Tube amp bass vs. SS amp bass? Anyone experience Tube Amp bass to be better?

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
3,091
144
63
Eastern WA
#21
Bass integration problems? It seems like it could be as simple as the MM7’s are simply damped plenty to start, so that while too much feedback would be sterile, they probably need a bit more than many tube amps provide, and more power. The 11” Accutons are pretty well damped, with underhung VC, so they are actually electrically very similar to most high sensitivity drivers found in horns, single driver, vintage, etc. but you put that into a box with treatment and it will be damped enough that power will be trying harder to “get there” than it will be to stop/correct going too far. The sub towers really work on the low stuff, they are probably a lot harder to differentiate except that not all transformers can produce signal so low.
 

rich121

New Member
Dec 11, 2017
13
1
3
Yakima, Washington
#22
Mike, do you read your private messages? :)

i have to admit i was blown away by the bass magic of the Lamm ML3's in my system when the music fit the performance envelope of the amps. so sexy and dimensional with perfect weight and speed. slightly rounded, but only a little. the powered bass towers perfectly complimented the ML3's and it was 'of a piece'. real. intoxicating.

i miss that part.

at a certain point, of course, the ML3's bass checked out of larger scale music from an authority, ease, ambient space and slam perspective.....in my particular system to my ears.

i never completely warmed up to the big VAC Statement bass completely. it was very very good and had plenty of scale, weight and grip.....but it always reminded me that there were all these tubes. there was this obvious blunting and lack of leading edge definition compared to the big darts.....in my particular system to my ears.

the solid state darTZeel 458's do bass like i like it over the full range of musical choices. they get the little nuances and the big sweeps. there is tone, ease and articulation. there is always a sense of headroom.....the music is never challenging the system's bass capability. even at modest volume levels the sense of bass weight is appropriate. the bass is always a fit into each part of the musical picture. piano soundboards come through full of life and energy projection. standing bass or cello have the power and presence they should have. in partnership with the class D amps in my bass towers the big darts are the perfect match. and at warp 9 they deliver the musical reality every time.

if i'm choosing, and i am, big 'uber' 'refined' solid state does bass all around best.....in my particular system to my ears.
 
Feb 4, 2019
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#23
The more I experience and read, the more I see a stereo like a car. Its all the parts make a whole. You want a stereo to fit the music you like. Do you want a soft quiet Mercedes Ride. A fast tight Porsche ride. You want to tromp through the mountains. How about ferry passengers. Each use demands a type of vehicle as do preference for music. The more styles you ask a system to musically recreate, the harder it is to do all well. Tubes and SS both do certain things "better" than the other. Or at least its easier to get them to recreate a musical tone optimally when playing in their sweet spot.

IMO, very few people think about this when purchasing equipent. They read the latest and greatest or chat on forum, create a personal opinion then buy to satisfy the perception. For example, when someone asks SS vs Tube, do they ever talk about what they listen too. Not often. If they did they would probably answer their own question. Of course, everyone wants to be able to play anything and astonish every guest, as well as themselves. I don't know. My Porsche is hella fun to drive, but it's just not as quiet in the cockpit as my Mercedes. Should I take it to an after market shop and start adding soundproofing and weight ?????? Hmmmm
 
Likes: thomask
Dec 9, 2018
159
130
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Washington State, US
#24
20 years ago, I had driven B&W 801 15 inch woofer with Jadis 500.

It gave me the most powerful and deep bass that I had ever heard in my listening room.

Lansche 4.1 driven by 8W Silbatone SET amp give very tight and tuneful bass although it is not powerful as the combo of B&W 801 with Jadis 500.

But when I had driven Apogee Duetta Signature by Krell KSA 150, I had liked its tuneful bass but it was no match with Lansche 4.1 driven by 8W Silbatone in tightness of bass.

Also I have no love for dry bass ( not tuneful and no nuance) offered by some SS amp.
 
Likes: geodiak
#25
IMO to do this comparison you need to look at efficient speakers, unless you are talking Push and Pull with 100W+.

SS can drive sub bass really well, but fails in the rest of the important mid range and treble region to my ears. My preference is now SET driving efficient speakers. Most other ways to do it are losing something....

YMMV but that is my 30 year journey and conclusion in my (own) journey.

Class D or SS to do sub bass drivers, with tubes for mid and treble, that is interesting as well.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
3,275
21
38
BiggestLittleCity
#26
One is always led to believe that tubes excel at 100 Hz (or so) and up, while SS gets the bass right at the lower frequencies - at least with the speakers that are popular and marketed well today. Just throw a big bryston or some class D amp on the bottom registers, and you will have a world class foundation to the music...

As a contrarian thoughts, has anyone experienced tube amplifier bass to be superior to SS bass? Which amps and with which speakers?

And most importantly, how is the tube amp bass better?
NO
 
Feb 4, 2019
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#28
I'm a tube type person myself. If you're talkin bass as in a 2 or 3 driver speaker with the woofer being handed information off at a thousand Hertz or so, tubes in my opinion can sound better than solid state. If you're talkin a single driver in a box crossed over at 50 or 80 Hertz, then solid state has a lot going for it. However, I have heard a lot of subwoofers done wrong and only appear to add a lot of thud and boom that is very unmusical to me. I have also heard solid state single driver subwoofers done right where I really didn't hear them at all. They just helped clean up the midrange
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,219
50
48
Pleasanton, CA
#29
One can always add a tube buffer if you have separate amplified bass, which is what I have done in the past. That gets you part way to 'tube bass'.

I use surround modes routinely, which tunes the bass differently with surround venue. The surround effect also creates some of that sensuous effect that tube bass can provide, along with some extra 'body' with the beats and sustains. In this context, tightness and speed to the bass tend to make me prefer a SS solution.

I think I have gone luddite on the bass amplification though, and prefer Class AB SS to Class D, in spite of the power figures. Two blown Class D amps amongst four woofers helped. Maybe somebody has Class D's that last and don't take out the woofer. The Class AB's, which are older, are still intact. When I used a new Class AB amp on the woofer that didn't blow on Class D failure, I thought the Class AB amp did much better in spite of lower specs in power. Hard to put a finger on it, it just sounded fuller and more powerful.
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
2,844
229
63
Switzerland
#30
One can always add a tube buffer if you have separate amplified bass, which is what I have done in the past. That gets you part way to 'tube bass'.

I use surround modes routinely, which tunes the bass differently with surround venue. The surround effect also creates some of that sensuous effect that tube bass can provide, along with some extra 'body' with the beats and sustains. In this context, tightness and speed to the bass tend to make me prefer a SS solution.

I think I have gone luddite on the bass amplification though, and prefer Class AB SS to Class D, in spite of the power figures. Two blown Class D amps amongst four woofers helped. Maybe somebody has Class D's that last and don't take out the woofer. The Class AB's, which are older, are still intact. When I used a new Class AB amp on the woofer that didn't blow on Class D failure, I thought the Class AB amp did much better in spite of lower specs in power. Hard to put a finger on it, it just sounded fuller and more powerful.
I have noticed the same thing with subs. I prefer an “analog” amp with them. So, now I won’t use D anywhere. Try a good SET on your sub, one with a large OPT, and see if you don’t prefer that even more.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,219
50
48
Pleasanton, CA
#31
I have noticed the same thing with subs. I prefer an “analog” amp with them. So, now I won’t use D anywhere. Try a good SET on your sub, one with a large OPT, and see if you don’t prefer that even more.
Don't tempt me, I probably would. I have a Wavac in mothballs at the moment.

With two channels @ nominal 40-50watts, two subs would still be SS.
 

Atmasphere

[Industry Expert]
May 4, 2010
811
6
18
St. Paul, MN
www.atma-sphere.com
#32
Unfortunately tube amps will not work on speakers that dip below 4 ohms. I wish they would because I love tube amps.
All amps, tube or solid state make more distortion into lower impedances. If sound pressure is your goal, than there is a 3dB argument for 4 ohms as opposed to 8 but if sound quality is your goal than there is no argument whatsoever for 4 ohms and less (planar speakers can easily be made to be higher impedances). The result of lower impedances is that all amps sound harsher and less detailed than they will on higher impedance loads and this is entirely due to increased distortion (which you can also see in the specs of any amplifier). Some might say that the increase is 'negligible' but it is the higher ordered harmonics that the ear uses to sense sound pressure so our ears are more sensitive to these harmonics than most test equipment. IOW its not negligible!


Regarding the OP question, I've yet to encounter a solid state amp that plays bass better than tubes but as many have pointed out, that has a lot to do with how the amp interacts with the speaker. Rather than force my amps to work hard (Bad Idea) I have 16 ohm speakers that are flat to 20Hz and are also 98dB 1 watt/1 meter (Classic Audio Loudspeakers model T-3.3). But my amps also have full power down to 2Hz so no phase shift at 20Hz to mess with bass impact or definition.


IME bass definition is the first thing to go when bass reproduction goes south. That is the complaint I have with solid state; often there is punch but you keep having to turn it up to get the definition and its just not there, at least not enough to be satisfying to me (I play string bass....).
 

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