Do Tubes Homogenize the Sound of Our Music?

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Do tube electronics impart a sameness to the sound of our music -- do they homogenize in some way the sounds of our stereo systems?

In a thread comparing the Lampizator Horizon to the dCS Vivaldi Apex MikeL wrote:

The other thing to consider is whether the Horizon has any tube artifacts that impart a sameness over the music. i did not hear that when i listened to the Horizon at Axpona, but 5 years ago, when i compared the Lampi GG 1.5 and the Aqua Formula dac directly in my system i found the Formula was more synergistic with my system, and allowed my system to be more truthful about the music. the tubes obscured information in some spots. i was reminded i was listening to tubes with the GG 1.5.

LampiNA replied:

"I am glad you don't detect this quality with the Horizon.

I would just gently mention that two generations of Lampizator DAC designs have happened in the 6-7 years since that build and the tube output stages of the entire line up do not portray this quality."

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Other than early conrad-johnson and very "romantic" traditional tube sound, I almost invariably prefer tube electronics to solid-state electronics, component by component. I have made these direct comparisons many times and in many systems. Tubes just "work" for me. Tubes allow me a greater emotional connection to the music.

But I 100% believe that tubes are another merely subjective preference of this hobby. I totally get that many other audiophiles feel differently, and find tube electronics sonically objectionable for one or more reasons.

Despite my personal preference for tubes us tube aficionados have to be intellectually honest and acknowledge that people who prefer solid-state electronics often feel that tubes impart a sameness -- a homogeneity -- to the sound.

Years ago Michael Fremer directly compared in his system VTL Siegfried IIs to the mighty darTZeel 458s. Michael preferred the darTZeels.

Our MikeL several years ago gave me the opportunity to compare in his system the mighty VAC 450s to the darTZeel 458s. I came away with tremendous respect for the darTZeels, but I would've walked out the door with the VAC 450s.

MikeL, in contrast, preferred the darTZeels. If I remember correctly -- and MikeL should please correctly me if I am wrong -- one of the reasons MikeL preferred the dartTZeels is that he felt the VAC 450s imparted a very slight tube sameness to the sound.

What do you think? Do you feel tubes impart a sonic sameness to the sound of music?
 
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Hi Ron, I think it is a big mistake to generalize about the sound of tubes and solid state. I think there are good and poor examples of each. We will all have preferences based on how they react with the speakers and based on our own experience. I suspect that if one feels the same way about all tubes or all solid state, he or she simply has not heard enough examples of each in the right systems. As my exposure and listening skills improve, I find I generalize less.

EDIT: I agree with Steve. Simply put...NO. My Lamm electronics do the opposite of homogenize the sound. I might argue that some other things in systems can do that.
 
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I also haven't experienced sonic sameness with any of the tube gear in my main or 2nd system
 
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I am willing to go out on a limb here and predict a nearly perfect correlation between audiophiles who use tube electronics and audiophiles who think that tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.:)

PS: Obviously, to my ears, contemporary tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.
 
Yes, I feel that certain tube combinations can. The Tak 274b certainly did when evaluating some uber exotic e80cc options last week, detailed in post 326 below

 
I ve heard a lot of Lampisators / Horizons over the last 2 days and i would say yes to rons question
But to be honest i ll listen to a lampisator any day if i had the choice between a lampi
and a DCS.

Id say save some more and buy a WADAX lol.

But there are tubes and tubes .
I think CAT and OCTAVE electronics are relatively neutral
 
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I am willing to go out on a limb here and predict a nearly perfect correlation between audiophiles who use tube electronics and audiophiles who think that tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.:)

PS: Obviously, to my ears, contemporary tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.

I don’t think you can generalize. I have heard homogenization from both tubes and solid-state. On the other hand, people can recognize the homogenization effect and still prefer it to the alternative. I just don’t think it is as simple as you are suggesting.

And regardless of the fact that I do not think my LAMM electronics homogenize the sound of my system, others might well disagree. You are getting into the interesting territory of objective versus subjective.
 
I don’t think you can generalize. I have heard homogenization from both tubes and solid-state. On the other hand, people can recognize the homogenization effect and still prefer it to the alternative. I just don’t think as as simple as you are suggesting.
One man’s passion is another man’s poison

I read Marks (SabLon) commentate the EML 274B and The Tak274B. My sense was the polar opposite. Hearing the Tak in my system was an epiphany. I sold my EML274B and have never looked back.
 
If tube electronics allow an audiophile to feel more emotionally connected to music generally is that itself a sonic homogenization of some kind?
 
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i did not mean to touch a nerve with my recommendation to PK.

there is no one answer to this question, my intentions were to alert him to this possibility so he would have an awareness. beauty can beguile. yes; i've had occasions to choose away from tubes for this reason among others. yet; i also have a very fine solid state phono (actually 2 of them) inside my dart preamp, but mostly preferred the tubed CS Port phono once i added the EMIA silver SUT's, and now definitely prefer the 'more tubed' EMIA Phono Corrector overall to the solid state dart phono's. neither the CS Port, nor the EMIA add any discernible degree of sameness.

my guiding system building philosophy is that a piece in the chain does not limit where the music can go. it's helping musical truth. maybe if i own a number of phono cartridges, then one might be extreme in a way, or a one trick pony. but otherwise the pieces all need to play it straight. but that is me with my strong view of optimizing big music.....where sameness gets exposed as non musical and distracting.....when directly compared to an alternative where the music can fully extend as it might without those distractions.

solid state can be guilty of this same thing, but normally it's more in the subtlety, liquidity and note completion area and not big music.

and every system finds it's humanity in a different way. no reason tubes, and even a strong tube signature, is not any less valid that any other way. this is not a true/false or right/wrong question.

YMMV.
 
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I am willing to go out on a limb here and predict a nearly perfect correlation between audiophiles who use tube electronics and audiophiles who think that tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.:)

PS: Obviously, to my ears, contemporary tube electronics do not impart a homogeneity to the sound.

Yes, it depends on the implementation. My Octave amplification is quite neutral, and allows transmission of a wide variety of tone colors on recordings, from cozy warm to rather cold and anything in between. The power amp uses KT 150 tubes, but I have heard another amp in my system using the same KT 150 power tubes that did homogenize the sound.

One difference was apparently the quality of the output transformer. My Octave power amp uses a high-quality output transformer that is linear to 80+ kHz *), the other amp clearly rolled off in the highs. Other differences between tube amps will be the circuitry surrounding the tubes and how linear it keeps them.

_____________

*) The father of the designer and owner of Octave had a transformer company. Octave still builds their own transformers in-house.
 
Mike,

No nerve was touched. I simply thought that you raised an interesting topic that deserves serious consideration.

Peter,

I have no agenda here. I simply thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss.
 
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Peter,

I have no agenda here. I simply thought this might be an interesting topic to discuss.

Ron, is this response in reference to the OP or my question to you of this post? The OP seems like another tube versus solid state debate, while this issue of emotional connection to the music being a sonic homogenization is far more interesting in my opinion, because I don’t really know what you mean by it. We’ll see if people address this comment of yours.

If tube electronics allow an audiophile to feel more emotionally connected to music generally is that itself a sonic homogenization of some kind?
 
Do tube electronics impart a sameness to the sound of our music -- do they homogenize in some way the sounds of our stereo systems?

In a thread comparing the Lampizator Horizon to the dCS Vivaldi Apex MikeL wrote:



LampiNA replied:

"I am glad you don't detect this quality with the Horizon.

I would just gently mention that two generations of Lampizator DAC designs have happened in the 6-7 years since that build and the tube output stages of the entire line up do not portray this quality."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other than early conrad-johnson and very "romantic" traditional tube sound, I almost invariably prefer tube electronics to solid-state electronics, component by component. I have made these direct comparisons many times and in many systems. Tubes just "work" for me. Tubes allow me a greater emotional connection to the music.

But I 100% believe that tubes are another merely subjective preference of this hobby. I totally get that many other audiophiles feel differently, and find tube electronics sonically objectionable for one or more reasons.

Despite my personal preference for tubes us tube aficionados have to be intellectually honest and acknowledge that people who prefer solid-state electronics often feel that tubes impart a sameness -- a homogeneity -- to the sound.

Years ago Michael Fremer directly compared in his system VTL Siegfried IIs to the mighty darTZeel 458s. Michael preferred the darTZeels.

Our MikeL several years ago gave me the opportunity to compare in his system the mighty VAC 450s to the darTZeel 458s. I came away with tremendous respect for the darTZeels, but I would've walked out the door with the VAC 450s.

MikeL, in contrast, preferred the darTZeels. If I remember correctly -- and MikeL should please correctly me if I am wrong -- one of the reasons MikeL preferred the dartTZeels is that he felt the VAC 450s imparted a very slight tube sameness to the sound.

What do you think? Do you feel tubes impart a sonic sameness to the sound of music?
I will only say this: Every big name SS amp brand in Munich failed to make convincing music…every one. I am talking Soulution, CH Precision, Vitus, D’Agostino, Nagra, Krell, Mark Levinson, Pilium, AVM, Audionet MBL, MSB and yes even darTZeel (although they were probably the best of the lot).

What did sound good and seemed plentiful were hybrids.

Aries Cerst had new hybrids of unique design (only a single stage), Ypsilon was good, Cessaro used a hybrid, Gobel speakers were driven by a hybrid, TotalDac too. Also Audionec by Riviera

Every room with “Statement” SS digital sounded bland or, well, digital (Wadax, MSB, DCS, CH, Soulution ). Rooms with reference tube DACs (Aries Cerat Homerus, TotalDac, Horizon etc.) were at least decent to excellent. Connection? I don’t know but that’s what I heard.

Statement analog with tube phonostages sounded mostly wonderful.
 
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I don’t think you can generalize. I have heard homogenization from both tubes and solid-state. On the other hand, people can recognize the homogenization effect and still prefer it to the alternative. I just don’t think it is as simple as you are suggesting.

And regardless of the fact that I do not think my LAMM electronics homogenize the sound of my system, others might well disagree. You are getting into the interesting territory of objective versus subjective.
I think it can safely be said that tubes do not INHERENTLY impart a sameness to the sound. It comes down to design. I would argue though that feedback class AB push pull transitor amps impart a sameness based on what I heard from a rather large sample size in Munich.
 
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