I recently had a mechanical engineer (who has no interest in audio equipment or the industry) express amazement when I told him about the high prices of tube gear. His amazement, he said, stemmed from the fact that tubes are antiquated gear, incapable of separating signals the way (what we call "solid state") equipment can.
In essence, he said tubes could never be as accurate as SS gear, even at the height of the technology's maturity. This seems substantiated by the high-dollar tube gear I've heard - many of the things that many here love so much about the "tube sound" are wonderful - but to my ears, not true to the recording, being either too "bloomy" in the vocal range or too "saturated" throughout, if that makes any sense.
I have limited experience with tubes, so my questions are: what is the attraction of tubes, and when we talk about SS gear, do we hit a point where the equipment is so resolving that it makes listening to music no fun? Hmmm..or maybe being *too* accurate is the reason folks turn from SS to tubes?
The attraction of tubes is the "presence" of the music, at least to me. Many ss guys will demur. The best tube and ss designs probably have more in common than differences, at least I keep reading it although I haven't realized it first hand yet, maybe the Boulder? Talking to an Engineer will resolve nothing, just check the archives here, a very popular topic it is.
You will get a straight answer by listening for yourself and come to your own conclusions, it really is the only way. Please keep us posted on your conclusions, I expect from the title of your thread, the controversy will continue.
There's great tube gear and great solid state gear. There is also bad tube gear and bad solid state gear. Your taste in music/volume/room will absolutly dictate the type of equipment you prefer. Unfortunately, you need to educate yourself by listening in person to get that preference. You cannot listen to other peoples oppinions because they are comming at the question ( what do I prefer for my type of music?) usually from a totally different direction and perspective. I never heard tube gear before until I was at Holm audio looking for a solid state amp when I was blown away by the sound comming from the other room. I could not believe how realistic the vocals sounded and how alive and bouncy the music was. Yup, it was a 3watt single ended Cary going into the Soliloqy 2A3's. I now know what is possable with tubes and know one will ever have any credability with me who says tubes are no good. I have now educated myself with the single-ended tube amps, the push-pull tube amps and have solid oppinions of what they sound like and in what kind of systems I would prefer each kind. I also now look for that SET magic when shopping for solid state as one reference for judging. My current system is all solid state (digital amps) but it has been totally chosen by the knowledge of knowing what tubes sound like which has given me a much much better "for my music" system than I have ever had before. If money were no object, I bet most music lovers would have several systems (tube and solid state) and many speakers-
I was auditioning the latest McIntosh six channel solid state amp when the salesman decided to tease me a bit by turning on the McIntosh 2102 tube amp. I accused him of changing speakers. He had to show me that everything was wired the same and that it was just the other (tube) amp.
I was so convinced that I now own the 2102. Your friend might like computer composed music too, as it is so....perfect.
Your engineer friend, obviously has never heard a good system that employs vacuum tubes.Given the opportunity, I am certain he would be even more amazed at how a fine tube based system can consistently get you closer to the music.
To me, tubes VS solid state is like fresh fruit VS canned. Think of peeling an orange at its peak of freshness. Its spray, its perfume, its immediacy. Taste the orange. "Ah! this is an ORANGE!" Now open a can of mandarin oranges. Same color? Same shape? Taste the canned orange. Not quite the same...
I use a tube preamp and it "Sounds" as accurate as any solid state preamp I have used. Of course, what is accurate? I feel it has to be true to the source, BUT, how did the source really sound? This could go on and on. I look for flat frequency response and fairly low distortion. If a tube preamp or amp will give you that, how can it be said it is not accurate? Tube equipment done right gives music back its life, steep in harmonic richness and natural sounding foundation. It takes some pretty good solid state equipment to give you that. Each has its colorations, so pick what you like and forget about it. Personally, I like a tube pre with a solid state amp. I do have one question though, what does a mechanical engineer know about electronics? I must have slept through that section of school!
Tubes are an absolute joke. I simply cannot believe anyone would be foolish enough to invest in inferior equipment. I have listened to both, and determined that solid state is the way to go. Also, I am not interested in replacing tubes every 18mos. You guys should save your money and get into some Krell!
Bring your friend here to A'gon, and don't tell him where you're taking him. When you get him here, lead him in and just close the door behind you and walk away. What we're going to do to him ain't going to be very pretty, but when you see him again he won't be saying any nasty things about tubes no more. Gumbei, fire up those hot pokers! Tubegroover, start sharpening the rotating blades! Mattybumpkin, hoist up that big-ass Krell monoblock up over the strapdown "Table of Enlightenment" and make sure to plug it in so it's good and hot by the time we need it. Ya gotta get it hot this time Bumpkin! Last time you warmed it up with that Enya crap and you couldn't even keep your tea warm on it (about all it's good for anyway) - Listen, cue up some Tool or Slayer on repeat till he gets him here.....I wanna be able to cook sausages on that puppy!!! Don't you worry none Aggielaw, you're friend is going to be singing the praises of tubes, or he ain't going to be singing ever again, we'll see to it! Oh, and someone tell that Jiwitn to stay home with all his begging for mercy and blubberin' and all....it's just embarrasing!
There you go Jax2! now your talking. I'll bring the spicy mustard. All I can say is How often do we run across such thinking not only here in the forums, but with people we know who "know better". Armed with preconceived thoughts and biases of what tube and ss designs are supposed to sound like and how they measure, compared to what a good system( tubes based of course!) really can do. Your friend obviously has never really listened to an excellent tube system or a decent SS one either most likely for that matter. Reminds me of my friends brother; the consumate nay-sayer who swears by his old Pioneer turntable and Awia receiver as the Grail of audio! and has ruined many-a lamp by cutting the chinsey 18g cord ( no apologies to those with.. you know who you are) you can't get much better he would boisteriously( and seriously) proclaim! Some just don't get it!..The rest find enlightenment and go tubes! Stick to your guns Aggielaw! The battle rages!
Jiwitn, Lack of dynamic?? I think you need to check your equipments or your ears. I don't think you hear what good tube gears can sound yet. I bet if some one do a blind test on you with tube and SS gear, you can't tell the different.
Well said Mejames! I believe the first sentence of Aggielaws thread actually sums up his quandry.
" a mechanical engineer(who has no interest in audio equipment or the industry)" A degree in electrical engineering would add more credibility to his statement.Although they too most often would say something similar regarding the use of tubes, based on the fact that tubes do wear out eventually. Todays tubes and circuts are not antiquated gear..rather a refined up to date application of a topology which advented many years before the transistor appeared( now updated as well) which has many of the good characteristics we love in music. Pleasing order harmonics not offensive to the ear,air and depth surrounding an instrument with correct tonal balance and timber, and dynamics that often exceed SS designs. It is widely accepted that tube watts indeed sound 2X more dynamic than the same ss watt produced without the compression distortion and harsh clipping that ss amps can exhibit. That said, of course there are very well designed and capable ss designs that sound great and as mentioned in another thread, that difference in sound is now closer than ever, with the exception of some first rate SET tube designs that would blow your mind. A couple of SET tube watts with the right speakers would make your believe the players were in the room with you! So we are entitled to our opinions here.I choose tubes and gladly pay the price of admission and up-keep!
Some of you may find this interesting... Below is something posted on www.joule-electra.com. Aggielaw, Jud Barber also used to think like your engineer buddy. Now he makes some of the finest tube equipment anywhere.
I'll tell you this. Too much tube equipment does "sound like tubes", in my opinion. "Tube" does not necessarily mean "lack of transparency" although I think there is plenty of tube gear out there that can give you that impression. Syrupy mids, etc. That is not the good stuff. If you ever hear the good stuff you will know the difference. Try an OTL amp and go from there...
"WHY TUBES? A COMMENT ON TUBES VERSUS TRANSISTORS FOR REPRODUCTION OF RECORDED MUSIC
By Jud Barber President, Joule Electra
I first became interested in Audio in the early fifties, well before transistors and other high tech materials became available to the Audio Industry. We were constantly looking for ways to improve in the quality of sound production, even before the development of stereo vinyl. Stereo tapes were available, but the program material was so limited that few people had invested in two channel systems,
Instead some of us went to great extremes to try to improve the realism of our playback system, I remember well my first three channel, monaural system which used passive high level crossovers to divide the music spectrum into three audio bands. The crossovers were at 500 hertz and 5000 hertz and separate amplifiers were used for each of the three frequency ranges. The results were not particularly good, but we thought it was great, being driven more by the quantity of hardware in the system than by sonic splendor.
Then came the first stereo vinyl recordings which were really very good even today, when played with state of the art turntable cartridge systems. The problem was the transducers, both at the beginning and the end of the playback system. Compliance without excessive resonance was an elusive goal for the cartridge designers at the time. The first cartridge I bought, a Grado, was probably the first they ever designed. It weighed several ounces and really made a great sinker for fishing line. As a retriever of the nuances of audio from fragile vinyl it was a disaster.
The tube technology used for amplification was very mature by this time and probably much better than we realized. It was the transducers that were limiting the quality of reproduced sound. A good phono cartridge was extremely difficult to make and when the design was good it was very difficult to make them in quantity with the same level of performance. Later, in the fifties and early sixties, transistor equipment became available and everyone was entranced by the absence of noise and ease with which good specifications could be achieved for a modest cost.
In fact, it was the transistor that prompted me to quit designing and building tube-based equipment. Even very simple solid state circuits performed better on the workbench than my most sophisticated tube designs. At the time I decided that it was the answer to the quest for the grail in amplification and I began to look for the pot of gold at the rainbow's end. Oddly enough, it was not to be found and sound reproduction seemed to have reached a plateau that was good, but not great. By the mid seventies virtually all space-age technology had seeped into the audio world and transducers were steadily improving.
By the early eighties the advent of the CD player (unfortunately transistor based) was revolutionizing the beginning of the audio reproduction chain and the new materials available were allowing designers to develop phono cartridges and speakers with dramatically improved characteristics. But there was still something missing in most music reproduction. No one really understood why, even with hardware that measured magnitudes better than that available in the fifties and sixties, recorded music still did not sound very good let alone create an illusion of the real thing.
I should have been able to make the discovery that turned this thing around, but being an engineer, I was convinced that what measured the best, sounded the best! For fifteen agonizing years the audio community struggled with the realization that tube hardware used judiciously in a playback system almost always produced a more enjoyable sound and a better illusions of live music.
The engineers laughed at this and continued to bash anything that did not measure perfectly. In fact they were so sure that ordinary copper wire measured so perfect, the developing high end cable industry was thought to be a bad joke. In fact you still hear some engineers say that the best amplifier is a straight wire with gain. Wow, how wrong can you be!
To put it simply, tubes have a sonic signature that mimics acoustic music and transistors do not. Now I'm going to lay low while the cannon shots pass over my head. It is certainly true that good, let's say average, performance is easier to obtain with solid state hardware than with tube designs. However, well designed tube equipment coupled with a good output transformer will sound more musical and is more satisfying to listen to than solid state at any price. It does take a little maintenance, but it will warm your feet on a cold winter night. The next level of sonic achievement can be obtained by use of an all tube OTL - but that's another story.
The real improvement in audio reproduction in the last forty years has taken place at the ends of the chain - namely good transducers. These are the devices that change acoustic energy to electrical energy and back again. Even the CD player, which begins its life with solid state technology, is a major advancement in transducer technology. Better analogue circuitry has resulted in very good sounding digital information recovery, but it still lies in the realm of the vacuum tube to produce the recorded sound musically and with realism. You will notice that I don't use the term accuracy. This throws us back into the engineer's argument with the artisans that the most accurate is the best. The answer to that is a flat no."
Personally, I don't think tubes are more pleasing to my ears; which I understand is a reflection of my own taste. However, couldn't the same effects (lack of listening fatigue, warmer sound, etc.) be achieved by changing the characteristics of the speakers? This would be a more effective and efficient way of developing a system. If I were seeking "tube-like" characteristics from my system, I would invest in an FPB-300 and a pair of electrostatic speakers. Presumably, I would be achieving my goal, while maintaining some versatility and efficiency with my electronics. Please, correct me if I'm wrong!!!
Most engineers and amplifier designers seem to agree that the "Warmth" of tuves is a result of the 2nd order harmonic distortion, which means that what people like about tubes and the tube sound is basically distortion.
Im reading about high power amplifier construction, because im done paying big bucks for a system, so im gonna build my own 100% except for the source.
The impression im getting is that SS amplifiers with "tube like" sound actually have circuitry which introduces the 2nd order harmonic distortion. is this true?
Looking at the specs for tube gear and solid state gear, i have to agree that solid state creates a more realistic and accurate presentation of the origional source, but the distortion encountered by tube gear really does bring some extra life to music.
Personally, im a solid state dude,. After i build my reference system, i will probably mess around with a couple bottlehead kits or something, i'd like to have a tube system as well.
It is all a matter of taste though..
I know some audiophiles frown on tone controls and look for the perfect reproduction in music, and alot of these people really frown upon tubes and go with solid state, because it has less distortion. They also frown on tone controls and such. Personally, for ME, this is all about me listening to mucic on MY terms not somone elses. I preffer solid state, but i have no problem with those who preffer tubes.
Anybody who trashes tubes needs to have a good sit down with tubes and take a long listen on a well put together system
Anybody who trashes solid state needs to do the same thing.
There is no right or wrong in this, it is what you preffer.
Me? Im a solid state guy.
Also, YER ALL A BUNCH OF SUCKERS! IM GONNA BUILD MY OWN SYSTEM FOR THE SIMPLE FACT IT WILL HAVE NO (RE-)SALE VALUE! THAT WAY NEXT TIME I GET IN HOT FINANCIAL WATER I CANNOT SELL MY RIG TO PAY THE DEBTs!!!!
just kiddin. Yer not all suckers. Well, Marco is because im already selling his "Perch" in japan and he doesent know of it yet. hehehehe SHHHH
when i get it built over this next year i'll be sure to put pics up, i already have it planned i just gotta build it, and it will be beautiful! :)
FWIW, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers attend the same college classes. When one wishes to become a Professional Engineer (PE) you chose your discipline and serve your apprentice time (EIT-engineer in training), then take a final exam in your chosen area after four years of real world work. Now, chemical engineers are a differenct story. They are the creme de la creme in the engineering field, IMHO.
I guess Harry Pearson initiated this argument by positing the notion of an Absolute Sound. This, of course, is nonsense since the sort of sound satisfaction we seek can only be evaluated subjectively and therefore lacks a standard. Yeah, I know, live music, blah, blah, blah. Again, the evaluation is purely subjective, the numbers and measurements and theory are useless and the fun , focus or finale are all in how YOU perceive them. So pick your poison and shut up. The other guy is not wrong and neither are you. This sort of bickering seems to support the accusation that audiophiles are somehow immature or underdeveloped. And maybe you are but I would really appreciate it if you would stop reflecting badly on the rest of us. Reminds me of the joke about how 99% of attorneys give the rest of them a bad name.
In certain circles Gunbei is known as "The Rectifier". He came by that name from his fondness for a technique he calls the "GZ34 suppository". He's 'rectified' some pathetically misguided fans of SS to become card-carrying tube-lovers. He has a 100% success rate using his that technique ever since he was able to keep the tubes wired up and glowing! Those GZ34's get mighty hot!
Gunbei, ya got that? Slappy's next in line! He'll be a tough nut to crack cause he's onto all this horse shit big time! He must be silenced.....with extreme prejudice! It was only a matter of time before my faithful servant turned against me!
PS In all ernest, I do think the very first response to this thread by Amandarae is an excellent answer to the query. Bravo! I could not have said it better myself. If I weren't so full of piss and vinegar I wouldn't even bother responding! Like much of the crap that passes for intellegent discussion of 'important' matters on this and other product-oriented sites it is an endless thread of big boys/big toys, my tool's bigger than yours, my car goes faster.....I am beyond reproach, just a tier below God herself. Validate me and I will be your friend forever and will welcome you into to the kingdom of the wonderful world of ME where all the cars are very fast, all tools are huge, and the music sounds like angels are right smack dab there in front of you! My world that is....or you can just stay where you are and always settle for second-best. You decide!
I believe I read that John Curl said that tubes are more linear than transistors. Transistors are not superior in every way, especially if you want music to sound real. Van Alstine will also tell you why he uses tubes in the input stage of his power amps on his webpage, because they do some things better than transistors. The Audio Research tube preamp I use helped more than I could ever have imagined, even using a Krell pre.
Well..where are the other 92.7333333333% of audiophiles out there that have yet to post in here so we can look better than them lawyers?
I am immature and I am underdeveloped. And I have such an incredible build up of ear wax that if one looked close enough you could see the lifelike figures of Captain Jiwitn and his crew of solid state Romulans standing at their stations on the bridge of the Starship Krelluranus. Yet despite those flaws I can still discern enough detail to appreciate the warmth and lifelike presentation of tubes.
Now where's that Queen Borg? She's got the sexiest teeth this side of the Queen Alien...or my production manager.
Distortion, I initially chimed in on this thread because I knew it would be an amusing one. However, I have also raised an interesting question. G_M_C's system consists of tube equipment and Nautilus 805 speakers. I have quite a bit of experience with the B&W line of speakers. The Nautilus speakers are very accurate and revealing (and the finest speakers I have ever heard). Why would someone build their whole system around a tube-like sound, and then add very accurate speakers? Again, if this were my setup, I would have chosen solid state electronics and a less accurate pair of speakers (possibly even the B&W Matrix series speakers). I sometimes think audiophiles enjoy the tube equipment because of its nestalgic qualities instead of its fidelity.
Jiwitin, Thats a respectable point of view and you're right, this is an amusing thread.
I agree, B & Ws can be very revealing. Here's where we dont agree. You assume tubes are inaccurate. Not that the inaccuracies are illegitimate, they are just minimal. Just as many SS pieces fall into a "categorical" inaccurate bunch as tubes, or maybe even more. Furthermore, tube gears sound can be altered simply with a tube change. Which can enhance its appeal. I guess Amandarae said it best, "To each, his own!"
FWIW, I have been considering a small tube integrated for another system. God help me I cant quit.
Once bitten by tube and can't go back to transistors. SS more accurate is overrated. I agree that it can have lower distortion level but music is not based on distortion level. I recalled that amp rating was based on distortion level back in the 80s. Now come to think of it, it's really a joke.
That's what I was trying to say, Gunbei. What the hell difference does it make what somebody else listens to. What kind of amplification you use is no more important to the rest of the sane world than what kind of music you play or what you wear while listening. Christ, has there been a thread yet about what kind of chair you should sit in or the best sounding paint for your walls? I've got two middle school boys who behave like you guys. No matter what one of them says, the other contradicts or otherwise challenges it. I'm hoping they will outgrow it but since I know many of you are at least middle aged, I am not so hopeful for you. Please try to see the light. If you like tubes, use em. If you prefer SS, go for it. Try to concentrate on what you have in common and cherish and respect your differences. Obviously noone is going to win the argument. And there are so many other gimmicks to discuss.
This discussion is far from over. I still have unanswered questions. Please bear in mind, these are not rhetorical questions. Though I am biased towards solid state gear, I will appreciate any answers supporting tube gear.
1. I have seen the "guts" of tube equipment. It does not look extremely complicated or intricate (especially amplifiers). However, solid state equipment seems to be much more complicated. For instance, the FPB-300 has numerous massive circuit-boards, containing motorola processor chips. Why is highend tube gear priced comparably to solid state gear, if there isn't the research and development or the "stuff" going into it?
2. No one has answered my question about the speakers. Why wouldn't it be more reasonable to change the speakers than the electronics?
My "revealing" B&W speakers with tubes? What about the nordost cables? The system is pursuing a blunt and revealing sound (although the 805's are the weak point). For me, a revealing sound seeks to replicate the presence or life of live music. Most music is concieved as performance art, not as dictation. I believe tubes, with that ever-so-slight nano-hesitation of signal, replicate sound traveling from a source across some distance in an atmosphere (sometimes smoke-filled) to my ears. I am not hard-wired to the microphone with .99999999999 silver cable.
1. An 8X10 inch view camera consists of little more than a bellows, a metal (or wood) framework with some manual gears, a ground glass back and a lens. Whereas you break open an Nikon F5 and you will find all the neat little R&D wonderments of technology, jam packed into a state-of-the-art titanium body, sleak, streamlined and extremely ergonomic. Yet the 8X10 view camera costs just as much as the F5...some actually cost several times as much (though these days it is a dying format). Does one camera take "better" photographs???!!! Both are elegant and effective solutions. They are entirely different tools to accomplish a similar task in different ways. Use the tool you are most comfortable with to do the specific job you wish to achieve, just as you might choose a hammer at Home Depot. The hammer you choose may not be the one I prefer, but they'll both get the job done. The "better" part is entirely in the judgement of the beholder. Why does the tube gear cost as much as it does....cause it's all hand-made by elves in the Ukrane who need to support their very expensive cocaine habit. Those little fuckers got a union so solid it'd make Jimmy Hoffa rise from the dead!
2. Whether tube or SS, a SYSTEM should be carefully selected for the synergy between all of the components as well as the expectations of the individual who will be using the system. It all goes back to the original answer to the thread which I so liked....to paraphrase; different strokes for different folks. Presumably you'd change the speakers because you prefered the sound of one set of components over another. Since when does being "reasonable" have anything remotely to do with being an Audiophile?!
JAX2: You are absolutely wrong about 8X10 vs 35mm:the 8x10 will give higher resolution, more pixels per square inch. You can blow up an 8X10 much,much larger than the best of the best 35mm. That is not true of pricing either, a Zone VII 8x10, costs much less than a premium Canon or Nikon. 35mm is a journalist's camera, an 8x10 is an artist's camera. The Nikon F received its kudos from the Vietnam War more than any other camera, and took off from there. Take an 8X10 picture, then take a 35mm picture, then blow it up to 8X10, absolutely no comparison, all things being equal.
As far as tubes vs ss are concerned(and I have both): in less than 2 weeks time I can tell that the tubes are less than perfect, they have changed the sound, and the sound is not getting better. So do you all change tubes every two weeks, I think not! So after two weeks what do you all do? And to boot not all the tubes degrade at the same rate, which is even more a problem. So how often do you change them, once ever 6 months or a year. I change mine every 90 days. the difference between new and 90 days is very striking!
"I have seen the "guts" of tube equipment. It does not look extremely complicated or intricate (especially amplifiers). However, solid state equipment seems to be much more complicated. For instance, the FPB-300 has numerous massive circuit-boards, containing motorola processor chips. Why is highend tube gear priced comparably to solid state gear, if there isn't the research and development or the "stuff" going into it?"
Jiwitn, have you ever seen the inside of a Berning Zh270? At a strapping 10 lbs it ain't gonna meet your criteria of "massive circuit boards", I mean how many layers of circuit boards can you fit into a 12x15x4.5 high tube amp that also has 10 tubes. I realize I have become obnoxious in always talking about the Berning but frankly I believe people should be aware of how special it really is. I will continue to do so because in its price range I haven't heard a better performer. I like it cause it involves me in the music, not ONE area where it isn't totally involving. This dynamic little demon will probably lay to rest your impressions concerning tube amps. Since you seem to be into "complicated". I doubt there are too many amps tube or ss that might be considered more complicated than this one. Radical technology, no iron core transformer but a high frequency impedance converter. It also has a high speed switching power supply specially designed for the amp. Not some off the shelf power supply. This amp is as quiet as a dead church mouse but for the atoms slamming against each other inside the tubes which you can clearly hear through the speakers when you put your ear right up to the driver, but you won't hear a transformer, power or output except for the pre-amp if it has one. You get the picture.
Ok Jitwn, it doesn't have 600 watts like your beloved Krell, remember, not everyone requires 600 watts. What it does do is provide FULL POWER within it frequency range depending on the feedback used. Full power to 2hz with no more than 1% distortion. It operates in a very linear manner like tubes do contrary to popular belief. The problem with tube gear is that damn transformer. In some of the newer more exclusive gear it has been improved dramatically from the good ole days. The point is that tube technology is not stagnant. The zh is one example and these other guys Lamm, BAT, ARC, Conrad Johnson etc aren't exactly resting on their past laurels either. I would love you to hear this one, you might be pleasantly surprised in how much power this little beast can project without running out of gas. My only beef is that unwieldy cables tend to manhandle the amp and it doesn't want to stay put, it can be a pain in the ass. I think the manufacturer should consider beefing it up with some lead weights or something so people feel they're getting their money's worth and they can use python sized cable it they want. Price per pound value is not too good on this one, after all we're talking about prime fillet not sirloin.
I'll lay it to rest for now but suggest you check out this link for more information http://www.davidberning.com/zh270.htm
Schubertmaniac - let me assure you that I need no lessons in what each of the two cameras are mostly used for. As Gunbei pointed out, you are just illustrating my point. They are two entirely different tools used to accomplish a similar task (making photographic images). Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses. They can both make photographic images but the (technical) results will be entirely different. Period. End of story. Any judgements you care to impose on the two different tools are entirely your own.
As far as which camera is "better", your illustration regarding one yielding a finer, tighter grained sharper image, vs the other having a grainier result.....well using that as a basis of saying one tool is better than the other is just as stinky a pile of horse shit as the assertion that tube gear is better than solid state. For my ears, and the way I like to hear my music, I prefer tubes. But for me to say one is "better" than the other is as ridiculous as the assertion that an 8X10 camera is "better" than a 35mm. By the way, I've seen astounding "artful" images done in 35mm format, and even pinhole camera format, and I've also seen remarkable journalistic images that were made when there was no 35mm available, on much larger and more awkward cameras. Again, if your judgement is that tighter grain and sharper images are superior than those that exhibit grain that is simply one persons opinion which may or may not be shared by others. Just as this tube vs SS debate may yield a similar split in opinions, there is no one single solution that is "better"....they're just different. "Better" exists only in the individuals mind.
PS I think you must have meant Zone VI camera and not Zone VII as I know of no such thing as a Zone VII camera. Indeed a wooden field camera may be less expensive than a 35mm. I don't use field cameras so am not familiar with their pricing, but I can tell you that a good studio camera like a Sinar will equal or exceed the price of most 35mm cameras. The Sinar is just as stone simple as I described, while the 35mm is packed with modern technology. That was the parrallell I was trying to illustrate. Also, an 8X10 will not yield any "pixels per square inch" nor will any film camera determine how many pixels per square inch that you may record the image that it produces in. I'm assuming you were referring to a tighter grain structure when you said that since PPI is strictly a digital term and refers to digital image files.
Damn it! After reading Shubert's post I thought there was some new technology that somehow yielded digital information directly from an 8 x 10 film camera without having to scan a chrome or neg. Thanks for bursting my bubble Marco!
I'll try to draw another ANALogy. For the last eight years I've been a digital retoucher at a major motion picture studio in Los Angeles. My job is to fix tits, asses and wrinkles on hot chicks that have their own TV shows, and composite them into goofy scenrios that might not exist in real life. Basically, I make hot chicks and not so hot chicks...look hotter. Yeah, I'm a Photoshop Fag. The files I work with can sometimes get close to four gigabytes big. Lot's of information and lot's of resolution. For my kind of work and what the files will be ultimately used for high resolution is almost always important.
A few years ago when I decided to start experimenting with photography as an extension of my "art" outside of work, I sought the advice of a Dallas based photographer who specializes in the female form.
After long discussions he convinced me that I might enjoy my initial foray into photography more if I went the digital [solid state?] route. After twenty or so years as a pro shooter he dumped his dark room in favor of Photoshop and an Epson inkjet printer, and now shoots only digitally. I know Marco must be yelling "blasphemy!" right now, heheh. This photographer thought that in my case just getting a digital camera and a good printer was all I needed to start since I'm already an image manipulator by trade. Sounds a bit like a novice audiophile starting off with a solid state integrated amp, huh?
On the other hand, when discussing megapixels he made an interesting remark that I never forgot. He said, "more pixels or a sharper image isn't necessarily better..." Without him explaining, I knew exactly what he meant. Over the years, I've seen some incredibly beautiful images created with simple no-frills film [tubes?] cameras. Higher resolution or more information wouldn't enhance their beauty one iota. And I'd be hard pressed to duplicate some of the effects in these film images through digital means. Conversely, I know that I can do many things much easier in Photoshop than can be achieved in a darkroom.
I approach listening to music in a similar manner to creating fine art. While there are technical aspects in achieving both, the goal isn't technical. Whether I am moved by analog, digital, solid state or tubes doesn't matter one bit, as long as I am fulfilled by the result.
I realize what I may love about tubes is their distortion. I also prefer curvy, earthy Latin, Mediterranean women over squeeky clean blondes [some of 'em look like black and white film negatives to me]. Am I saying one is better? No. I just happen to prefer one more than other.
Likewise, it's useless to argue over which approach to amplification is better, especially based on "accuracy". One might as well start a discussion thread entitled "Clean Shaven, Trim or Hairy Momma Bush".