How to improve tube amplifier tone by changing one part

Tube or solid-state, this section goes to eleven!
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Post by alexradium »

if the sound changes with a perfectly clean signal through 2 specific different capacitors,then you have distortion,on one or both.
which should be measurable to a degree,especially with a 2 tone IMD test.

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Post by soulsonic »

alexradium wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 10:33
if the sound changes with a perfectly clean signal through 2 specific different capacitors,then you have distortion,on one or both.
which should be measurable to a degree,especially with a 2 tone IMD test.
This kind of thing has already been done many times. There are numerous hi-fi websites where people have done all manner of extensive testing with all kinds of charts and etc... one such article that took me about 30 seconds to find is right here: http://conradhoffman.com/cap_measurements_100606.html

I consider it already a well-established fact that different capacitors distort the sound in a way that can be heard. I don't feel there's any need to "prove" it again for the 1000th time because people are too lazy to do their own basic research on the topic. And whether that distortion is a thing you think sounds good or not is completely subjective and a manner of personal taste.

I think you're all just being rude.
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Post by soulsonic »

FiveseveN wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 08:56
Well then why would anyone be interested in trying it out? Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
So, you've never built a pedal without first hearing a clip of it? Never built some new thing just for the sake of hearing how it sounds?
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Post by Manfred »

FiveseveN wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 08:56
bajaman wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 01:43
As I previously stated - I am not interested in proof, recordings measurements etc.
Well then why would anyone be interested in trying it out? Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
I think this forum is, among other things, a platform to share ideas and experiences in our field of interest and also to give recommendations and suggestions to take things forward.
Why not encourage others to try it with the capacitor change, many ears hear more?

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Post by FiveseveN »

soulsonic wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 22:30
I consider it already a well-established fact that different capacitors distort the sound in a way that can be heard.
Do you hear any difference in the clips from my test?
It's a fact that different kinds of capacitors can distort the sound in different ways. The "can be heard" part can't be factual because it depends on:
1. That capacitor's role in the circuit: Haven't heard anyone claiming that the secret of tone lies in the bridge rectifier snubber caps. Yet.
2. Who's doing the hearing: My left ear is plugged right now; I couldn't hear the difference between a Marshall and a Boogie with that one.
So at the highest level of confidence, you could say "Most people can hear the impact of capacitor type in this position of this kind of circuit". Whether most people would prefer one particular cap for its particular impact is another thing altogether: now we're dealing with aesthetics instead of electronic engineering and anthropometry.
So, you've never built a pedal without first hearing a clip of it? Never built some new thing just for the sake of hearing how it sounds?
I've developed things, does that count? I'm not a couple of hipsters throwing transistors at a breadboard until it produces something mildly interesting, I can form at least a vague idea about how something will sound by looking at the schematic. But otherwise if I'm building it for myself it's because I need that particular sound, which I would have to be familiar with beforehand to determine if I need it.
Manfred wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 23:50
Why not encourage others to try it with the capacitor change, many ears hear more?
I very much encourage people to try it, with controls, and documentation. But that's not how people usually try things out: they might make other changes, they'll almost certainly bump a control pot, they'll play different signals through it and they will rely on the memory of how it sounded originally, minutes, hours or days or fuck-knows how long before that was. And because of such a dubious confirmation they'll feel confident in making even more generalized statements and before you know it they'll be convinced they've cracked the secret of vintage tube amplifier tone and that you only need to change one part. Because forums are also places where people come to confirm their beliefs, no matter how (un)substantiated.
Case in point: someone said something mostly silly but maybe with a grain of truth behind it, and I'm the one being grilled for wanting proof. I care because I seem to have some fascination with the mythology of gear, probably because I also "suffer" from an MFA. And I think people should generally care if what they believe is true or not but I seem to be in the minority.
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Post by andy-h-h »

Manfred wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 23:50
FiveseveN wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 08:56
bajaman wrote:
21 Jun 2020, 01:43
As I previously stated - I am not interested in proof, recordings measurements etc.
Well then why would anyone be interested in trying it out? Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
I think this forum is, among other things, a platform to share ideas and experiences in our field of interest and also to give recommendations and suggestions to take things forward.
Why not encourage others to try it with the capacitor change, many ears hear more?
Here’s some one that has done a proper blind test on tone controls

https://youtu.be/817JHiYV_Po

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Post by bajaman »

Please read the first line of my original post and contemplate why I was reticent to share my subjective observations - as Thomas said to Jesus "show me the holes - i want proof"
None so blind as those who will not see, and none so deaf as those who will not hear ;-)
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Post by bajaman »

"Here’s some one that has done a proper blind test on tone controls

https://youtu.be/817JHiYV_Po"

totally irrelevant to this thread ;-)
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Post by andy-h-h »

bajaman wrote:
22 Jun 2020, 11:35
"Here’s some one that has done a proper blind test on tone controls

https://youtu.be/817JHiYV_Po"

totally irrelevant to this thread ;-)
It is relevant, as it demonstrates a blind test. It doesn’t answer or disprove your claim - it shows how a test could be done. Maybe this makes you uncomfortable?

As I have stated in previous posts, a similar test would resolve this, which you should be fine with bajaman as you are pretty insistent that your are right about this.

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Post by phatt »

Maybe he just put the cap in backwards,,,,, :mrgreen:
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Post by soulsonic »

I think now I know what it's like to argue with a Flat-Earther.
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Post by soulsonic »

andy-h-h wrote:
22 Jun 2020, 11:45

It is relevant, as it demonstrates a blind test. It doesn’t answer or disprove your claim - it shows how a test could be done. Maybe this makes you uncomfortable?

As I have stated in previous posts, a similar test would resolve this, which you should be fine with bajaman as you are pretty insistent that your are right about this.
You are refusing to acknowledge that he doesn't give a fuck whether it's proven or not. He made this abundantly clear, and you keep ignoring him. He has absolutely nothing to gain or lose one way or the other. Why can't you accept that? He hasn't spent his life in a cave, he's completely aware of what a blind test is, he doesn't need to be shown how a test could be done, as if he were some ignorant child. This is why I think you all have just been completely rude. This is entirely you looking for validation for yourself. You can't accept that he has an opinion different than yours, and doesn't care what you think.
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Post by soulsonic »

FiveseveN wrote:
22 Jun 2020, 08:56
now we're dealing with aesthetics instead of electronic engineering and anthropometry.
This is the core of our disagreement. I think anything to do with the sound of a piece of equipment is a 100% aesthetic discussion and nothing to do with the technical aspects.

We may have similar educations, but it seems we come from very different philosophical backgrounds. I'm not going to argue over that.
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Post by andy-h-h »

:hmmm: There’s no slow clap emoji

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Post by FiveseveN »

soulsonic wrote:
22 Jun 2020, 22:07
he doesn't need to be shown how a test could be done
How do you know that? And why doth he protest such at the request for proof in an age when everyone has a smartphone?
I think anything to do with the sound of a piece of equipment is a 100% aesthetic discussion and nothing to do with the technical aspects.
Do you believe two people can agree on whether two sounds are the same or not? How about something more nebulous, like a preponderance or absence of bass? How about whether they're hearing a glockenspiel or a tuba? Do you think sonance is a cultural construct?
And why haven't you been admonishing bajaman for mixing his aesthetics ("those British tube amplifiers from the 60s sound so good") and falsifiables (it's because of the caps)?
What exactly is "our disagreement"? Have I said something false so far or are you misremembering again?

PS (shower thoughts): I was thinking about the "natural reverb" and "increased sustain" bits and it came to me that the caps might be slightly microphonic! Would also explain why that first plate position has more impact and my test had controlled for that (the poweramp wasn't even on). Time for another test, methinks! No tube amps on hand, tho.
Last edited by FiveseveN on 23 Jun 2020, 14:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by george giblet »

I found this video. I could hear a difference but it *really* helps to listen with decent headphones and listen at a relatively high level. I can't comment on how the experiment was carried out. You would need the amp pots to be totally untouched, as well as the whole recording chain - no level adjustments either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laGliV7NlgI

I was tossing up to build something like this but with a NE555 operating at 300Hz to 1kHz. It would need some input protection for a HV bias; my initial idea was to bias the cap negatively. which might help. Also the HV supply would need to be regulated (low impedance and ripple free) in order not to stuff-up the capacitance measurements.

https://pdfserv.maximintegrated.com/en/an/AN6014.pdf

However the Henry Hall results, on the caps difference page that was linked previously, shows very little voltage dependency of the capacitors.

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Post by lolbou »

FiveseveN wrote:
23 Jun 2020, 01:16
I was thinking about the "natural reverb" and "increased sustain" bits and it came to me that the caps might be slightly microphonic! Would also explain why that first grid position has more impact and my test had controlled for that (the poweramp wasn't even on). Time for another test, methinks! No tube amps on hand, tho.
I thought the same for this, and in M. Blencowe's book (tube amp designing), the author says about warmer capacitors that this actual warmth is just some more noise. More dramatic too at this position in the amp.
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Post by bajaman »

anyone tried my SUGGESTION yet ?
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Post by FiveseveN »

See, I think the secret of vintage tube amp tone lies in the mains cable! I just swapped the cord on an Epiphone Valve Junior with a Black Rhodium Fusion and the difference is DRAMATIC:
- sound is overall more focused and Hi-Fi
- warm, haunting mids
- fragile harmonics survive better
Are you going to try my SUGGESTION? Would it help if I show you a hundred people who believe in the tonal impact of mains cables?
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. (Charles Darwin)

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Post by andy-h-h »

FiveseveN wrote:
24 Jun 2020, 08:57
See, I think the secret of vintage tube amp tone lies in the mains cable! I just swapped the cord on an Epiphone Valve Junior with a Black Rhodium Fusion and the difference is DRAMATIC:
- sound is overall more focused and Hi-Fi
- warm, haunting mids
- fragile harmonics survive better
Are you going to try my SUGGESTION? Would it help if I show you a hundred people who believe in the tonal impact of mains cables?
Google "speaker cable burn in" if you want to see crazy :D

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