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Nu tube tech.

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by Wulfgang, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    It does seem a lot for a Tube Screamer. I predict that they will sell fairly well, because novelty is irresistible to many people and these are novel.

    Lots of money for a simple pedal, but who knows.

    However, if these do please the marketplace I wouldn't be surprised to see more NuTube pedals. Maybe an echo unit with a NuTube softening the wet signal.
     
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  2. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    I just found a kit which uses a NuTube in a headphone amp. It isn't cheap, but it is sorta cool.
     
  3. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Now THAT is interesting, especially for 85 bucks. Mmh, might we see more HiFi NuTube gear in the near future?
     
  4. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    It's already starting to happen at the hobbyist level. The same site has a 2x15 watt stereo amp it for $110.
     
  5. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    We'll see, what the future will bring ... 15W is a bit too low for my good old Coral HiFi cabs. I'll need something around 50W.
     
  6. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I'd like to hear from somebody who isn't Korg, but knows this stuff inside out, like R.G. Keen. Back on page two, I posted the analysis of somebody who sounds like they know what they're talking about, but not only do I now have any clue who that person is, I'm also not sure what the takeaway is. My impression is this is old technology, not intended for audio use, won't do what a traditional tube does, but you could adapt it to do something functional in an audio application and design a decent sounding circuit around it.
     
  7. DavidLee

    DavidLee Synchromatic

    716
    Oct 11, 2014
    Des Moines
    I've paid well over that for a pair of custom made Demeter Fat Overdrives.. but then again I'm not normal :D

    images.jpeg
     
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  8. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    The 2x15W output is courtesy of a TPA3110 Class-D amplifier chip by Texas Instruments.
    I’m assuming the NuTube is used as some sort of EQ filter similar as seen on some vacuum tube driven pedals.
     
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  9. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    At the risk of being pedantic and also repeating myself......the gain of the device is not that relevant.

    What matters with a tube in a guitar amp is how it sounds when it's distorting. In a classic guitar amp, the first gain stage (i.e. usually the first triode) amplifies the guitar signal to a point at which the second and subsequent stages are over driven. Might be subtle overdrive, might be not, but that's what makes the "valve sound" we know and love.

    It appears that most (all? I dunno) nutube circuits use the tube as an amplifying stage only, such that they drive a subsequent solid state stage into distortion and its that SS stage that provides an approximation of the "valve sound".

    The Korg designs do not derive any of their "valve sound" from the nutube. It just boosts the signal so that a subsequent stage distorts.

    That doesn't mean they won't sound good. But it does pretty much mean that you could get the same sound by using an all SS amp.
     
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  10. Floo

    Floo Country Gent

    Dec 16, 2012
    Elmshorn, Germany
    So if any (SS-)device would push a nu tube into distortion, and it would thereby generate a valve-like sound, these little thingies might become interesting. If they just provide a SS distortion like a lot of other devices, they would be a mere marketing gimmick. That leaves me in the "wait and see"-department.
     
  11. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    I read that post with interest and came away a bit puzzled. As far as his scenario of a sulking Noritake complaining about decreased demand for VFDs and excess capacity; it's based on his imagination and nothing else. Every company on earth need to make the most of their assets, so I don't doubt for a moment that there is a motive for them to find uses for their products, but it's stretching the point a bit to suggest that they would undertake product development which would yield an unreliable end product. Whatever points he's making about it are already well known to the engineers at Noritake and Korg. The Japanese are famed for high-quality and durable products, I don't think that they are going to risk their reputation on something that they have reason to believe will be a shaky proposition at best.

    I know that one criticism I read about the NuTube was filled with factual inaccuracies. The guy ranted and raved about it being a single triode, but it is not, it's a double triode. While this guy fumed and steamed about what a bad idea this is, his most damning effect was to his own credibility. It was obvious that he hadn't even scanned the product information.

    "My impression is this is old technology, not intended for audio use, won't do what a traditional tube does, but you could adapt it to do something functional in an audio application and design a decent sounding circuit around it."

    I think you probably nailed it. If you try to plug this into a circuit designed for a 12AX7 it's probably not going to work very well, if at all. But companies like Korg employ engineers that live and breathe circuit design. These are the kind of guys that can look at a complicated schematic and zero in on the one place where a bias will be improper in less time than it would take me to locate the input and output points on the drawing. I'd be shocked if they were to create a product that wasn't well designed and at least sound, from an engineering perspective.

    Does that mean it will sound good? Not necessarily. That's the least quantifiable aspect of a product like this. Only the customer base can create a consensus on how good the product sounds. If it doesn't live up to expectations, the sound of cash registers not ringing up sales will be deafening.

    One mistake I see frequently made is the notion that these products are rushed to market. It happens, of course, but reputable companies usually employ caution, especially if they have a long history of reliability. I have seen what happens when a manufacturer impulsively tries to push a product into the marketplace too quickly. It doesn’t usually bode well. NuTube devices have been displayed at NAMM since 2015 but there’s no flood of devices coming from Korg, just a relative handful coming into the market.

    Every NuTube device design that I’ve seen has an op-amp before and after the device. So the signal is being boosted before it hits the NuTube.

    I think that is probably what is already happening in this circuit.
     
  12. Floo

    Floo Country Gent

    Dec 16, 2012
    Elmshorn, Germany
    Well, it's starting to become interesting. Sinc Tony didn't like the nu tube Vox and markeebee made a point about it not being involved in creating any kind of valve-like breakup, I had no reason to doubt that it's not as good as the manufacturers say. Wouldn't be the first time, would it? I usually don't follow new(er) technologies just because they're new - I could have spent lots of money for laserdiscs back in the day - and don't believe in YouTube videos when it comes to sound.
    It still is far too expensive to be a replacement for "real" valves, but technology tends to become cheaper with time. Once again: wait and see.
     
  13. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    The answer will come in time. If Korg has found a way of producing an amp that meets the expectations of its consumers and does so inexpensively, the market will vote in their favor. It may take a while, but I can’t help but think this product has a lot of potential. Or it could could end up an ignominious flop. I think it bears watching, which has been my point consistently.
     
  14. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    Mostly the input stage is configured as a buffer, to isolate and match your guitar signal and the device. It's not really 'driving' the nutube, really. In the Korg/Vox devices the 'valve sound' primarily emanates from the stage after the nutube. Seriously and for sure.

    The guy that created the post that afire referenced is a hugely revered contributor and moderator on any number of amp and effects building sites. He's like the Lionel Messi, Mahatma Gandhi and Scarlett Johanssen of the tech geeks. I've been a design engineer in the electronics industry for more than 30 years, and I've been fiddling with music gear for more than 25, and that feller has forgotten more since he woke up this morning than I'll ever learn in my lifetime :cool:.

    Anyway, I realise that it sounds like I have some kind of axe to grind. That's really not the case. If it makes you happy, I'm happy too. I guess I'm just saying that I feel you might be equally happy for far less moolah.
     
  15. DavidLee

    DavidLee Synchromatic

    716
    Oct 11, 2014
    Des Moines
    Thanks for sharing that - that was interesting. In the video when the guy says he's going to play some music now - I was hoping to hear some guitar instead of elevator music :D
     
  16. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    All I've said, is that I think this bears watching. Tony said the amps didn't impress him in person and I take that seriously, but am reserving judgment until I have the opportunity to play one in person. Unfortunately, due to some pressing concerns, this could be a matter of months.

    Before computers could be reduced from being room-sized or desk-sized devices into being desktop and portable devices, they had to come up with small, reliable power supplies. It may not be the flashiest part of a computer, but the switching power supply of the desktop-PC era was a huge innovation and opened the door to much of the innovation that followed.

    If someone finds a way to make a tube amplifier that operates efficiently at 9 - 19 volts, that will have a huge effect, not just on guitar amps, but on home audio equipment and possibly could make for some nice studio preamps.

    As far as happiness is concerned, firstly, I haven't bought anything nor spent any money. I'm perfectly happy with the sounds I get from the amps I have. I'm not about to buy a Tube Screamer, because I have no use for overdrive/distortion pedals. If I find the amps pleasing to my ear when I play one in person, I might pick one up. They are smaller than my Power Block and could come in handy.

    I remember, back in the sixties, when Fender started advertising their new line of solid state amps. These turned into one of the biggest flops in Fender's history, but wen they first announced them there was a lot of positive anticipation. It may well be that this is a blind alley and will fizzle out, only to become a punch line in musician's jesting. OTOH, this could be a product that allows amps to be miniaturized and retain their appeal to the die-hard tube guys.
     
  17. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    That was a bit of anti-climax.
     
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  18. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Very true. But companies like Korg probably have a marketing department with as much as or more sway than the engineering department. So, the skeptic in me imagines that ideas like this start with somebody realizing that anything that can be labeled a vacuum tube will sell, and then the engineers get put to work incorporating the VFD into a decent sounding circuit, regardless of whether the VFD actually serves a function that a guitarist's ears would recognize as "tube-like."

    Not that my ears would really be able to tell one way or the other. But I did find my adventures with low-voltage tube pedals a decade ago to be decidedly unrewarding even before I knew why they didn't do what I expected them to do, so maybe my ears aren't that bad.
     
  19. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Admin Post
    There's always a battle between marketing and engineering, not to mention the more malignant actions cost accountants are known to take at times. One thing I admire about the Japanese is their devotion to quality. I have two Japanese vehicles, six Japanese guitars and innumerable other Japanese products; all are of excellent quality. In fact, most of my preferred products come from there. Had I the proverbial million, I would still have two Japanese vehicles and at least Japanese guitars. I'd probably have a lot of Teriyaki dinners, too. :) But I digress. My point is simply that Japanese companies seem to think in the long term and make product decisions accordingly.

    However, your point about anything that can be labeled a vacuum tube selling is quite well taken. Some of the early hybrid amps basically used their 12AX7s as an expensive (and noisy) pilot lamp. It could be that Korg has chosen to play this game, built a marvel of solid-state trickery, slapped a tube (of sorts) in it and credited the results to a cool little display tube which lets you 'see your signal' but is little more than window dressing. Its possible to fool nearly everyone, for a while, but the market will find this out soon enough.
     
  20. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Old versus Nu:

     
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