Tube amp terminology

According to someone I spoke all good phono amps are pure class A push pull triode. That started me thinking, what does that even mean?

I do not own any tube amp nor will I own any tube amps in the foreseeable future. But I am curious about the terminology. When reading forums I read terms lie: cathode follower, triode, pentode, tetrode, OTL, push pull, SET, class A, class A/B, auto bias, negative feedback, zero feed feedback etc

So can someone here please explain tube amps to me? I know some of these terms are not solely used for tube amps.
Mordante, most of the terms that you site are ways to configure a tube circuit and the number of elements in a particular tube type.

Each of the terms requires an in-depth answer and a basic understanding of electronic circuits. Specifics would fill many pages.

If you are interested, I would suggest getting a copy of the RCA Receiving Tube Manual. It will cover how a tube does work, which is the basic building block to understanding tube circuitry, it covers the types of tubes and then explains alterate circuits using tubes in different ways, covering much of what you are asking.

I can only say that the person that you are speaking with is mistaken and there are good tube preamps that use pentodes and alternate circuit layouts. You need to speak with some people with a bit more knowledge.
There are very few amp design explanations anywhere that don't descend into some areas of complexity that really do require some education about this stuff. Good luck.
Very few phono preamps are push-pull. A better term would be balanced.

Triode- a tube with three elements. The most linear form of amplification known.

Tetrode- a tube with 4 elements. Used for power output. EL34 is an example

Pentode- five elements. Used for high gain and/or power output. 6AU6 is an example of a high gain signal pentoded, 6550 is an example of a pentode power tube.

OTL- Output TransformerLess amplifier. Refers to a tube amplifier that has no output transformer. Most tube amps have a transformer that converts the high voltage/low current of the power tubes to a lower voltage version of the signal that will work with a loudspeaker. OTLs use tubes that don't have this requirement. They can be considerably more transparent because there is no transformer.

Push-pull- refers to any amplifier that uses two output devices to drive the output load. One device is doing the work during the positive part of the signal waveform, the other does the work during the negative half.

SET- single ended triode, meaning that a single triode is amplifying the entire signal (usually refers to the output tube); its not 'push-pull'. BTW SET is a lot less efficient than push-pull so you tend to see lower power levels.

Class A means that the output device is always conducting through the entire waveform right up to full power. It can be in tube or transistor, single-ended or push-pull.

AB means that the output device stops conducting through part of the waveform while its opposite takes over. IOW there are no single-ended embodiments. just push-pull. Can be tube or transistor.

Auto-bias means that the amp takes care of setting the bias on the amp for you. This applies only to tube amps.

Feedback is a method of reducing distortion. Some of the output voltage of the amp is 'fed back' into the input of the amp as a correction to the amp itself. Its not 100% successful as the signal is always changing and the feedback signal is always slightly delayed. This results in some odd-ordered harmonic distortion, which the ear translates as harshness and also volume, as the ear uses odd ordered harmonics to tell how loud a sound is.

This is why some circuits are

Zero feedback- to reduce odd-ordered harmonic generation.
Atmosphere gets the "succinct and actually useful" response award for the entire year. I just wish I could afford an Atmasphere amp.
Auto-bias can be found on ss amps as well.

Thank you for reply.