Home Audio Tube Amps – Are They Better?

Audiophiles have had a long running discussion about what types of amplifiers are better, tube or solid state. A lot of this depends on your own personal taste, but It seems a lot of audiophiles prefer tube amplifiers and often consider them better than their solid state counterparts. Let’s look at some of the reasons they feel this way.

Warm Sound

The general thought is that tube hi-fi equipment sounds better. This is probably due to the differences in the way tube and transistor amplifiers are built and how power flows through each one.  As a result, the sound from tubes has a more compact bass with brighter highs. Tube amplifiers are also known to have a warm and rich sound, and can actually make digital music sound less digital.

Tube amplifiers are not without issues though. They require more maintenance and tend to be delicate, needing to be replaced from time to time. Tubes will work better with more efficient speakers since they don’t put out as much power as solid state amps. Another thing to note is that the pairing of tube amps and speakers makes a difference. Some pairings work better than others and so there could be some trial and error involved to get the best sound.

Reliability

Solid-state amps are more reliable which gives them an advantage over tubes. They can run for decades without maintenance. Also, they are immune to electromagnetic interference which can cause a hum or other noise in a tube amp. Another difference is that tube amps need very large power supplies (around 2000V) whereas solid-state amps don’t. This means that solid-state amps can be more compact and weigh less than tube amps.

With regards to sound, solid-state amps are commonly thought to be a more accurate representation of the original recording. Solid-state amps will give you more power but that doesn’t necessarily mean better sound. If your speakers aren’t efficient, you will want to use a solid-state amp.  The same goes for your home theater.

 

Willsenton R35I EL34 Tube Amplifier

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Stray Capacitance

Size and power aren’t the only factors when it comes to the build of each type of amp. Another is something called stray capacitance and pertains to the transistor’s output coil. Without getting too technical, stray capacitance exists with solid-state amps and has to do with how they have their output transformer wired where multiple currents flow out of phase. This out-of-phase flowing can cause one current to add or subtract from another resulting in stray capacitance. If the stray capacitance gets too large, it can cause a noticeable deterioration in the sound quality.

Tube amplifiers don’t have stray capacitance and so no stray currents exist to change the quality of the audio.

Conclusion

So what it all really boils down to is what you think will work best for you. Do you prefer the warm sound of a tube amp or the precise representation you get from solid-state? Is no maintenance important or are you willing to swap out the tubes from time to time? Do you have the right speakers? Is your space limited?

These are questions you’ll have to answer for yourself as you look for your perfect home audio amplifier. Best of luck.

For even more info check out Why Tubes Sound Better.

Muzishare X7 KT88 Push-Pull Tube Amplifier – Rated the #1 High-End Tube Amplifier –  $1,510.00 $1,445.00

Technics SL-100C

Technics New Turntable – The SL-100C

Are you looking for a new turntable? You may want to wait for the new entry-level turntable from Technics. Introducing the SL-100C Direct Drive Turntable. What’s great about this new turntable is that it’s a version of their award-winning SL-1500C but with an affordable price.

Based on the succes of their SL-1500C turntable, Technics decided to build a turntable for the entry level audiophile. Introducing the SL-100C, Technics new entry level turntable.

Build

The SL-100C which looks similar to their SL-1200 turntable, has many of the great features that Technics turntables are known for. This includes the iron-coreless direct drive motor with motor control for stability. The tonearm is high-precision S-shaped aluminum that captures even the slightest musical nuances on every disc, and comes with automatic lift. It also has a well-built two-layer chassis that ensures tracking will not be affected by external vibrations.

The SL-100C comes with the Audio-Technica VM95C on-board pickup cartridge. This cartridge has a conical stylus that provides precise tracking and retrieval from the record’s grooves, and offers wide compatibility with commonly used Phono Moving Magnet inputs that you’ll find on hi-fi amplifiers.

Technics SL-100C Turntable

Affordability

So you might be wondering what makes this new turntable so affordable. Well some of the savings comes from the cartridge used but also the phono pre-amp has been removed so you’ll have to provide your own amplifier.

Should you buy one? Well Technics is well-known in the industry for building great turntables and the new entry level SL-100C is no exception. This new turntable although minimal does have some premium specifications and actually sits higher than entry level. For the newbie audiophile there should be no hesitation in getting the new SL-100C. It would be a welcome addition to your audio system.

As far as availability, this new turntable will be available in Europe starting in June and stay tuned for its U.S. release.