Wondering Why?

Why do tube amps sound louder?

For people who are fond of listening to music or playing musical instruments, choosing the right amps or amplifier is a priority.  This is because the sound quality and volume will suffer if the wrong type of musical amplifier is chosen.  In the case of musical instruments, some of them like guitars or harmonicas, for example, actually work better with tube amps rather than solid state amps.  Tube amplifiers provide a louder sound to these musical instruments and give the much-needed variance required in terms of sound quality.  This is also the reason why many musicians refer to musical amplifiers as extensions of the instruments rather than basic volume or sound amplifiers.

Technically, the sound volume produced by tube amps and solid state amps is basically the same.  One basic reason for the seemingly louder sound of tube amps versus solid state amps is the way human ears perceive the sound from both devices.  As for solid state amps, much of the sound intensity is given at full volume from the start.  In this case, the music volume is considered loud enough.  In the case of tube amps, the music amplification is somewhat given gradually.  Sound waves may be perceived to have started at lower or mid-levels in terms of the volume intensity, and as it goes up, the ears will also perceive the sound as becoming much louder and louder.  It’s like the tube amplifiers are tricking the ears to perceive its sound as having a higher volume or intensity when actually it’s the same as that of standard solid state amplifiers.  Starting at a lower volume setting, guitarists, for example, may play to softer tunes at the start of a musical event.  As the volume is turned up to the maximum, the volume perceived by the ears will then be much louder compared to the abrupt clipping of sound waves when using solid state amplifiers.

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