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> Question About Tube Amps
ChrisVdS
post Aug 26 2008, 09:58 PM
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Hello gmc,

I was just wondering about something i read an article about the orange tiny terror 15 watt all tube amp and in the article was stated that this 15 watt amp could give a 30 watt amp a run for it's money. I have heard it before that a 50 watt tube amp can produce as much noise as a 100 watt amp? huh.gif Can anyone explain it please smile.gif


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JVM
post Aug 26 2008, 10:07 PM
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Well, firstly, theres a few things to consider. Even a 15 watt tube amp is VERY loud cranked. I myself have a 50 watt head at the moment, and it never gets turned up more than halfway (though it's nice to have the extra volume and clean headroom). I forget what the exact numbers are, but a 15 watt should be pretty close to a 30 watt in terms of output. I think its something like for every doubling of the wattage, you gain 3-5 (again, memory is foggy tongue.gif) decibels. I take that to mean that you start at 1 watt, 3-5 more decibels for 2 watts, 3-5 more for 4 watts, 3-5 more for 8 watts, 16 watts, 32, 64, 128, etc. I could be wrong but thats how I think of it, and it seems to make sense to me at least.


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javari
post Aug 26 2008, 10:15 PM
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well, every doubling of the power output gives you 3 decibels extra (it's logaritmic)
However, for our ears, 6 decibels more sounds twice as hard.
(actually it's 6 dB(A), which means that a curve is applied which resembles the sensitivity of human ears)

All said, a 20 watt tube amp is very loud... Because sound is measured logaritmic, a 50 watt amplifier isn't that much louder than a 20 watt one.

But there's people with much more knowledge about amps and electronics who can explain that better...


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MickeM
post Aug 26 2008, 11:33 PM
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Any amp can put out more than what's labled in ink. So a 15W running at full could put out like 25-30 watts. If another 30W amp put out 40w the step between the two is even narrower.

15w is a good 80% as loud as 30W.

Add a 4x12 cabinet to a 15w amp while a 30w is run through an 8" single speaker. The 15 watter will drown the 30 watter.

A 50w amp running at 30 watts (f.ex knobs at noon) will sound a lot better (if we measure that aswell. We should) than an 100w amp of the same brand and model running at 30 watts (f.ex knobs at 9 o clock)

The 50 watter is running at 60% of it's labled capacity while the 100w is running at 30% of it's labled capacity. Tubes at work sound better. That's why many people fool themselves when shopping for amps thinking that 100W is always better than javaris 20w H&K Statesman.
Performing in a pub you'd want the Statesman instead of a 100w Marshall JCM since the 20w statesman will be working hard and sound great. Cool amp btw, the statesman wink.gif

This post has been edited by MickeM: Aug 26 2008, 11:34 PM


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JVM
post Aug 27 2008, 12:17 AM
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QUOTE (MickeM @ Aug 26 2008, 06:33 PM) *
Any amp can put out more than what's labled in ink. So a 15W running at full could put out like 25-30 watts. If another 30W amp put out 40w the step between the two is even narrower.

15w is a good 80% as loud as 30W.

Add a 4x12 cabinet to a 15w amp while a 30w is run through an 8" single speaker. The 15 watter will drown the 30 watter.

A 50w amp running at 30 watts (f.ex knobs at noon) will sound a lot better (if we measure that aswell. We should) than an 100w amp of the same brand and model running at 30 watts (f.ex knobs at 9 o clock)

The 50 watter is running at 60% of it's labled capacity while the 100w is running at 30% of it's labled capacity. Tubes at work sound better. That's why many people fool themselves when shopping for amps thinking that 100W is always better than javaris 20w H&K Statesman.
Performing in a pub you'd want the Statesman instead of a 100w Marshall JCM since the 20w statesman will be working hard and sound great. Cool amp btw, the statesman wink.gif


Good info, could you elaborate on how an amp can put out more than its labeled? Is it just that they label the amp as it is with settings less than totally cranked, or what? Are we talking boost pedals, etc etc biggrin.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 02:44 AM
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QUOTE (JVM @ Aug 27 2008, 01:17 AM) *
Good info, could you elaborate on how an amp can put out more than its labeled? Is it just that they label the amp as it is with settings less than totally cranked, or what? Are we talking boost pedals, etc etc biggrin.gif


Amp is putting out more, but in peaks. I wont elaborate because I'm not really a sound expert.

MickeM gave a pretty good explanation of how things work with amps. Wattage is not what mesaures the loudness of the amp. Also loudness is subjective, and can depend (with humans of course), not only from dB, but from middle range as well. If the amp has more middle and highs to it it will be subjectively louder, because human ear is more sensitive ot higher frequencies.

Other important thing is this: 50W is 50W, no matter if it's tube or solid state. Tube will not be louder, just more pleasant to human ear because tubes generate even harmonics that are in sync with the sound they produce. So if you crank the all-tuber you will get a pleasant sound that will be usable, to more you crank it - the better the sound. With solid state it's other way around, it goes well (and linear) until one point and then teh sound is hard-clipped, and cutoff. This produces odd harmonics that are very unnatural, and this is why solid state sounds synthetic. So 50Wsolidstate=50Wtube in terms of loudness.

Hvaing this said I emphasize the fact that a lot of things are involved in the process of determining how loud an amp is, not just a sticker on the back that says X Watts.


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Noangels
post Aug 27 2008, 07:07 AM
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I agree with Ivan about solid state versus Tube,the louder the tube amp goes the better it sounds while solid state breaks up when driven hard.A lot of solid state amps get around this by offering HUGE wattage so you never need to max out the output in the slightest.
I use a 100 watt tube head and my fellow guitarist band mate uses a 300 watt solid state rig.

Concerning loudness,I maxed out a 50 watt tube amp combo in a living room and I could play in there.The loudest I have gone on my blade is about 6 and that was in a big open floor factory rehearsal area and there is no way I would do that in a living room!


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 10:19 AM
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Yes Noa, you're right. Also I may add that solid state, no matter how big the wattage is will never sound as nice and organic as tube amp.


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Noangels
post Aug 27 2008, 10:40 AM
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Spot on Ivan,solid state sound great untill you use them side by side with a tube amp.
I bought a Vetta 2 head and 2 sets of matching 2x12's with the full board pedal unit for next to nothing off ebay
a few months back.I didnt need it but at the the price it was going for it was a steal

When I 1st played it,i fell in love with it.Great tone from sparkling clean to full on over the top raging distortion
That then became my main amp but when another guitarist joined the group and he didnt have a great sounding amp
I thought it best to let him use the Vetta 2 as the Blade has no noise gate and I have got used to being able to use it
without a wall of roaring feedback.

Put both amps side by side seperated by the drums and you can easily tell what sounds better!In fact Will the other
axe slinger uses my blade for recording out stuff as the line 6 has that fizz to it.

Dont get me wrong solid state can and doeas sound superb,if one was only playing that amp in a band situation every one would love the tone,but put a tube amp in the same room and it all changes!

When our new singer turned up last week,he complimented myself on the tone of my amp and never said anything about the vetta.There both great amps,the blade just sings a bit more and has better note defination,more bottom and creamy HnK tone


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Scott Gentzen
post Aug 27 2008, 11:25 AM
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QUOTE (JVM @ Aug 26 2008, 07:17 PM) *
Good info, could you elaborate on how an amp can put out more than its labeled? Is it just that they label the amp as it is with settings less than totally cranked, or what? Are we talking boost pedals, etc etc biggrin.gif


The distortion characteristics for a tube amp come from over driving the tubes. When you push on a solid state amp, it distorts in an undesirable way. So, while sometimes you want to push a tube amp past its capacity, you don't want to do that on a solid state amp.

I don't think that wattage is a good spec to hang on measuring how loud something is going to be. I have a 600w "home theater in a box" system that's not as loud as my Valve Jr (5w) through my 2x12 or the solid state 60w combo I have.

I hope that some day we all have SPL meters so we can all talk about loudness with a measurement that actually measures loudness (dB) rather than a poorly matched proxy (wattage).


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 01:00 PM
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Another important component of the sound is of course - the speaker. Different speakers have different efficiency values. Efficiency of the speaker is measured in dB, and it is equal to amount of dB that speaker generated when fed with 1W on 1meter distance. So if you have a 25W amp that has a speaker with efficiency of 95dB and 50W Watt amp with a speaker of efficiency or 90dB it is highly likely that they will both pretty much equal in loudness.


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Andrew Cockburn
post Aug 27 2008, 01:17 PM
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In terms of loudness, speaker sensitivity is just as important as output power. A 50W into a sensitive speaker can be louder than 100W into a less sensitive speaker, so you have to account for the whole signal chain, not just the amp.


EDIT : Heh, Ivan, you're a mind reader, I posted before I saw your post smile.gif


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ChrisVdS
post Aug 27 2008, 03:56 PM
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Cool thx for the explenation guys


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Aug 27 2008, 07:02 PM
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No problem mate, glad to help smile.gif


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