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Old 11-16-2005, 07:39 PM
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interesting sound system

I've been planning out my sound system lately. I'm not making something that just makes the car rattle though. Also im going to try something really different and i could use a little help. I am planning on building a tube amp pretty much from scratch. I have heard a few and I really like how they sound. I've never actually seen one or heard one in a car though. I'm wondering if I would still have a lot of bass with the relatively low watts of tube amps. I also dont really know what kind of speakers would work best with a tube amp in a car. I'm thinking 4 3way 6x9 infinity speakers in the car would work pretty good. I know they sound really good with a normal transistor amp setup but I have never heard them on a tube amp. The main reason I'm looking at this setup is that tube amps usually sound better the louder they are and infinity speakers are clear with no distortion even at extremely loud sound levels. Anyone that knows about tube amps and could help me out some I would appreciate it.

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Old 11-16-2005, 08:21 PM
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Tube amp? Do you mean a whole little thing that has a amp, sub, and an enclosure all build together? Kinda like what ricers put in there cars that look like fake nitrous bottles.
Ive heard one that rockford fosgate made, it was an 8" sub that all it needed was the wiring ran to it. Sounded pretty good for what it was. Wouldn't rattle a car apart but did give the bass a good boost.
For a good clear sound for your other speakers, look into getting some component sets. They cost a little more, and are a harder to put in because of the separate tweeters, but your mid level sounds and higher sounds will come out nice and clean, especially if you put a small amp to them. For that look into some Rockfords or some Alpine Type R components.
And if components aren't what your looking for, some Alpine Type R or Type S speakers will sound great also.
Let me know if you need anymore info, Im kinda into the car stereo type stuff, except I like the more tasteful stereos that DONT shake the car apart.(I leave that to the big camshaft )


Brad
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:43 PM
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I think he's talking about vacuum tube amplifiers. That I think would be a bad idea due to the amount of heat generated by the tubes. That and the filaments would be destroyed rather quickly from the vibrations & shocks of driving the car.
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Old 11-16-2005, 09:07 PM
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yea i meant the vacuum tube amplifiers. My dad said heat shouldnt be an issue but it still needs to be considered. I've also never really thought about the filaments . I'll also try looking into some componet sets.
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Old 11-17-2005, 06:45 AM
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Tube Amps

I know a bit about this stuff.

Yup, tube (valve) amps sound better than solid state (transistor) amps for a number of reasons (low order even number horminic distortion, no rise time issues, less frequency derived phase shift, little IM and transient IM distortion, tubes are natural analogue amplifiers, transistors, other than FET's are switches, etc.) but none of this is going to mean one single thing in a car with the ambient background noise and the very small interior space.

Plus, tubes are voltage amplifiers, not current amplifiers, so they need lots of voltage (~ 600V) to operate and that means converting your cars DC to AC and then a transformer to convert the 12V to a voltage the tubes can use and then output transformers to convert the high voltage low current amplifier output to high current low voltage to drive the speakers. And you cannot get decent output transformers for this application. And by the way, heat is a problem as is vibration but both can be solved. The inability to find good output transformers cannot be solved short of specing and having custom transformers wound.

Stick with transistor stuff for your ride. Good quality tube electronics should find a home in your living room.

And by the way, the reason those annoying a**holes rattle their cars and yours when they drive by is simple physics. Sound waves travel at ~1,100 feet per second through the air at seal level, the speed of sound. So, lets say your local neighborhood a**hole dumps a grand or two into the sound system in his Honda and then drives down your street with the latest rap trash blasting away. Why do you hear and feel the bass so clearly when you aren't in or near his car? Simple. Remember, sound travels at ~1,100 feet per second. Lets say the bass track has a frequency of 40 hz (40 cycles per second). If the sound wave has a frequency of 40 cycles per second and travels 1,100 feet in that second, then each wave or cycle is 1,100 / 40 = 27.5 feet long. A 27.5' long sound wave doesn't fit in a Honda (or a Lincloln navigator for that matter) so the sound energy radiates out into the world beyond the Honda. Bottom line, in the real world, 100hz is about the lowest freqhency sound wave you can contain in a car. Anyting lower is just an annoyance for everybody around you. On the bright side, 100hz can sound pretty good for base. Just listen to any modern car or truck with a high end factory sound system.

Anyway, sorry for the math lesson. Hope you guys don't ban me for being a nerd.
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Old 11-17-2005, 01:29 PM
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Don't worry about being a nerd. I try to keep mine under wraps, but it gets out every once and a while. I'm still here

600 volts is a lot higher than most tube amplifiers run at, or at least the low power (8-15watts) ones that I have worked with. But yes, high voltage (110 volts or so ) is usually necessary to operate one, which in turn means buying a good inverter to power the amplifier.

You're definitely better off staying with a good amplifier brand like Audiobahn than dumping all the money in the equipment to drive a tube amp that is not able to handle the environmental changes it's going to see on a daily basis.

Modern MOSFET amplifiers are very good sounding with very little distortion, which you aren't even going to be able to hear in a noisy car interior. You're going to have a harder time battling the harmonic resonance from the car itself, not unlike sitting inside the speaker box while it's on.
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:27 PM
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Are vacuum tubes still available?

I can remember years [decades] ago the old man and I taking burned out tv tubes to Belmont TV for replacement, sticking them in a tube checker, matching the pin configuration to find the right type.
Hah. That makes me laugh.
That's the first time I have thought of that routine in years.
I was disappointed when the tubes were being phased out in favor of transistors --Geez What was I thinking?
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:29 PM
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Thanks for the info. I think i'll just go with a good quality transistor amp for the car and put my tube amp in the shop. I wonder if I could build a transistor amp... I dont really need a high power amp because I'm not planning on having subs for now. I mostly listen to rock/hard rock and that sounds like crap if you have a sub going Maybe ill just find a good head unit that will have plenty of power for 4 6x9's. No tv's or junk like that though. Yes, vacuum tubes are still available too.
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Old 11-20-2005, 07:41 PM
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Well, If ya have a good sub setup any music should sound good.
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78novaman
I think he's talking about vacuum tube amplifiers. That I think would be a bad idea due to the amount of heat generated by the tubes. That and the filaments would be destroyed rather quickly from the vibrations & shocks of driving the car.
I know very little about sound systems but I must say that I have a 6 volt tube AM radio in my car, it sounds great and no problem with filiments breaking. The car is 57 years old.

Al
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Old 11-20-2005, 10:19 PM
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i wouldnt be to worrid about vibration, i know plenty of people have installed pc's in their cars for the sake of having 100 gig's worth of mp3's to play at will

if the head in a hard drive, which is a hairs width off the platter, can safely operate in a car bouncing down the street, im sure it would be possible to mount a tube amp in a car so that vibration wont ruin it

and wildbill, thanks for the little sound ave lesson, cool bit of info to know, i never realy though about beaking down how long a sound wave actualy is, i just know that my subs in my s10 could rattle the pens off the shelf in the parts dept while my car was parked 40 feet away in the detail shop
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:55 AM
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I've built a few tube amplifiers for home audio from scratch - I'm still running a Dynaco 70 that I bought in '89 in my basement system. You would need 250-450VDC for a decent powered amplifier

You may want to build a lower voltage tube preamp for your car - it would provide some of the 'sound' you are looking for... there are specially designed tubes used for car radios from the 40s-50s before the days of the IC...

do a google search and you will see some people have built tube preamps/amps for the car... I'm perfectly satisfied with using ICs for the car though - they are compact and require less energy than tube stuff.


Here is the last preamp I made :


and the 8W 300B amp I made (1930s triode single ended)
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