May 22, 2009 by Robert Archer
There’s something magical about tubes and how this old analog technology contributes to the music making and playback process.
Despite some efforts to bury tube amplifiers next to 8-track tapes and Digital Audio (DAT) players, the technology is relevant again thanks to manufacturing improvements as well as new circuit designs that extract the best possible sound from these products. These updates improve ease of use and provide a musicality that is difficult for solid-state devices to replicate.
A modern tube amp can be used for a variety of applications, including two-channel stereo, home theater, as well as state-of-the-art custom installation systems with full Crestron and AMX home control systems.
For the do-it-yourselfer, there are a number of Web sites (see list below) that sell replacement tubes and testing equipment for maintaining proper performance. These products are bias- and/or voltmeters and they are used to bias (set the operating conditions) in which the tube runs at to ensure its optimum performance and longevity.
Many newer amps have self-biasing circuits and indicators to warn owners when a tube is about to fail. Other more traditional designs require biasing, which requires a little more TLC.
Some of the more popular tubes on the market include J.J. Electronics, Electro-Harmonix and Groove Tubes. Additionally, there’s a sub tube category that’s known as New Old Stock (NOS) tubes, which are older tubes that have never been used.
Click here to view 6 Tube Amplifiers for Every Budget.
Here are some Web sites that offer tubes and testing devices:
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.
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