3 thoughts on “Perfect sound forever! Probably.

  1. “Audiophiles claim that tube-based amplifiers have a “cleaner” or “warmer” sound,”

    If you’re going to claim to be skeptical, please at least do your homework. That is NOT the claim of _audiophiles_. (It is the claim of snake oil salesmen )

    The primary claim is that valves, in particular those developed prior to feedback theory, are the most linear devices ever manufactured.

    The secondary claim is that the small signal models are more linear and less temperature dependent.

    There is also a concensus that, once the onset of distortion is reached, that the typical valve amplifier will distort more euphonically than it’s silicon cousin.

    That is different to my guitar amp which is set up to distort from the get-go

    There is some work (specifically by Nelson Pass) to produce semiconductor devices with these characteristics but there’s no money in it (the money’s in Class-D)

    Homework – suggested reading.

    If you read only one of the following

    Published articles, old and new(ish).
    Barbour, E. (1998). “The cool sound of tubes [vacuum tube musical applications].” Spectrum, IEEE, 35(8), 24-35.

    Russell O. Hamm (1973) “Tubes vs Transistors: Is there an audible difference? Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 21(4) pp. 267-273;

    On new devices

    On linearity and modern hi-fi valve amps

  2. The final thing I will say, and it bears repeating, is go and listen to real music (that is, music which does not involve amplifiers) again and again. This is the real reference against which “perfect sound” has to be measured.

    For all it’s brilliance “tubular bells” or “bela legusi’s dead” or “jennifer’s veil” or whatever have no relevance to the “hi fi” debate.

    I have just been to a wedding with violin, cello & piano triplet, solo voice, bells and, finally, pipe organ and more bells.

    The gap between that experience and “perfect sound” (as sold) is beyond my pitiful prose.

    Subtle, stunning, aching, overwhelming are the best I can do.

    Get out and hear the music!

  3. Personally I would MUCH rather listen to “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” than ANY amount or kind of wedding music. You can add early-middle-years Christian Death to that list, too.
    As far as hi-fi vs guitar amplification, the design goals are very different but the psychoacoustics of harmonics and intermodulaton distortion are (though subjective) relatively well-researched and point toward tubes as being subjectively superior, assuming a similar design schematic.
    This said, discrete circuits have their adherents. Hardly anyone would opine that the IC “sound” is superior… except those relying upon (limited) objective measurements, which avoid the psychoacoustical phenomena for scientific precision.

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