Solid State vs. Tubes - What if Transistors came first?


What do you guys think?

If transistors came first, and then decades later tubes were invented, would we have any tube amps we would call high end?

Wouldn’t they all fail to reach the height of performance and transparency set by transistor amps?

Best,

E

P.S. I love Conrad Johnson. I'm just wondering how  much of our arguments have to do with timing. 
erik_squires
Sometimes you are funny. I used Collins radios for years. They went solid state long before that time. 
Sorry, pal, you’re wrong. I was on the ARINC team that decided who won the $2 billion contract for the new radios. That was 1989. They went with US Air Force radios. I’m talking about the radios at all the centers. Try to pay attention.
Sorry, pal, I was flying transports with solid state Collins gear. 
Did they give a bus driver uniform to wear?
Ha, ha. 🖕🏻Nah, they just threw money at us. 💰
mckinneymike, "I still have yet to find a modern SS/Digital amplification device that I would retire my valves for, but I will always remain open to anything that sounds better to my ears"

If you get a chance to hear the Valvet mono blocks it may change your mind. I was running tube amps since the early 90's & tried these out. They are really good single ended solid state amps. I've been using them for about a year now. Only 12 watts at 8 ohms (18 watts at 4 ohms) though so you need relatively high efficient speakers
I remember hearing and owning both an ARC VT200 amp and a Krell FPB600 amp. Preamps were ARC REF3 and Krell KCT.  Both combos were virtually identical...the Krell had more grunt but otherwise very tube like!
Tubes get inconveniently hot, but main factor in their renaissance is that they are perceived as being cool.
'''pilots and air traffic controllers commented, “Hey, what happened to all the air...

It must be scary when you are a pilot and all the air is gone.
What if we all heard exactly the same?
@atmasphere 
Sorry man, but vinyl is the absolute most compressed and limited medium on the market. There's plenty of albums out there arranged just to accommodate the technical failings of vinyl. Like, for instance, the lousy bass response near the middle third of the record. Personally I've never heard a record or turntable that had the low noise and garbage of a compact cassette. Maybe they're out there, but my cellphone has a lower noise floor, less distortion, and better dynamic range than any turntable I've ever heard. You're not going to find a guy less sold on vinyl than me. I've heard it. I genuinely don't like it. I hardly grew up with it and never learned to look past it's glaring failures to see redeeming virtues. I'll never look at anything but lossless digital as the best. 
Actually, digital is generally more compressed than vinyl. The technical advantages of digital are theoretical only these days. Take a gander at the Official Dynamic Range Database sometime. Even hi res downloads are compressed. Read em and weep. 😢
@tubessuck:

Oh, yeah.  Forgot about the people MAKING the music, I guess:

https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/guitar-essentials-five-things-you-should-know-about-tubes

Not that THEY are important--only the musicians, after all. What the heck do THEY know, anyway? A.
I approached that Dynamic Range Database with an open mind and lots of interest. I came away with understanding that either dynamic range is not reliably coinciding with my perception of pleasant recording, or that Dynamic Range Database is, in reality, a random number generator. Basically, I found it useless for all practical purposes although I do not deny its appeal to number-crunching theoreticists.

As a minor error in previous post, google search digs out Unofficial Dynamic Range Database. Although an "official" one would imply seriousness and provide for convenient halt of all further questioning of the results, whoever put it there was fair enough not to proclaim her/himself as an official authority.
Tubes suck. I listen to classical. Tubes suck. 
https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/guitar-essentials-five-things-you-should-know-about-tubes

This is really informative for a novice guitar player who has barely heard of tubes and wants to influence the sound in some way. After reading it, the question remains if same intentional changes in the sound could be produced by simply turning a knob of some non-tube device. I would guess they could, but I am not sure.

Shouldn’t aficionados be more appreciative of the best that different systems can offer rather than being all blue state red state about it? I had tubes for years, love ‘em, and now have solid state. Will very likely have tubes again one day. My current solid state electronics are impressive, as were my tubes before them.  To say “tubes suck” or “solid state is garbage” is really just drivel.  As aficionados, we all know that a quality system is a wonderful sounding thing, with tubes or solid state!
Tubes suck. 
Solid state sucks. 
Live music sucks. 
That’s it, I’m just going to read and watch television. 
Television sucks.

You are left with reading, but that often sucks, too.


Sleep tight, instead.
As a cognoscenti cum afficianado, tubes suck. 🎱
You just cannot win.
I’m Audiogon’s Rodney Dangerfield.
Glubson, you’re absolutely right. It’s obviously a conspiracy. 
geoffkait,

I doubt it is an organized conspiracy. More like aural blinding by the numbers.

I was comforted that I am not the only one with similar results. Looking for official, I stumbled upon unofficial in some article in Stereophile. Enough of the readers' responses assured me I was not completely wrong.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/unofficial-dynamic-range-database

I think I earlier mentioned I was in school with one of Lee Deforest’s grandsons. He often quoted the old man’s last words: “Tubes suck.”  ⚰️
This has officially gone silly, so, let me set all of you straight on something:


Pineapple and pepperoni pizzas are wonderful things. 


You are welcome.

E
Sorry man, but vinyl is the absolute most compressed and limited medium on the market.
I run an LP mastering operation if that’s any help here. You are incorrect about LPs on a number of counts. Specifically with LPs vs CDs, **usually** the CD is more compressed! The reason has nothing to do with the capabilities of either format. Its has to do with cars. Because CDs are expected to be played in cars, they are compressed. LPs have no such expectation, and generally have less or no compression whatsoever.
When we do an LP project from a digital master, it is for this reason that we try to get the master file that was made prior to CD mastering.
Regarding your bass comment about the middle of the LP, the statement is entirely false. Mastering houses don’t do that. Now there is this thing about out-of-phase bass, which is something that can show up in a multi-mic’ed recording but so far I’ve found that you don’t need to apply processing to get around that problem- you just need to spend time sorting out with test cuts how to get around the problem, which might be greater groove depth or cutting the overall modulation slightly- a 3db reduction is half the modulation in the groove.
IOW, I think you are confusing the things that people do to take shortcuts with the actual capabilities of the medium itself. The two are quite different!
*******************

Still have yet to hear a solid state amp of any type that can keep up with the tube amps I have at home. Most of them I’ve heard just don’t want to play bass impact right!
The reason that the tubes/transistor debate has raged as long as the internet is simple- tubes aren’t bad nor are they obsolete. People don’t buy them because they want something antiquated. They buy them because there is less perceived distortion, although most people will tell you its because they are more detailed and smoother, which is the same thing.
Specifically with LPs vs CDs, **usually** the CD is more compressed! The reason has nothing to do with the capabilities of either format. Its has to do with cars. Because CDs are expected to be played in cars, they are compressed.

When CD's first came out, there were several measurements showing greater compression, and less channel separation between CD's and vinyl. There's even an interesting blog post somewhere showing how Thriller got more and more compressed with each re-release. Not a result of the medium. 

However, it doesn't have to be that way, and some of this has cooled off, but this varies by industry. 

Listen to Trombone Shorty on CD for an example. :) 

Best,

E
Look, tubes sound like music. Everything else doesn’t. Unless it’s very low power transistors in portable CD players. Then it sounds like tubes, not transistors. If in fact portable CD players have transistors and not tiny little tubes. Tubes have air, tubes have lots of dynamics and tubes have warmth. If you like your music to sound like paper mache then transistors are for you.
I should have said "...this varies by *genre*" 
"...tubes aren’t bad nor are they obsolete"
Watch out for a new tube-driven iPhone coming out at tomorrow's Apple conference.
erik_squires,

"Pineapple and pepperoni pizzas are wonderful things."
Should oregano go directly on dough, on sauce, or on top of everything?

I have been asking this question for the longest time around here and not even geoffkait knows the answer. Mankind is doomed, indeed.
tubes have warmth.
Tubes are cool.
Google NuTube. Looks like things are still evolving.
Interesting. Maybe it does catch on.
Google NuTube. Looks like things are still evolving.


"It was developed by Korg, the musical instrument maker, and Noritake, a manufacturer of vacuum fluorescent displays, in Japan"
from the internet. I would say this is just a gimic product. 

It is basically a preamp tube, very small directly heated wire cathode so that will have to be DC driven. The gain in circuit is 3.5 where a 12AX7 is typically 50. The max gains are 5 and 100 respectively.

Output distorts badly at 1 volt out and there is little current. I can’t imagine this entering any high end audio circuits, though it will be fun for the guitar players as it distorts and lights up.


And, 2016 came and went....

Tubes suck. -Lee Deforest⚰️
It is basically a preamp tube, very small directly heated wire cathode so that will have to be DC driven. The gain in circuit is 3.5 where a 12AX7 is typically 50. The max gains are 5 and 100 respectively.

Output distorts badly at 1 volt out and there is little current. I can’t imagine this entering any high end audio circuits, though it will be fun for the guitar players as it distorts and lights up.
There's already product using it other than Korg.

The military has been experimenting with filament-less (cold cathode) tubes in integrated circuits (entire opamps done with cold cathode tubes) for several decades now.
Can’t see de forest for de trees. 😛
Who am I to argue with “de forest.”

tubes suck.  🧟‍♂️🚽🃏
@atmasphere 

I'll have to look up the albums specifically mixed to avoid bass heavy material in the middle of the platter. And we shouldn't be confusing how a piece is mixed with how the format performs. I can't find any source that says vinyl does better than 80dB, while CD does about 96dB, and high quality digital does over 140dB. In fact, from what I'm reading, 70dB is considered by many to be optimistic for vinyl. And of course the medium degrades every time you play it. I just don't like it and there's plenty of reasons not to like it. 
glupson
geoffkait,

I doubt it is an organized conspiracy. More like aural blinding by the numbers.

I was comforted that I am not the only one with similar results. Looking for official, I stumbled upon unofficial in some article in Stereophile. Enough of the readers' responses assured me I was not completely wrong.

https://www.stereophile.com/cont

>>>>Yes, I’m aware there are a lot like you.
Vinyl degrades every time you play it ? Maybe so but I can't hear it. I do treat records with LAST. Good vinyl played on good set-up thru good phono sounds the same after many plays. Eventually noise increases. Tape is better in this respect - hundreds of plays without deterioration.

Neo-Luddism....😙🤯
Vinyl deforms every play, not degrades. It’s an elastic deformation so no worries, mates!
maritime51,

Have you heard that tubes suck? It was in the news today.
Many a deformation is elastic. Some not for long.
@glupson. Well, it is newsworthy. L. Deforest

Esse quam videri