Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tube and transistor (marriage of convenience)

Conversations on that is a better, transistor or lamps, are conducted from time immemorial. The dominating opinion of years for twenty five smoothly and, accordingly, imperceptibly varies on the opposite. And if in the early seventies on transistor receivers the quantity of transistors on which this device is executed (it was supposed, that communication quantity-quality a straight line) in the late nineties in forward panels of equipment drill holes that we could see sacred fire of a tubes or lamps in ultramodern preliminary amplifiers or sound processors was specified, and to tremble already with one it. The trembling of the similar plan, in general, business quite well - emotion is faster the positive. But it is offered to pay for it additional money and, as a rule, the considerable. Manufacturers oftubeses technics, naturally, try to strengthen in us confidence that if the device tubes, means it is by all means good. To make then it tried always, but this time whereas the evolutionary spiral has already practically made a full turn, to it, similar, it is possible, and now we are at the first stage of tubes boom. It proves to be true also what on a question "Why so is expensive?" There was norm an answer - "And that you want, it tubes". The boom is desirable for meeting fully armed - with a sober head and clear understanding of that it is necessary for you. It is uneasy. If to the sound producer with the long-term experience of job on a specialty, hearing a considerable quantity both tubes, and the transistor technics to hang up noodles on ears difficult enough, the musical semiprofessional or the fan which the majority, to confuse easier. Possibilities to compare sounding of different equipment rather limited. The information received from sellers of the musical equipment, flavoured with hearings (often inspired companies-manufacturers), a fashion and pathos, a fashion accompanying - it is far not the best platform for an equipment choice.

First of all, it is necessary to understand what tubes sounding from transistor and why differs. The following explanation is represented to me beautiful, laconic and, moreover, almost sufficient: well really - in the transistor the sound is born in a crystal, and in tubes - in vacuum. It is difficult to think up environment not more similar. As not to compare sounding? Ice and fire! Here I am not original, as articles devoted to these subject in foreign magazines, leave often under type headings: "Warm and Cool", "Hot or Cold", etc.

In one of such articles in whom the author it is given reason enough proves the superiority of a tubes over the transistor on all indicators (the truth, for some reason in it is not mentioned a word such important indicator of sounding as noise), the interesting explanation of appeal of tubes sounding on use example in the seventieth classical condenser microphones with tubes preamplifiers is brought. Business appears that these microphones have a signal of very high level (to 1,5) and preliminary amplifiers are compelled to work practically constantly with an overload. At a tubes overload first there is a natural compression of a sound therefore it is perceived as more "dense". Secondly there is a sound distortion therefore it is enriched by harmonics. In the tubes technics the arrangement of these harmonics on loudness practically coincides with an overtone nearby, that is second (octave), third (fifth), the fourth, the fifth etc. harmonics that is subjectively perceived as pleasant on hearing, "musical" sounding are added. The similar principle of enrichment of an initial signal is applied by harmonics, for example, in such device, as exciter.

At an overload of transistor technics the sound also is distorted, but the signal is thus saturated basically with odd harmonics, that is the third, the fifth, the seventh, the ninth etc. From them the seventh and ninth harmonics - discording, that the hearing, to put it mildly, does not caress and is perceived how it and is - as distortions.

As sounding of transistors and lamps seriously differs from each other, obviously, as variants of application of the technics constructed on so not similar components, should differ. Probably, in any cases the tubes, and in any - the transistor is more preferable. For the answer to a question - for what it is better to use that and another, it is necessary to give general characteristics of sounding both tubes, and semi-conductor sound devices. The last in the far abroad it is accepted to name "solid-state" (solid state).

So, a tubes.
+: sounds warmly, at an overload gives to sounding additional "musicality".
-: noise (as consequence of complexity with qualitative strengthening of signals of low level), bulkiness, small service life (some guitarists are compelled to change lamps in the amplifiers every month), badly transfer transportation, low EFFICIENCY (the most part is spent by consumed tubes technics of energy for premise heating, that can be welcomed only in the winter, and that only at idle heating).

Transistors and other semiconductors.
+: a correctness, true soundings, small noise, compactness of semi-conductor devices, low consumption of energy.
-: the dry sounding sharply worsening at an overload.

As we see characteristics opposite - that is good at lamps, it is bad at transistors, and on the contrary. Especially successful it is possible to consider application of lamps in an overload mode that is there where it is necessary to change, paint an initial signal just. Thus the tubes equipment (whether it be a microphonic preamplifier, the compressor or a guitar cabinet) becomes as though processing, the elementary, (but as it has appeared, is far not the worst) the processor of effects. A vivid example of use of lamps as a sound heater is device TL Audio Valve Interface - the eight-channel device in which is eight inputs, eight exits and the food switch. Any adjustment. And inside there are the lamps capable at once to warm something eight-channel, for example, ADAT. The low noise level and distortions is better to use the transistor technics there where are especially important true soundings.

In general, it seems to me, that to "characters" of transistors and lamps it is quite possible to apply the theory of floors and to consider it at equipment selection. A tubes - obviously expressed lady. Its sounding is soft and comfortable, it well carries overloads (transforms adverse circumstances to favorable result) and can make sounding of your inexpensive dynamic microphone similar to sounding of a condenser microphone with the big membrane (to women exaggerations are peculiar). The Clear advantage in front of tubes transistors has in guitar equipment. It is necessary to say, that guitarists in general the people rather conservative and, in essence, from lamps on transistors and did not pass or, anyway, always preferred tubes sounding. And here as studio control equipment the tubes technics, probably to use it is not necessary - just the uncompromising, is minimum painted, not misleading sound of transistors here is necessary. It will not give out wished for valid - it is possible to rely on it. Man's, in a word, a sound.

There is absolutely natural question, and what, it is impossible unless, at modern development of electronics, to make a sound of the transistor device warm, and tubes - authentic? Certainly it is possible! And such technics exists. There is it the truth expensively. For example, studio tubes reference the amplifier for ear-phones Tube-Tech PA 6, the giving unpainted sound, costs 1999 American dollars. So I suggest not to use special women as bodyguards and not less special men as secretaries-reviewers decorating office. But if amateurs of exotic wish to pay to forbid them of it anybody, naturally, cannot...

Now about the prices. Relatives on a class semi-conductor and tubes devices should have the comparable prices. Yes, lamps are more expensive, than transistors, but tubes devices strongly easier and contain 10 times less details (including tubes adherents explain today these surprising qualities of sounding of sponsored devices). Nevertheless, has historically developed so, that the tubes technics all the same is a little bit more expensive (there are pleasant exceptions: for example, rather decent microphonic preamplifier ART Tube MP by 199$). A little, but not in times, I ask to have it in view of when at the height of a tubes fashion to you will offer for a fantastic sum everything in what though something is shone. And in general, absolutely necessary for today it is possible to recognize only bulbs of Ilyich or the device, their replacing (for example, kerosene or oil lamps).

Some companies making professional sound equipment, make the combined tube-semi-conductor technics, trying to connect in it better qualities of lamps and transistors, thereby proving, that and a quivering fallow deer it is possible to use a horse as draught force if to do it with mind. As an example it is possible to bring Aphex Tubessence 107 - the tube-semi-conductor microphonic preamplifier which has received in 1995 award TEC in a nomination "the additional equipment". Certain successes the English company TL Audio doing preliminary amplifiers, compressors and equalizers in which entrance cascades semi-conductor - on silent microcircuits, and the cascades which are directly responsible for a compression or regulation of frequencies, are executed on lamps has reached also. Therefore on lamps the signal arrives already strengthened, that allows to receive as a whole a decent parity a signal/noise. Thus, semiconductors provide small noise, and lamps are engaged in that well is possible to them: compressing and sound warming. Idyll, and only.

Very much that the way to the compromise is found also the future behind the combined technics, in which as in a happy family, heroes of this article will begin to live, supplementing each other would be desirable to believe, pleasing us and rejoicing. As for today responses about the combined equipment rather encouraging.

It is necessary to mention also equipment Hi-End. Here where application of lamps is absolutely justified, as this equipment only for pleasure of hearing serves and should sound as much as possible beautifully. Though authors of audio magazines, in my opinion, have absolutely mixed for a long time already such two concepts as the beauty of a sound and its naturalness, and put often an equal-sign between two these far not always coinciding, concepts. In hi-end world the tubes unshakably sits on a throne and as intolerance audiofills soon should enter into sayings, quietest of the characteristics given by them to the transistor technics, the maxim is: "the Good transistor amplifier - the transistor amplifier disconnected from a network!"

At parting it would be desirable to repeat what to suit to an equipment choice it is necessary easy and it is weighed. Type phrases "only a tubes" or "the transistor - it is unequivocal!" Would be amusing if to communicate with the people inclined to similar approaches, would not be so unpleasantly. There, where categoricalness begins - competence comes to an end, and these people prefer to dispute abuse. So I advise to you to doubt - to listen - to read - to think. Good luck!

Andrey Mihailov
The musical Equipment

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