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Thread: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

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    Default Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    No doubt this point has been made before, but i'll ask, if solid state technology is so good now, particularly from the likes of Roland, Audio Fractal and Kemper, why are tube amps still being made when even old school pros are taking to the brands I've mentioned ?. I believe there are as many brand of valve amps today than in the 50s & 60s, with some brands that were not even around during those years.
    Magnatone are still here, as are Supro who have been making tube amps since the 1930s. They clearly created a template in sound which solid state is trying to emulate and better.

    There has to be some intangible vibe to the kind of sounds/tones you get from good ones that people can hear and feel; the kind of thing you cant measure or pin down. One dark cloud with these is how long the tubes are going to be made...

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    Sock Market Trader GuitarStv's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Because non-tube amps got a really bad name when they first came out. Then amp manufacturers couldn't sell them at high dollar, so made non-tube amps their cheapest lines . . . with ****ty components and ****ty design. So the concept of non-tube amps being ****ty was really driven home.

    It's possible to make a great sounding digital or solid state amp, but the highest quality amps made by most companies today are all still tube amps . . . so that's what most people want to use.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Fractal and kemper I believe are merely modelling tube amp tone via sampling a real amp. So they do nothing on their own.
    But the entry cost is still high, and the learning curve steep.

    Many would rather having something that is plug and play. And that is certainly not what a lot of the more complex systems are.

    The issue that many face in comprehension is that just because some find it better, doesn't mean others automatically have to, or that people should be forced to change.
    I mean, if tube amps are selling, which they are, why would you assume makers of tube amps would stop making them........seems utterly illogical to anybody really.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexR View Post
    Fractal and kemper I believe are merely modelling tube amp tone via sampling a real amp. So they do nothing on their own.
    But the entry cost is still high, and the learning curve steep.

    Many would rather having something that is plug and play. And that is certainly not what a lot of the more complex systems are.

    The issue that many face in comprehension is that just because some find it better, doesn't mean others automatically have to, or that people should be forced to change.
    I mean, if tube amps are selling, which they are, why would you assume makers of tube amps would stop making them........seems utterly illogical to anybody really.
    I thought this thread is just beating a dead horse, but this comment made it worthwhile.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Well, we still make BBQ grills, analog clocks, and manual transmissions. Some people like doing it the old way, which will never change. If there is a market for it, a company will make it.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Who makes the best tubes?.....seems there is a lot of variation in price and a lot of claims made about tubes that may be dubious . Most are from china..then there is Slovenia and Russia.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Tubes are only made in about a handful of places in the world now. Perhaps 3-5 places. That means most all tubes you buy are rebranded. Groove Tubes is making a really good business of rebranding tubes for instance ( may he rest in peace ). The vendors buy the tubes in bulk that meet a criterion and then the vendor classifies the tubes based on quality, current draw, etc. It wouldn't be a far stretch to bet that your JJ tubes are the same as your EH tubes or your brand of choice. Many of the higher end tubes are not made by them ( Genelex, for instance, is made by New Sensor ). JJ is one of the few companies actually making tubes and you can bet they are selling to other companies as well as an OEM. So to get back on topic though.....

    Tube amps appeal for a multitude of reasons. The predominate one is likely pedigree. If you have a Diezel, Soldano, Bogner, Friedman, Dumble or whatever, you know you have the best tube amp that your money can buy. Who do you buy when you want the best solid-state amp you can buy? A Roland, Randall ( from the '80s and 90's ), Line 6? And not one of them are hand made nor cost as much as any of the aforementioned tube amps. Tube amps are analog, so there is little that can go wrong and when it does, there are actually user-serviceable parts inside. When you want to build a tube amp for yourself, you can buy several different variations of many different models of amps and it is still cheaper in most instances to the more basic modelers available. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that as guitarists we just like to be able to reach over, turn a dial and turn back around and keep playing, which is hard to do with digital anything. And you just can't weed out the most basic principle of KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. It is just easy, simple and more rewarding when you have your favorite tube amp pushing air at your legs.

    Modelers and other digital amps just aren't what even a basic tube amp is, simple, easy and of course WYSIWYG ( what you see is what you get ). No menu's, no choices and no complicated layouts, just a guitar and an amp. Perhaps the biggest thing going for tube amps is distortion. There is nothing else like it. digital and solid-state devices have been trying to emulate the sound since the creation of silicon chips and just haven't been able to do it. Tosin Abasi is using Morgan amplification now and has gone through several digital platforms to come full circle back to tube amps. Tube amps just do what we want them to at a price we can afford with a value that we can quantify. If you think in 20 years from now that your Axe-FX is still going to be relevant and even still working or fixable if it isn't, your living in a pipe dream. You can buy a Fender Blues deluxe today and it will still work and at least be fixable probably 50 years from today. Tubes will always be a mainstay in the music world because you just can't beat the simplest and most basic thing.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    New Sensor is owned by EH and makes EH tubes, Genalex, Sovtek, Svetlana, Tung-Sol and maybe some other brands I can't remember in Russia.

    JJ makes their own tubes in Slovenia, it's old Tesla factory that used to be in Marshalls.

    So you certainly wouldn't find EH labeled JJ tube...

    Shuguang makes their own tubes in China, there's other manufacturers too there.

    GTs, Rubys, TADs, amp branded tubes etc... are rebranded and come from those manufacturers.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Don't forget, the sound/tone of tubes are not the only appealing part of a Tube Amp experience, and honestly, the feel part is probably more of the preference now that Solid State and DSP has caught up to at least very very close with the tone portion

    There's that compressed surge lag on the attack that people get used to, and also the sustain is different (traditionally), and I'm not sure if Kempers and Fractals model that part well -but I know some real players had trouble with the A/B comparisons recently, but when you play a Solid State the lack of that latent attack is immediately apparent to many, this is why technical Metal guys started moving to SS amps in the 80s -because they valued the precision feel over that surge and sustain feel.

    But there is something amazing and charming and real about the surge and sustain feel of a tube amp -and so Tube amps will continue for another generation.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    https://www.musiciansfriend.com/ampl...#productDetail

    You spent some hard earned coin and bought a super versatile amp when it came out and after all these years, it took a great smelly dump. Now you think you need to replace the mother board.
    What is going to be your course of action?
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Mark Knopfler recently took to Kemper profilers on stage in the US ..something that has made Kemper very happy! I guess they just happen to be convenient for him for that purpose ...I doubt he'll give up his old amps though
    Last edited by Gold star; 09-04-2019 at 01:07 PM.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    I think Metallica runs Axe FX for all their sounds. Indeed for fade to black they have a 12 string simulator so the 6 string acoustic for the intro is switched In processing for the verse riff.
    Billy Gibbons for many years has run an intelligent parametric eq sampler that takes the eq of his live guitar and merely turns it into what Pearly would have done for the same notes played.

    But each person has to sort out their own rig for themselves. Just because one person thinks the world of one type, doesn't prevent equally relevant opinions being held on the polar opposite side.

    Sampling style setups are great for either cover bands, or indeed artists with a wide range of studio tones/on the fly switching type requirement. In both cases you can simply swap to wholly independent patches that dont share eq setting, preamp configurations or power amp tube types.

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    HardtailPisser ibanezrocks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NegativeEase View Post
    Don't forget, the sound/tone of tubes are not the only appealing part of a Tube Amp experience, and honestly, the feel part is probably more of the preference now that Solid State and DSP has caught up to at least very very close with the tone portion

    There's that compressed surge lag on the attack that people get used to, and also the sustain is different (traditionally), and I'm not sure if Kempers and Fractals model that part well -but I know some real players had trouble with the A/B comparisons recently, but when you play a Solid State the lack of that latent attack is immediately apparent to many, this is why technical Metal guys started moving to SS amps in the 80s -because they valued the precision feel over that surge and sustain feel.

    But there is something amazing and charming and real about the surge and sustain feel of a tube amp -and so Tube amps will continue for another generation.
    The Helix has a sag knob on every amp model. You can make them as saggy or tight as you want.

    There's only two advantages to tube amps anymore:
    1) the amp in the room sound, because modelers capture the micced sound
    2) the simplicity

    I think the simplicity (or lack thereof) is the biggest difference. It's extremely easy to get a great sound on a good modeling amp, that's not the issue, but having a million options isn't something the human brain does well with.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?


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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Quote Originally Posted by ibanezrocks View Post
    The Helix has a sag knob on every amp model. You can make them as saggy or tight as you want.

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    Whats your opinion on those settings compared to the real deal?

    also, I'm not against modelers at all if they pass muster.

    but for someone like me with about $30k in classic guitar tube amps -there's no reason for me to pay to change over to something imitating what I already have -although my big amps don't leave house or rehearsal place much -we use backline for big gigs.
    Last edited by NegativeEase; 09-04-2019 at 11:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    I play tube amps simply because no solid state amp will do what a really good tube amp will. For many years I played single channel high gain tube amps and used few effects. I got my cleans by backing off my guitar volume and lightening my touch not a channel switch. Solid state amps can sound good on a preset but absolutely will not do this. I still run high gain tube amps today (although all i own right now are channel switchers) and will only own an amp that will respond well to touch. Most younger guys can't do what I can with a good tube amp because they have never had to learn how. I can play sold state and make them sound good but I loose the dynamics I am used to with the tube amps so don't simple as that.
    Had several of my rigs for many years they are well maintained and bulletproof reliable so why change?
    Example is here I have for many years been almost exclusively a Worship player this is a 1991 Marshall JCM 900 MK III Dual Master Volume 2501 combo. I am running nothing but a Delay in the loop and a Wah in the front in this clip at super low volume. You could not play this this way with a single channel solid state amp!
    Last edited by Ascension; 09-04-2019 at 12:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Feel is indistinguishably close, if configuration is right. Which requires either farfield IRs and a REALLY good Full Range Flat Response amp/speaker system (and not one of the cheap, common FRFR in name only ones), or playing into a higher wattage clean power amp into same speakers as the real amp, set to same volume. Most guitarists aren't used to playing guitar and hearing only the miked up studio sound...

    A fair number of players prefer hybrids, using preamp models with a tube power amp into their favorite guitar speaker cab for the gig. Or sometimes a clean tube power amp with full amp models.

    Line 6's Powercab+ is another stab at making a speaker system for modellers that feels like a real guitar speaker and cabinet (and particularly combines well with farfield IRs, and has a selection of similarly generated speaker models built in).

    Really, the biggest remaining tradeoff in digital is inability to adjust amp behavior by swapping individual tubes, nevermind actual circuit mods, though Fractal Audio at least lets you tweak some of the key tube behaviors to taste and mix and match preamp and power amp designs. But you gain a lot of flexibility in having high quality EQs, studio-grade compressors, and other things that would otherwise require separate rack processors. Line 6 is a bit simpler, easier to use for some, with Sag, Bias, Bias X, Hum & Ripple in Helix giving you a LOT of control over the power amp behavior (and weirdly, a little Hum & Ripple have USEFUL effects in power amp tone for a lot of uses. Not something I expected at all!).

    As far as why tubes? A lot of amp designers have experience designing them. Few have experience doing DSP coding, or with realtime circuit modeling (Fractal does NOT model by sampling a real amp, though you can do tone matching, which generates an IR that captures the difference in EQ and room response for the whole amp/speaker/mic config). Still, there are some amazing digital-only amps, like the Line 6 Litigator, Badonk & Doom, or several Fractal models (I've heard them, but haven't owned Fractal & can't recall specific names). Fractal Audio has also been involved in prototyping a digital version of an amp before building a physical model, for Carol-Ann amps!

    I'm glad new amps are being made by the likes of Revv & Grammatico, and that they are making deals to get their stuff into modellers as an advertising channel for the physical amp! (Yes, people do sometimes buy their favorite model in a real tube amp. Great way to trial amps, even for people who want the ease of repair of a tube amp for live use.

    Or people like Friedman and Fryette, who seem to have some antipathy for modelers (though again, I hear a fair number of people who buy HBE-100s or the smaller variants because of the Axe-FX & Helix models of it), I'd hate to see them quit the field, even if I never actually play one of their physical amps. I don't think the Synergy amps with official preamp modules from numerous different companies would have happened if it weren't for modelers, and there's a number of guitarists I like who don't care for modelers who are switching to Synergy. I don't agree with their conclusions on digital vs tubes, but I'm happy they have an option they like!

    The dynamics really are there now. If you want the exact same response as a particular tube amp, you need it set to same volume (set model's master to same master settings as your physical amp, use a power amp that can provide same power, which in case of solid state may mean you need 2 or more times the power, particularly if the amp is rated for a lower impedance speaker than your tube amp). A lot of people try to use the modeler's ability to record same tone at lower volume, and are surprised it doesn't FEEL the same doing that. Given volume impacts things like string vibration, it's not shocking that it feels different if you let a key factor change...
    Last edited by Despair; 09-04-2019 at 12:25 PM.

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    HardtailPisser ibanezrocks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Quote Originally Posted by NegativeEase View Post
    Whats your opinion on those settings compared to the real deal?

    also, I'm not against modelers at all if they pass muster.

    but for someone like me with about $30k in classic guitar tube amps -there's no reason for me to pay to change over to something imitating what I already have -although my big amps don't leave house or rehearsal place much -we use backline for big gigs.
    IMO modelers can perfectly replicate power amp sag. The Helix is cool because you can get sounds you couldn't out of the real amps. You can turn a normally tight amp into a spongy doom machine, or vice versa.

    The default settings are great, but there's a lot of versatility hidden in the sag and bias controls. Again, that goes back to my point about simplicity. It's not that it's hard to get good sounds, it's that you can't always avoid the temptation to tweak things forever.

    To the previous post, they also clean up with a lighter touch exactly like a tube amp. Don't confuse cheap solid state with high-end modelling amps.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Should also note that there have been more than a few solid state amps that have good touch sensitivity. Problem is, early solid state amps were NOT designed for good behavior when input was thrashed. So guitarists have a LOT of old evidence that they can't sound, or particularly, feel good. Which wasn't entirely true, but for every amp that could pull it off, there were a couple dozen models that didn't even try. (Anyone recall the "creamy" distortion claimed in the manual of the Roland JC-120? *twitch*)

    There are a lot of analog purists are using FET-based pedals because they believe solid state & digital sound bad. Um... (;

    NegativeEase: There really isn't a lot of reason to change, if the convenience of being able to quickly access all your sounds in one box doesn't appeal. If you want dead-on replications, a lot of people love the Kemper for the ability to profile their own amp with their own tubes/mods/speakers at their preferred settings. Others don't want the hassle of having to do the work learning studio engineering techniques (microphone placement is a fiddly business!). I think Helix has the best UI, and very competitive tones. But Fractal's Axe-FX III is the king for people who want model variety (you can often hack up a model of a particular map that isn't modelled, if you know enough about how the amp is designed, plus combine that with a Tone Match. Almost as effective as a Kemper, plus you get circuit-accurate models of I forget how many hundreds of guitar amps, though it's behind Helix on bass amp support). Whether you prefer models or profiles depends on your workflow. I think the integrated effects in Helix & Axe-FX outweigh any accuracy benefits of the profiling approach (which are debatable, I've heard of people having trouble getting accurate profiles of unusual circuits, though others claim the opposite).
    Last edited by Despair; 09-04-2019 at 12:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Better technology-so why are tube amps here ?

    Most of my amps are older than I am and some still have their original tubes. If it's not broken, why fix it?
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