Do All Tube Amps Hum? While it’s perfectly normal for a tube amplifier to produce a slight amount of noise specifically when compared to a solid-state amp, there are several reasons why an amp can produce an extraneous noise. The struggle will be determining which is which and how much will be too much.
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What Causes Amp Hum?
Before we dive in, all amplifiers have some noise floor, it is a given fact and no matter what amp you are using, it will inevitably produce some sort of noise, hiss, buzz or hum. It’s something that can depend on the type of amp you use but it is an unavoidable part of and when it comes to the design itself. Here are some causes of unwanted amp hum that trigger the noise.
Type Of Amp
Different variations of amps can produce different noise concerns. For example, valve amplifiers are coveted to produce a somehow analog, warm tone with natural-sounding and musical saturation. However, they are susceptible to heat and can be unreliable.
Tubes And Noise Floor
It is important to note that most tube amps are made of completely analog components and each component contributes to analog’s noise floor. If the amp is working properly, it should seem like the noise will disappear as soon as you started playing.
Adjusting Gain And Volume
The amplifiers’ power rating, wattage, can also impact the noise floor level. For example, if you have a 100-watt tube amp, it will automatically produce more noise than a 15-watt tube amp. Also, if the amp design was set to a high gain, it will generally produce more noise than an amp designed to run cleaner.
Humbucking And Noiseless Pickups
Moving away from the amp will help you a ton, but the type of pickup matters. Humbuckers are used to reduce the amount of noise transferred to the amplifier by using two coils with opposite polarity. This set up cancels or bucks the hums, hence the name Humbuckers. These are designed to essentially cancel out noises that may come through. Single coil pickups that have one coil are more much much susceptible to additional noise interference.
AC Supply And Interference
The quality of your main supply may have triggered an impact on the potential noise that the amp may or may not reproduce. If the AC supply is fairly poor and inconsistent, then this can cause the amp to generate and emit far more noises as it isn’t getting any power supply. It is recommended to plug in directly into the socket and not go through a multi-socket.
Not all tube amps are like that, but at some point, they have a fair level of background or hiss. It’s also a function of how you use the amp and what you plug into it. Depending on how the knobs are configured, the same amp may produce a hissing sound more than it does in different settings. It always depends on the gain structure. Think of an amp as a component in a series, they all contribute to the production of noises.