Why Valves (Tubes)?

ValveThe science behind it all.

With the proliferation of digital audio and all it’s acknowledged advantages, the growth in demand for tube products has one very obvious justification... great sound.

Tubes offer a wide variety of sounds from completely ‘clean’ to ‘full-on overdrive’ which are invaluable when used in conjunction with digital audio, resulting in a less ‘sterile’ more ‘analogue’ sound. It would be difficult to describe every sound between these extremes but there are three quite distinctive sounds that occur below, on and above the signal clipping point.

  • Clean Sound - where no perceptible overdrive is audible. But even when a tube operates well below its point of audible overdrive, it still exhibits an amount of sound compression, or sustain. Often described as ‘warmth’.
  • Fuller, Creamier Sound - where the tube is pushed into subtle overdrive at the start of notes and chords, decaying into a cleaner sound.
  • Overdriven Sound - delivering long sustain and smooth distortion.

All TL Audio products feature Tubes.

Why TL Audio.

Where are certain points in a signal path where the presence of a tube enhances signal quality. The skill in tube product design is in knowing where to place the tubes and how to combine them with state-of-the art solid state circuitry in order to achieve maximum sonic benefit. Simply putting more tubes in the signal path will not necessarily guarantee a warmer or better sound. Our acclaimed microphone pre amp design, for instance, offers superb performance: low noise, wide bandwidth, high slew rate and very low distortion when combined with a secondary tube pre amp stage produces outstanding audio. We use patented transistor circuitry between tube stages to ensure maximum power transfer.

This, in combination with the high HT voltages used to supply the tubes (typically 250 volts dc in the Classic range) produces exceptional noise performance. The power supply design is important, too - we use a fully stabilised discrete PSU with balanced dc heater supplies where necessary to improve hum performance. The power supply to the tubes is critical, in contrast with those manufacturers using low voltage "wall wart" supplies.

The tubes themselves are high grade ECC83 / 12AX7A twin triode types, which offer high gain yet low noise, hum and microphony - making them the first choice for critical audio applications.

TL Audio Design Philosophy.

From the outset, our design philosophy at TL Audio has been to utilise the best qualities of both tube and solid state circuitry to produce a combination of superb sound and first class technical performance.