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Tube gear : overpriced?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by jp gerard, Feb 12, 2001.

  1. jp gerard

    jp gerard Guest

    Hey, I thought I'd bug you guys with my usual sillyness since this forum is open to anybody.
    So, here we go:
    Why is tube gear(the real thing, not the hybrid crap) so expensive? Building a tube comp costs as much as a FET or VCA comp.
    Time invested in research and developpement?
    Right... I'm sick of those manufacturers using the good old 12AX7/EF86/6072 and others to raise the price tags. New tube mics are the worse, aren't they? OK, you get a PSU, but besides that... Same stuff, just a different body and a tube instead of a FET...
    I don't mind paying big bucks for a good design, but I won't part with my cash for a box just because there's a fuckin' tube in it. Can I mention ART? MXL? I'm not even sure the M147 is worth it's price.
    C'mon, whaddaya guys think...
    It's all hype, innit??
    JP Gerard :)
     
  2. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    No, it's not all hype. A good tube circuit cost some money these days. In the old days, you could buy a 12AX7 for a buck or so, and people were making some decent transformers. To power a tube, you still need a stable filament voltage (like a very smooth, ripple-free 12V DC) and higher plate voltages, which means a decent power transformer and a well-regulated power supply.

    Compare that to an all IC circuit that can get by quite nicely with a wall wart. Tube and transformer costs have gone thru the roof since the demand and the number of manufacturers went down.

    If you want the "benefits" of really good tube circuitry, you have to bear the increased costs.
     
  3. jp gerard

    jp gerard Guest

    Hmm.
    I understand what you're saying but let's take the 147 as an example.
    Good mic, but what's inside? a tube and TL circuitry. Take the 103. Good mic, SMD and TL too. Is the 147 worth twice as much?
    IMHO it is not. In the case of a TL condenser, the expensive part is the capsule. The capsule used in the 147 doesn't cost more to manufacture than the 103 cap.
    To me, Neumann is using the 147 "heritage"
    to boost the price. I think the 147 should cost little more than the 103.
    Now, transfos aren't cheap, agreed. But tube
    gear don't necessarily use transfos.
    I'm sure manufacturers of even fine gear use tubes as a marketing argument.
    And I'm not convinceed that a tube circuit needs a beefed-up PS. Good transistor circuitry needs to be fed properly.
    IC's need sufficient current to be happy too.

    JP Gerard
     
  4. hargerst

    hargerst Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2001
    Ok, let's look at the TLM147 vs. the TLM103.

    First of all, the 147 has dual diaphragms (the 103 is a single diaphragm). So you have the cost of tensioning and matching two diaphragms, not one.

    The 147 has an 8 wire cable going to the mic, not 3. One of the cirduits goes to a sensing circuit (more cost) to compensate for tube aging. Eight connector plugs are way more expensive than a standard XLR.

    The 147 has a separate power supply for heater and grid voltages (separate box, another 8 connector plug, and even more circuitry). And it still has to have an XLR on the PS as well as a power cord.

    So the final tally: a lot more parts, a lot more circuitry, a special connector cable, a lot more assembly labor, and a lot more testing.

    It's not as simple as "Oh, let's just throw a tube in there and double the price."
     
  5. jp gerard

    jp gerard Guest

    Agreed. More parts. Still a bit pricey to me.
    About the capsules, the 103 has a backplate acting as a delay network, requiring precision and definitely not a cheap part to make. The K103 is a new design, I believe the first pressure gradient large diaphragm design using pressure-EQ/porting.
    Anyway, I think we'll all agree on the new Behringer tube boxes: the worst case of tube hype.
    JP Gerard :cool:
     
  6. dbock

    dbock Guest

    My accountant will tell you that without question, our tube equipment costs more to build. And the transformerless FET even less than the Xfmr coupled. So the major costs are: transformers, selected tubes (2-9 times more expensive than randomly chosen, multiple voltage PSU's, more expnsive higher voltage components.......No, it's not about marketing.
     
  7. Recording Engineer

    Recording Engineer Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    I don't know about any of the other Behringer tube gear or ANY other Behringer at all, but I do know that I DID happen to buy a Behringer T1953 from AMS for dirt-cheap. It was about what I expected for that price but I replaced the Sovteks tubes with Mullard CV4004s and that alone slightly improved the noise floor and quite significantly improved the "smoothness" of the high-end. Hell, even if I had someone such as Jim Williams at Audio Upgrades to do a mod, it's STILL be dirt cheap and worth it to me.

    But even out of the box, the T1953 sure is VERY significant increase to pres in those little 4 or 8 track units.

    Although it should be noted that I did already have "more credible" pres so it wasn't as if I was trying to "replace" my Mackie pres or something and just wasted my money rather than waiting until I could afford something better.

    Also, I'm sure in case of Behringer gear and the likes, the the middle-man greatly increases the price. So I agree that there is more than a "reasonable mark-up" on stuff like the T1953 and the likes, but on the more high quality tube gear? Nah...
     

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