Push Pull vs OTL vs SET (Tube amps)

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by gbeast, Dec 19, 2016.

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What is your preference?

  1. Push Pull

    4 vote(s)
    5.3%
  2. OTL

    18 vote(s)
    24.0%
  3. SET OPT

    53 vote(s)
    70.7%
  1. WolfEarAudio

    WolfEarAudio MOT - Wolf Ear Audio

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    I'm surprised at the animosity towards a lot of OTL amps. I actually prefer them (when they're designed properly and when using complementary speakers/ headphones) over many designs using an OPT.
    At the very least they *usually* measure better (have you ever run a sine wave through an OPT? It's usually not great coming out the other end, even on good ones).
    I've designed quite a few amps by this time and OTLs almost always require a lot more consideration in design than most transformer coupled amps do.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  2. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    How about push pull DHT OTL. :) Any experiences?
     
  3. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I used to have the mk1 or mk2... the output transformers would actually "sing" with signal passing through. Very peculiar.
     
  4. WolfEarAudio

    WolfEarAudio MOT - Wolf Ear Audio

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    No experience there, unfortunately. You would probably need at least 4 per channel to get any amount of meaningful power output for your speakers. That gets expensive really quickly.
     
  5. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    I'd heard a push pull 4x300B OTL that did 6W into 8 Ohm and really didn't sound bad at all. Speaker choices are a bit limited though.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Yes, I've run 20Hz sine waves, 1kHz sine waves, and 10kHz square waves through a variety of interstage and output transformers. For me, it's more what a capacitor does to the sound and less about measurements.

    I get the OTL sound, but it's not my thing. I think I can speak for many others here since I know their tastes. I agree OTL requires more thought. An OPT is a simpler brute approach.
     
  7. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Just to chime in, reflecting on my experience with OTL vs SET OPT (haven't owned a proper push-pull), I do feel the latter with high-quality trannies generally edges out the former in transparency.

    I thought it was weird because I believed an OTL amp is supposed to have a purer tube sound, without a transformer between the tubes and the output. But as Marv pointed out, capacitors come into play and they play a rather significant role for better or worse. To my ears ZDS was vastly superior to ZDSE for only $100 more, sounding much more transparent and less congestive. However, there isn't much circuit difference between the two under the hood; the most significant difference being the caps used. You don't need to open up the chassis to notice that ZDS uses different caps, anyway.

    So far, the only OTL amps I've heard that I consider TOTL are ZDS (unique in that it is a plate-follower, whereas most OTL's are cathode-followers) and Allnic HPA5000 (unique that it is not only OTL but also OCL, output capacitor-less). Both also don't behave like a typical OTL, as they drive not only hi-Z but also lo-Z headphones well.

    So, while SET OPT's are generally superior to typical OTL's, I don't think it should discourage one from buying a ZDS. Of course, if you have $$$ (prepared to spend least $5K or more for a meaningful upgrade) and want to go for ultimate transparency, SET OPT is the way to go.

    But you know what? I think headphone matching plays a far more important role than the OTL vs SET OPT argument. I would take my previous ZDS over my current Studio if I were listening to, say, HD800 or Utopia. On the other hand, the Studio is the ideal amp for my modded HD650. So before you go spending crazy amounts of money on exotic, unobtanium trannies, make sure the amp you have in mind goes along well with the headphones you have. I was really hoping the Studio/HD800 would be my end-game, but disappointed that it turned out I couldn't stand for more than 30 minutes listening to that combo.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  8. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    When I 've read those impressions, my first thought was more that it was a study case of classic "moar expensive = better " .

    I'm not in the OTL camp myself. Heard a few of those amplifiers and always heard them as colored/luxurious/funny. Not a bad thing per se but not what I'm after. for a HD800 I much prefer lower output impedance. I didn't hear the best OTL amps though .
     
  9. WolfEarAudio

    WolfEarAudio MOT - Wolf Ear Audio

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    I think part of the problem is also which tubes people use for most OTL amps. The usual suspect is the 6AS7/6080 tube, which works well enough, but it isn't particularly linear. I always found that the more linear a tube is, the better it sounds (probably why people love the 6SN7 and 300B tubes so much).
     
  10. Rotijon

    Rotijon Friend

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    Happy to pick up the studio from you =P
     
  11. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    The people there said the HD800 was the most impressive from the OTL's & they didn't even bother to use the HD800 with the Studio because they knew it would not be a good match. Which is kinda in line with songmic's impressions of the 800/Studio pairing.

    High impedance or bass light headphone can absolutely benefit from an OTL amp. The Bottlehead Crack is a testament to that.
    Though I myself never listened to a $3,000-$5,000 one like the Glenn & Apex.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    It depends upon what you are after. The strict neutralheads like @OJneg or @HitmanFluffy would have no problem with a modded HD800 and Studio type amp. Philosophically, I'm not a fan of the excessive high output Z interaction of many OTLs with the HD800 that helps it achieve a warmer sound. I'd rather take something that best takes advantages of the HD800's inherent strengths instead of something that alleviates its weaknesses. The Studio / HD800 with an appropriate vinyl source, maybe a warmer phonostage, is fantastic. There is also a huge selection of 2A3s too.
     
  13. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Hi all,

    Would like to get input on WooAudio WA6 SE. It is an SET Transformer coupled tube amp.

    What do you guys think of this amp? Is it a good one? Against the Elise, Schiit Mjo2, Cavalli amps, EC ZDS?

    People talk about tube amps being better than solid state. Can this WA6SE be considered high end and good enough tube amp to save money for?

    Thanks a bunch.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    What headphone? It's good for Sennheisers and Grado. By standards here, it wouldn't be considered high-end; but it's very good, an excellent value, and quite flexible. Never had a chance for a direct comparison, but I would prefer the WA6SE over the Elise, unless you really want a OTL sound with super high Z Out, which does have its charms.
     
  15. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    There is a used one right now for a reasonable price. It comes with 6FD7 (1 pair), 6EM7(1 pair), and sophia princess rectifier, in addition of the stock tubes. Was wondering if I should get it.

    1. It's good for HD800, HD650, and TH900?
    2. What about planars? HE1000v1?
    3. How does it stack against Mjo2? Zana Deux S?
    4. What can I expect WA6SE sound like, if I am coming from SS amp Bakoon HDA5210mk2? Is it different enough to have both?

    Thanks Marv.
     
  16. JeffYoung

    JeffYoung Friend

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    I'd be tempted to buy one just to put it on my desk for viewing pleasure.

    (If it didn't sound good I could hide a Valhalla somewhere to actually listen to. ;))
     
  17. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Curious how it stacks up against Schiit tube/hybrid amps, especially the Mjo2.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Depends upon preferences. Mjo 2 is hybrid, so slightly different sound. It hits harder with typical tube compliment, bassier and warmer. WA6SE is just slightly wet / bloomy for a tube amp, but does have smoother treble. For HD800, HD650, and TH900, I'd take WA6SE over the Mjolnir. I feel that the WA6SE's only weakness is lack of explosiveness, but with the Sophia Princess Rectifier, that might be different. The ZDS was made for the Senns and the TH900 is utterly fantastic from it. However, HEKs, and every other ortho will sound like ass from the ZDS, even on the low gain / low Zout setting. The ZDS is also a space heater, probably not ideal in hot climates

    It really comes down to this: do you want an amp that is flexible, an amp that only does traditional planar drivers well, or an amp that only does traditional planar drivers and costs two to three times more.
     
  19. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Thanks Marvey.

    I want an amp to complement my bakoon, which sounds like more similar to Mjo2. I haven't yet experienced that wonderful tube sound as so far I've been using SS amp.

    As for my cans, I prefer and listen mostly to HD800 and TH900 anyway. I don't need an amp to work well for planar, as I already have the bakoon for that.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Hard to say. Doesn't your Bakoon have two types of outputs, sounding very different from each other? How do you tend to use them with each of your headphones? That gives us a better idea of the sound.
     

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