Tube Watts Vs. Soild-State Watts?


I am considering replacing a large solid-state amplifier with a decent sized tube amp, and was wondering what I may be giving up/gaining by making the change? My speakers are quite sensitive, about 98dB. I love the dynamics and bass control the big SS amp provides, but I would like to get more resolution and detail out of my music. I don't play music at loud volumes, but I do enjoy decent listening levels. Any info appreciated.
333jeffery
a Watt is a Watt the world around

you will be concerned with how the Volts and Amps balance out to make a Watt

watt speakers do you have?

the issue is current delivery into a complex impedance (good term to google....)
I just moved to an Atma-Sphere MA-1 from a McCormack DNA-1. I have to say the differences were startling, but in fairness, by going to monoblocks( and short speaker cables) and balanced connections, there were too many variables to be a fair comparison. I got a truly impressive soundstage with depth and clarity.
I am in the process of upgrading the Dna-1's to monoblocks at SMC audio (I found a second amp for cheap). It will be a few months (getting money together), but I will put them in a head to head contest.
B
This is getting old has been done many times.
The watts are the same.

In the end as much as we audiophiles hate to admit it, its all about what distortions exist and how much.

Tubes tend to have higher amounts of lower-ordered harmonics (which sound like 'richness' to the human ear).

Transistors have almost none of the lower orders but tend to have more of the higher orders than tubes do. The higher orders (5th and beyond) tend to cause the amp to sound brighter and harsher.

Both are colorations.

Regarding detail, I have often seen brightness masquerading as detail.  Its my opinion and experience that when you are really getting things right, you have detail together with a relaxed presentation. Generally that means that the system is low distortion, as the presence of distortion can mask detail.

I also feel that tubes are generally better at low level detail regardless. There are a lot of design considerations that make up an amplifier! So its at one's own peril to try to point at a reason why for something like this but my opinion nevertheless is the inherent higher linearity of tubes.


The tube amp that I am looking at is about 80wpc single-ended class A. My current amp is solid-state 400wpc class AB. My speakers are Tekton Design Double Impacts. My previous experience with tube amps was mixed, as the amps had some characteristics I liked, but were not very dynamic. I like the sound of my solid-state amp, but am wondering if I could get more detail out of my music by going to a tube amp.
333jeffery.....400 wpc with Double Impacts? You can create rock concert sound levels with that combo! It must be dynamic as hell. I think you'll be very happy driving the DI's with tubes. I'm using a 24 watt Decware amp on mine and it's delightful unless I want to crank it up. I'll be switching to a Linear Tube Audio 50 watt into 4 ohms OTL tube amp to get me where I want to be.....the same pre and amp used in Terry Londons upcoming review of the Tekton Double Impacts. I would think an 80 watt single ended class A amp would work extremely well with your DI's. Start looking for some sweet NOS tubes! The DI's reveal every characteristic upstream in your system making tube rolling quite fun. Please keep us informed as to which amp you go with and how it lights up your DI's. 
Hi 333jeffery, 
What output tube does this amplifier use and is this a parallel SET topology? 80 watts is a lot for a SET.
Charles 
The 833 in a set is said to give 150w with much distortion.

http://www.stereophile.com/images/archivesart/WAVacFIG06.jpg

http://www.highendaudio.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Wavac-SH833-W720-001-W720-002-front1_wm.jpg

Cheers George

It's a transmitter tube amp, and the tube is the size of a coffee can. The solid-state amp I'm using certainly is dynamic with the Double Impact speakers. But, I feel like I'm not getting as much detail as I could be. I've upgraded everything else in the system, which just leaves the amp.
Sounds interesting 333jeffery. It's certainly a type of tube amp I'm not familiar with. A tube the size of a coffee can? That should light up the room. Best of luck with it. The DI's sound great with tubes.....but then I love the tube sound. You'll certainly hear all the details the amp can provide with the DI's. 
Jeffery,
Your description reminds me of a NAT audio (Serbia) type SET amplifier. If at all similar then it will have terrific quality output transformers and very robust power supply. They are very ruggedly built. 
Charles
333jeffery OP6 posts03-08-2017 12:15pmIt’s a transmitter tube amp
Still Triode SE, So are a host of others used in audio in set amps, just to name a few from memory 211,845,805,GM70,VT4C, ect ect

Cheers George
" The tube amp that I am looking at is about 80wpc single-ended class A. My current amp is solid-state 400wpc class AB. My speakers are Tekton Design Double Impacts. My previous experience with tube amps was mixed, as the amps had some characteristics I liked, but were not very dynamic. I like the sound of my solid-state amp, but am wondering if I could get more detail out of my music by going to a tube amp."

Try to find an ARC VT100, or a pair Quicksilver V4 mono's. That should take care of the weak dynamics.

The tube amp that I am looking at is about 80wpc single-ended class A
Your not going to find a one tube single ended triode at 80w unless you get one that uses the 833 tube.
Or it’s going to have to be a paralleled tube set using a pair of these tubes 211,845,805,GM70,VT4C

These 2 x GM70’s in set will give you 45w.
http://www.tubeguru.eu/poweramplifiers-/gm-70-pse-triode-parallel/

A paralleled pair 13E1 in set will get to 70w
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/cymer/2.html
Cheers George
I seriously doubt if the referenced single tube "transmitter" tube was designed for wideband audio reproduction. Sounds (no pun intended) like a component used for (tele)communication applications. Curios to hear more about it.
NAT Audio uses a Phillips QB 5/1750 tetrode to generate 80 watts from a single tube. 
Charles 
Yep, I went ahead and bought the NAT Transmitter amp. I'll have to go on Ebay and get some spare QB5/1750 tubes for it. NAT equipment looks very impressive, I hope the sound is as good. My solid-state amp was very dynamic, but somewhat lacking in detail. We'll see if the tube amp can fix that.
I believe the chances are very good that you'll have success with this NAT amplifier matched with your Tekton DI speakers. Let us know your listening impressions when you have the time.. Congratulations.
Charles
I love the look of the NAT amp, those tubes are sweet looking. It should easily drive the DI's. Yes, please let us know your impressions when you get the NAT. Like Charles, I think you'll be very happy with the combo. 
I stand corrected. I had only seen these high power large/single tube amps used in early telecom applications.
Great call on the identity of the amp, Charles.

Based on its technical characteristics and on what I’ve heard about NAT products I too see no reason to doubt that it will work out well with the DIs. 333Jeffery, just be sure to keep in mind that there is probably something like 3,000 volts on the anode cap at the top of the power tube when it is powered up, and perhaps for some seconds or minutes after the amp is turned off! Although the blazing hot tube will no doubt eliminate any temptation to get near it during that time, anyway.

Also, given the high sensitivity of the DIs you may find the 30 watt low power mode the amp provides to be useful during the hot weather months. In their full power mode I suspect the two monoblocks will be consuming something like 800 watts of AC power, continuously, and converting nearly all of it into heat.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

I’ll have to go on Ebay and get some spare QB5/1750 tubes for it.
I see that some sellers on eBay are offering GU-46 tubes for relatively low prices, and are indicating that they are equivalent to the QB5/1750. However the GU-46 is specified as being usable up to a maximum anode voltage of 3000 volts, while the corresponding spec for the QB5/1750 is 5000 volts. There might also be other significant spec differences between the two tube types; I haven’t checked further. So I would suggest that you avoid the GU-46 unless you are able to obtain confirmation from NAT that it would be suitable for use in this amp.

Regards,
-- Al

Edit: For that matter, I see that the GU-46 and the QB5/1750 don’t even have the same number of pins in their bases. So the statements in some of the eBay listings for the GU-46 that it is similar to or equivalent to the QB5/1750 are definitely to be ignored.
Yes, current is what drives the loudspeaker, but all things being the same, a tube amplifier rated at say 50-watts will generally sound much louder than a SS amp at 50-watts.
I'm with Al  in regard to the output tube selection process, confirm with NAT  before even thinking about any possible tube alternatives.  This is a serious amplifier with ultra high voltage and I'm certain strict design criteria and circuit and power supply layout. Reviews and word of mouth say this is a superb sounding amplifier. I'd be surprised if it doesn't clearly outperform the Musical Fidelity transistor amplifier currently in use. Jeffery you may discover that you've achieved a world class audio system.  
Charles 
http://www.tubes4hifi.com/bob.htm#ST120
60 wpc tube amp
$ 929 kit without tubes
$1580 wired, with tubes, ready to run

http://www.tubes4hifi.com/bob.htm#M125
120 watt monobloc pair
$1778 kit without tubes
$2795 wired, with tubes, ready to run

Prices include shipping in USA

do you really need that much power with 98db speakers. i'd think a quality built 8-25wc tube amp would be fantastic. I think you'd get more bang for your buck as out put transformers make or break a tube amp (unless you go OTL) and good ones are expensive. I recently put in a 8wpc 300b based SET into my system with 94db Living voice speakers and i'm shocked at how great they work compared to the 50wpc class A SST amp it replaced. I think you should try ( borrow if possible) a high quality low powered amp and I think you will be surprised.


I ended up with the Triode Labs / Finale Audio F 3008  with the James transformer upgrade all around.

The only way to know the difference to YOUR ears is to , in the words of NIKE, "Just Do It". I could go on and on about the advantages and disadvantages of each, but that would tell YOU nada. Your motors may prefer one or the other. Unless they are ribbons, electrostatics, planer magnetics, or very difficult loads, I would advise giving tubes a try, especially if they are very efficient. Wouldn't kill you to experiment, might cost you a few hundred $ in flipping if you dont like the result, and even that wouldn't impugn all tube amps based on one experience. Just sayin'.
I’ve nothing new to add to the discussion. I try to see it simplified.

1. You need you solid state amp to not distort. That’s why you should buy as powerful amp as can. Unless you don’t listen very loud.

2. You don’t need as much power from you tube amp since it sounds nicer when distorted. As always more power is good since distortion is bad.

3. If both (good quality) amps are run within their limits they will sound very similar.

And with that in mind I chose a powerful solid state amp for my system. Mostly because high power tube amps are really expensive. ...but an 80wpc tube amp would easily drive my system for 99% of my listening. :)
I finally got my transmitter amps and hooked them up to the Double Impact speakers. Glorious sound, very detailed yet rich. I was afraid that I would lose some bass coming from the large solid-state amp that I had before. That was not the case, bass was quite impressive and plenty loud.
Now the bad, after a few hours of use, the right channel suddenly dropped in volume to about half of what the left channel was playing. I replaced the input tube but that had no effect. Is this a tube problem, or something else?