35 watts in Ultralinear vs 50 watts in Triode

I have read that Ultralinear mode in tube amplification provides more slam and punchier sound in comparison to Triode mode. Is this always true? for example, what about a Prima Luna Prologue 5 (35 wpc UL) against the AES Sixpacs monoblocks (50 wpc in Triodo) in terms of bass slam and macrodynamics? is the less powered amp gutsier and punchier than the higher powered amps just for being UL? Is Triode mode always kind of soft compared to UL regardless of power?

Is Triode mode always kind of soft compared to UL regardless of power?

Jdec (Threads | Answers)
In my experience, yes. Overall, I'm willing to give up the linearity and added bass control of ultralinear for the magic of triode.
Tvad is sort of correct. IMHE in any given amp that allows switching Triode is usually less aggressive, up-front, etc. Some times the sound stage is more recessive and the tone softer (the old Mesa Baron was very illustrative of this having 4 stages from all pentode to all triode which were comparable on the fly. You could hear immediately the difference)

But, I wouldn't go so far as to proclaim that a Triode amp will always 'sound' better, different perhaps, when actually connected to your speakers. You might just end up with warm mush! You've got to hear them with your speakers in your environment before you reach any conclusion.

FWIW, you mentioned the Primaluna and the Cary amps. I have both, although my Carys are the CAD50B's. IMHO, with my stuff, the Primalunas in ultralinear are both more listenable and linear than the Cary's (in triode) and these particular Carys in ultralinear mode are, for me, unlistenable.

Be careful.
Hi Jov

I found that running in triode mode give a slightly more forward and melodic sound. Switching to triode always meant a dip in rated output, but I never found triode to be lacking in power – both my Sli80 and V12 seemed to go equally loud in UL and triode modes.

All thing equal, I doubt seriously 35wpc UL will be more punchy that 50wpc triode mode. If anything, the amp in triode mode would probably be able to be driven harder before audibly distorting.

Personally I would opt for the sixpacs. EL34s are very melodic in triode mode, and if the sixpacs are anything like the V12, it will not disappoint in the bass department.

In triode the only thing between you and the music is the air.
Thanks for the comments.

If we compare both modes (UL vs Triode) in the SAME amp that allows that switching, for sure UL will have more bass control/impact than Triode. But my concern is between different amps, where one has less power in UL and the other is more powerfull in Triode. Will triode be always softer anyway?
Tvad, FWIW you are correct IMO means just that, My bad. Sorry, I meant well. I was just trying to expand on what you were saying. :-)
my concern is between different amps, where one has less power in UL and the other is more powerfull in Triode. Will triode be always softer anyway?
Jdec (Threads | Answers)
IMO, not necessarily. Each amp will likely use a slightly different circuit design, and different parts.

You'd have to listen to each with the same speakers to reach a definite conclusion.

My general answer to the question is yes, but the answer is full of traps.
"Will triode always be softer" between different amps?

No. The term 'always' dictates that response. I would be more ameniable to saying 'generally, yes' if the term were 'usually'. The power difference between 35wts and 50wts amounts to about 1 to 1.5db in SPL, which in practical usage is nominal. Everything else being equal I think most folks wouldn't hear the difference in the amount of power available not the effect of the difference either for that matter.
There you have it. A definite maybe!


Good luck.
Having run Manley amps with triode/UL options I found that UL seemed to create a "sheen" or "veneer" over the music. It seemed "harder" Sorry I am lacking the vocabulary to be more specific.

I have always found triode much more listenable and approachable. OTL triode lacks for niether detail or bass slam as Atma-sphere owners will attest.
When I owned Rogue 120Magnums I felt the Triode mode had better midrange with more focus and better depth and more grunt in the bass. I thought Ultralinear was inferior all around kind of washed out and thinner and not that much louder either so it was a no brainer.
If you have an amp that can switch between the two tetrode/triode, its a good idea to find out from the manufacturer which mode the output transformer was optimized for in that particular design. If they will tell you, and I stress 'IF', it is there where your amp will operate at it's best.
When you have an amp that can switch between modes, one thing is for sure: the triode mode will not actually reflect the sound and performance of real triodes. For that you will have to use an amp that is actually built with triodes which will demonstrate the linearity of the devices.

I should point out that due to the reduced distortion of triodes, they will also have a smoother sound in the mids and highs that some will mistake for 'softness', although if properly designed there will be no quarter given in the area of 'slam'. The simple fact is that triodes are the most linear form of amplification known to man, and thus it is possible to build the best sounding amps from them.

And given my perspective, I think that has been going on for a long time :)