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Tube-Rolling Leverage (Read 1879 times)
Fireblade
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Tube-Rolling Leverage
11/01/12 at 15:12:16
 
A question and a subject to reflect/discuss upon, directed to the many Decware tweakers (at all levels) in this forum  :) :    

Is it possible to re-voice an amp, via tube-rolling only?  In other words, if a particular combination of front-end/speakers/room conditions deviate from the original voicing context reference used by the builder, is it possible to adjust the stock voicing profile to accomodate the different settings/conditions?

This would evidently be an objective going beyond the mere change of sound 'flavor' or simple compensation more tipically linked to tube-rolling.  It would be probably worth it and quite fun to be able to significantly affect any amp's signature to accomodate one's own ideal (given particular conditions), just using tube-rolling.  

To what extent can an enthusiast end-user (not a technician) achieve this goal eventually, through trial-and-error and acquired first-hand experience with tubes?  Or is it more of a topology design and componentry selection issue, demanding a deeper and more technical level of involvement?

Of course, a given condition would be to start with the right piece of equipment (i.e., a Decware amp), so the general topology design would be robust enough to allow enough tube variations, and at the same time provide a very efficient and stable technical platform.

Ok, you can shoot me now ...
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« Last Edit: 11/01/12 at 15:30:07 by Fireblade »  

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will
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #1 - 11/01/12 at 15:58:41
 
I think the signature is made by all the parts...design/layout, enclosure materials, transformers, wires, caps, resistors, feet....the foundation. Then there are tubes! Also big players. Each tube has its own signature, and when you play with combinations, particularly with all the tubes types in the Torii MKIII and Mini Torii (look at all the power tube options alone with the MT), you can seriously effect the sound. But whatever the variation of signature the tubes bring to the sound, the sound will be in the context of the foundation signature....So, relative to perspective of what signature is, and tube choices a given amp has....I would say mostly yes.

As far as fine tuning to a room or personal tastes, you definitely can do this with tubes, but within limits of the gear and environment. For example, if your amp is bassy, you can tune this out with tubes in various ways to a pretty notable extent, but depending on the room issues, it could be too much for tubes to fix, and be better to solve the room first. That said, you can change the outward and inward character of every aspect of the sound with tube combination play.

For personal taste...with my Torii MKIII, the many tube types, tube companies, vintages, etc, you can play and play and play with great success. I love it. But my system/room is pretty sorted out and I have a really good set of adjustment tools (a good range of each tube type, treble/bass knobs, different sounding cables and feet, and low EQ in my player software that I can fine-tune if necessary.....) so I have considerable flexibility that allows most decent tubes to sound great with the right tube combination.

I think this would be more limited with fixed treble/bass/EQ, and with less tube types, but I think tubes can be big players in the signature.
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« Last Edit: 11/01/12 at 16:00:33 by will »  

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Lon
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #2 - 11/01/12 at 16:11:08
 
Great post will.

I look at it this way: I'm not sure you can fundamentally alter (there's "foundation" in fundamental) an amp "signature." But you can change the signature in the way that many of us have a few signatures: the hasty day to day signature, the carefully written formal signature on an important piece, the way we sign a card to a loved one, etc.

As will very clearly stated in his isolation components response it's pretty amazing how you can alter the sound of components with isolation products as well. After reading what he wrote about Iso-Cup location with the Torii Mk III I moved them around again and really this can alter the sound as much as a tube set, in my experience.

So though I'm not sure you can completely alter the designed signature of an amp to what one may envision or need it to be (depending of course on how extremely the vision or need departs from the 'stock signature') changes can be made by several methods. (Cabling and power treatment are also very effective tools).

The clarity and accuracy available from these amps make much possible.
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Mark
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #3 - 11/01/12 at 16:19:01
 
Since my room acoustics, my system, and my (silver) interconnects are so neutral, the driver tube socket of my Zen Triode is basically my tone control... I even have a gold pin socket saver in there so the stock tube socket won't wear out!...

I'd love to make a 'tone control' with a dozen or so driver tubes, all selectable with a switch!... Could even make it look like an old-time radial airplane engine!...   (m.)
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will
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #4 - 11/01/12 at 18:43:44
 
Mark,

You have sparked the imagination!!! That radial input tube selector, wired so that only the selected tube is electrified, sounds like a really fun tool. Have to use a really good switch and short runs of very transparent wire...then what....make a pin-to-socket rig that connects the radial tube device to the amp's input sockets. Tubemonger makes re-pinned tubes by adding a pin and plastic base assembly. Could make connectors something like that.

Send pictures after you get it made!!!!! Wink

But would we miss the ritual of turning off the amp and changing tubes. I love this tube stuff!
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« Last Edit: 11/01/12 at 18:44:44 by will »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #5 - 11/01/12 at 19:13:30
 
Thanks, guys.  I see nice opportunities opening, then.  

Up until a few days ago, I'd been underestimating the true tube-rolling leverage potential.  I mean, I thought mostly depended on the amp's original design and components' selection.  Sure, I thought, some minor tweaking may be obtained by swapping tubes (if the user knows which to choose), but I believed in general one was pretty much stuck within the design's framework.

Now, I didn't mind, as the Mini Torii is just wonderful in stock form.  But then I started reading here and there, and getting meaningful feedback from you guys (thanks Les, Will, Lon, Lord Soth, RR, Radu, Eric and countless others in this forum), that I started reconsidering.

Mark, I understand your point.  Many people believe that's the single most important tube to affect sound, especially when sinergistically coupled with the right rectifier... You may want to consider a second radial engine in tandem, carrying rectifier sockets   Wink

While waiting for my tubes to arrive, I've been thinking on the procedure to follow (an earlier discussion thread), and foremost the potential leverage involved.  So it ocurred to me you guys must have gone through this already, and thought I would ask.

I know and expect tube-rolling to be just a portion of the total sound tweaking potential (as Will and Lon have indicated), but was also hoping for it to be powerful enough to circumvent my personal limitations in terms of hands-on skills other people apparently enjoy (to solder, read circuit diagrams and in general change the topology components with certain objectives in mind, including Caps substitution, etc.), and still be able to get my own humble 'signature' in the voicing.

I'm happy these first replies are encouraging enough, and without neglecting other crucial parameters discussed (vibration control, room conditioning, improved sourcing, cabling and power treatment), I think I'll start here and work my way around these other variables in time.  As it's the case with vibration control, in my mind now tube-rolling is technically feasible and probably even affordable for me (need not get carried away), and can bring a big punch!  :)
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« Last Edit: 11/01/12 at 19:51:22 by Fireblade »  

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will
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #6 - 11/01/12 at 19:49:17
 
FB,

Tube rolling can be a lot of fun, and as long as the tubes are compatible with the amp...there are no mistakes to be made... just more opportunity for learning as you explore your possibilities! Thinking about tubes in comparison to cap sound changes....they are similar....lots of variation available for tuning the the sound. You are ready! All you need is for those tubes to show up to start refining your sound to taste...It may be that the stock will remain your fav...but I suspect that some variations will excite you based on your previous posts on your desired sound changes.
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Fireblade
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #7 - 11/01/12 at 20:04:41
 
Will,

I expect in the end to have sorted out (hopefully) a specific tube set recipe for certain types of recordings, and another for the rest, or something to that effect.  

I'll be also testing my own ears, as during the experiment I'll need to be very discriminating and objective to ensure correct conclusions.  

All this should pave the way for the following tweaking adjustments, as I would now rely on a more solid and revealing foundation.

It will sure be fun, thanks!



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will
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #8 - 11/01/12 at 20:55:42
 
FB, Yes it will be fun. I would suggest going in with an open mind, and avoiding expectations on the outcome. You are likely to find/learn/experience things you don't expect with the variety of tubes you have coming.

Though a lot of us talk about the ideal tube set for a broad range of recordings, I personally have endless variations within this same objective. You will just have to see for yourself, but I would find the idea of having two sets for different presentation objectives kind of limiting and daunting. Whereas, getting something going I like better than where I started, and then investigating/playing further....this is fun for me.

And over time this process teaches me a lot about hearing and about tubes.

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Fireblade
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #9 - 11/01/12 at 21:41:34
 
I see ... Interesting.  Let me see if I get this straight.  You mean ending up with multiple variations you like for different reasons, in an endless trade-off?

I would expect some kind of convergence to it unless the tubes become an infinite source.

That is, I would expect finding a normal distribution, with a few combinations that really stand head and shoulders upon the rest, others really sucking and the rest a middle of the road, probably a majority, which may evidence some tradeoffs you may want to live with, each for specific selections of music or listening conditions (niches).

In the described scenario, I would keep an open mind about which ones go where, but in the end the process always converge for a given (fixed) set of tubes and tastes, isn't it?

Maybe I'm misreading you?
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« Last Edit: 11/01/12 at 21:43:29 by Fireblade »  

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Mark
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #10 - 11/02/12 at 00:37:17
 
I'm perusing various and reliable websites that sell tubes, and they all seem to have the same caveat: that there is no perfect tube, and any given one, even though highly rated, may not sound great with your set-up... The best stores have a refund/exchange period...

I think the best bet is to buy a range of tubes you think might be the ticket according to the general descriptions, and go from there... Just like a photographer taking loads of pictures to get only a few gems, you might have to play the odds...   (m.)

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will
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #11 - 11/02/12 at 00:42:21
 
FB, Each tube will have a distinct character that can be sort of obvious...for example, you might describe a tube as "balanced, transparent, open, with deep bass and extended highs".....Or perhaps "warm with a balance accenting the lower midrange, but also having nice detail and extended highs"...the big character values.... But then, with nice tubes, you also hear the very complex values of various levels of inner detail presentation, how textures and definition interact, subtler bass values, elements of micro dynamics, how detail retrieval expresses throughout in layered ways and perhaps a bit more in a particular part of the spectrum, and so on... each tube fleshes out the whole musical spectrum in its own way. This very complex character in turn reflects on, and interacts with, the complex characteristics of the the rest of the tubes in the set.

So, each individual tube type brings its own characteristic qualities, but within that, each tube brings its own complexity based on its construction....materials, design and method of making. In obvious listening 6DJ8s for example, tend to have a family resemblance, but variation between individuals can vary in very interesting ways, and how they arrive at synergy with the rest might come in unforeseen ways. Due to the subtle characteristics of each tube a set can come together in predictable or unpredictable ways...sometimes in truely amazing ways. As you suggest...  "the recipe" can be quite variable.

The bottom line is that even with the small selection of well chosen variety of tubes you will have, you could have lots of combinations that are very pleasing across most of your recordings, and some of these may not make sense based solely on the more obvious characteristics an individual tube brings to the matrix due to this enigmatic nature of individual tubes and how they interact.
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« Last Edit: 11/02/12 at 00:44:18 by will »  

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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #12 - 11/02/12 at 00:47:14
 
In other words, you might arrive at "fixed" sets, but I am suggesting that a more organic way of playing with the sound can be really fun AND take your listening to places you didn't really expect, hopefully finding the absolutely amazing that sounds great with all your recordings.
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« Last Edit: 11/02/12 at 00:52:39 by will »  

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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #13 - 11/02/12 at 00:55:49
 
And then, one day you might think, hmmm this sounds brilliant, but I wonder what these power tubes will sound like in the set. And this might sound really interesting, but be a bit thick or warm, so you might think... I wonder what my brighter VR or rectifier might do.......finally finding a not calculated, but fabulous "recipe."
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« Last Edit: 11/02/12 at 00:57:50 by will »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Tube-Rolling Leverage
Reply #14 - 11/02/12 at 01:08:51
 
Yes, Mark, I agree.  We're doing that right now, thanks.

Will, your familiarity with the different sound characteristics is admirable.  I agree with what you're saying, and understand that the winner combinations could come from least suspected tube sources due to their combined interactive sinergies (ingredients in that stew).

I just know that in the end, there would be a family of different but great sounding combinations, along with smaller groups of super achievers and loosers.  I can't wait!  

Will, as always, great description and insights, thanks!
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