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James D 25th May 2006 08:51 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
For many years I have been frustrated by not being able to get my DHT PP amps to equal the magic in the sound of a DHT SE amp. I think Matt has got it exactly right in his description of the differences netween the two. I would also add that there are differences in the way they handle tone and timbre as well. I listen to cello performances quite a lot and the SE cello is just more naturally woody than a PP cello - this for the best of each type. However there is another aspect of each that I cannot describe and have never heard described which is that certain SE amps have a magic about there sound that is just 'right' and I have never, ever heard a PP amp sound like it. Those a EggFest 1 will have heard it with Jonathan's 45SE amp driving my Quasars... it just makes you smile and lifts your spirit. ANd this followed Mark's Aurora a 300B all IT PP amp. So 20W of the best quality PP watts against 2W of the best quality SE amps in the EggFest hall and it was no contest. One was magical and right and the other was very good but no magic.

It's true that you do need SE friendly speakers to hear what SE is about as they can and do collapse into certain loads but once you have SE friendly speakers then it becomes inevitable that eventually you will come round to SE

I still haven't given up on DHT PP but most of the amps I design and build now-a-days are DHT SE...


Greg. 25th May 2006 09:52 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
Hi James,

You raise some very good points that generally I agree with, but for many of us there has to be a compromise or trade off so that our amplifier of choice fits all music within the constraints of a domestic environment subject to WAF considerations which is why I am happy with my PP system because it does all things well although I'd acknowledge would not reproduce the cello from Bach's six cello pieces in the magic way you enjoy with SE. Having said that, a judgement on an amps performance really should take into consideration all the types of music the owner wants to listen to. There is a major difference between the magic SE sound of a solo cello and the sound of a full orchestra and choir with organ working at full tilt. The same can be said of simple 'Paul Simon Songbook' vs. full on 'Meatloaf'. My amp/speakers has to do both of those well and I've yet to come across an SE system (amp and speakers) that can handle the heavy stuff and fit in domestically.

This is why I settle in the PP camp. It's the need for a fits all system with the minimum of compromise that is allowed to sit in the living room along with the telly, bunches of flowers and hand made wall tapestries ;)

As ever, we are splitting hairs on sound quality. The average punter would not be able to tell a difference.

Best wishes,


Dave the bass 25th May 2006 10:13 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
Thanks for all the replies fellas.

I think I'm beginning to get the gist of the differences now. It seems from what you all say to me that SE amps are considered a more 'light' sounding choice but the mids are more clearer (?) suiting it to the cello music that James was speaking of. I've seen DHT SE amps referred to as bass-shy (scary being a bassist meself:eek: ) whereas PP (DHT or not?)amps have more 'clout' in the bum-end of things but lack the mid range intensity of SE'ers.

Only my ears will decide in the end which path/s (!) I go down.

I listen mostly to Rock/Pop/Vintage Funk/Disco and Ska. I'm not a classical lover (yet) so maybe a SE amps charms would be lost on me, I dunno. All I do know is that I'm a very fussy sod who really listens intentley to music, it gives me a lot of pleasure.

As ever, thanks for all your help, I really appreciate the help you chaps have given me on this forum.

James D 25th May 2006 10:17 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
Hello Greg,

Agree with what you say, I couldn't get SE to deal with Mahler's 8th (my favorite symphonic piece and with a huge choir!) or Handel's Messiah until I made the Quasars. It's all about system balance and WAF. I had to make the Quasars out of Perspex to get Ally to accept them. That doubled the price! But now they rock and handle anything. Normal speakers and I would still be running DHT PP - no doubt.

I'm a child of the 60s & 70s so Hendrix, Deep Purple, Cream, Who, SRV (okay 80s), etc. etc. form my non classical listening. Yeah! My systems has to rock!


James D 25th May 2006 10:30 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP

I'm a bass player too... SE isn't lighter than PP on the right speakers. You have to build your system to suit all of the components you would like to use. So an SE amp to drive a typical hifi speaker is possible but it needs to be designed for the tas and it gets expensive. But then a proper 300B PP amp gets expensive too... For me I wanted to get away from the compromises that a typical box speaker has... so I went in a different direction and live with some different compromises that to my ears are not so important .. 'cos they are size related instead :)

SE amps can rock just as hard as PP. What about Dave Dove's 300BXLS amp at EggFest2 on my speakers? They rocked hard with super bass.

You have to build the system to suit - and if you want SE and fast deep bass then you need to pick your speakers to suit...

OK this will get contentious now :-) Dave, as a bass player, you know how hopeless almost all domestic speakers are at capturing the tone of your instrument? At reproducing the differences that using plectrum or your finger makes to he bass note itself i.e. not the higher harmonics? Well thats the problem with typical hifi speakers and why I left them behind. I want to hear the timbre change between a Jazz and a Precision clearly not just a different type of thud from the speakers but all the differences in tone and timbre. I want to hear the difference between nylon strings and steel helical wound strings... I want to hear the difference between a fretless and a fretted bass... thats why I ended up with an SE amp driving my Quasars... cello shows it up best but any bass electric or acoustic shows it up to a bass player...


Lord. 25th May 2006 10:35 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
The SE system I heard could 'rock' and was only marginally less domestically acceptable than my own, but it is far, far out of my (or 99% of us for that matter) financial reach.
So in principle I agree with you and JamesD. I like my three way 'speakers and accept that to drive their 88dB/W/m and slightly lumpy load I need more than a few Watts, to get those affordably means PP for me.

Given your handle and musical tastes, I'm guessing that PP will be for you too - unless you are seriously minted! Just remember that not all PP amplifiers are created equal, the choice of output valves and the use (or preferably not) of feedback will have nearly as big an effect on your sound as the SE/PP choice.
Oh, and in case you haven't read between the lines above, you can't choose any valve amplifier without realising how reliant they are on a kind pair of 'speakers. PP will tolerate mildly difficult loads, SE will not.
Good luck, it will be fun!

Dave the bass 25th May 2006 10:57 AM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
This is all great info:D

Yep, in my experience generally domestic speakers are crud for 'raw' bass guitar, after all it's not what they were designed for, on the otherhand I used to gig with what was effectivley 2 VERY large Hi Fi cabinets fed with a PP amp using 12 x 6L6's, each cabinet had 1x15", 1x10", 2x6" and 1x Bullet was a massive sound. TBH it was too much:o I connected the speakers up to my HiFi once and it sounded horrible! But it was great for raw uncompressed Bass Guitar. I use pick, fingers and thumb (I'm an old slapper, easy tiger!)

I now use a SWR Super redhead which is 2x10" speakers + horn in a reflex cabinet with an identical 2x10" extention I use on bigger gigs.

Back on thread...:o

Any amp that I build/buy will have to work with my Rogers Studio 1a's until funds become available to to upgrade them. I've lived with them for years (they're my friends!!!). I'm not 'minted' as you've probably guessed, hence the trusty SS Rotel from '78 is still inservice.

I know its gonna be fun, I'm looking forward to finishing off my Phono stage project when winter comes back.


NickG 25th May 2006 01:10 PM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
I have been thinking about this, I wonder if the question had been asked two years ago, the answer would have been a lot simpiler, The difference in sound between (for example) a WAD 6550 and WAD 300b PSE was clear and obvious, but since that time people around here are been working at getting both types of amps to sound "better". SET's have been getting better power supplies, and driver stages, and PP amps have been getting better phase splitters and power supplies, and having feedback reduced or removed.

So while I still think there is a difference, I think its a lot less now than it once was. We can see at the eggfest, but I still think my 211 SET has as much "drive" as a 300b PP, but I am more than happy to admit that its far less domestically practical :-)

Having said that, I still think the 6em7 sounds as good as anything else I have heard, ok maybe not Jono's 45.

Really Aardvark 25th May 2006 05:14 PM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
Another bass player here (Peavey TMax head, 1x15,2x10+horn) - I can recommend the Kat6550. I switched from Sugden amps, supposedly super-musical, and the difference is as clear as night & day. If you want to hear exactly what our colleagues are doing its a must!

No doubt the more experienced here will be able to suggest alternatives until maybe WD resurrect the kit.

Dave the bass 25th May 2006 08:58 PM

Re: Newbie guide to SE Vs PP
What is it with Valve Hi Fi and us bassists:)

Peavey, yum! I've still got my first ever rack effects unit, a Peavey Bassfex sitting here. Nice stuff.

My big old beast was a Mesa Boogie bass 400+ with 2 x 1516 BE Cabs, they're the Electrovice loaded versions. Monster:D

Thanks for the advice today everyone, I'm still leaning towards a spot of DIY (specially as I work in the Electronics Trade). Such a pity I missed all the WAD kits but I just wasn't into the Hi Fi thang then, looks like I missed out on some good kits but hey, WD are just about to release a new kit, I'll dig the new breed as they say:cool:


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