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01-12-2009 Post mapped to 2 branches of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,283
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 9390
Reply to: 9390
Small SET’s bass, besides everything- is it about power?
fiogf49gjkf0d

It is difficult to generalize but I will. As much as ribbons with each hertz down sound more and more unpleasant the low power SET amps with each hertz down in bass region more and more and more loosing ground. Ok, I am not taking about the real bass – SETs do not have it. I am talking about something that I call midbass, let say 50Hz – SETs do it but I would say they do it with a LOT of challenge and mostly, let call the things as they are, they do it badly – the acoustic pressure is there but spare confidence to maintain the pressure is not there.

OK, let to think a bit deeper. The typical conflict in SET amps between sufficient inductance (LF) and minimization of capacitance (HF) is always there and all SET amps fight with it to a different degree of success. So, the bass is always a challenge with SET. There is nothing new in this fact. It is also not a new that some SETs do have very serious midbass and some of them even very serious bass. A contradiction? Not really. Look at the output power of the “good bass SET amps”. You will not see among them low-powered 1-8W amps. All low powered systems I heard had very poor bass, with bass absolutely not able to deliver “size” and “space”, it was always what I call “suffocated bass”. Is it a pattern in it?

Well, the first pattern is that most of the people that have seen use the low power 1-8W SET with so called full range speakers that in my view is not a declaration of idiocy but a factor that disqualifies a person form rights to express any audio judgment. When I see a person who runs his low-powered SET into a pair of back loaded Lowthers-like crap and who tall me stories that we juts paid $1500 for a set of some kind of kinky 1.5W tubes from 1927 because those tube have “wonderful” bass” I always feel sorry the his mama did not make abortion. It juts sounds a complete idiocy to me. The 1.5W shell go with over 105dB sensitivity, very small room and most like in DSET configuration, otherwise… otherwise we hit the second pattern.

The second pattern. From here is the section why I write this post.

Among what western person would understand I never had those low-powered amps. I arrived in US in beginning of 90s and in the mid of 90s I was running BAT electronics with VK-60 being the less powerful. In the end of the 90s I switched to Lamm electronics and from 2000 I was running Lamm ML2.0 sets. In addition to 20W that ML2 had I used it in multi-amp configuration, playing with loading. In 2004-2005 I switched to my Melquiades that also has a powerful output triode. Since then I stay with multi-amping and DSET that immune from bass limitation of SET amps. So, how come that I did not use any low power SET and I feel that I am in position to express a generalizing opinion?

Well, I had a strange feeling lately. I was running my test DHT amp (San Audio 2A3 kit with Milq’s battery-biased driver). The amp was driving the Tannoy REDs in custom enclosure. I was playing that magnificent Andante from Mahler 6 (where Mahler enters his Bruckner mode)  and suddenly I caught myself on the feeling that I inadvertently have the mid-bass very similar to all those Lowther’s freaks, where the drama of bass instruments sound like a belch from a sewer pipe.  What surprised me was not the low quality of midbass but the similarity of my midbass with all mid-basses I ever heard in the systems that run low-power SET. I ask myself: “If the sound we get is the same then it is because we all have bad amps of there is something else is in common there?”

I power up the 15W Melquiades and played the same fragment with a full-range injection channel. The “sewer pipe” effect gone completely and the stinky Tannoys were pressuring the room with poise and required forcefulness.  Switched to 2A3 – the “sewer pipe” came back. OK, RED are 16R, the 6C33 in injection channel loaded with 1200R and it does ~13W. The 2A3 is load with 7K. With this load I take from 2A3 perhaps 1-2W. During the normal operation the amps output a few hundred millivolts and very little current. Is possible that the low currant the low power amp pumps is the key why all out low-power SETs have the same midbass character?

Let look into it. The bass drivers have own suspension and being bass drivers the have a relatively heavy cone mass and relatively  low compliance of suspension. The suspension is mechanical devise does not give a damn about signal and it blindly reacts upon excursion of the driver. However, since the bass suspension of mass-centric divers is “hard” then it minimum current necessary to make the suspension to react is relatively high as well. A few dozen of milliamps from low-power SET might not be accustomed but the bass suspension but they might be squashed by the suspension reactance, the reactance that I would note has no familiarity with character of the signal and the driver returns to default position by suspension not by the amp current. This would be true with exception when amp is driven by negative output impedance where the force of suspension is contra-compensated with output impedance of amp. However, we never see not only negative but even low positive output impedance in low power SETs. Those with any feedback have a few ohms and then the “minimum current of suspension” becomes a huge factor.

So, what might be the “second pattern”? I think it as simple as power – the low-power SETs juts do not have power to successfully battle the “minimum current” requirements of bass drivers. Those few people who went DSET can deal with it to a degree by playing with custom loading of dedicated SET but a person who runs low-power SET full-range is really at the mercy of … God know what, complimented with “minimum current” and the “sewer pipe”.

There are a lot of talks out there about the “magic of SET” and the “flea-power amps” but I never seen that those people besides running their mouth with sexy adjectives (not own but those that were invented for them to use) were able to demonstrate a serious sonic result. I did not have any low-power DHT but now what I do and when I drive 93dB sensitive speaker with it I have the very same ugly midbass that I experienced with countless setups of other people. I think it is a pattern. Also, regardless how good or bad the Sun Audio’s Tamura output transformer but I think that 150Hz-50Hz is still the region where they operate, I did not measured where Tamura begin to die, but I will.

Anyhow, I do not insist that I am right, it is juts my today’s view. I do not care about the validity of this view as I feel anyhow that any SET, not to mention the low-power SET is just a tool for DSET application. However, those of you who run low-power SET full-rage it might be an opportunity to think again. If you SET does not clip, if your driver does not run into grid current and if you have enough volume of sound then it is not an indication that you SET is enough to maintain the midbass none-asphyxiated tone.

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
01-12-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 487
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 2
Post ID: 9391
Reply to: 9390
SET and bass
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Romy the Cat wrote:
I did not have any low-power DHT but now what I do and when I drive 93dB sensitive speaker with it I have the very same ugly midbass that I experienced with countless setups of other people. I think it is a pattern. Also, regardless how good or bad the Sun Audio’s Tamura output transformer but I think that 150Hz-50Hz is still the region where they operate, I did not measured where Tamura begin to die, but I will.
It is a very old idea to say that higher power is required for good bass response. I do not think you will get any argument from anyone that increased power makes finding solutions to achieve a good bass response easier.

I agree that the output transformer is critical. If a low power DHT is to be used in such a DSET configuration, then the circuit must be optimized for the desired frequency response. It is the weakness of the DHT that the limitations of any full range amplifier circuit are revealed by low power output.

Is bass response the single most important thing? Some people think so, but I do not. There is a different goal with the Lowther type system, namely the single point source, and part of the trade off is the frequency response. There is no question about it. However, it is a valid goal, and many have traded in their horn systems for Lowther type systems who focus on this different objective.

Adrian
01-12-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,283
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 9393
Reply to: 9391
The “sewer pipe” index?
fiogf49gjkf0d

 drdna wrote:
It is a very old idea to say that higher power is required for good bass response. I do not think you will get any argument from anyone that increased power makes finding solutions to achieve a good bass response easier.

Does it mean that any installation that used a low-powered SET to drive midbass shell be questioned by default? I wonder if it possible to developed some kind of “sewer pipe” index?

 drdna wrote:
I agree that the output transformer is critical. If a low power DHT is to be used in such a DSET configuration, then the circuit must be optimized for the desired frequency response. It is the weakness of the DHT that the limitations of any full range amplifier circuit are revealed by low power output.

Yes, but people mostly never think about DHT in context of DSET configuration. As much as I heard people talk about DHT then they always mean the full-range application.  Did you ever hear someone refer for some kind of vintage or brand of 300B, 2A3 of 45 as “better for upperbass” or “better for upper mid range”? I did not. People mostly looking for a “full body” sound from a tube, I understand them but I do not know how critical it is if the DHT will ne use in DSET.

 drdna wrote:
Is bass response the single most important thing? Some people think so, but I do not.
We are not taking about bass response – the low-powered SETs have no bass. I was talking about midbass of the region the at the bottom of the “primary frequencies” – very important thing…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-17-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
nl
Posts 14
Joined on 06-15-2008

Post #: 4
Post ID: 10815
Reply to: 9393
Weak SET bass
fiogf49gjkf0d
The weak bass of low-power SET amps is well known. I don't think anyone would disagree.
Some reasons:
Simple low power, especially with 93db speakers (try with 106db like Yorkville LS1208 horn subwoofer it might be different).SE output transformers have narrow bandwidth, typically optimized for midrange not bass. A -1db rolloff at 30hz is noticeable.SE amps have high output impedance, typically around 2 ohms, compared to <0.5 ohms for solid state. This leads to poor woofer control, and woofers have the greatest back-EMF.SE amps tend to have rather flabby power supplies, typically passive with smallish capacitance. This is especially apparent in the bass because output Z of a powersupply capacitor rises with lower frequencies.SE amps often have rather flabby driver stages like 6SN7. These are chosen for their midrange sound, not for "maximum control."Lastly, all tube amps are a little looser in the bass than solid-state, even when they have lots of power and negative feedback.
To maximize the bass response of for example 300B SET, used full-range (ie without compromising midrange and treble), a typical strategy would be active tube-regulated powersupply and 5K OPT transformer (lower output impedance), and maybe a more burly driver stage like 6BL7. 
08-23-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Rewind
Posts 19
Joined on 04-15-2013

Post #: 5
Post ID: 19967
Reply to: 10815
Importance of OPT and type of tube for SET amp bass performance
fiogf49gjkf0d

I am looking into building a 45 tube SET amp and I keep reading about how important a good output transformer is. I read that cheaper output transformers like Hammond can be okay for mids and highs, but it will also reduce bass performance. If one would want to cram as much bass out of a SET amp, then a change in output transformer would be a good idea. That would probably require further adjustments in the amp. Then again, I would not use a 45 tube for bass anyway, since I find even 2A3 tubes have better bass than 45 tubes.

I will probably use 6L6 or EL84 for bass. My 6L6 SET amp, without a tube rectifier, is incredibly powerful with no sloppy bass, compared to the rest of my SET amps. I will use an Eminence LAB 12 in my basshorn. 89dB sensitivity is not the best, so I will need the power of the 6L6. Will be interesting to see if it will be powerful enough. The hornloading will help a little.

Page 1 of 1 (5 items) Select Pages: 
   Target    Threads for related reading   Most recent post in related threads   Forum  Replies   Views   Started 
  »  New  Problems with horns: upper bass ..  Must it be about loading?...  Horn-Loaded Speakers Forum     109  673755  03-25-2005
  »  New  The “Primary Frequencies”...  Melody range and the other octaves...  Audio For Dummies ™  Forum     5  40725  09-08-2005
  »  New  DRU Tube for Melq’s HF channel...  DRU Tube for Melq’s HF channel....  Melquiades Amplifier  Forum     0  14561  05-14-2006
  »  New  More power from Melquiades? More powerful tube?..  A new Icon Audio's MB81 Mono Blocks...  Melquiades Amplifier  Forum     19  137532  09-01-2007
  »  New  Super Melquiades, Macondo and Class A2..  Super Melquiades, Macondo and Class A2...  Melquiades Amplifier  Forum     0  16010  12-05-2007
  »  New  All Active! A DSET and multi-way acoustic system...  Hahaha...  Audio Discussions  Forum     14  63262  01-31-2008
  »  New  Single-stage Melquiades vs. DHT amps..  A hallucination?...  Melquiades Amplifier  Forum     397  1957043  11-22-2008
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