Old or new amplifier? When I started listening to music in the ’70s, I had a Leek valve amplifier and loved the sound it produced. When I played my guitar, it was through a Vox AC 30 valve amplifier and again I loved the sound it produced. What do you think is the best? Should I buy an old or a new amplifier?
Valves are really beautiful and they give so much realism and life to the sound. And, a question often asked, is which do I prefer but really is personal preference.
I have used many different types of Valve amplifiers from old to new and they all sound great. There are companies who produce just new Valves which in many ways outperform the older generation Valves. The sound produced from a valve is still one of the greatest listening experiences ever.
An old Valve amplifier can sound as good as a new valve amplifier. The old valve amplifier retains its simplicity and character which is something that can never be replaced. A new valve amplifier has all the latest technology but in some ways seems to have a stiffer sound. A very good option is an old valve amplifier fitted with new generation Valves which have been cryogenically treated. This gives a fresh feel to the music but is down to personal preference as we all hear and feel things differently.
One day the transistor amplifier arrived and was something completely different. An amplifier that was able to give more power, speed and people were excited with the way the transistor amplifier sounded. The old transistor amplifiers had a very specific sound and in many ways sounded better than some of the amplifiers produced today. One example is an early Luxman amplifier or early Grundig amplifier.
Today, some of the early amplifiers are still in excellent condition and are sought after by people who really know what a good sound is. Technology moved forward but the later amplifiers became very complex in design. What they were able to offer was a faster sound but in some cases, they seemed to have lost the musicality the older amplifiers had and the sense of realism is somehow masked.
We are talking about two different mediums. An old Valve amplifier setup can sound fantastic. Also, a new valve amplifier setup can sound fantastic. By the same token, an old transistor setup can sound fantastic and so can a new Solid-state amplifier set up. The type of valves used and the age of the valve play a very important part of sound quality. It all depends on what you prefer and only you can decide.
A picture says a thousand words so here is an example for you to think about. An artist paints a picture of a beautiful woman and then a photograph is taken of that beautiful woman and you look at each. The photograph has amazing quality and detail but lacks the warmth and depth of the painting – so which do you prefer?
Whatever system you have, I think the best thing is to just sit and relax and listen to music!
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