Featured image of post Introduction to the characteristics of tube power amplifiers and suggestions for purchasing

Introduction to the characteristics of tube power amplifiers and suggestions for purchasing

What are the characteristics of tube amplifiers? What are the pros and cons? Does it sound really good? How to choose the tube amplifier correctly?

The concept corresponding to the tube power amplifier is the transistor power amplifier. As an ancient type of power amplifier whose technical principle is different from most of the power amplifiers on the market, the tube power amplifier is still active in the consumer field to a certain extent, mainly because the sound it emits after it is connected to a speaker will be the same as that of a transistor power amplifier. Completely different and distinctly recognizable.

The tube power amplifier is a relatively “old” power amplifier product. Compared with the mainstream “transistor power amplifier” power amplifier products currently on the market, the age of “tube power amplifiers” can be regarded as “elderly”. Correspondingly, consumers who buy tube power amplifiers are becoming more and more “niche”. Audio players who are purely for the purpose of building a sound system will not choose to buy a tube power amplifier in most cases.

However, as a milestone in the history of the development of power amplifier technology, the tube power amplifier has reason to pull it out and introduce it as a special power amplifier product. There are huge differences between tube power amplifiers and power amplifiers in other categories in many actual parameters. Even the appearance of its power amplifier has a unique style of “heavenly different”, and this difference in appearance is not a difference in visual design, but due to the “electronic tube” used in the electronic tube power amplifier itself, which causes its unique appearance. A different “look”. Next, let us look at each of the above points in detail about the special existence of power amplifier products such as “tube power amplifiers”.

The characteristics of the sound of the tube amplifier

The tube power amplifier can be said to be the most easily audible power amplifier that is different from other types of power amplifiers. Without professional listening training, even ordinary HIFI enthusiasts can easily hear the difference between “tube power amplifier” and “transistor power amplifier” or “tube power amplifier” and “digital power amplifier”.

If you are smart, you may have discovered that the sound of tube power amplifiers is obviously different from that of all other types of power amplifiers, and the sound differences between other types of power amplifiers are not easy to be heard. Obvious distortion. That’s right, tube amplifiers have attracted a group of fans by relying on this unique and obvious distortion.

Generally speaking, the distortion produced by the power amplifier will degrade the sound quality or sense of hearing. However, the electronic tube power amplifier is “outstanding” in this point, and the distortion it produces will tend to a specific style, and this special style just caters to people’s certain psychological needs for music appreciation. The early HIFI enthusiasts were exposed to this kind of tube amplifier products. They listened to the audio output by the tube amplifier for a long time, and were deeply attracted by this style, which led to the birth of the “transistor amplifier” later. In the early stage, many HIFI enthusiasts would linger on the “old-fashioned” tube amplifiers.

The type of music that the special sound style of the tube amplifier is suitable for

Among the supporters of tube amplifiers, quite a few enthusiasts prefer to listen to melodious style music. The main purpose of their sound system is to enjoy light music, and generally they will not use the sound system too much for watching movies, playing games or other purposes. The distortion style of the tube power amplifier has certain characteristics. From the sense of hearing, the sound becomes slightly lighter and blurred. This makes it particularly suitable for powering “light” music, where the soothing flavors of the music can be noticeably accentuated.

There are also some tube amplifier users who especially like to use it to play “female voice”, because the special distortion style of tube amplifier can make the final presentation of “female voice” more “sweet”. Although this kind of distortion deviates from the real voice of the original “female voice” to a certain extent, due to the “sweet” listening experience, HIFI enthusiasts still “never forget” it. In fact, to get a more objective evaluation of a certain power amplifier product, it is impossible to make too many subjective evaluations of it. Therefore, we will only “point to the end” in the description of the sense of hearing in this article.

In short, the actual sound effect of the tube power amplifier caters to some HIFI users who like quiet and soothing music to a certain extent. This unique style is not only the advantage of the tube amplifier, but also its disadvantage.

Because to some extent, this kind of distortion will reduce the intensity of the sound. After deviating from the original true intensity, it will appear weaker in some audio content that requires a larger dynamic range. Therefore, the applicable scenarios of tube power amplifiers have certain limitations. They are not suitable for music with large rhythm fluctuations, nor are they suitable for watching movies, because controlling the huge sound environment in movies is not the specialty of tube power amplifiers.

Energy Consumption Performance of Tube Amplifier

Since the tube power amplifier is an ancient type of power amplifier, the original design has not yet advanced to have higher requirements on the power consumption ratio of the power amplifier, so its energy efficiency ratio is not good. So, how low is its energy consumption ratio? If you compare the Class A power amplifier with the lowest energy efficiency ratio introduced earlier, the energy efficiency ratio of the tube power amplifier is not as good as that of the Class A power amplifier, and it is a real “big power consumer”.

It is also because of this power consumption characteristic that the effective power of the electronic tube amplifiers on the market is generally relatively small, which means that it is generally difficult for the electronic tube amplifiers to connect to speakers with relatively high rated power. In order to make up for this shortcoming, the manufacturers have specially launched some new power amplifier products to satisfy the HIFI enthusiasts who want to retain the special charm of the tube power amplifier, but also want to connect to the speakers with high power requirements. These new power amplifier products are usually called “gallstone power amplifiers”, or “front gallbladder power amplifiers and back stone power amplifiers”. The main principle of these products is to combine the tube power amplifier circuit with the transistor power amplifier circuit. In this way, the advantages of “tube power amplifier” are retained, and the high-power characteristics of “transistor power amplifier” are also introduced.

Although the design of such products is very bold and avant-garde. However, judging from the overall situation of the current consumer market, the sales volume does not seem to be very high. There are two reasons for this. One is that the demand for tube power amplifiers has gradually dissipated in the tide of time. The other is that such “gallstone-combined” power amplifier products lack the promotion of big manufacturers and brands, and are generally small and medium-sized manufacturers. launch such products. This can also be understood, after all, in today’s “profit is king” era, big manufacturers generally don’t favor niche power amplifiers. This is also the main reason why “transistor amplifiers” are so popular now.

Price of Tube Amplifier

As for the price, the price of tube power amplifiers is generally not cheap in the market, especially the price positioning of tube power amplifiers with relatively large effective power is even more expensive. Due to its ancient technical structure and narrow application scenarios, many large manufacturers no longer produce such power amplifier products.

The existing large-scale well-known brands that specialize in the production of pure tube power amplifiers generally package “tube power amplifiers” as luxury attributes, and everyone can guess their price positioning.

Therefore, if you want to buy a “tube power amplifier” to see the special existence in the history of power amplifier development, it is still recommended for HIFI enthusiasts with relatively ample financial means to “early adopt”.

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Last updated on 2023-03-22 20:37 CCT
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