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Mikey R

Hybrid amps - yes or no?

To valve or not to valve?  

41 members have voted

  1. 1. What amps do you perfer?

    • I don't notice the difference
      8
    • I like traditional hybrids - a valve in the pre adds life to a solid state power section
      14
    • Reverse hybrid - I don't mind a mixed pre, provided I get a valve output section
      3
    • All valve, all the way. I can hear a transitor a mile off and I don't like it.
      7
    • I like all solid state.
      9
  2. 2. Do you prefer a valve power section

    • Yes, output valves are nice
      20
    • No, transistors are just fine
      17
    • Tried both, couldn't tell any difference
      4
  3. 3. Favourite output tubes

    • 6L6 / KT66
      6
    • 6V6
      1
    • 6550 / KT88
      11
    • KT90 / KT120
      1
    • EL34 / KT77
      6
    • EL84
      4
    • No opinion either way
      16


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Hey everyone! First day back, and I'm already onto my second topic! All will become clear in the coming weeks...

So my second question is: all solid state, hybrids, reverse hybrids, and all valve amps, what do people think?

If you like a bit of valve in your tone, does the adding transistors matter to you? 

Is there a major and tangable difference to an amplifier with a valve power stage?

And finally, do people have preference for amps with differnt tube compliments, either in the pre or power stage?

Edited by Mikey R

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Difficult one as my two fave amps are Ampeg SVT and Ashdown ABM, but with the ABM I keep the pre-amp valve off for live, only put it on when recording.

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I like an amp to make a sound that I like. I don't care what's inside the box, or what the specs say.

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I run a valve pre (SVP PRO) into a Laney Solid State (weighty old toroidal transformer) and love it. It weighs less and costs less to maintain than an all-valve affair. 

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2 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

Difficult one as my two fave amps are Ampeg SVT and Ashdown ABM, but with the ABM I keep the pre-amp valve off for live, only put it on when recording.

They can still both be quite gritty amps, with a bit of snarl when you push them hard. There's nothing that says transistors can't add grit, they just do it slightly differently.

 

1 hour ago, barkin said:

I like an amp to make a sound that I like. I don't care what's inside the box, or what the specs say.

Amen!
 

38 minutes ago, paul_5 said:

I run a valve pre (SVP PRO) into a Laney Solid State (weighty old toroidal transformer) and love it. It weighs less and costs less to maintain than an all-valve affair. 

Have you ever had the opportunity to compare your big old tranny power amp to a valve power amp? At a bass bash, maybe? Class AB transistor amps are a different beast again to class D amp, I've not yet played a class D that I liked.

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2 hours ago, Mikey R said:

They can still both be quite gritty amps, with a bit of snarl when you push them hard. There's nothing that says transistors can't add grit, they just do it slightly differently.

 

Amen!
 

Have you ever had the opportunity to compare your big old tranny power amp to a valve power amp? At a bass bash, maybe? Class AB transistor amps are a different beast again to class D amp, I've not yet played a class D that I liked.

Have you tried a Magellan 800 or Mesa Subway 800 or Dark glass 900?

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2 hours ago, Mikey R said:

Have you ever had the opportunity to compare your big old tranny power amp to a valve power amp? At a bass bash, maybe? Class AB transistor amps are a different beast again to class D amp, I've not yet played a class D that I liked.

Dude! There are Class D heads out there which can sound amazing. The Ashdown RM series, for example, is one which I personally love. It’s a different flavour of awesome to their ABMs but I still like it.

My all time favourite amp is their CTM100 though, a beautiful beast.

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I should add: in a band situation I bet I’d struggle to tell the difference unless it was a class D running out of puff....

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Well, we know that class AB valve amps are loud for their rated output, relative to the same rated transistor AB amp. I've no doubt, if you compare a 100 watt valve bass amp with an 800 or 900 watt class D amp, then the class D will keep up. And, if you can't tell the difference in a band situation, then theres no reason not to go with the class D. 

I'm purposely not giving my opinion here, as althought I don't mind guiding the discussion, I dont want to overly influence it. Blood in my mouth beats blood on the ground... ;o)

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Oh, and also, valve amps can also be really clean. We associate them with grit, but they aren't all gritty.

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@Mikey R I have no views on your third question (my Mesa M6 uses a 12Ax7 in the pre-amp), but I'm afraid your survey won't allow for just a couple of answers without the third, so manually:

1. My experience of a traditional hybrid in the form of my Mesa M6 is very positive. It's a deliciously sounding amp head and has a 'sparkle' to its tone that my purely D-class amp heads can't match unaided, but that's where pre-amp pedals can address at least some of the gap, right? e.g. @Lozz196 has achieved exactly what he's after with the Tech 21 Paradriver (v2 I believe).

2. Not tried a purely valve power section; I suspect they would be fantastic and I'd love to get my hands on a Mesa Prodigy 4-88, which is a snip at a mere £2,675 new (lol!) Purely transistor power stages really are more than good enough for my needs, though, and whilst I might (just) notice the difference when playing in a band mix, I'm not sure that my bandmates or the audience would? But it's kinda hypothetical for me in that my back absolutely would notice the difference! 

Fyi my D-class heads are a DG M900 and a Markbass LM3. I'd happily recommend either.

Edited by Al Krow

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4 hours ago, Al Krow said:

@Mikey R I have no views on your third question (my Mesa M6 uses a 12Ax7 in the pre-amp), but I'm afraid your survey won't allow for just a couple of answers without the third, so manually:

1. My experience of a traditional hybrid in the form of my Mesa M6 is very positive. It's a deliciously sounding amp head and has a 'sparkle' to its tone that my purely D-class amp heads can't match unaided, but that's where pre-amp pedals can address at least some of the gap, right? e.g. @Lozz196 has achieved exactly what he's after with the Tech 21 Paradriver (v2 I believe).

2. Not tried a purely valve power section; I suspect they would be fantastic and I'd love to get my hands on a Mesa Prodigy 4-88, which is a snip at a mere £2,675 new (lol!) Purely transistor power stages really are more than good enough for my needs, though, and whilst I might (just) notice the difference when playing in a band mix, I'm not sure that my bandmates or the audience would? But it's kinda hypothetical for me in that my back absolutely would notice the difference! 

Fyi my D-class heads are a DG M900 and a Markbass LM3. I'd happily recommend either.

Cheers for the input Al! The poll is really there just to spark a bit of conversation. Your data point adds weight to my inference that class D amps are great, provided you get one big enough. I'm seeing recommendations from 500 watts up to around 900 watts for live use, whereas a couple hundred watts of class AB would previously have been fine.

I'd love the opportunity to compare them using a dB meter, against a tranny class AB and a valve AB amp of differing power outputs.

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Hey everyone. I'd like to steer the conversation a little, if I may.

The excellent point has been brought up, that the technology and class of the amp isn't important, how it sounds is. I totally agree with this. We don't listen to technical specs, we listen to music. However, we can draw on our experience, we can say amps of that type tend to sound like this, and I like this sound, so I bought an amp of that type.

We've also ascertained that class D amps are quite popular, provided you can get one big enough for the job. Class D watts seem to be less loud than class AB watts.

I'd now like to discuss peoples experiences with valve amps, in particular if anyone has done an A / B comparrison of a transistor vs a valve amp. I'd like to get peoples ideas on the whole experience - not just the sound, but the whole feeling of playing through valves. How they respond and how the sound interacts with your playing.

Is there truth to the idea that valve amps are more "interactive," is the mojo real or just in the mind of the player? Is the real thing better than simulated tubes, or are the sims just as good?

Final question, for now at least - would people considder buying an amp with a nice tone for studio use, or as a bedroom blaster, and maybe have a bigger but less nice amp for live work?

Kind of like having a nice classic bass that you don't let leave the house, for gigging you use the old beater bass? Us lot on here tend to like having nice things, even if they're impractical. Is a nice amp a thing that people want?

Edited by Mikey R

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13 minutes ago, Mikey R said:

Cheers for the input Al! The poll is really there just to spark a bit of conversation. Your data point adds weight to my inference that class D amps are great, provided you get one big enough. I'm seeing recommendations from 500 watts up to around 900 watts for live use, whereas a couple hundred watts of class AB would previously have been fine.

I'd love the opportunity to compare them using a dB meter, against a tranny class AB and a valve AB amp of differing power outputs.

I'd suggest a 500W D class head with a decent cab is a sensible minimum for any live work with a full rock band. You don't want to be pushing the amp hard and 500W seems to give plenty of head room in small / medium sized venues.

The key point of D class is compact, lightweight, convenience. Nothing more, nothing less. It's the single reason they have pretty much usurped both AB and valve amps. They're certainly NOT "better"; but boy are they handy.

Edited by Al Krow

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I’ve A/Bd the Ashdown ABM500 with their BTA200.

Identical preamp, the ABM has a solid state Class A/B power amp, whilst the BTA is a 200W KT88-driven valve power amp.

They sound almost the same. Almost. There was “something” different about the valve power section in the room but I’m buggered if I can explain it. I recorded them both on my iPhone (the pinnacle of sound recording technology) and couldn’t tell them apart.

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2 hours ago, Merton said:

I’ve A/Bd the Ashdown ABM500 with their BTA200.

Identical preamp, the ABM has a solid state Class A/B power amp, whilst the BTA is a 200W KT88-driven valve power amp.

They sound almost the same. Almost. There was “something” different about the valve power section in the room but I’m buggered if I can explain it. I recorded them both on my iPhone (the pinnacle of sound recording technology) and couldn’t tell them apart.

Hey Mert. With a 200 watt power section, you might never have the chance to push it till it to compression. So, since both amps were in their linear range, that would explain why they sounded similar.

Pushing a 200 watt amp to clipping is face meltingly loud.

Edited by Mikey R

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Yep. At full tilt I have no doubt there would be far more significant sonic differences. And as you say, full tilt would probably destroy most of my house :D

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12 hours ago, Merton said:

Yep. At full tilt I have no doubt there would be far more significant sonic differences. And as you say, full tilt would probably destroy most of my house :D

A 30 watt amp is feaking loud when cranked in your front room. 200 watts would show up on the Richter scale.

EBS used to make a 90 watt all valve amp, that's likely the right number of watts to give enough loudness, whilst being on the edge of soft clipping. I wonder why they took it out of production? Are people not interested in valve kit any more? Do people not like to clean and jerk their heads onto their speaker stacks?

EDIT: I just checked, Ashdown do still make their CTM-100, but they've given up on the bigger valve amps. The 300 and "big block" 427 are long gone. Snarf.

Edited by Mikey R

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Theoretically, the ABM500 will "only" be pushing 300-350w into an 8 ohm cab, and the full 500w into a 4 Ohm load (potentially 2x 8 Ohm cabs), where a valve amp will push all it's power into either. So the ABM into 1x 8 Ohm cab will be pretty much the same as the BTA200 (which is theoretically pushing 300w) into 1 or 2 cabs.

You would potentially notice a difference between the two if you were running 2x cabs on both amps.

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9 hours ago, Mikey R said:

EDIT: I just checked, Ashdown do still make their CTM-100, but they've given up on the bigger valve amps. The 300 and "big block" 427 are long gone. Snarf.

As I’ve said already, the CTM100 is perfection (for me).

Ashdown will still make the 300 if you ask nicely :)

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On 24/08/2018 at 16:11, Mikey R said:



I'd love the opportunity to compare them using a dB meter, against a tranny class AB and a valve AB amp of differing power outputs.

In this test Are you measuring it to achieve the same level of distortion? 

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Gigged my CTM100 through my fender bassman neo 410 on a pretty big outdoor stage this afternoon.

Input gain at 10 o'clock & master at 3 o'clock & it was bloody loud on stage, awesome trouser flapping  sound too,you'll never get that from a class D.

Plus the valves react to how you play beautifully.

 

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