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 TubeHead quality 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:49 pm
Posts: 733
Post TubeHead quality
Hello Mark.

Thanks for writing with an interest in TubeHead. It is great for warming CDs or other digital audio sources in a hi-fi or recording situation (on the inputs of the recorder too) and has excellent fidelity and signal to noise ratio. It is also great for guitar as an effect but in this application with high gains a bit of ground hum can become apparent.

Connected on a stereo systems tape monitor loop, you can operate the tape monitor switch and hear the source through the TubeHead. It's like having it on an a/b switch. In this scenario the blend can be set to fully post or 100% tube sound and the Drive set to just shy of tube overdrive so it is clear and clean but the tube non-linearities attainable with the lower plate voltage are just becoming apparent. Then, operating the monitor switch the Output can be set to match the TubeHead output signal volume with the straight source signal volume. At first it is difficult to discern, but with repeated comparisons a subtle compression effect can be noticed with softer passages being more noticeable and percussive sounds being more 'rounded'.

On guitar or bass it makes a great effect for boost or overdrive or overdrive/distortion/sustain. Since it is a line-level input and output, it is not perfectly suited for a pick-up, but when overdrive or distortion is introduced, any losses due to loading are more compensated for with the added gain and harmonics. The tube effect is enhanced by running the two channels in series, out of ch1 and into ch2. If you have something that would present TubeHead with a line-level signal such as a preamp or other guitar signal booster, then you're better off for realizing the clean tube sound through TubeHead.

Stack-in-a-Box is made for guitar. It has an input gain stage with inputs for guitar or active devices. And really, is best considered a tube D.I. or direct interface for getting guitar right into a mixer with options for mic'ed speaker cabinet tones. It leans towards a clean sound though and if you do advance the gain for tube overdrive, it is not quite as pronounced as the two-channel TubeHead.

The Tube MicPreAmp affords a good clean sound with guitar input via a TRS socket to XLR plug adapter made by wiring one connector to the other. Like Stack-in-a-Box, the distortion available isn't quite what's possible with TubeHead, but it can turn around and work to boost mic signals too, with phantom power selection being available.

TubeHead is really great as is. It is designed and best with the supplied Sovtek. The op-amps are 5532 which are dual low-noise type. There aren't any mods I would recommend for it. Same for the tubes and op-amps in Stack-in-a-Box and Tube MicPreAmp. I have a mod for getting better Drive control operation from the Stack-in-a-Box which is just a resistor change and added capacitor. I have a mod for Tube MicPreAmp for minimizing hum with wire routing and increasing a capacitor value. I can send these if you ask for them

Keep an eye out on our website for announcements of a wooden, desktop rack cabinet which we are planning. Mouser Electronics has some reasonably priced BUD rack-mount chassis items.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Scott Lee

Mark Schmitt wrote:
> Dear PAIA,
> I was looking at your TubeHead Preamp to add to my studio rack for use with my guitars and basses, but I’m very picky when it comes to noise levels. How “clean” is the output? Because I will be recording with it, I don’t want a “noise floor” or “hissing.” Can you comment or offer any advice? Is there also a noticeable improvement if the tubes are replaced with high end glass? I know that there are also some newer OP Amps that offer more headroom and performance; is that an acceptable modification?
> You might also comment in regards to the “Stack in a Box”, too.
> I’m also looking for rack mount enclosures in which to house some “home-brew” power amps, do you know of a source for these?
> Thank you,
> Mark Schmitt

Scott Lee

Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:09 pm
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