Do Tubes Homogenize the Sound of Our Music?

PeterA

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Well stated. A "my way or the highway" perspective. How silly and indefensible. How one can apparently deny the importance of subjectivity, when determining the musicality of a system in this hobby, is beyond me.

Wasn’t Brad simply sharing his own personal opinion about what he thought sounded good at the show? I didn’t read him denying anything. Surely people are able to express their own opinions when giving a show report. And plenty of people disagreed with Brad’s opinion and expressed their own different ones.
 
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Cellcbern

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Do tube electronics impart a sameness to the sound of our music -- do they homogenize in some way the sounds of our stereo systems?

In a thread comparing the Lampizator Horizon to the dCS Vivaldi Apex MikeL wrote:



LampiNA replied:

"I am glad you don't detect this quality with the Horizon.

I would just gently mention that two generations of Lampizator DAC designs have happened in the 6-7 years since that build and the tube output stages of the entire line up do not portray this quality."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other than early conrad-johnson and very "romantic" traditional tube sound, I almost invariably prefer tube electronics to solid-state electronics, component by component. I have made these direct comparisons many times and in many systems. Tubes just "work" for me. Tubes allow me a greater emotional connection to the music.

But I 100% believe that tubes are another merely subjective preference of this hobby. I totally get that many other audiophiles feel differently, and find tube electronics sonically objectionable for one or more reasons.

Despite my personal preference for tubes us tube aficionados have to be intellectually honest and acknowledge that people who prefer solid-state electronics often feel that tubes impart a sameness -- a homogeneity -- to the sound.

Years ago Michael Fremer directly compared in his system VTL Siegfried IIs to the mighty darTZeel 458s. Michael preferred the darTZeels.

Our MikeL several years ago gave me the opportunity to compare in his system the mighty VAC 450s to the darTZeel 458s. I came away with tremendous respect for the darTZeels, but I would've walked out the door with the VAC 450s.

MikeL, in contrast, preferred the darTZeels. If I remember correctly -- and MikeL should please correctly me if I am wrong -- one of the reasons MikeL preferred the dartTZeels is that he felt the VAC 450s imparted a very slight tube sameness to the sound.

What do you think? Do you feel tubes impart a sonic sameness to the sound of music?
Not in any of the systems I've had nor in any of the best tube based systems I've heard at shows or dealers. The only "sameness" I've heard from the best tube components is consistently superior musicality compared to solid state, DartZeel included.
 

thedudeabides

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Surely people are able to express their own opinions when giving a show report. And plenty of people disagreed with Brad’s opinion and expressed their own different ones.

As I understand his opinion, he likes the brand amplifier he sells or other amps of a similar Ilk
at the Munich show. How one can make this generalization and crticize all SS amps under show conditions seems impossible to me and self serving. If I am wrong , my sincere apologies.
 

LampiNA

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Do tube electronics impart a sameness to the sound of our music -- do they homogenize in some way the sounds of our stereo systems?

In a thread comparing the Lampizator Horizon to the dCS Vivaldi Apex MikeL wrote:



LampiNA replied:

"I am glad you don't detect this quality with the Horizon.

I would just gently mention that two generations of Lampizator DAC designs have happened in the 6-7 years since that build and the tube output stages of the entire line up do not portray this quality."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other than early conrad-johnson and very "romantic" traditional tube sound, I almost invariably prefer tube electronics to solid-state electronics, component by component. I have made these direct comparisons many times and in many systems. Tubes just "work" for me. Tubes allow me a greater emotional connection to the music.

But I 100% believe that tubes are another merely subjective preference of this hobby. I totally get that many other audiophiles feel differently, and find tube electronics sonically objectionable for one or more reasons.

Despite my personal preference for tubes us tube aficionados have to be intellectually honest and acknowledge that people who prefer solid-state electronics often feel that tubes impart a sameness -- a homogeneity -- to the sound.

Years ago Michael Fremer directly compared in his system VTL Siegfried IIs to the mighty darTZeel 458s. Michael preferred the darTZeels.

Our MikeL several years ago gave me the opportunity to compare in his system the mighty VAC 450s to the darTZeel 458s. I came away with tremendous respect for the darTZeels, but I would've walked out the door with the VAC 450s.

MikeL, in contrast, preferred the darTZeels. If I remember correctly -- and MikeL should please correctly me if I am wrong -- one of the reasons MikeL preferred the dartTZeels is that he felt the VAC 450s imparted a very slight tube sameness to the sound.

What do you think? Do you feel tubes impart a sonic sameness to the sound of music?
To be clear, this was my attempt to respectfully address Mike L's assertion on the LampizatOr DACs.

I do NOT support the idea that tubes homogenize sound and I did not agree with his assessments, but simply wanted to point out that whatever observations he made were based on pieces multiple generations old and that the LampizatOr DACs have come a long way in terms of ultimate transparency since that time.
 

Mike Lavigne

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To be clear, this was my attempt to respectfully address Mike L's assertion on the LampizatOr DACs.

I do NOT support the idea that tubes homogenize sound and I did not agree with his assessments, but simply wanted to point out that whatever observations he made were based on pieces multiple generations old and that the LampizatOr DACs have come a long way in terms of ultimate transparency since that time.
Fred, respectfully i did not make any general statement (tubes=homogenized sound) to PK in his thread relative to his Horizon demo; and specifically said i did not hear that from the Horizon at Axpona. Ron took my qualified words, and created this thread attributed to my comments. and now it's taken my intent and expanded it to more than i wrote or intended.

can tubes potentially bring a non musical sameness? sure. so can solid state. either can avoid it too. and generally you need a more neutral piece to directly compare, to hear that sameness uncovered. and every system is a different context, and every listener has their own perceptions about it.
 
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PeterA

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Fred, respectfully i did not make any general statement (tubes=homogenized sound) to PK in his thread relative to his Horizon demo; and specifically said i did not hear that from the Horizon at Axpona. Ron took my qualified words, and created this thread attributed to my comments. and now it's taken my intent and expanded it to more than i wrote or intended.

can tubes potentially bring a non musical sameness? sure. so can solid state. either can avoid it too. and generally you need a more neutral piece to directly compare, to hear that sameness uncovered. and every system is a different context, and every listener has their own perceptions about it.

I completely agree Mike. Furthermore, with all the various threads, it is quite confusing to understand the original quote, intent, and context. This thread now goes on to live a life of its own. I will reiterate what I wrote somewhere else, perhaps here, that it is not possible to make such sweeping generalities about tubes and SS. There are always exceptions, and if you have not heard them, that does not mean they don't exist. Steve Williams and I do not think our Lamm SET electronics homogenize the sound of our systems.
 
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LampiNA

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Fred, respectfully i did not make any general statement (tubes=homogenized sound) to PK in his thread relative to his Horizon demo; and specifically said i did not hear that from the Horizon at Axpona. Ron took my qualified words, and created this thread attributed to my comments. and now it's taken my intent and expanded it to more than i wrote or intended.

can tubes potentially bring a non musical sameness? sure. so can solid state. either can avoid it too. and generally you need a more neutral piece to directly compare, to hear that sameness uncovered. and every system is a different context, and every listener has their own perceptions about it.
Hi Mike,

I understand your context and that you were NOT implying you heard that on the Horizon. Sorry if if it came off that way. I was just trying to clarify my own words as not tacitly agreeing that tubes homoginize sound. :) I don't believe that to be the case, but I also trust Mike's ears and experience.

Fred
 

thomask

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I think tube modulate, not homogenize the sound.

Some prefer Mosfet transistor due to tube like round sound.

But others prefer bipolar transistor due to more clear sound.

All electrical component give some distortion or modulation of the sound to some degree.

But I enjoy such modulation of sound by tube.

I do tube roll depending on my mood and music. :cool:
 
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DaveC

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I think tube modulate, not homogenize the sound.

Some prefer Mosfet transistor due to tube like round sound.

But others prefer bipolar transistor due to more clear sound.

All electrical component give some distortion or modulation of the sound to some degree.

But I enjoy such modulation of sound by tube.

I do tube roll depending on my mood and music. :cool:

I agree, and think this is all a bunch of semantics as to what is meant by "homogenize".

Otherwise, I have a hard time believing anyone here thinks an amp adds nothing to the sound at all, and if it does, it's certainly "homogenizing" to some degree. An amp doesn't change sound characteristics depending on your mood or the recording, unless you have an amp with a triode/pentode switch or adjustable feedback. Then the homogenization is simply adjustable... IMO everything must homogenize the sound without exception, based on the correct definition of homogenize of course. ;)
 

PeterA

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I agree, and think this is all a bunch of semantics as to what is meant by "homogenize".

Otherwise, I have a hard time believing anyone here thinks an amp adds nothing to the sound at all, and if it does, it's certainly "homogenizing" to some degree. An amp doesn't change sound characteristics depending on your mood or the recording, unless you have an amp with a triode/pentode switch or adjustable feedback. Then the homogenization is simply adjustable... IMO everything must homogenize the sound without exception, based on the correct definition of homogenize of course. ;)

Homogenize: “To make uniform or similar“.

My Furutech IEC connectors did this. So did certain power cords and cables, and my pneumatic isolation platforms and certain footers. To a lesser extent, my solid-state amplifiers did this. My SET amps seem to do this less than all of the other items I listed and owned in various systems. Of course these conclusions were reached at different stages of system development and with varying degrees of appreciation for what I was hearing.
 

DaveC

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Homogenize: “To make uniform or similar“.

My Furutech IEC connectors did this. So did certain power cords and cables, and my pneumatic isolation platforms and certain footers. To a lesser extent, my solid-state amplifiers did this. My SET amps seem to do this less than all of the other items I listed and owned in various systems. Of course these conclusions were reached at different stages of system development and with varying degrees of appreciation for what I was hearing.

And without enough data to reach a logical conclusion.

It's a fallacy to change one thing in a SYSTEM and think that it's that one changed thing that's making the difference you hear. For example that Furutech IEC, it's much more likely what you heard was a result of the COMBINATION of the IEC and it's mating IEC inlet and maybe whatever wire is attached to both parts and it's method of attachment. So if you change the IEC inlet as well as the plug you'd hear something entirely different.

That's the issue with experimenting with one thing without taking into account the SYSTEM and how that one thing interacts with other things. If you're going to use unplated brass AC connectors everywhere and throw in ONE Furutech part the result may be completely different than If you have all Furutech rhodium/pure copper parts, in fact I know for certain it is and many of my customers and people here posting on WBF do too. But those who are skeptical and don't like what one single Furutech part does are unwilling to spend the money and effort to use matching Furutech AC parts throughout their system. So, imo it's a mistake to claim you really know what a Furutech IEC sounds like at all, you don't have enough information or experience to make that claim. But we tend to adapt that as a belief anyways and then that belief causes biases, etc. Audio is a small reflection of life in general, figuring out the intricacies and logic required to come to a conclusion without letting bias get in the way applies to everything.

As mentioned, everything homogenizes the sound to some degree. I'd actually argue you NEED some of it to keep the sound from being very different than what was intended by the folks making the recording, because their gear homogenizes too. Live sound and studios tend to use gear that results in what we'd call warmth and it's not too difficult to put together a playback system that has a lot less of it vs the recording studio. Without homogenization added via the warmth of tubes, wires, resistors, caps, paper-coned drivers, resonant speaker cabinets, etc. as well as a certain amount of feedback to extend decay, you'd get a very unnatural sound that is nothing like what the recording engineers heard on their system. IMO what we're going for is having enough resolution to cross a psychoacoustic barrier to achieve a "you are there" experience while warmly homogenizing everything in a pleasant way that sounds as close to "live" as possible, and that varies a good bit from person to person, but I do think this is really what everyone wants out of an audio system in a nutshell. Some kinds of homogenization are absolutely built into the system, and are a big part of what makes for a good system that sounds real, cohesive, like you're there.

Also, I hate to bring it up but your CC PCs are a homogenization device. It's not difficult to use a more technically competent cable in terms of purely objective factors like conductivity, contact resistance, dielectric absorption, inductance, capacitance and overall impedance, yet you choose not to and in fact you and others claim the more technically competent option doesn't sound as good. Do you know why this is exactly? ;)
 

PeterA

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Dave, Ron is referring to a “sameness” to the sound. We all have different levels of experience, and understand technical reasons for what we hear to greater or lesser extent. You are a manufacturer and likely have a much greater technical understanding of these things than I do. Regardless, just like everyone else here, I am sharing my opinion based on my listening impressions in my own system with familiar recorded music and live acoustic music as a reference.

I agree that these individual items interact with other components in the system. I described in some detail the process of removing my three IEC connectors and replacing them with the stock power cords and industrial outlets. Then I changed the audiophile in wall wires with industrial wire. Then I switched from stock power cords to my Ching Cheng power cords. Each step resulted in less “sameness“ and increased differences across recordings. Others will likely have different experiences in their systems. I agree we are biased, but that bias comes from experience.
 
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Ron Resnick

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It's a fallacy to change one thing in a SYSTEM and think that it's that one changed thing that's making the difference you hear.

I am not a logician, but I am puzzled about this. If I change one thing in a system, and I then observe a difference in sound, why is it fallacious to attribute that difference in sound to the one thing which was changed?

Would it be more logical to attribute that difference in sound to something which was not changed?
 

Ron Resnick

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Yes but I still don’t know what you mean by questioning if emotional connection to the music is a form of homogenization. I don’t understand your usage of the word homogenization. It seems that the discussion is not addressing this question at all.

The question: "If you are emotionally connected to the music, all music, on a particular system, is that itself somehow a form of homogenization?"

My use of the word "homogenization" is identical to your use of this word.

My answer: I do not consider emotional connection to be a form of homogenization.
 
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DaveC

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I am not a logician, but I am puzzled about this. If I change one thing in a system, and I then observe a difference in sound, why is it fallacious to attribute that difference in sound to the one thing which was changed?

Would it be more logical to attribute that difference in sound to something which was not changed?


Agreed, I could have worded that better. The difference in sound is indeed a result of what has changed, but it's often the conclusion drawn that is mistaken.

For example, you might insert a cable that uses that Furutech IEC and observe a glassy, harsh sound and attribute that to rhodium, and form the belief that this is what rhodium sounds like. The conclusion is incorrect because the observed change in sound is actually a result of the combination of rhodium and say, just for example, gold plated brass. If both parts were rhodium plated copper the result would NOT be a glassy, harsh sound. OTOH, you could get the same result from using a gold plug in a rhodium receptacle and the result might be hard and fatiguing. Is that how gold sounds? So the point is the conclusions drawn from making changes in the system are often incorrect because we're only considering what has changed and we may have an incomplete understanding of how the change made has affected other parts of the system.
 

DaveC

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Dave, Ron is referring to a “sameness” to the sound. We all have different levels of experience, and understand technical reasons for what we hear to greater or lesser extent. You are a manufacturer and likely have a much greater technical understanding of these things than I do. Regardless, just like everyone else here, I am sharing my opinion based on my listening impressions in my own system with familiar recorded music and live acoustic music as a reference.

I agree that these individual items interact with other components in the system. I described in some detail the process of removing my three IEC connectors and replacing them with the stock power cords and industrial outlets. Then I changed the audiophile in wall wires with industrial wire. Then I switched from stock power cords to my Ching Cheng power cords. Each step resulted in less “sameness“ and increased differences across recordings. Others will likely have different experiences in their systems. I agree we are biased, but that bias comes from experience.



I think a lot of the reason you hear improvements with your change of materials is because they are similar and thus have less issues with interactions. All of the industrial outlets and cheap commodity level PCs are likely made out of unplated brass and it's simply the fact that everything is unplated brass and not a mish-mash of materials and platings that is getting you the results you hear. They also add a lot of warmth and thus homogenization to the sound because they are far from being ideal devices, but certainly better than what you had in many important ways. It's just some of the conclusions you come to, what you think a Furutech IEC plug sounds like for example, are not based on enough evidence and are simply incorrect ime.
 

Alrainbow

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Homogenize: “To make uniform or similar
if I’m getting Ron’s point I agree
with him. It’s not that SS or tubes don’t or do
it’s about do either have a quality or qualities to make him or any of us feel more attached
if I’m correct we all would agree. it’s a given any amp to any speaker / room has its effects.
but does Homogenize: “ make an additive sound
in tubes over SS ?
and does this making us in part
more the same in sound ?
 

gleeds

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One WBF Member I know and respect immensely uses tubes at the front end of his system, one for the phono stage and another for the DAC. The rest of the system is all top-level solid-state, albeit the amplifiers are Class A. I have always liked the idea of having tubes somewhere in the system for a touch of that harmonic rightness and tone density a well-executed tube design can impart. Having spent a decent time listening to the Horizon DAC I do enjoy it immensely when coupled with our solid-state electronics.

Of course, I also find that the lower wattage SE amplifiers have a certain rightness to them when they are well-matched to their partnering speakers. I have less experience with the bigger push-pull amplifiers including those mentioned. OTL's are likely another animal altogether. I'm definitely looking forward to spending time listening to the Destination Audio 45's and GM-70 amplifiers powering their horn loudspeakers at Fred Crane's place next month.
 

Steve Rowan

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I’ve read through the comments. I believe all systems will have their own sound as there are way too many variables to ever have any system exactly alike.
But over time they should sound more homogenous in a way.
After all many want their tube amps to sound more linear and more linear like some solid state.
And many want their solid state to sound more like the sound of tubes.
As a result at least these two philosophies should sound more homogenous.
Then we have the many who want their “sound” to be “live”.
And to many a true “live” sound might to be as palatable.
 

tima

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Homogenize: “To make uniform or similar“.

So, who or what is doing the making?

Certainly not a piece of electronic gear or stereo component. Similarity and uniformity are products of cognition. We do not perceive homogeneity like we perceive a turntable or interconnect. It is not something existing apart from our judgement. A claim that 'tubes homogenize sound' or 'an emotional connection with music' homogenizes sound is really about homogenizing listeners! In effect claiming they all hear the same. Humans homogenize sound by listening to it. Can the discussion get any more ridiculous?

I do think we need to be careful with 'homogenize' or 'homogeneity' and also the word 'similar
 

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