solid state vs tubes

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Guitarvamp
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solid state vs tubes

Post by Guitarvamp »

This was essentially started in a different thread, and I figured it would be a better idea to have its own thread. I'm also sure that it will be preaching to the choir, especially on THIS forum. ;)

What are your experiences of tube amps, and then solid state? Pros and/or cons? Thoughts?

I grew up in a time where higher gain solid state amps were coming of age (1980s). Most companies had either expensive tube amps or cheap crappy solid state amps. Crate was the big name. Kids starting out, like me, had Crates, and even some bigger name bands used Crate. Looking back, Crate made a few really nice products. Since their demise, I think Line 6 is now the new 'Crate' brand. Better than the amps of the 80s, the new amps will emulate everything under the sun (some better than others). I really got into tube amps years later, especially the Lee Jackson models. I had some Carvins and Marshalls among them as well. Like most say, I found them to be fiesty, tempermental, and somewhat inconsistant. I tried going back to my solid state amps/preamps, but they lacked something. Pantera was big, and we know what he used (solid state). I KNEW there had to be something else. I think it was about that time that I was getting into recording, and the Rockman gear finally started to make sense (up until that point, I had a bunch of Rockman gear, but couldn't figure out how to get a good sound out of it all). I'm convinced, at this point, that most any recorded amp can be made to sound good - of course that depends on style, band, setting, genre, recording setup, etc. Tube amps are great, but I'm sold on solid state.

Besides Rockmans, are there any other pieces of solid state gear that you find worthy of a listen? Line 6 can be great, but you need to spend a lot of time in the programming, to get it right. The really high-end stuff like Fractal Audio is super. Tech 21 has some very nice tube emulation in their pedals. I was also turned on to the pedal company AMT Electronics. They make solid state pedals that emulate high gain tube amps (as well as other things). http://amtelectronics.com/products/
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rbc
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by rbc »

Hartley Peavey wrote up an article about the TransTube circuit used in the solid state Peavey amplifiers:

http://peavey.com/monitor/pvpapers/Chapter3.pdf

Some of the detail is lost on me, but it sounds like some of the key parts of the "tube" sound have to do with the limits of the components that were used in the early days. It's an interesting read if you haven't seen it before.
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RockmanCentralBob
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by RockmanCentralBob »

I think I got a good sound out of my SanAmp PSA1, though it did have some fizz that I didn't like when it was isolated. But in a mix, it wasn't bad.

These days, I would say that using a Two Notes Torpedo CAB with a tube preamp would be the best approach if you are on a budget.

I went full out and bought a Marshall JVM 410HJS and use it with a Torpedo Live, followed by the standard Rockman Chorus/Delay, Stereo Chorus and Stereo Echo.
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Guitarvamp
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by Guitarvamp »

rbc wrote:Hartley Peavey wrote up an article about the TransTube circuit used in the solid state Peavey amplifiers:
A great article! I remember the Transtubes were a big deal when they came out.
Dale
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by Dale »

Guitarvamp wrote:
rbc wrote:Hartley Peavey wrote up an article about the TransTube circuit used in the solid state Peavey amplifiers:
A great article!.
I have to agree....very interesting to read.
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Guitarvamp
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by Guitarvamp »

RockmanCentralBob wrote: These days, I would say that using a Two Notes Torpedo CAB with a tube preamp would be the best approach if you are on a budget.
That looks an interesting product. Have you tried or used other emulators like that? (ADA, Palmer, Rocktron, H&K, etc) If so, how do they compare?
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rbc
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by rbc »

Dale wrote:
Guitarvamp wrote:
rbc wrote:Hartley Peavey wrote up an article about the TransTube circuit used in the solid state Peavey amplifiers:
A great article!.
I have to agree....very interesting to read.
One part I though was particularly interesting is the magnetic saturation of the output transformer in tube amps, causing the transformer bandwidth to dynamically change. I wonder how they simulated that in the TransTube design? I'm not sure the Rockman design tries to simulate that. You'd need some kind of dynamic filter design to pull it off. On the other hand, I think the Rockman design just "sounds like it sounds". I'm not sure mimicking tubes was even a design criteria for the Rockman line.
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Guitarvamp
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by Guitarvamp »

rbc wrote: One part I though was particularly interesting is the magnetic saturation of the output transformer in tube amps, causing the transformer bandwidth to dynamically change..
I thought it was interesting as well. I thought about many of the older tube amps I had, and how they "acted" - what part did the transformer play in them?
rbc wrote: I'm not sure mimicking tubes was even a design criteria for the Rockman line.
From what I understand, it totally was. He wanted to replicate his roaring Marshall stack, but have it be the exact same sound/tone every single time/day/recording take. Hence also why there are no knobs - clicking sliders have no guesswork.

It does make me wonder, though, why so many companies stopped at just tweaking the preamps. Everybody and their brother had a preamp with at least one 12AX7 in it. Why did they stop there?

And why didn't the H&K Cream Machine/Blues Driver/Metal Machines ever take off? Perhaps just ahead of their time?
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rbc
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by rbc »

Guitarvamp wrote:I thought it was interesting as well. I thought about many of the older tube amps I had, and how they "acted" - what part did the transformer play in them?
My only tube amp is the Delta Blues 115 (30 watts). I haven't really had many opportunities to push my power tubes hard, but it seems like once you have it loud enough to push the transformer into magnetic saturation, that the transformer bandwidth would become sensitive to how hard you pick the strings. I'll guess a more aggressive attack would result in a more mid-range sound as the transformer went further into magnetic saturation. I really need to get a power soak of some kind...
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RockmanCentralBob
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Re: solid state vs tubes

Post by RockmanCentralBob »

Guitarvamp wrote:
RockmanCentralBob wrote: These days, I would say that using a Two Notes Torpedo CAB with a tube preamp would be the best approach if you are on a budget.
That looks an interesting product. Have you tried or used other emulators like that? (ADA, Palmer, Rocktron, H&K, etc) If so, how do they compare?
I have an H&K Redbox, but really haven't used it much.

The Torpedo is marketed as a cabinet and microphone emulation device (and it can also emulate your power amp stage).
You can use the built in software that enables you to change cabinets, mics, mic position, etc.
Or, you can mic up your own cabinets and capture their sonic profile and use them instead of your actual cabinet and mic.
(I've spent pretty much the entire day doing just this.. miking up all my Marshall cabinets with an SM57 and creating IR's.)

But another way to look at it is as an "infinite band" EQ.
I can take any of the IR's I have, and tweak them to create ANY tone I want.
I use the FreeFilter plugin to analyze a tone from an album, like the rhythm of "Don't Look Back", then my tone using an IR.
FreeFilter can then tell me how I need to adjust my IR tone which I then do in the BlendIR software to create a new IR, which sounds damn near EXACTLY like the album tone.
Once I load this IR into the Torpedo, I can play live with that tone, at any volume, or through headphones.
I've already started creating a library of the various Boston tones found on different songs.

For me, this is the way to go since the level of accuracy in copying tones is unbeatable.
And I don't even have to lug around the big cabinets or mess with miking them anymore!!