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Le fantastiche guide online di Thomann: Guitar Amps

3. Transistors vs Valves

For many years, transistor amps sounded poor by comparison to their valve cousins, but nonetheless managed to capture the greater part of the market, due in large part purely to the manufacturers’ success in marketing them. These days, valves have fallen out of use completely in most types of electronic equipment, except in the audio industry and a handful of military applications. As these markets are very small, valves themselves are now several hundred times more expensive than transistors or chips.

The result of this is that valve amps are now relatively expensive, often coming in at around double the price of a transistor model with the same basic specifications. It’s also true to say that transistor designs have developed considerably in the last twenty years or so, with the result that many transistor amps do now actually sound very good. Designers have begun to understand why valves behave the way they do, and to replicate this behaviour using transistors and, most recently, digital signal processing or ‘DSP’.

Hybrid designs represent another noteworthy trend. As brand names such as ‘Valvestate’ and ‘Transtube’ imply, these make use of both valve and transistor technology. Typically, a hybrid will combine a valve preamp with a transistor-based power amp, on the premise that the valves will impart their unique characteristics at the preamp stage, leaving the transistor power amp stage to amplify this as neutrally as possible. Many hybrid amps in fact incorporate only one valve, and this has led to accusations of gimmickry which are not always fair.

As a rule, transistor amps dominate the cheaper end of the market and are better value in overall terms. Although valve amps tend to be rather more expensive, they remain the only choice for the many players for who sound quality is more important than value. These players point to technical issues on which hybrid amps will, they say, always fail.

The first of these claims is that the classic rock distortion sound is not just produced in the preamp. Power amp distortion and even speaker distortion are important too. This is perfectly true - the sound of a Marshall stack at high volume, especially those produced before the introduction of the master volume control, is that of the whole thing roaring away at full tilt.

The second point is that valves respond to an input signal up to a thousand times faster than transistors and because of other basic properties, valve circuits are usually far simpler than transistor circuits, incorporating fewer additional components, and therefore have a shorter signal path - it is felt by some that these factors make valve amps feel far more responsive. Within the terms of this argument, transistor amps and digital models will by definition never be able to compete at the very highest level.

For more detailed information of valve amplification, please consult the parallel Guitar Amp Head Online Advisor.

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Guitar Amps panoramica

Elektron Digitakt Millenium ST-95 tc electronic Flashback 2 Delay Vox Adio Air GT Harley Benton CST-24T Ocean Flame Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass Denon DN-300C MKII ADJ Pro Event Table tc electronic M100 Novation Circuit Mono Station Rockboard LT XL Power Bank Harley Benton HB-40B 2017
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Millenium ST-95

Standing Aid Ideal for keyboardists, guitarists and DJs, Seat height, backrest and footrests individually adjustable, Seat upholstery and backrest with cover, Seat height adjustable from 545 - 965 mm, Padded seat, Weight: 6 kg, Material: Steel, Colour: Black, Suitable...

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tc electronic Flashback 2 Delay

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Vox Adio Air GT

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Harley Benton CST-24T Ocean Flame

Electric Guitar Deluxe series, Body: Mahogany, Top: Flamed maple, Set-in neck: Mahogany, Fretboard: Roseacer, 24 frets, Pearloid Dot fretboard inlays, Scale: 635 mm, Nut width: 42 mm, Pickups: 2 Wilkinson WHHB Alnico Open humbuckers, 1 Volume control, 1 Tone...

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Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass

Vox AC2 Rhythm Bass, Basscombo, 2x3" Speaker, 2 Watt, 5 effects, 3 selectable sounds normal flat and scoop, inputs for bassguitar and aux in, headphone output, 81 rhythm patterns, tempo 40-240 BPM, power supply via 6 AA batteries (alkaline or...

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Denon DN-300C MKII

Denon DN-300C MK II, CD/USB Player, Slot-In CD - Drive, USB Audio Player, USB plays MP3 audio file formats, 3,5 mm Jack Input, Display, symmetric XLR Output, stereo RCA Output, adjustable speed ±15%, Random, Repeat and Power-on-Play, IR Remote, 10-key...

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ADJ Pro Event Table

ADJ Pro Event Table, Compact and collapsible, Lightweight, around 18 kg, Functional and professional looking, table height: 880mm, dimensions table 1200x580mm; Dimensions (LxWxH): 50” x 24” x 45.5” / 1270 x 610 x 1155 mm, Dimensions for own Logo (WxH):...

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tc electronic M100

tc electronic M100; Stereo Multi-Effects Processor; 16 TC-Effects including reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, rotary speaker, pitch shifter and multi-effects; Edit and Tap/Select function; 24-bit AD/DA converters; Stereo Input Level control with LED level indication; Mix Balance and Output Level...

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Novation Circuit Mono Station

Paraphonic Analogue Synthesizer 2 Oscillators with individual control of sync and tuning parameters, Filter can be used as high, low or bandpass filters with 12 or 24 dB, Three distortion modes, Monophone and paraphone modes with individual glide control,...

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Rockboard LT XL Power Bank

Mobile power supply for effects pedals 3 High-capacity lithium-ion batteries, Battery capacity: 6600 mAh, Can still be used during a recharge, Can also be used for charging smartphones and other USB devices, On / Off switch, 2x 2.1 x...

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Harley Benton HB-40B 2017

Harley Benton HB-40B 2017, compact electric bass combo amplifier, 40 watt, 10" custom voiced speaker, TEC tube-emulating circuit, instrument input, gain control, integrated compressor with LED indicator, 3-band equalizer (bass, parametric middle, treble), volume control, headphone output, aux-input for play-along...

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