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Do Rectifiers affect sound? (Read 17393 times)
Matchstikman
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Do Rectifiers affect sound?
01/09/17 at 21:28:48
 
I have a blue Torii without a tube rectifier.  Sounds great.  I have a new Rachael which currently uses an Art 274b which replaced a Ruby which replaced an ElectroHarmonix, I believe.   I have an original CSP on which I've changed the rectifier to achieve different results.

And, there were no different results.  I couldn't hear a difference.

So, I went online and did some research and I bumped into a bunch of other posts where people didn't hear a difference, either.  The claimed the rectifier was not part of the signal path.  Okay, this makes sense to me and matches my experiences.

Yet, I've read on many posts here where the rectifier changed the sound of their amp/preamp.

So, then, what's the deal?  
Does it or doesn't it affect the sound?
And, if it does affect the sound have I become so deaf that I can't hear the difference?  Que pasa?
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #1 - 01/09/17 at 22:34:10
 
Those that say rectifier isn't in the signal path are short sighted.

Steve and other's can speak to the technicalities better, but the short version as I understand it is that the rectifier converts the incoming A/C to DC - so while not in the signal path, *everything* technically goes through it since it delivers DC to every tube on the amp! If you change to a different model of rectifier,  you could be raising or lowering the overall DC voltage changing how the amp performs. That can also change how hard/soft the dynamics are.  Changing brand but staying with the same tube can also have subtle changes depending on variables on manufacture.

That said, it's also dependant on how the rest of the power supply is built. On guitar amps I've had same tube, but different brand tubes completely change the feel and dynamics and responsiveness of the amp. Then some amps have such a heavily filtered power supply that any tube rectifier sounded just like a solid state - no change at all.

So in short it depends on how sensitive the device is to voltage changes.
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Palomino
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #2 - 01/10/17 at 19:36:55
 
My personal experience has convinced me they do.  I have found certain rectifiers to have a more or less dynamic or aggressive sound.  For example, in my Torii, I don't use the 274B.  I use NOS RCA 5u4g which I feel have a less aggressive sound.  I like the 274B in my Rachael.

I have always heard this, but I am finding more and more in my personal experience that there are no absolutes in audio and everything is situational.  If you can hear it in your existing setup, it exists.  If you can't, save your money.  Or if you are convinced that it exists and you can't hear it in your system/room, keep tweaking.  I can hear stuff now that I could not hear 1 year ago.
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #3 - 01/10/17 at 19:54:33
 
I've tried 3 different rectifiers in Rachael.  No audible difference.  Maybe my audible memory is short and there is a difference.  However, this is a new Rachael which replaced a blue Torii.  It has less that 70 hours and this point maybe not fully burned.  I've changed every tube in that amp and it has yet to wow me.  The blue had a nice sound in the current room but Rachael has yet to respond as I think it should respond.  It is much louder now than it original was fresh out of the box.

So, I will continue to play and see what happens after 100 hours.  I'm interested in an RCA 5U4 but if it won't make an audible difference then why bother.

That's the thought.
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #4 - 01/10/17 at 19:57:11
 
MM, those three rectifiers you have tried are fairly similar in nature (the 274B is a bit more ballsy but still to me shares a tonal signature with the others. RCA rectifiers should offer an audible difference. Or not. . . I hear differences between rectifiers in my system, and a lot depends on the rest of the tube complement. I'm now using NOS Sylvania 5U4G in my Torii, and I never responded favorably to Sylvanias in the past. But my system is different now. . . .
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #5 - 01/10/17 at 20:01:37
 
I've used a few flavors of EL34.  Right now it has JJ E34L.  I've also swapped the 6N1P to various versions and now uses a 6922.  I can't believe I have tube numbers in my head.

The RCA rectifier is not cheap and to buy one and get no audible results would sting.
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #6 - 01/10/17 at 20:07:09
 
I've gotten a lot of mine from ebay and haven't paid much more than ten to twenty each. . . .
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mark58
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #7 - 01/10/17 at 20:15:41
 
Lon, like me, you probably haven't bought rectifiers on ebay for a while.  Match is right...the RCA 5U4G can no longer seem to be picked up on the cheap.  In fact it seems that all the nice tubes I bought two years ago have at least doubled in price.  I will admit that on rare occasion some bargains still pop up.  Mark.
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #8 - 01/10/17 at 20:58:28
 
Mark, au contraire I have bought rectifiers on ebay recently, and I looked before I posted and those were indeed prices available.
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mark58
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #9 - 01/10/17 at 21:01:28
 
Lon, I too looked and the only ones for less than 25 dollars are auctions that aren't finished yet.  Maybe I missed one?  Regardless, tube prices have gone up a lot.  For anyone who wants to look....Mark.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sop=10&_geositeid=0&_nkw=RCA+5U4G&_sacat=0&_from...
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #10 - 01/10/17 at 21:05:11
 
I did a search for RCA 5U4G and found five "Buy it Now" under 20 before shipping (other than three that "tested bad" and under 5 bucks.)

Everytime I've searched there have been about that many available or more.
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mark58
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #11 - 01/10/17 at 21:06:25
 
You may be right.  I usually don't consider listings that don't give test results.

I need to do an inventory of what I have and buy to fill some gaps before things really get out of hand for replacements.  I need some more of the OC2 tubes...I'm still using what Steve sent.


PS...I ran a search for RCA 5U4G  "Buy It Now"tubes between 5 and 20 dollars.  Four results came up...none gave actual test results.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sop=10&_geositeid=0&_sacat=0&_from=R40&_mPrRngCb...
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #12 - 01/10/17 at 21:18:53
 
I have been using RCA 0A2 for years. . . they just work well with my tube complements. I bought a sleeve of five about four years ago for maybe 20 dollars from ebay. I buy tubes from ebay frequently, test results or not, I've rarely been disappointed and if so the cost was cheap. I won't pay boutique prices.

In my CSP2+ I am using three NOS 'sixties Valvo CCa tubes that are probably among the best tube types you can get in the 6922/7308 family. Got all three for less than ninety shipped total. Unused in boxes.
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mark58
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #13 - 01/10/17 at 21:21:43
 
So can you remember how the OC2 differs from the OA2?  I also buy almost all my tubes from Ebay but I do require test results.  Mark.

PS...nice on the CCa's
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Lon
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #14 - 01/10/17 at 21:29:38
 
The OA2 seemed to offer a slightly softer warmer signature when I first started using them which helped with the 6CA7 I was using. Now I've been using them so long that I am not sure how they would compare.
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #15 - 01/10/17 at 21:32:55
 
I grabbed 4 NOS JAN RCA 5Z3 rectifiers from 1959 in their original white military boxes. I obtained black base converters so they can be plugged in to the amp. They work really fine. I use them in the Torii MK IV.

The 5Z3 preceded the 5U4. The prices for the 5Z3 haven't been as crazy as those for the really good 5U4G's. But they are catching up, especially for some of the older hanging filament and other types.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #16 - 01/10/17 at 21:42:38
 
On that Riviera, I have recently purchased the USAF 596 rectifiers and have had great results on my Torii Jr. and Taboo.  They too require an adapter base to work, but readily available for about $15.  The tube itself was around $25 if I recall.  These are very ROBUST military grade tube that should last quite awhile.  They are known for being tough and long lasting - along with being sonically pleasing.
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #17 - 01/11/17 at 13:41:31
 
Ok, I bought an RCA 5U4 on Ebay for not much.  Let's see how that does.  If there is a difference then I'll be a believer.

By the way, how many rectifiers do you guys think that average high-end listener owns?
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #18 - 01/11/17 at 18:32:10
 
He who dies with the most rectifiers wins.
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will
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #19 - 01/11/17 at 20:59:39
 
Match,

From what you say here and in other threads, it seems to me you may or may not hear the new tube. Not hearing much with changing rectifiers, cables, other tubes, vibration, etc, may not, but seems to indicate more foundational things.

It is not a question of whether rectifiers can be heard in Decware. They can if there is not something stopping the amp/system/room from its revealing potential. The question seems more, why can’t they be heard in some systems and rooms, and perhaps, by some folks.

Is my memory right(???), that you have to put your watch across the room to sleep? If so, it would seem your hearing may be pretty good, implying more system/room imbalances causing subtler things not to be audible???

In my case, my right ear drum burst a few times from infections growing up, and it does not work as well as the other. But I can hear pretty subtle changes in my room. Having played a lot of mainly acoustic music, and worked a lot to perceive subtle things...maybe I learned to compensate for my weaker ear.

Looking at why a rectifier might or might not be heard in a given amp, with Decware's pretty essential designs, if the amp/room is set up to reveal the amp's full potential, and if it is at the source, everything I have explored can be heard, IEC inlet/fuse to RCAs out.

Also power and cables, etc before the amp effect the rectifier sound. And since the rectifier’s electronic characters and sound effect everything after it….tubes, coupling caps, signal wires and so on, if the system/room can reveal it, the rectifier is a big deal.

Alternately, if something causes distortions, the distortions will be heard from whatever point on, damaging the whole, and accentuating other noise issues as it goes....Or if something solves distortions, everything from there on will be cleaner/more revealing.....

Even a really heavy power cord or speaker cable can throw things off. Using the same materials as a smaller one, a giant cable, especially with single conductors, will bring out more/thicker bass. And excess bass, along with room issues, masks subtler areas of the sound.

Likewise, excessive voltage from the house could notably contribute to other problems if the voltage is high enough to over-thicken/darken a Decware amp’s sound. And all the other things ...room, power, noise, speaker placement, vibration, cable qualities and tendencies, etc, etc...individually and collectively, they all matter collectively improving or degrading sound potential.

In my room, even different IEC inlets effect the sound in pretty discernible ways. More powerful, bypassing the Torii power supply caps can notably clean and refine the sound. Each cap works with different tubes, transformers and chokes....and though bypass caps reveal themselves differently in the power supply, these little cap signatures can be heard as, or more clearly than using them on my tweeters, or from changing coupling caps.....

By refining the power to the rectifier, the rectifier refines. And what the rectifier gives effects everything that follows. Point being, that this simple amp design is powerfully revealing all along from cables in to cables out, that is if it is not somehow limited.

But even if the power/source/amp and wires are relatively clean and balanced, speaker/room interactions can really hurt, right?

To try to get things on track to hearing more, might be worth exploring speaker placement and toe again? Even in an untreated room, you can at least mitigate many problems caused by how waves in whatever frequencies bounce around. If they overlap, there is attenuation or amplification that can set up serious balance issues. Whereas, minimizing room/speaker interaction issues minimizes funky frequency spectrum problems, revealing more system/room potential.

And the more you can hear, the easier it is to identify ways to improve the sound.

BTW, an RCA 5U4G can be many things. There are 5U4GB (straight side bottles) of different heights and vintage, and there are 5U4G-ST (coke bottle shape) of different vintages. The B and ST sound pretty different, and the variations within each type also sound different.

Here is a nice chart on the electrical qualities that contribute to characteristic sound influences of rectifiers:

http://www.300guitars.com/articles/rectifier-tube-voltage-drop-chart/
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #20 - 01/11/17 at 23:54:08
 
Yes, I'm the guy that can hear a watch across the house.  You should see what happens during cricket season.  It drives me crazy.

I will admit that the system in question is not in an ideal room.  I'll also admit that the power may not be that great.  However, in that room I can plug into a Fender or Marshall and immediately tell the difference.  In that room I can hear when the neighbor's dog runs into my backyard.

If it is the room and the power then I'm screwed on ever getting a chance to hear the difference in rectifiers.  They'll have to wait until that system is moved to another room.  The room is question is the bedroom.  It is carpeted and filled with lots and lots of absorption.  In between the loudspeakers is a window covered with shutters which sort of create a faux diffuser type of thing.  Imaging is good.  I can say that.

For now, squat.  No difference.  

I guess hearing a difference in rectifiers is like seeing ghosts.  You don't see ghosts unless you believe in them.  For now my collection of rectifiers has stopped unless the RCA does something special.  I'll take a pic of it and post online and give specs on it.
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will
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #21 - 01/12/17 at 01:25:34
 
Even rooms specially built for audio take tuning to balance the system and room to sound "right." Then there are the many rooms we all try to use in our houses, most of them are not inherently good. But with work, it seems most can be tuned to be pretty good.

Your hearing is clearly good. And with a good soundstage, you have some things happening. Right? Just missing out on some important areas that give the "revealing" feel.

You might have too much absorption that takes out specific areas of the spectrum you need to be revealing. The speakers might be too close to the wall or toed in ways that cause reflections to comb out important frequency areas. Absorption, diffusion, liveness may not be in the right places, the first reflection points usually the most important start for treatment, along with bass absorption.

Most agree you need some liveness in a room to balance with absorption. I like a fair bit of liveness here, but I have pretty good control of frequency accentuation and attenuation caused by room reflection and bass mode issues.

A good soundstage, and that big guitar amps sound good, and that the bigger Blue Torii sounds better....this may be a good pointer that you are not too far off. The Rachel may not have enough power to cut through system/room setup imbalances that you may be able to adjust.

Hearing rectifiers with Decware that is set up with cables, gear and room that relatively balance to support Decware's transparency is not about belief. And it sounds like it has nothing to do with your ability to hear. If you don't hear it the way things are set up, it is not there. But this does not necessarily mean you can't adjust things to sound more revealing in that room, and with that gear. Wink
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #22 - 01/12/17 at 02:07:31
 
Will, you might be right about the excess absorption.   There isn't much I can do about that at the moment.  I have to find a way to make it happen.  At least to a degree that I can tolerate.  Truthfully, this is not the final destination of the bedroom system.  There are plans to move to another home so there is always hope, right?

Funny thing is I have a set of Decware diffusers in the office and the blue which resides in there now sounds great.  There is very little absorption in that room apart from the carpet.

So, I have no perfect room, treatment-wise.

The purpose of the bedroom system is for late night, just before I knock off music.  I have an old Bose radio in that room for use as an alarm clock.  The Rachael still sounds like a louder, maybe wider, Bose radio.  Wow, sounds like a huge insult.  I'm hoping your assessment that the room is the culprit is true.  I think it is.  But, a few tube changes may move me in the right direction.  I have hope.
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #23 - 01/12/17 at 17:41:48
 
Yes, in my experience, tube tuning to compensate for other issues can be quite good depending on tube choices available, and if the problems are not too daunting to begin with. If we can't get room just right, and do our best there, then by optimizing speaker placement and the rest, we are refining the initial signal and its presentation. Being cleaner, and richer from removing noise and from tuning, the more-pure/more-consolidated signal compensates to various degrees for problems.

I doubt there are many on the forum with just-right room treatment by traditional standards. Mine isn't, but it has a lot right and sounds amazing with all areas of the system "treated," including room.

And with a good room for the most part, all the other things work that much better, right? Progressively refining in all areas, I am amazed at how it could be great years ago, and still I can refine with pretty impressive improvements in the musical experience. There is no doubt that refining everything individually, and as aspects of the whole, can have profound results.

Solving source truncation; power/vibration and noise issues; speaker placement; and by tuning with mods, tubes, cables, EQ, etc, a more consolidated, pure signal, is more revealing of all that the gear can do..... When system/room issues damage a less revealing signal, the damage done is working on already damaged sound. Whereas, the same system/room issues working on a more revealing and consolidated signal can leave more of the signal intact.

This is why I always say it all matters. A really good room with not-so-good power/vibration/gear/cable/tube tuning is sub-optimal. And really good gear tuning with room issues is sub-optimal...

Seems a big deal can be solving enough of these to hear what is going on with adjustments. Once that happens, experimentation reveals something we can hear in the sound balance, giving us real choices and opening creative pathways to more enjoyment....

Luckily it is fun to experience new and innovative improvements!
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #24 - 01/12/17 at 18:10:52
 
As usual, Will is on target and lays out his opinion in such a thoughtful way.  I agree with what he says, especially the part about it all mattering.  I have had situations where I practically go back to the drawing board after one change has been made because of the chain reaction throughout the system.

My latest challenge is integrating this new Mac mini.  It sounds really good, but has thrown things out of balance.  I am back to square one on input tubes, rectifiers and power tubes.

Sadly, the other day, when my wife made one of her visits to my listening room, she stated "you know, when we downsize, this is all going away." I hate getting hit with reality, but unfortunately, that is true, but I still have several years to drive my self mad tweaking...
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #25 - 01/12/17 at 19:36:26
 
I'm not a good audio enthusiast which is why I have problems.  I just want to set it up, turn it on, and listen.  I understand it takes more than that to achieve optimum results but that's where it breaks down and that where I'm starting to nod off.

Most guys on this site are just at a higher level in what they love about audio.
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #26 - 01/12/17 at 19:54:22
 
Quote:
I'm not a good audio enthusiast which is why I have problems.  I just want to set it up, turn it on, and listen.  I understand it takes more than that to achieve optimum results but that's where it breaks down and that where I'm starting to nod off.



+1 ... well, +1/2 anyway.   Smiley
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #27 - 01/12/17 at 20:15:00
 

Quote:
I'm not a good audio enthusiast which is why I have problems.  I just want to set it up, turn it on, and listen.  I understand it takes more than that to achieve optimum results but that's where it breaks down and that where I'm starting to nod off.


Then stop mucking with Rectifier tubes and just enjoy the music!
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Matchstikman
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #28 - 01/13/17 at 19:47:22
 
Ha, I am a mucker, aren't I?

Anyway, got the RCA 5U4 in today.  I let the amp warm up.  Can't really say there is that much of a difference.  I'll let it play for a couple of hours on its own and go back and listen.

I'm starting to head Will's advice and clean up the power.
My next purchase may be a PS Audio something or other.
That may be what does it.

Anyway, I'll listen to the RCA and other rectifiers this weekend and I'll let you know.

Thanks for the patience....
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #29 - 01/14/17 at 02:28:25
 
Unless the bedroom power is known to be noisier for some reason, power treatment may well help, but may not be the primary thing. Since the Torii sounds good to you with the same house power, but with a more live room using diffusers and little absorption...who knows, but this sort of points to speaker and room interactions in the bedroom over power. And it does not cost anything to play with speaker placement and toe, or to liven things up moving or removing excess absorption if that is possible.

On the other hand, you get to keep power treatment and whatever good it does, now and if you move the system, so not necessarily a bad long-run investment.

Though quieter, even with the Rachel still green, it should be at least similarly revealing as the Blue Torii, also pointing to room differences. But the 944 and Traps are pretty different too. I wonder if you could try the traps in the bedroom just to see if they create similar problems? It would seem they would be easier to move around and better suited to being close to the wall???

So if any, my 1st step "advice" is more experimenting with room/speaker interactions. Getting away from walls and play around with the toe angle as much as space allows might reveal some good changes. If space is way too limited, even making minor toe changes (like 1/4" at a time) while listening for more revealing/less dull or smeared sound might help. In my room, the speakers are pretty close together (about 5' tweeter to tweeter), but the speakers being very slightly toed out seems to help for disipating bad reflections here.

Also, raising the front of the speakers a little (even 1/8 - 3/16") can help mitigate refection issues. By increasing the upward angle a bit, the signal bounce patterns might be more complex, potentially reducing combing and/or buildup.

Related, looking at levels of, and placement of absorption. Is it dulling the sound? Can things be moved or removed to find out?

Whatever you do...good luck!
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #30 - 01/14/17 at 06:04:31
 
Will, you have great advice.

However, I think the problem is the room.  For now, I'll live with it as is.  There is hope of a new house this year or maybe next.  Otherwise, for now, I'll live with what it does.  

The one thing I will do is take the amp to another room and test it there.  That could reveal a few things.
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #31 - 01/14/17 at 21:34:34
 
Quote:
However, I think the problem is the room.


Hey match, I thought that is what I was saying last post. Sorry for not being able to communicate that.

A room without the audio is neither good or bad, right? But depending on setup, how a system and room interact can make the music really bad, really good, or mediocre. Given a decent system without notable bottlenecks, how it sounds in a room is 1st dependent on speaker placement, and totally related, on the patterns of reflections and modes the speakers create with the room. Then it is how we adjust how those reflections and modes act as they interact with live areas (diffusion and untreated surfaces) and absorption....Together, these define a lot of the musical balance.

Your thought of moving the Torii into your bedroom may help if its power and signature is more conducive to balancing the sound in that system/room. But trying to adjust speaker and room interactions to be as optimized as possible within your desire not to change anything much, is a likely way to help get better music with either amp.

I will summarize what I have been trying to say and then stop:

1) With good hearing, not being able to hear a rectifier with Decware, the problem is not the Decware. One can hear rectifiers with Decware if the system/room has parts that are relatively revealing, and they are set up to be relatively revealing.

2) Assuming the 944s or the Rachel are not screwed up, not hearing a rectifier indicates other issues, to me, pretty severe in this case since all the Decware amps I have tried allowed clearly hearing different rectifiers.

3) This probably implies more than one impediment. If not the Decware, and solutions are wanted, that leaves anything from house power, to source, to cables, to tubes, to speaker/room interaction....the complexity of the latter making room a very common problem.

4) That the Torii sounds good to you in another room setup, and the Rachel should be similarly revealing, this points more to room or an unknown anomaly. And adjusting how the speakers act in a room can improve the room toward a better musical experience.

5) Getting that you don't want to do much, my last suggestions were exploring pretty subtle methods that would not necessarily have to change the space much, but could help the music.

I was just trying to help brainstorm how to help improve things within the context you present so that you can hear rectifiers, and with a more revealing system/room, get a better musical experience. If the explorations I suggest don't work for you, that is all good with me. With luck these thoughts might help others. Forums are sort of odd to me in that they seem like conversations between whoever is posting, but so many read them who never post. And we all have different experiences and challenges to talk about. Hopefully these conversations might broaden the knowledge and help some folks discover a better musical experience.

Over and out, and Good Luck!

Will
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Re: Do Rectifiers affect sound?
Reply #32 - 01/14/17 at 23:29:29
 
Will, I did get that you believe the room may be the problem.
I was simply restating the conclusion.   I appreciate all of your help and all of your suggestion.  You gave me a bunch to try and consider.

However, because of the way this room is laid out and where the windows are placed and where the door to the bathroom is located, it is very difficult to really do much more than what is there.  There may be some micro-adjustments to be made but that is about it.

So, some time ago I brought in my neighbor to listen to the setup which I thought did not sound very good and he thought it was spectacular.  I wrote about that in another post.  Today, this neighbor brought his wife to hear the system and she brought some of her Celine Dion CDs which were in French.  She was mesmerized at the sound.  By the way, I really liked the music.  And, I must admit, hell, the sound wasn't bad.  It was good.

I don't know.  Maybe I should just stop mucking around as another member of this site suggested and let it go for now.

I think I will let it do that.  Let it play music and just maybe I'll be surprised when I least know it.
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