If tube microphones are so great, why don't we have tube loudspeakers?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Friday October 18, 2019
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Every studio needs a tube microphone. It is such a popular sound that we simply do not want to work without it. But why don't we apply the same logic at the other end of the signal chain and have tube loudspeakers?

Every studio needs a tube microphone. It is such a popular sound that we simply do not want to work without it. But why don't we apply the same logic at the other end of the signal chain and have tube loudspeakers?

To put it simply, tubes create a subtle 'warmth' that is pleasing to our ears. A microphone with a tube is like a log fire in a cold winter, keeping the cold chill of digital technology at bay.

So why not create warmth in the loudspeaker instead, or perhaps as well?

Clearly, if there is to be a tube, then it will be in the amplifier that drives the loudspeaker. A loudspeaker is a purely passive component. But having a tube amp is certainly possible. There are such things as tube power amplifiers in the hi-fi market.

But I don't know of a single tube power amplifier that is sold into the pro audio or home studio market. Why the omission I wonder?

There are of course pros and cons.

The 'pro' would be a warmer sound. You only have to compare a transistor guitar amplifier with the tube equivalent to realize that.

The 'con' however would be that although the sounds you make in your studio would sound lovely and warm to you, they wouldn't sound warm to anyone else who didn't have tubes in their listening system.

Even so, it's worth considering that if your music sounds good as you make it, then you will enjoy the process more, and more enjoyment equals more creativity. You don't necessarily have to mix through tubes - you could go back to your cold, clinical transistor amp for that.

So come on you manufacturers - let's have some tube power amplifiers for our recording studios.

Next step - active tube monitors. Come one, why not?

 

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