Posts Tagged ‘tube failures’

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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TubeSync Fitted To A Mesa Boogie F-50

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Sensational blues guitarist Mitch Laddie has been out touring with the product fitted to his Mesa/Boogie F-50, which he said sounds “incredible”. “I had totally fallen out of love with this particular amp before Tubesync was fitted but the difference in sound is more than substantial.The response and tone have been improved ten-fold. Very tight, very fat and all round punchier, especially in the low to mid frequencies.”

Mitch & His Mesa F50“I believe the product is very interesting and definitely nothing like anything I’ve seen or used before. The main advantages of the product are that not only does it give you a valve maintenance feature by displaying a light if a fault is found within a valve, but it manages your valves to run at an equal number of milliamps. This means that each valve is working at an equal rate which in theory gives you optimum amp performance.

F50

Above : TubeSync fitted to a Mesa Boogie F-50

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.

TubeSync

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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Dennis Marshall’s Amp Repair Shop Scotland Becomes An Approved TubeSync Service Point

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Over the last 40 years Dennis Marshall has worked with many people in the music business. Some famous, some to become famous, but mostly just plain ordinary musicians. Dennis has gained a reputation throughout the UK for his work and contribution to the music business and the latest news is……is that Dennis has recently signed up as the exclusive Scottish installer of TubesSync.

‘’TubeSync is a new product and is the new ‘wheel’ for guitar tube amps’’ states Dennis, ‘’ No need to match output valves in your amp. Drop in any combination of makes OR EVEN TYPES!!! (EL34, KT77, KT88, 6L6 etc).’’

‘’ TubeSync will automatically sense and adjust the output bias of each tube independently to balance the amp. Imagine what new tones you can create from those limitless output tube combinations!’’

Dennis has an amp in his workshop with Tubesync installed – so anybody is welcome to come in and try it out!!

You can reach Dennis directly on…………..

Telephone 01383 881761

Email tech@dennismarshall.co.uk

Or Mail or in person at

6 Main Street, Newmills

Dunfermline, Fife, KY12 8SR

Bias_Engine

Every person who goes into Dennis’s workshop is equally important and will always get the same high standard of service. Dennis is an approved Mesa Boogie engineer and has worked with a number of high profile bands including:

Deacon Blue, The Proclaimers, Roger Nichols, Texas, George Michael band, Nine Inch Nails, Wasp, Uriah Heep, The Hazey Janes, Pete Caban, Glasvegas, Katie Melua, Dave Valentine, Ona, Mark DeNeys, Fiesty Piranhas, Ally McErlaine, Bobby Bandiera, Stapleton, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Dougie MacLean, The Eels, Joe Gore, Joe Gormal, The Searchers, Jon Solish, Ray Wilson, Idlewild, Lionel Richie, Paul Buchanan, Stuart McCredie, The Eagles, Ron Sexsmith, Tam White, Lauri Anderson, Willie Logan, Bobbie Heatley, Steve Adey, Robbie Gladwell, Frank Macbeth, Sons and Daughters, Hamish McGregor, Miguel Orgel, Pilot, John Goldie , Marcus Ford, Echo and the Bunnymen, Athol Fraser, Mats Nermark, Bobby Carlos, Craig Oxley, Steuart Smith, The Jam, Healthy Minds Collapse, Avast, Adrian Clark, Nick Guppy, Sergeant, Tango in the Attic, Mike Walker, NYJOS, One Night of Queen, Davie Brockett, Runrig, Glasshouse Project, Kevin Brown, Ocean Colour Scene, Tony ‘Doggen’ Foster, Midas Fall, Mayhew….

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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Hiwatt launch TubeSync at the Frankfurt Musikmesse 2010

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Famed for their legendary reliability and tone, Hiwatt have gone one step further in the reliability stakes by employing TubeSync® technology in their already bulletproof amplifiers.

Over the last year, Hiwatt and Durham-based KBO Dynamics have developed their own version of a pioneering technology called TubeSync®, which Hiwatt will launch at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2010 in March. The technology has been developed in order to overcome problems associated with conventional tube amplification such as biasing, tube longevity and overall reliability. What the collaboration has achieved is to improve amplifier design without changing the fundamental amplification process yet retaining the classic Hiwatt tone and sound.

Hiwatt Launch TubeSync

Although not an integral part of the amplification process, Tubesync® is connected to the heart of the amp’s circuitry, constantly testing and monitoring; it’s like having an amp technician working full time inside the box every time the amp is powered up. This technology eliminates the need for tube bias current matching, increases tube life by micro-adjusting the bias on each tube, predicts tube failure and can, in the event of a catastrophic tube failure, even run the amp at half power. The result is the eradication of many of the problems hampering conventional tube amplifiers and peace of mind for the musician wise enough to have taken this route.

KBO Dynamics Chief Exec Andy Fallon: “It has been a pleasure working with Hiwatt who have been extremely receptive to change and have embraced the new technology. They have seen the benefits it can bring to them and of course, their customers, and we are looking forward to further exciting collaborations. This technology genuinely has raised the bar concerning reliability and classic tube amps, and what’s more. It’s been developed exclusively in the UK.”

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Orange Amps Test TubeSync At Messe Frankfurt 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Orange amps test out TubeSync within Orange’s Thunderverb all-valve “flagship” amp head, during Messe Frankfurt 2010

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The History Of Orange Amps

Orange was founded in 1968 by Clifford Cooper of London, and started as a recording studio. The studio featured an IBC mixing console originally owned by Joe Meek of the The Millionaires.

In autumn 1968, Cliff placed an order with the Huddersfield-based company Matamp (named after founder Mat Mathias) to make some 100-watt`valve amps for Orange to Cooper’s design. The manufacturing plant in the United States signifies that only the US-distributed Oranges cabinets are made in the States; currently, valve amps are manufactured in England, Korea and China.

Orange amplifiers are primarily mid to low-gain valve/vacuum tube amp heads, designed to be coupled with a matching speaker cabinet. Their most popular guitar amplifiers were the OR120, usually referred to as the “pics only” model for its use of pictures instead of text to indicate each knob’s function, and the later OD120 overdrive model which was equipped with a master volume control. Most Orange guitar amps were based on output circuitry which used EL34 tubes (as did other popular British amp makers such as Marshall and Hiwatt), and were available in the separate amp head and speaker cabinet format.

In the 1970s, Orange also made ‘hybrid’ PA amps that coupled a solid state mixer stage with a tube (valve) power stage. In recent years, Orange has also produced guitar combo amps (speaker and amplifier in one assembly), as well as amplifiers for bass guitar and other audio products.

In the late 90’s and early 00’s, Orange also made a range of very successful all-tube combos, such as the AD 15/12 and the AD 30R. The AD 15/12, a Class A, single speaker 15 watt model, is now out of production and highly sought after.

Orange introduced the Solid State ‘Crush’ series in 2001, and in 2004 they introduced the new Rocker series. This series consists of five different amp models. These are the Rocker 30, which features a classic British rock sound, 2x EL34 power tubes working in Class A and today being the only amp available as a 1×12 combo. The Rockerverb uses similar circuitry, but has an extra gain stage and much more modern voicing. They also feature a reverb. The Rockerverb comes as a 50 watt head (featuring 4x 6V6 power tubes) and a 100 watt head (featuring 4x EL34 power tubes, but these can be switched to 6L6 or 6550 power tubes). In 2006 Orange introduced two new amps- the small and portable Tiny Terror, which has received big popularity for its ease of use, excellent tone and low price and the Thunderverb 200, which is a guitar/ bass amp with 200 watts of power (6 x 6550 power tubes) and an inbuilt attenuator, aimed more at modern sounds. Orange also revealed a smaller version, the Thunderverb 50, which has a 50 watt output.

In 2008 Orange released a re-make of the ‘Pics only’ head. There were 40 of the custom shop OR50’s to be released, each with a different circuit and girls name instead of a serial number. There is also a non-custom shop version of the OR50 which is in full sale, and not limited amounts.

In 2009, Orange unveiled the two channel Dual Terror at the NAMM Convention in Anaheim, Ca. The first “Tiny Terror” channel features the same circuitry as the Tiny Terror amp. The second “Fat” channel has a similar sound but with more gain and a more prominent low end. The Dual Terror features 30 watts of power delivered by four 12AX7 preamp tubes and four EL-84 power tubes. The amp is switchable down to 15 watts and 7 watts via a half/full power switch on the front of the amp and a 4 power tube/ 2 power tube switch on the back. The Dual Terror is also physically larger than the Tiny Terror.

TubeSync For Valve / Tube Amps What am I ?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

About me:

I am a revolutionary new amp component, enhancing amp performance resulting in pure valve magic. My superior amp technology overcomes many of the problems associated with conventional tube amplification. With a little help from me there is no need for bias current matching, I can increase tube life and take your valves to their optimum temperature as soon as you power up. I can be easily integrated into any guitar valve amplifier. I take care of the detail, so you can concentrate on becoming a master of the strings . . . You can find a lot more about me on my main website www.tubesync.co.uk

The TubeSync Bias Engine

The TubeSync Bias Engine

Eliminates the need for bias current matching of output tubes

Increases manufacturing efficiencies

Micro-adjusts the bias on each tube to ensure its full potential is realised

Maintains optimum performance

Increases tube life

Assures reliability

Reduces quiescent power consumption

TubeSync

TubeSync