094881.stm"]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7094881.stm[/url]
mmm 2000 valve lovelyness. better than yr solid state shizzle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just played an old Eagle valve PA through a 10" driver and loved it.

If I only had the jazz pup; I wouldn't need more than one 10 for home use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there, got the luxury of both at the moment, a Trace Elliot V8 (8 x KT88 400RMS, six pre tubes and an output indication valve) and the ss side is a Focusrite TrakMaster Channel strip, stereo two way crossover and a Crown XS500 (2x400 @4, [email protected], [email protected], bridges to 1350 at 8 and 1650 at4) along with an EBS Neo 212, Peavey BW1x15 and a variety of other boxes containing 18's, fifteens and tens...

I think in the end it's just a case of horses for courses... both setups have a 'sound' it's just which one happens to be in you head at the time... in the end i like the ss set up better as for me i like a 'recording style' incisive tone... at gigs after e few hours playing the valves tend to 'soften' not 'dull' just a little less bite.. it will take a good ss power amp to mimic the bass end of a big tube head, although that said, being a high voltage low current device (as opposed to ss being lower voltage higher current) very low end (if you've got some 18's handy) is probably better/more controlled (much higher damping factor) on a good ss design.

Basses are a Fender USA Jazz 5, Trace T-Bass 5, Goodfellow Rumour 6 Fretless (in the side pic) and a Yammy TRB 6P.

Confused?? so am I !!!...which is why it's necessary to continually use the auspices of this goodly forum to try EVERYTHING.... just in case......

Cheers

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a Traynor 1x15 combo, with a valve amp. Sweet tone, plenty of warm bottom end, but without sounding muffled. Only 60w though, so the volume wasn't quite there for most gigs. But this was always the yardstick by which all my later amps were judged, until...

One of my amps at the mo, is a PJB M-500. It's a tone monster, that classic rock bass tone is all there. IMO it does the Ampeg thing better than Ampegs, and it's SS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Valve Vs SS? Well, I'm 48 now and have been a lifelong advocate of SS. Well, admittedly, in the past I could never afford expensive (valve) gear so had to go for cheap (good bang for bucks) gear, but was always happy with my sound. In fact for a SS user I was always complimented on my sound. Always aggressive and big.
However I recently started buying pre's with tubes in front. (Many different ones, trust me) and all were kind of 'ok', ...but in honesty, didn't raise the bar substantially.
[b]But[/b] then I bought an Aguilar DB 680... It is an awesome bit of kit. I've raved about it in the reviews thread, so I'm not going to bore you here... But needless to say, it's a very musical and importantly, a *masive* improvement, ...and with a powersoft Digam 3002 poweramp (3000watt) I have enough SS power and headroom, to drive the tubey sound all the way to Mercury.

I can make God tremble now.


So I'm saying... Tubes for the ultimate sound, but then amplify with enough power to drive your sound through to the Nth dimension...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would suggest extreme caution when dealing with Watford Valves.

Dereck, the owner of Watford valves will give you the line about how he is a bass player himself and got so fed-up of seeing poor bass players being sold cheap valves that failed, that he was moved to set up Watford Valves.

Dereck provided me with a set of 6 Harma 6550's that were meant to be ideal for Ampeg SVT's.

When I took the amp to EMS, Southend, they laughed when I said I had Harmas - they had had so much trouble with these valves.

After the third tube blew I gave up on his valves and got some Electro Harmonix from ebay at LESS than his valves.

They've been in the amp for 6 months and sound oh so sweet.

I suggest extreme caution because not only are Dereck's valves unreliable he also wriggles out of any kind of refunds - the problems I had with his valves are obviously not a one off and he has become very proficient in arranging his defense to any kind of complaint.

Be warned and avoid at all costs - nasty bit of work.

Sorry - I'm not usually so blunt - but you know life, generally most people are ok buy every now and then you come across a someone that is not and in this case his name is Dereck and he is the owner of Watford Valves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi folks,

regarding the 6 x el34's and 300w...

The plate dissipation for class A is about 12w in class AB around 25w (50w per pair) and perhaps the amp is run in class B which I believe would offer the 300W RMS, although I have not referred to any spec sheets and don't think most old spec sheets would show class B as most equipment from yesteryear was built class A, AB1 or AB2...

some nice posts oxblood, but I would take issue with comment that building a guitar amp is easy whereas building a bass valve amp is hard...

quite often, voicing a high gain guitar amp is quite time consuming and problematic and can become quite complex circuitry and preventing oscillation and noise etc... admittedly, most bass amps having larger output levels would require larger, weightier transformers though...

regarding the issue of always impedance matching valve amps and solid state not being as critical, I do not believe this to be wholly accurate either... if using a quality over rated output transformer, impedance matching is not as dangerous as perhaps you suggest - whilst it is better to err on the side of caution as much gear does use under sized output units...

With regard solid state, putting a 4 ohm load onto an amp designed for 8 ohm and running flat out will surely cause destruction as ss devices tend not to limit their output as valves and their power supplies inherently do...

Just observing that it is not strictly as black and white as you suggest.... on the amp sitets i join in with, this is one of the myths that is dispelled and backed up with hard science.... but as I said above, better to err on the side of caution...

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='gareth' post='191259' date='May 3 2008, 04:16 PM']I would suggest extreme caution when dealing with Watford Valves.

Dereck, the owner of Watford valves will give you the line about how he is a bass player himself and got so fed-up of seeing poor bass players being sold cheap valves that failed, that he was moved to set up Watford Valves.

Dereck provided me with a set of 6 Harma 6550's that were meant to be ideal for Ampeg SVT's.

When I took the amp to EMS, Southend, they laughed when I said I had Harmas - they had had so much trouble with these valves.

After the third tube blew I gave up on his valves and got some Electro Harmonix from ebay at LESS than his valves.

They've been in the amp for 6 months and sound oh so sweet.

I suggest extreme caution because not only are Dereck's valves unreliable he also wriggles out of any kind of refunds - the problems I had with his valves are obviously not a one off and he has become very proficient in arranging his defense to any kind of complaint.

Be warned and avoid at all costs - nasty bit of work.

Sorry - I'm not usually so blunt - but you know life, generally most people are ok buy every now and then you come across a someone that is not and in this case his name is Dereck and he is the owner of Watford Valves.[/quote]Hi gareth I've just seen this and I am shocked that someone with such a high profile valve company didn't refund you for your blown valves.
Can you tell me more?
I had Harmas in my Ampeg SVP pre and they seemed fine.
Steve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Solid state or valve... it's a tough one - I've always used solid state and never really found the sound I've wanted - the last disaster was an Ampeg B5R which was juuuuust rubbish. Just come into a bit of money - so I spent it all and bought an Ampeg SVT2 monster. Sounds absolutely lovely, but is somewhere in the region of the heaviest thing in the world. Got rid of the old ampeg B5R and bought a markbass LM2 as a spare amp, and this sounds lovely too, with the bonus of being able to lift it with one hand... it's quite conflicting :)

On the whole I think I prefer the sound of the Ampeg, but I also dread the potential impact on my lumbar region.... I can't help but think I'll be trading weight for tone...
Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn, damn, damn!

So there I am, solidly transferred over to the SS camp and an advocate of that clean EBS sound. Then, by a convoluted set of circumstances, I end up owning a 20 year old Ampeg SVT 2 that looks like it's just left the shop. Was going to simply sell it on but obviously wanted to give it a try out to make sure everything was working OK.

Only had 20 mins or so but it sounded just great. Clean, sharp, lovely tone and matched my NYC Sadowsky in way I would never have associated with an Ampeg. The single master volume (no 'gain' knob on these!) meant I just turned it on and played with all the EQ turned off & I was really impressed.

Obviously the bastard thing weighs a ton - the shock proof Boogie case it's in isn't helping on the weight front - and I could easily see it becoming a right handful.

I really don't need all this gear so know I have an [i]interesting[/i] weekend ahead when I need to try the Ampeg against my EBS (maybe mixing & matching the Ampeg & EBS cabs as well) alongside my 'reference' Euphonic & Trace V-Type + SS power amp gear :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just received an Ampeg SVT IIP and it is a gorgeous sounding preamp. I owned the SVP Pro and that was great but this is in a different league.
It is so simple to use, as I use to own an SVT II, so I know the eq.
It goes so well with my Berg IP 310, I was worried that it wouldn't drive the amp in the Berg but I needn't have.
It is the quietest piece of Ampeg gear I've ever heared and the warmth, punch and general tone is a god send, it sounds amazing with my Precision and has given me the sound that I have always had in my head.
I'm going to try it in front of my Avalon U5 to see if there is any benefit, if not, the U5 will be retired to recording and D.I. duties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...