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ic-racer
07-09-2008, 11:23 AM
I realized that it has now been 22 years since USA production of Radio and Amplifier vacuum tubes ceased. The current state of the Tube guitar amplifier market is actually booming. There must be at least 100 small companies (or individuals) offering tube guitar amplifiers for sale. Demand for tube audiophile equipment is also high.

Thankfully, production of new vacuum tubes has continued in China, Russia and the Czech republic.

I can only hope that should film production cease by Kodak, other international manufacturers will continue to supply us with film for years to come and that our analog method of photography will prosper in a manner similar to vacuum tube audio.

Robert Hall
07-09-2008, 11:30 AM
And oooh how I love those amps! (now please excuse me while I go play) :)

jnanian
07-09-2008, 11:38 AM
the boxes for the russian tubes are the coolest.
a rocket ship shooting to planets and stars :)

PVia
07-09-2008, 11:43 AM
Yep...I use vacuum tube guitar amps exclusively. Tubes are a little more expensive now than they used to be, but they sound great. There is no comparison...just like film.

Eric Mac
07-09-2008, 11:43 AM
I am in the middle of a tube revival as part of my mid life crisis. I just finished a tube headphone amp and have another on the assembly bench. There is also a Dynaco 70 waiting for a new driver board to be installed.

The office Ipod is driving a Tube 6w integrated kit amp.

Most of this will be done in the fall when I can use the heat.

Eric

Barry S
07-09-2008, 11:44 AM
Excellent analogy. My last photo show was about the links between the vacuum tubes and film. Besides the parallels in the markets, they share a lot in common in their roles as key mass media technologies.

arigram
07-09-2008, 11:44 AM
Freaking crazy luddites.
Next they will be bringing sailboats, bicycles, brick stoves, analog clocks and classic guitars back!
They will stop at nothing to burn computers, turn the clock back and return us to the stone age!

Btw, why are vacuum tubes so good for sound?
I would really like a detailed, yet in layman's terms explanation.

PHOTOTONE
07-09-2008, 12:02 PM
Btw, why are vacuum tubes so good for sound?
I would really like a detailed, yet in layman's terms explanation.

Vacuum tubes handle over-driving differently than solid-state devices. When a vacuum tube amplifier is driven to "clipping" it "clips" softly. When a solid-state amplifier is driven to clipping it clips abruptly with massive distortion. It is the soft-clipping that makes vacuum tubes more appealing to guitar players, as the distortion from overdriving can be controlled very well, and produce sound that guitar players like.

In HiFi audio, vacuum tube amplifiers have a "warmth" that is hard to define, but easy to hear. They just sound more "analog" and "warm", and make music played from CD's sound more analog. Some feel that a good vacuum tube amplifier can produce a sound stage that has more "live" perception, like you are being immersed in the music. It is magical, at best.

Currently, vacuum tubes (of various types) are made in Russia, a couple of former east European countries, China, and I believe Western Electric makes one or two HiFi tubes (very expensive) in the USA. Obviously, the tubes that are still made are the audio tubes still used by amplifier manufacturers, and audio tubes for classic amps. Also, some specialty radio transmitting tubes are still manufactured.

There are actually more "brands" of new tubes available than there are manufacturers. The manufacturers make custom tubes for certain vendors and the vendors put their own labels on them.

jmain
07-09-2008, 12:02 PM
"Btw, why are vacuum tubes so good for sound?
I would really like a detailed, yet in layman's terms explanation."

In theory, an amplifier regardless of technology used, should produce a copy of the input signal but at greater amplitude. In reality amplifiers are not perfect so I believe the difference people hear is the difference in the way solid state and tube amps distort. Some people prefer the sound (distortion) of tube amps.

Steve Smith
07-09-2008, 12:07 PM
They are great alright!

http://www.steve-smith-audio.co.uk



Steve.

arigram
07-09-2008, 12:10 PM
Thank you for the explanation.
Can I get a cheap amplifier for my small living room or are they only for the "audiophiles" with deep pockets?

Steve Smith
07-09-2008, 12:18 PM
Vacuum tubes handle over-driving differently than solid-state devices. When a vacuum tube amplifier is driven to "clipping" it "clips" softly. When a solid-state amplifier is driven to clipping it clips abruptly with massive distortion. It is the soft-clipping that makes vacuum tubes more appealing to guitar players, as the distortion from overdriving can be controlled very well, and produce sound that guitar players like.

It is very similar to the way digital and film handle highlights.

The word 'distortion', though technically correct, unfortunately conjurs up the idea of a harsh rattly sound to the layman. Distortion really refers to any deviation from a linear response. In valve/tube terms, it is a slight deviation which can make it more pleasing to listen to..... And they look cool too!


Steve.

David Brown
07-09-2008, 12:29 PM
Freaking crazy luddites.
Next they will be bringing sailboats, bicycles, brick stoves, analog clocks and classic guitars back!
They will stop at nothing to burn computers, turn the clock back and return us to the stone age!

As long as they leave us indoor plumbing and air conditioning, I'm good!:p

KenM
07-09-2008, 02:05 PM
If you've got a few minutes to spare, check this out:

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2008/01/make_your_own_vaccum_tube.html

Nicholas Lindan
07-09-2008, 02:29 PM
I can only hope that should film production cease by Kodak, other international manufacturers will continue to supply us with film.

My sentiments are quite other: I wish Kodak to continue and that all the small and largely incompetent suppliers go belly up at the soonest opportunity. In my book the quality of product from small film producers is awful.

I am not sure the analogy holds: it doesn't take much technology to make an audio/receiving vacuum tube; the appeal of vacuum audio isn't performance but rather the lack thereof - the cyanotype of the electronics world, as it were.

ic-racer
07-09-2008, 02:53 PM
It is very similar to the way digital and film handle highlights.


Excellent example!

ic-racer
07-09-2008, 03:02 PM
My sentiments are quite other: I wish Kodak to continue and that all the small and largely incompetent suppliers go belly up at the soonest opportunity. In my book the quality of product from small film producers is awful.

I am not sure the analogy holds: it doesn't take much technology to make an audio/receiving vacuum tube; the appeal of vacuum audio isn't performance but rather the lack thereof - the cyanotype of the electronics world, as it were.

I suspect it is easier to make a light sensitive emulsion. Here is an example of a guy that makes vacuum tubes. Seems like a lot of equipment is needed compared to home-made film. http://dailymotion.alice.it/video/x3wrzo_fabrication-dune-lampe-triode_tech

Kirk Keyes
07-09-2008, 03:22 PM
Thank God for the Soviet Union.

And having tried to home-make film, I figured it's easier to make vacuum tubes at home...

Paul Goutiere
07-09-2008, 03:40 PM
The only thing I have left from the tube days is a "Williamson" designed mono amplifier. It weighs in at about 40 lbs and will produce about 20 watts of audio.

I began with tubes, (as a electronics tech) and still like the concept of the simplicity of the tube amplifier designs. I'm of an age where trying to discern the sound "quality" of tube or solid state would be ridiculous.
I cannot see where any well audio designed system, tube or solid state, would have any measurable advantage over the other, but I'll leave that discussion to others.

Andrey
07-09-2008, 03:47 PM
Are there any tube systems left on the market which you can purchase new?

How much do they go for? I don't really know much about tubes, except that I liked the sound of a custom built setup my dad had a long time ago.