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Germanium vs Silicon - Germanium's revenge?

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  • Germanium vs Silicon - Germanium's revenge?

    Everybody knows there's something special about the sound of germanium transistors in fuzz pedals, but they were largely supplanted by silicon versions, which have much better temperature stability. Of course, silicon has been at the heart of the personal computer revolution, and silicon based processors have been the norm there for decades... but it appears that germanium chips may be the future for computers. Wouldn't that be a rather ironic twist?

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news...eyond-silicon/
    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

  • #2
    What's next? Computers running on vacuum tubes?

    Bob "Notes" Norton
    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
    Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
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    • #3
      Hey, don't laugh - it could happen again!
      **********

      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

      - George Carlin

      "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

      - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

      "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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      • #4
        Well, there's that Korg triode on a chip with a real vacuum. A bit misguided, at least in the press release where they suggest that the reason to use a tube is for distortion. And that's probably valid when you're talking about guitar amplifiers. Mic preamps, not so much.
        --
        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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        • #5


          http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/aopentube/
          .

          music and social links | recent listening

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          • #6
            Call me crazy, but I'd rather take the output from the computer digitally and put the converters outside of that RFI infested interior. Play it back with a tube power amp if you want to run it through tubes, or use a tube preamp going in... but a tube inside the computer case mounted on the motherboard makes no sense to me beyond the marketing gimmick...
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
              but a tube inside the computer case mounted on the motherboard makes no sense to me beyond the marketing gimmick...
              Marketing supplanted reality years ago - it's all about the smoke and mirrors now .

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              • #8
                When I was in college, the electronics teacher did tell us that some of the first computers used vacuum tubes and worked in base 10 instead of base 2.

                And yes RR, marketing supersedes engineering. Perhaps that's why the US lost the lead it once had in the world. But that's a subject for a different forum.

                Insights and incites by Notes
                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Notes_Norton View Post
                  When I was in college, the electronics teacher did tell us that some of the first computers used vacuum tubes and worked in base 10 instead of base 2.
                  We had a tube computer in college. It took up a large room in the engineering building. Every year a few grad students would go through it, replace all the bad tubes, and get it to run a program or two. Then they turned it off for the summer to save on air conditioning, and the next year's crop of students had a fresh project to work on.

                  I don't know about base ten though, unless he was talking about tube analog computers. We had some of those, too. Heathkit sold one that used plug-in operational amplifiers with two 12AX7s sticking out of the top of a housing with an octal tube socket base.
                  --
                  "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                  Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                  • #10
                    I think there may be some use for a base 10 computer, but I don't think vacuum tubes would ever be the best choice for data. Of course, in the old days, you used the technology of the day.

                    I remember building a Heathkit stereo amp, and they were proud to be more modern than Germanium, that on the front, almost as big as the Heathkit logo were the words, "Silicon Solid State".

                    It sounded good and lasted about 20 years.

                    Notes
                    Bob "Notes" Norton
                    Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                    Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                    The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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                    • #11
                      From what I know, it wasn't really 'decimal' (using 10 different voltage levels to represent data), but BCD (binary coded decimal), where a four-bit binary code is used to represent the values 0 through 9. The holes in punch cards were the bit groups...

                      I have worked on true analog computers (the McDonald-Douglas L1011 autopilot used one; I spent a several months in the '90s recoding all the automated test software for it) and they are *not* that much fun to work with....

                      I don't know about the virtues of germanium vs. silicon as regards sound. It can be debated just as tube vs. solid state, or opamps vs. discrete parts.. Nowadays, with technologies like quantum dot embedding, there are a huge number of materials that can be made to semiconduct, such as gallium nitride and gallium arsenide, as well as some ceramic and metal-oxide materials. Most of these are being using in microwave applications though..
                      Last edited by philboking; 02-07-2015, 05:33 PM.

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                      • #12
                        The "this sounds better" arguments will go on forever. I think people hear differently.

                        Back in the early CD days, they definitely sounded different to my ears.

                        I went to my local stereo store, where a guitarist friend of mine worked, and brought a Stan Getz record and the same CD ("Focus"). For myself and the guitarist, we could hear a definite difference in the tone of Stan's sax. The CD sounded thinner and had more edge. The owner of the store couldn't hear that, but he could hear stereo placement in the mix better than either one of us.

                        CDs have gotten better with better time and technology.

                        I prefer the tone of a good vinyl recording in an old tube McIntosh or Fisher amp. But I listen to music on a Sony CD Deck and Marantz solid state amp. My turntable hardly ever spins as I've replaced most with CDs.

                        It's a matter of which kind of distortion I want to hear, the pops and clicks of the record or the harmonic distortion due to quantization errors of a CD.

                        I'm not sure what my old electroncs teacher was talking about, you sound like you now your stuff.

                        When I went to college, they advised me to take the communications option, as there was no jobs in digital. The computer took up an entire building, and we had Wang brand terminals in class. We didn't use them much. So instead of data I learned about radio frequency analog electronics. We had oscilloscopes, frequency counters, VOMs and cool toys like that. Most people in the school system had no way of knowing what was going to happen with computers.

                        I do remember our frequency counters had an array of vacuum tubes. Each vacuum tube had 10 cathodes (0-9) and the correct ones would glow to tell us what the frequency of the signal was. They looked pretty cool. More Frankenstein-ish than modern LED or LCD displays.

                        Notes
                        Bob "Notes" Norton
                        Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                        Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                        The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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                        • #13
                          Yeap! This was a computer card before solid state. The data was much warmer.
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                          • #14
                            And it had that smooth tube compression
                            Bob "Notes" Norton
                            Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                            Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                            The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Notes_Norton View Post
                              The "this sounds better" arguments will go on forever. I think people hear differently.


                              I do remember our frequency counters had an array of vacuum tubes. Each vacuum tube had 10 cathodes (0-9) and the correct ones would glow to tell us what the frequency of the signal was. They looked pretty cool. More Frankenstein-ish than modern LED or LCD displays.

                              Notes
                              Oh, yeah, I remember those. They were called 'nixie tubes'. Blast from the past....

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