Posts Tagged ‘Hiwatt at Musikmesse’

Does Plate Dissipation Affect Valve / Tube Life In Practice ??

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

In general, the obvious connection between higher anode dissipation and shorter tube life holds good, however,  many other factors affect tube life, including accuracy of heater voltages and the efficiency of tube cooling within amplifiers.

The tube leaves the factory with a known amount of cathode coating material which is the source of all the electron emission. In use, this material is used up as it emits electrons when heated by the filament and plate current is drawn.

If plate current is drawn before the cathode is at operating temperature, the surface of the cathode can be damaged (so called ‘cathode stripping’).

This is why the Standby switch should be off when the amplifier is warming up. If, however, the tube is operated for long periods with the filament hot with little or no plate current being drawn, then an oxide-like coating can form on the cathode, effectively blocking the emission of electrons even when normal operation is required (known as ‘cathode poisoning’). TubeSync takes care of this by automatically controlling the bias at both start-up and run conditions.

vacuum tube EL34 valve

Plate dissipation is generally quoted by the manufacturer as a maximum value which, if exceeded could cause damage to the tube and should not generally be used for ‘normal’ operation. The relationship between tube life and plate dissipation follows an exponential curve. Tubes operated correctly at around 30% maximum dissipation can have lives in the region of tens of thousands of hours and can last several decades of years. This figure decreases rapidly as the dissipation increases, in some cased down to hundreds or even tens of hours as they approach or exceed their maximum plate dissipation rating.

Cooling is extremely important as running tubes very hot also increases the risk of arcing and a condition known as thermal runaway, which can instantly destroy the cathode material, making the tube useless. Conventionally biased tubes are most at risk when biased towards ‘Class-A’ operation, as they experience maximum power dissipation when no audio signal is present.

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Marshall JVM210 100W & 50W With TubeSync DIVO OV4 Installed

Friday, July 13th, 2012

What is my opinion about the TubeSync Divo OV4? (Charlotte Mijnders – http://www.charlottemijnders.nl )

Well, it has improved my sound, it is much tighter than before, on both the amps it looks like the tubes are matched much better and are pushed to their best performance.

The overall sound is more defined, tighter, more dynamic to my opinion.

On my Jvm210 I have 2 El34’s and 2 6550’s , I can switch between them and they sound as mentioned above, but the best thing is combining all the tubes together, that makes a great sound, more tight bass and bass/mid response of the 6550,and beautiful mids and mid/highs of the El34 on top of it, I like it!.

That is a great option of the Divo, that you can combine tubes in this way.

Pictures

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Tube Amplifiers Used For Professional Performers

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Tube Testing – A common requirement for tube amplifiers used for professional and stage purposes is that there should be a high percentage of confidence that one or more tubes will not fail during the performance. Tubes are often thought of in the same manner as light bulbs, in that they are most likely to fail catastrophically at switch on. This means that the moments just after the switch on point constitute the most stressful and potentially damaging periods in the life of the equipment.In an attempt to guard against this possibility, it is common practice to do one of two things on a regular basis.

1/ regularly remove the tubes and have them commercially tested;

2/ replace the tubes with new stock on a regular basis.

These two methods may give the operator a degree of confidence ///but in fact, it can be shown that the faith placed in both methods is misplaced.

It is a known fact that removal of a tube from its socket results in a number of potentially damaging mechanical stresses on the metal to glass seals around the pins. Each insertion of an all glass tube will cause micro-cracking of the glass around the pin. This will invariably cause a small leakage of air into the tube, causing ‘gassing’ and eventually leading to its demise.

Removal for testing will also break the intimate contact between the holder and the tube contact pin, resulting in a poorer contact on re-insertion.

Many tube testers apply unreasonable electrical stresses to the valve internal electrodes and it is not uncommon for a known good valve to be damaged during the test. Tube testers can also give erroneous results depending on the way they perform the tests, possibly allowing faulty tubes to show ‘good’ and the good valves to be rejected as ‘bad’.

The second method of ‘blanket replacement’ with new stock on a regular basis can also lead to problems because if the failure distribution curve for tubes is analysed, it can be seen to follow the classic ‘bathtub’ failure curve. This inevitably means that an amplifier which is regularly ‘re-tubes’ will inevitably be considerably more likely to fail during the first hundred hours service than one which has been left untouched.

TubeSync overcomes these problems by performing an ‘in circuit’ test on the tubes every time the amplifier is powered up. The mutual conductance (gm) of the tube is measured by monitoring the cathode current of each valve whilst adjusting the grid bias in fixed steps. The results are tabulated and the new value is compared with previously stored values. A decision is then made on how far the tube has decayed in emission since the last test. Outputs from the device inform the user of the predicted remaining life of the tube.

Orange Amps DIVO TubeSync and OV4 Explained

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Orange Amps presents DIVO with TubeSync technology. DIVO helps increase the life of your tubes, protects against unexpected tube failure, and even allows for (4) different tube types to be installed in the same amp.

DIVO will come pre-installed on select Orange Rockerverb 100 MKII heads beginning Summer 2011. The OV4 stand-alone unit, also available in 2011, can be installed on almost any amp that has (4) power tube slots.

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Jamming With The New Orange Rockerverb MKII with TubeSync DIVO

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Mitch Laddie and Michael Blackwell checkout the new Orange Rockerverb 100 head with DIVO. The verdict was 10 out of 10!

michael

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Tube Amp Testing For Professional Stage Performers – Engineering Tube Talk

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

A common requirement for tube amplifiers used for professional and stage purposes is that there should be a high percentage of confidence that one or more tubes will not fail during the performance. Tubes are often thought of in the same manner as light bulbs, in that they are most likely to fail catastrophically at switch on. This means that the moments just after the switch on point constitute the most stressful and potentially damaging periods in the life of the equipment.

In an attempt to guard against this possibility, it is common practice to do one of two things on a regular basis.

1/ regularly remove the tubes and have them commercially tested;

2/ replace the tubes with new stock on a regular basis.

These two methods may give the operator a degree of confidence but in fact, it can be shown that the faith placed in both methods is misplaced.

It is a known fact that removal of a tube from its socket results in a number of potentially damaging mechanical stresses on the metal to glass seals around the pins. Each insertion of an all glass tube will cause micro-cracking of the glass around the pin. This will invariably cause a small leakage of air into the valve, causing ‘gassing’ and eventually leading to its demise.

Removal for testing will also break the intimate contact between the holder and the tube contact pin, resulting in a poorer contact on re-insertion.

Many tube testers apply unreasonable electrical stresses to the tube internal electrodes and it is not uncommon for a known good valve to be damaged during the test. Tube testers can also give erroneous results depending on the way they perform the tests, possibly allowing faulty tubes to show ‘good’ and the good valves to be rejected as ‘bad’.

The second method of ‘blanket replacement’ with new stock on a regular basis can also lead to problems because if the failure distribution curve for tubes is analysed, it can be seen to follow the classic ‘bathtub’ failure curve. This inevitably means that an amplifier which is regularly ‘re-tubes’ will inevitably be considerably more likely to fail during the first hundred hours service than one which has been left untouched.

TubeSync overcomes these problems by performing an ‘in circuit’ test on the tubes every time the amplifier is powered up. The mutual conductance (gm) of the tube is measured by monitoring the cathode current of each valve whilst adjusting the grid bias in fixed steps. The results are tabulated and the new value is compared with previously stored values. A decision is then made on how far the tube has decayed in emission since the last test. Outputs from the device inform the user of the predicted remaining life of the tube.

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The Scissor Sisters Choose Hiwatt, Hiwatt Choose TubeSync

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The extravagant disco pop group The Scissor Sisters have purchased a Hiwatt amp for recording and live performances. They have just been announced as support to Lady Gaga for the North American leg of her Monsters Ball tour and have a new single “Any Which Way” out now.

scissorsist

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KBO Dynamics TubeSync Technology

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Introduction

There is a certain quirkiness about the British psyche. On the one hand, the proportion of consumers in this country who actually bother thoroughly to read instruction manuals is undoubtedly very low. On the other, there was a Japanese survey, apparently, that found of all significant inventions going back over 200 years, 55% of them were British. Obviously, the Germans are more disciplined and better organised. The Americans are driven. The Japanese are still incredibly advanced technically, yet the British struggle to get the trains running on time. Maybe that’s the point: because we’re surrounded by chaos, we’ve had to become inventive.

The Americans make the best electric guitars but the British make the best amplification, goes the old adage. Doubtless, there are as many British luthiers as American amp manufacturers chorusing their disagreement, but as a general rule, this is probably true. And although if you look at all the great British amp makers – Hiwatt, Marshall, Sound City, Orange and the rest – they all have an Achilles Heel: the tubes. Ironic, really; amps that collectively have been responsible for the greatest sounds in contemporary music relying on components whose design hasn’t altered at all for decades. Enter TubeSync.

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The engineering guys here at KBO Dynamics – inventors of TubeSync technology -are into power supply. Their background ranges from white goods to defence, and to be fair, making a washing machine go is hardly rock’n’roll. But when they turned their knowledgeable gaze towards tube amps, well, that’s different. For example, when a technician at Hiwatt builds a Custom tube amplifier, he and he alone will spend 20 hours soldering the components to stringent quality control guidelines: no production line or PCBs here. Yet, despite this labour of love, if the tubes fail, the amp won’t work. So when KBO Dynamics approached Hiwatt with a system that could monitor the tubes constantly when the amp is turned on, adjust the biases, forewarn if the tube was getting flaky and even switch pairs should one of the tubes fail completely, they pricked up their ears.

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Musicians don’t shell out for a big, powerful expensive amp if they’re not gigging. That makes them either pro musicians or semi-pro at the very least. That also means that the public shell out to go and see them play. Therefore, neither party will be particularly chuffed if a tube goes in the middle of a performance. Yes, the pro musician probably carries a spare amp just in case, as most guitarists have a spare guitar in case they break a string, but it’s not ideal. TubeSync gives the musician peace of mind; simple. With TubeSync fitted in the amplifier, it’s a bit like having a dedicated amp tech working full time on that amp from the moment it’s turned on to the moment it’s turned off.

custom ampThe output from a traditional 100-watt valve amplifier comes from two pairs of EL34 tubes: matched 1 and 4, and 2 and 3. There are companies who sell ‘matched’ pairs of these tubes, as two identical tubes will tend to last longer than an unmatched pair. Normally, the EL34 will operate at 50Ma, although they can be rated higher, but the higher they are rated, the shorter their life. Best not to fiddle around too much, then. Better still, let TubeSync do what fiddling there needs to be done. The device, which is not an integral part of the amplifier, sits within the circuitry and ensures that the pairs remain matched throughout, and micro-adjusting the biases when necessary. Four LEDs on the facia plate – one for each tube – serve as a visual indicator of the state of each one. So the musician is given adequate warning if one of the tubes is getting flaky. In the unlikely event of one of the tubes letting go completely without warning, TubeSync will immediately switch out the affected pair; OK, the amp will be functioning at only half power, but at least it will be working. That’s peace of mind. Knowing that this technology is available but not using it would be a bit like driving really fast whilst wearing welding goggles. Don’t want to worry you or anything.

hayden Granted, having TubeSync installed in the amp is going to give peace of mind, but then we at KBO Dynamics haven’t just left it at that. Professionals in the music industry need to find out not only that there are certain strains on the tubes within the amp, but are there conditions within the live situation that perhaps put an amount of stress on the tubes above others. Handy that the techies can plug a laptop into TubeSync and get a readout, then. Handier still, we are working on an interface that when completed will allow the TubeSync-ed amp to hook up with either us or Hiwatt via the internet, and the amp’s performance can be monitored remotely in real time, even if the gig is in Australia. How formula 1 is that then? But then again, it isn’t, when you think about it; it’s more like professional progress. The Rolling Stones, for example, earn millions every time they tour – having seen them, they’re worth every penny, but that’s just one opinion – but they will never have toured in the past with amps loaded with TubeSync. Imagine the poor old amp techs frantically peering through the grilles of the back line checking for the dreaded EL34 red death glow while the band is laying it down for over a million fans on a beach in Brazil: now that’s stress.

We are talking with other amplifier manufacturers, but Hiwatt was a logical place to start: they are fiercely proud of their reputation for reliability, rightly so, and any technology that compliments that reputation is clearly going to be of interest to them. Both KBO Dynamics and Hiwatt feel that the incorporation of TubeSync technology genuinely adds value not just to the amplifier, but also to the whole amplification process. Tubes are still fairly reliable; with or without TubeSync, manufacturers wouldn’t build tube amps if they weren’t and we’re not in the business of scaremongering. However, the fact of the matter is that they are still the least reliable component part of the amp, and if you have experienced ‘sod’s law’, then you’ll know that if a tube is going to fail then it’ll pick the most inconvenient time to do so. Going back to the driving analogy, the odds of you needing the airbag in your car are reassuringly long. But try driving a car without one fitted, you genuinely do feel vulnerable.

Conclusion

In recent years, there has been an exponential rise in ‘extreme sports’ and the arrival of the adrenaline junkie, doubtless in response to an increasingly risk-averse society. The term “Nanny State” has been coined as a result. But let’s keep things in perspective; there’s a big difference in safety for safety’s sake and straightforward common sense. TubeSync technology has been designed to prolong the life of the tubes in the gigging musician’s amp – which is good – and also to alert them to the fact that the tube is approaching the end of its life – also good. We think that’s common sense, which is why we invented it.

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Leaky Tubes / Valves Can Blow the HT Fuse In Guitar Amps, TubeSync Can Avoid This!

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

An interesting phenomenon that some ‘leaky’ tubes, removed from conventionally biased amps, appear to improve when run with TubeSync. The reason may be that when the tube gets hot, g1/cathode leak causes a current increase, but it is automatically biased ‘back’ to compensate, which allows the tube to cool down again and thus reduce leakage et al. After a while the leak sometimes reduces or disappears completely – we surmise that the getter  gets a chance to mop up stray gas molecules or the metallic deposit gets ‘boiled off’ the mica supports.  This type of fault in a conventional amp would normally blow the HT fuse, however TubeSync can avoid is and rectify the problem! Cool eh?

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Hiwatt Amplify Their Success With TubeSync

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

IT TAKES more than sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll to make a guitarist sound great. John Hill meets North East amplifier makers at the cutting edge of technology.


Hiwatt & TubeSync

ANDY Fallon and Colin Arrowsmith are not guit- arists. Their affair with the valve amplifier isn’t born of a youth spent practising solos or arguing over kit specifications next to the counter of their local guitar store.

In fact, Andy’s experience lies in automotive and military engineering, while Colin is an expert in microelectronics.

However, their contribution to a piece of kit beloved of the White Stripes, The Who and Black Sabbath has attracted the attention of major international amp-makers.

Andy and Colin are co-founders of KBO Dynamics, a Consett company created to market technology designed to improve audio and guitar amplification.

They are the men behind TubeSync, a “tube management system” which monitors the performance of valve amplifiers to avoid meltdowns while maintaining sound.

The product won the innovation award in the Durham and Wearside heat of the nebusinessawards 2009, run by The Journal and Evening Gazette.

KBO co-founder Andy said: “We were looking for a niche market. Neither of us plays the guitar, but we did a lot of brainstorming.

“Colin worked with microelectronics, but he’s also an expert with valve technology. We realised very quickly that the biggest application for valves was inside guitar amps.”

The valve amp isn’t exactly a rapidly advancing technological product. The technology was developed between the world wars and uses a series of vacuum tubes to regulate a signal. It was present in items from TVs to radios, but fell out of favour in the 70s.

The resurgence of such equipment has been prompted by high-end users in the audio and guitar amp market, who praise its natural sound.

Andy said: “There’s a warmer, more rounded tone to it. Anyone who’s serious about playing a guitar would only use a valve amp.”

When they developed TubeSync, the pair didn’t set out to change the sound. Instead, they set their sights on the downside, the problems that plague valve amp users looking for that special sound.

He said: “The closest you can compare it to is an engine management system on a car. It’s like having a maintenance technician looking after your amp 24/7 without you noticing it. It’s continuously monitoring the circuit, looking for faults.

“We got a market research report from Think M in Newcastle. It conducted a series of live interviews with OEM companies and guitarists.

“We looked at the problems people were talking about, but we didn’t change the sound.

“It can detect faults. It can disconnect a pair of valves if it finds one is faulty. You normally have to buy valves in matched pairs and you need to take the amp to a technician to tweak it, but with TubeSync you only need to buy one valve if one fails and it can tweak the system for you.

“One faulty valve can blow up the output transformer. TubeSync can detect this and prevent catastrophic damage.”

KBO had support from a number of North East backers. It won £90,000 from NorthStar Equity Investors’ Proof of Concept fund, developed its prototype with help from Business Link and got £20,000 from the North East England Investment Centre. The process was then advanced by a grant of £20,000 from One North East.

In all, Andy estimates the product has taken 18 months and around £200,000 to develop.

He said: “We built and developed it from the bottom up. We tried to use components that were available in the marketplace and we created our own unique algorithm.

“We don’t think there’s a similar product to this on the market and we’re hoping to receive a patent in the next couple of months.”

Right now, KBO is on the hunt for buyers. The team has just returned from the international Musikmesse instrument trade show in Frankfurt, where they saw a live band perform using TubeSync technology for the first time.

He said: “It was being used by a band playing Pinball Wizard by The Who. We’re expecting to see the technology on stage properly some time this year.

“The lead time on the product is about eight weeks so it could well be appearing in the summer.”

British amp manufacturer Hiwatt, whose users include Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and The Kooks, has incorporated TubeSync into its amps and Andy says that others, such as fellow Brits Orange, are keen.

The company is talking to manufacturers about fitting it in amps this year and down the line it may create variants of the product that could be fitted by amp technicians or even end users.

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