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Analog Tube Harmonics/Distortion
Old 27th July 2020
  #1
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Analog Tube Harmonics/Distortion

Looking to add harmonics or distortion to vocals at line level using a tube amp but unsure on how I go about this. Do I need an actually guitar tube amplifier? Or a tube pre amp and compressor? Am I clipping the signal to achieve this? I guess you could say almost turning the signal into a square wave? Or am I completely off and its something else.

Example: https://youtu.be/YqvCptqhHfs?t=38 @ :38 seconds
Old 27th July 2020
  #2
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonymer View Post
Looking to add harmonics or distortion to vocals at line level using a tube amp but unsure on how I go about this. Do I need an actually guitar tube amplifier? Or a tube pre amp and compressor? Am I clipping the signal to achieve this? I guess you could say almost turning the signal into a square wave? Or am I completely off and its something else.

Example: https://youtu.be/YqvCptqhHfs?t=38 @ :38 seconds
You can reamp through a guitar preamp (has been done for decades). Or use a tube line driver. I have a couple of these in the studio
http://redironamps.com/buffer/
Old 27th July 2020
  #3
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That sounds like hard clipping distortion. I think tube gear distort softer way. I would maybe split the vocal track to process the distortion fx parallel to the non-distorted vocal track.
Old 27th July 2020
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
That sounds like hard clipping distortion. I think tube gear distort softer way. I would maybe split the vocal track to process the distortion fx parallel to the non-distorted vocal track.
Can be "softer" with a tube rectifier sag. Otherwise definitely not soft.
Old 27th July 2020
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri Kogan View Post
Can be "softer" with a tube rectifier sag. Otherwise definitely not soft.
I think it's well accepted fact that tubes distort rounder way in opposite to hard clipping transistors, with or without tube rectifier

Old 27th July 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
I think it's well accepted fact that tubes distort rounder way in opposite to hard clipping transistors, with or without tube rectifier

Which harmonic is that?
Old 27th July 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri Kogan View Post
Which harmonic is that?
Harmonics are different for tubes and transistors. Had to google the answer

"The harmonic content of an overdriven tube amplifier consists primarily of 2nd order and 3rd order harmonics with some 4th order harmonics. The harmonic content of an overdriven transistor amplifier is primarily 3rd order with suppressed 2nd order harmonics."
Old 27th July 2020
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
Harmonics are different for tubes and transistors. Had to google the answer

"The harmonic content of an over driven tube amplifier consists primarily of 2nd order and 3rd order harmonics with some 4th order harmonics. The harmonic content of an over driven transistor amplifier is primarily 3rd order with suppressed 2nd order harmonics."
This is amazing stuff. Sorry to bother but, what tube amplifier would be capable of achieving these harmonics or at least similar to the example I provided
Old 27th July 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
Harmonics are different for tubes and transistors. Had to google the answer

"The harmonic content of an overdriven tube amplifier consists primarily of 2nd order and 3rd order harmonics with some 4th order harmonics. The harmonic content of an overdriven transistor amplifier is primarily 3rd order with suppressed 2nd order harmonics."
Yes. And it has to do with how we perceive certain harmonics. Some are perceived harder then others. Apparently we consider even harmonics more "musical" unlike odd harmonics which we consider harsh. But we cannot generalised here - some FET pre-amps are quite "warm" and fuzzy. Depends on the device and the circuit of course. Transistors also have more headroom generally before distortion starts to generate ugly harmonics. Tubes overdrive quicker. But take into account BF fenders for example and they are not very "round" sound-wise. Some may call them ice-picky. Of course you can balance it with the eq. Tweeds and BF fenders are tube rectified and come across a fuzzy and chewy. Ditto with the Marshall's - the 70's JMPs are far from being round and warm. They are quite hard and in-your face. Due to the rectifiers. I am not even talking modern amps.
Old 27th July 2020
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonymer View Post
This is amazing stuff. Sorry to bother but, what tube amplifier would be capable of achieving these harmonics or at least similar to the example I provided
I would say it doesn't sound like tube to me. More like transistor amp.

Also it sounds to me like there is a non distorted and distorted vocal track mixed together (identical track duplicated for parallel processing). And the distorted vocal track is heavily high passed leaving only the upper treble frequencies to give the distorted effect.
Old 27th July 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
I would say it doesn't sound like tube to me. More like transistor amp.

Also it sounds to me like there is a non distorted and distorted vocal track mixed together (identical track duplicated for parallel processing). And the distorted vocal track is heavily high passed leaving only the upper treble frequencies to give the distorted effect.
Yeap. That's how its normally done
Old 27th July 2020
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janne19691 View Post
That sounds like hard clipping distortion. I think tube gear distort softer way. I would maybe split the vocal track to process the distortion fx parallel to the non-distorted vocal track.
Tube gear can hard clip as well as soft clip. However the balance of the various harmonics may be different, depending on the type of SS circuit.
Old 27th July 2020
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Tube gear can hard clip as well as soft clip. However the balance of the various harmonics may be different, depending on the type of SS circuit.
Wow. Very interesting. I would have never guessed it was paralleled tracks with heavy distortion on the second. Any recommended amps to get a similar effect from the example? Analog gear perhaps?
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