There are machines, toys really, that are more than mere objects of the highest technology once known, more than mere aging science. Toys which transcend the mundane of meager function.
Toys which, often by the virtue of their startling good looks, often by the purity of the noble design, often by the sheer exuberance of their ultimate construction; and because they grip us, visually, sonically, tactilely, by the seat of our pants, by the roar of their wind, by the pit of our stomachs, by the gasp of our breaths - these toys transcend.
Toys such as: the open cockpit bi-plane, the powder musket, the rough Indian motorcycle, the glossy Chris-Craft wood speedboat, the creamy Auburn Cord roadster, the small red or yellow Ferrari, or the monster amplifier. Toys that are something more than just machines. Toys that are enduring classics (Editor Steven says: Mentioning Ferrari scores Mr. Flood three brownie points and picture of a classic Ferrari below.)
Tube-ophiles know that there is something so alluring about tube power and pre-amplifiers. A tube, or valve, as it is known across the pond, is a thin glass cylindrical pipe shape electronic device used to hold gases and flaming electrode elements. A light bulb is similar to a tube, but with an entirely different purpose. The delicate glass bulb contains a glowing wire filament also, but when heated, it is amplifies the visible spectrum, not the audio one.
Tubes are electric candles of power; vacuum bottles with glowing filaments inside. They emit and store energy. Yet it is more than just the magic that tube amplifiers make. There is a classic allure to their construction, form, shape and performance, like the chuff-chuff of a polished old steam engine, the rattle-cough of an spotless antique car or the creaking-groans of thick ropes fighting stiff canvas sails on shiny wooden boats. It is the allure of recklessness. The unseated quest for sensory overload for earth's most intelligent creatures. The abandonment of rational accounting in the pursuit of the truly well made, artfully constructed, magically performing piece of joy-giving machinery.
Slim and graying Robert Perry -- once of New York, NY; now of Miami, Florida -- crafts lamps, fans and sculptures with light bulbs and stainless steel to which tweaking audiophiles, who lean towards the analog version of amplification, will be immediately attracted. Mr. Perry custom designs elegant lighting fixtures and sculptures. His simple machines capture a chuff of a steam, a cough of car or groan of canvas. His work whiffs the 1930s retro-scientific future, to create interplays of light and delicate glowing golden filaments, of shadow and sturdy, shaped steel.
Take project "Silence" for example. Two portly glass bulbs, shaped like juicy up-side-down pears, glowing with luscious gold filaments, stand proudly, high on narrow shining stalks, like castle parapets, above the brushed gleam of heavy stainless steel tree-like roots. NOT a tube amplifier, no. A piece of art. A machine. A toy for tube-ophiles. His structures of light and metal are kin to skyscrapers, neon signs and glowing amplifiers.
Marriages, be they now, of form and function. Two 1910 Edison Style 40-watt bulbs with squirrel cage filaments glow brightly above dual polished and brushed aluminum silver flutes, fashioned from truck horns. The solid $450 piece invokes the room-loving blush of a tube amplifier, at the same entry-level price, but without the required electronics.
Although Perry's "Burnt" pokes fun at conventional kitchen toasters, its eight clear candelabra bulbs invoke tube loaded power amplifiers. Tube-ophiles will want to plug it into something to make music. See Perry's web site for more of his tube-like workings. Perry had special requests for tube-amplifier or antique radio sculptures before. He says he can make them for about the same price as his other glowing works. For inspiration, stroll through our Tube Lust Pages for more glorious concoctions of glowing filaments, colorful cases and powerful music making magic.