An unscientific test of solid state vs power tubes

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#1
I have been absolutely loving my Synergy SYN-1. I mostly play it through my Seymour Duncan PowerStage into a cabinet. It sounds fantastic. but, I started thinking about how it would sound through a tube power amp. The good news is that the SYN-1 can be used through a head's FX Loop, and completely take over the head. You can use the head preamp, or bypass the amps preamp, and use the SYN-1 as the preamp via the SYN-1's footswitch.

I set up a Shure SM57 and recorded a track with the SYN-1 through a 5150 head with EL34 power tubes. I then changed the setup, and simply went through the Duncan PowerStage. They sounded damn close to my ears.

I then checked the EQ of each of the tracks using Ozone. I set the Ozone EQ points to each of the points on my MXR 10-band EQ. To my amazement, there was very little difference, less than 1db, on each of the points.

MXR EQ Settings to match the PowerStage to the EL34s

31.25: +1db
62.50: +0.5db
125: -2db
250: -3db
500: +1.5db
1000: +0.5db
2000: +0.5db
4000: +0.5db
8000: +0.25db
16000: +0.25db

I then ran the PowerStage with the EQ, and toggled it off and on. You could barely hear any difference in the sound. Minimal at best. In fact, it didn't necessarily make it better or worse. Hardly a slight change at all.

This is far from scientific, but this confirms that I don't need to use a tube power amp. It's extremely close, and the minimal difference is just that....minimal. I'll be doing more tests, but this opened my eyes to the fact that tube purists (in this unscientific test) can keep their tube amps, and I'll stick with my SD PowerStage.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#2
How about the feel and dynamics?
Between my katana ans using the fx loop on my fuchs I really need to change the eq of my Kemper significantly.
With the tube amp being at the profiel base and the katana being away from it. Also most profiles needed the same changes.

I thought it was a solid state vs tube thing. But now I’m thinking it might just be the katana.
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#3
I didn't notice any differences. It could be the fact that the preamp is a tube preamp. The Synergy loads tube preamps. I'm not saying this is a full comparison from Solid State to Tube, this was just a Power Amp comparison with a tube preamp.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#4
I didn't notice any differences. It could be the fact that the preamp is a tube preamp. The Synergy loads tube preamps. I'm not saying this is a full comparison from Solid State to Tube, this was just a Power Amp comparison with a tube preamp.
Hmm I'll give the SD a shot when I get the chance. My setup now is working fine but I am curious.
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#7
I don’t get it. This means the combination of tubes and speaker can absolutely sound different. And might or might not sound the same as a solid state amp depending on the impedance.
Or am I missing something?
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#8
Pretty much, the only thing that changes the sound is impedance. Not the tubes. So, if your cabinet has a switch, you can match any sound from a tube amp, like I did in my tests.
 
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