The ultimate voicing tool

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Yesterday's post of course got a lot of attention and that's to be expected. It's a big announcement and direction change, one I have been avoiding for multiple decades. I thought perhaps I would explain a bit of why I have avoided using tubes in our designs as well tell you about how we might have a unique solution in mind for those of you that aren't into tubes. There's a very good reason why solid state devices quickly replaced vacuum tubes when they were released: they are better in nearly every parameter you can imagine. When solid state devices became easy to get and affordable, design engineers couldn't move away from tubes fast enough. Tubes are huge. Tubes are hot, microphonic, vulnerable to vibrations, fragile, begin decaying from the moment you turn them on, hard to manufacture, getting scarce, make lousy output stages for power amplifiers, and the list could go on for a mile. In fact, there's every reason to not use a tube. Save for one. Used as a voltage amplifier they sound more like music than other devices. While not universally true, it is mostly true. Plus, much work has been done to lengthen tube life and minimize their problems. The amp we are proposing to build uses a tube front-end only: a perfect place for a voltage amplifier and, one thing you can say about a tube, it's a pretty perfect voltage amplifier. Remember I suggested the amp's input was originally designed with MOSFETs? The exact same circuit I've already designed is capable of being rearranged to accommodate a tube, which is what we're doing. What's interesting is that same configuration could just as easily accommodate a solid state device without any changes. Imagine building a pair of solid state MOSFETs on a 9-pin tube socket and being in a position to plug in either and just listen to which sounds more like music. That's what we're doing. Indeed, if everything works out to this developing plan, we may decide to put an easy access port on the rear of the amp chassis and allow users to insert either a couple of tubes or a couple of MOSFET "tubes" in the socket and get what sound they wish. Or we may not. It's just some speculation on my part right now. But here's the thing: this is a perfect example of voicing. On the upcoming prototype we will indeed do exactly as I just described: build in the ability to try different tubes and different MOSFET "tubes", all feeding the MOSFET output stage. Should be fun and instructive. I know this is all so technical and I will write more in the future, but let's let this unfold for now and I'll keep you in the loop. I am excited.
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Paul McGowan

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