02-23-2013 05:46 PM
Recently I began browsing through the threads on this and similar forums in my ongoing quest for The Secret Knowledge (I know it’s out there) that will transform my modest chops overnight, making me finally the virtuoso Mom thinks I am. Yesterday reviewing a thread about Alexander Dumble and his amps led me to Henry Kaiser’s interview of Dumble. Suddenly, there it was, maybe - a piece of The Secret Knowledge.
This is my first post on any axe forum; but I am grateful for Mr. Dumble’s gift of understanding, so I felt compelled to say something on his (and Henry Kaiser’s) behalf after viewing so many posts here that seem to dismiss or mischaracterize one or both of the gentlemen or their expertise. Dumble spoke the truth!
Although I am no expert when it comes to amps or electronics in general, I did pay attention and did my homework in a succession of physics and chemistry classes. Dumble’s elegant explanation of inherent advantages of vacuum tubes over transistor circuits rang true. I dusted off old notebooks to brush up on the packing of atoms and movement of electrons in crystal lattice structures. Contemplating Dumble’s brief, clear statements while reviewing my chemistry and physics review brought me to an “Aha!” moment – all at once comprehending for the first time that tube amps really do have at least one unarguable advantage over solid state designs where the goal is faithful reproduction of the full range of possible tones and harmonics guitars can generate. Vacuum tubes are inherently better than transistors.
Electrons moving within in a crystal lattice structure are by definition constrained in the paths they can take when compared with the “wild” electrons randomly flying about the vacuum in a tube. This is especially true with respect to the possible straight paths that an electron can travel within either the lattice or the vacuum – there are simply more unconstrained pathways and longer unconstrained pathways in the tube.
With the fact of more freedom of movement in a tube’s vacuum, any solid state solution can only approximate the sound resulting from the tube’s “wild” electrons and then process the approximation to model a target sound. Whether the modeling and processing can result in a sound indistinguishable to the human ear from the target is certainly open to debate, but the fact that the digital sound can only approximate the tube sound remains. Maybe mine is a rudimentary understanding of a complex set of conditions and variables, but I appreciate Mr. Dumble for increasing that understanding.
02-23-2013 08:22 PM - edited 02-23-2013 08:24 PM
I'm not sure where to begin, but how about here:
As you can see, a silicon crystal lattice is not a flat or simply planar organization...electrons are not encumbered by linear paths of travel..., in fact, the bonds we display graphically are not accurate and absolute, but only respresent the average location of the electron paths... we know from quantum theory that their location can vary quite significantly. the straight lines you see are merely there so our simple human minds to grasp the mean location.
Also note that traveling electrons, or rather, the domino-like progression of electrons, may actually move in a variety of directions and still average-out to a net movement in the direction of - to +. "Up" and "Down" are quite possible.
Ok, point two: solid state devices such as FETs are often described as havng Gates which produce a valve-like effect on the electrons traveling thru the body of the transistor. The strength of this field can be approximated by Gaussian-like lines of force...similar to the fields formed by a tube's grid, constraining electrons flow from the Cathode to the Anode. These electrons do also generally flow in a linear path, such as you described for the solid state device.
One thing you do have correct is that an SS device can only approximate a tube. But the converse is also true: A tube can only approximate a silicon-device.
My personal belief (tho I've never seen it described as such) is that the 'warmth' which we find to be a positive attribute of tubes is associated to the randomness of electron directionality when under higher voltages, the greater 'noise' caused by electrons of a spectrum of energies leaving the heater, and the higher level of elemental impurities found (and tolerated) in the manufacture of tube components... this variation in component materials results in a broader range of electron energies in that linear stream, and thus a softening of the harsh/crisp/clear/more uniform electron energies seen in the more homogenous ss crystal lattice.
Not sure where this is all going.
02-24-2013 10:15 AM
02-24-2013 02:32 PM
... but the fact that the digital sound can only approximate the tube sound remains.
You do realize, of course, that silicon amplifiers and "digital sound" are not the same thing, right? An analogue signal being amplified by a solid state amp is still analogue. The guitar amp that is using silicon to amplifiy the guitar signal might also have some digital signal processors on board to subsequently digitize and then manipulate that signal to add reverb or whatever, but a solid state amplifier is still an analogue device. The development of silicon-based processors has made digitization possible but solid state amplication does not equate to digitized sound.
02-24-2013 06:33 PM
02-26-2013 11:59 AM
02-26-2013 01:11 PM
KillerToanz wrote:Contemplating Dumble’s brief, clear statements while reviewing my chemistry and physics review brought me to an “Aha!” moment – all at once comprehending for the first time that tube amps really do have at least one unarguable advantage over solid state designs where the goal is faithful reproduction of the full range of possible tones and harmonics guitars can generate. Vacuum tubes are inherently better than transistors.
Unfortunately this statement is absolutely wrong and kills the credibilty of your post. Tube amps do not faithfully reproduce what comes from the guitar. The entire appeal of tube amps is that they create an unfaithful reproduction of the guitar. Instead the guitar signal drives the amp to create it's own unique tone based on the characteristics of the tube design. IOW, what is so appealing about tube amps is the specific character of the amp, and not that it faithfully reproduces the tone of the guitar.
02-28-2013 12:47 PM
03-01-2013 03:08 AM
03-03-2013 03:04 PM
Far too many threads about this Knucklehead. Knows how to build amps. Also knows how to lay on the bullshit to make what he does look magical and mystical.
For laughs, look up copies of his old contracts and pictures of how he would GOOP the circuits so you couldn't see them and steal his tone magic.
I think that 'goop' was cholesterol he drew from his veins.
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