Choosing Between Vacuum Tube and Solid State Amps

Published November 29, 2017

2The beauty of music is that it is never linear and never static. There are limitless possibilities when it comes to music creation. Even if the same key is used over and over again, a simple change in time signature and note arrangement can make an entirely new musical composition. Because of this, it isn’t really surprising that there are also plenty of tools available for music creation and reproduction. These tools also add a whole new dimension of possibilities in music, as variance blur the lines of what limits music is bound to. Understanding this is perhaps the best way to appreciate the differences in what some musicians to this day still can’t agree upon.

Vacuum tube amp or solid state amp; which is better?

For something as multi-dimensional as music, there’s no point in comparing them directly. A just comparison of these two must factor in different qualities which include price, build durability and tone quality. But these three are pivotal to choosing either.

  1. Price

There’s no denying that solid state amps are considerably cheaper than vacuum tube amps. The primary reason for this is that vacuum tubes are old technology. And with old technology comes its rarity in production. Much like how vinyl records cost a hefty amount, so does a vacuum tube amp. Conversely, solid state amps are produced in streamlined production lines, making them cheaper by a huge margin. But no good musician is fooled by the antiquity of vacuum tube amps, as they still have an advantage over solid state other than its sense of nostalgia. But for matters of the price tag, the solid-state wins.

  1. Durability

Right off the bat, there’s really no direct comparison between the durability of these two amps. For the most part, it largely depends on the manufacturer. Essentially, in terms of durability, it would be reasonable to give these two a tie in durability comparison. On that note, musicians must spend some time in checking reviews to make sure that they end up buying a reliable brand. Find a blog or a dedicated review site and take a look at this site for amps that excel in terms of durability and build quality.

  1. Tone

The essence of music is its tone. Listening to music doesn’t make a person recognize the cost of its production. It instead evokes emotions, which is the point of it all. Tone is where vacuum tube amps beat solid state amps, although it must be said that this is only by a small margin. Some would argue that only the best ears in the business can really tell the difference, which is up for debate. An ear is an ear, after all. Much like how some musicians still prefer to use grand pianos over expensive electronic keyboards, vacuum tube amps still hold its own following. The good news is that this might not be something that rookie musicians have to lose sleep over. Again, just like the piano analogy, it’s impractical to buy a grand piano for a five year old just because they’re showing slight interest in tapping the black and white keys.

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