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  • Solid-State vs. Tube Amplifier

    All things being equal eg. speakers, what's your experience.

    This 250# Audia Flight Strumento No 4 went back this weekend and the 275 wpc cj ARTs went back into the system. And the sonic differences between the two amplifiers were as clear night and day. Not that one was necessarily better but each had its own set of strengths and weaknesses on the Magicos. The Audia Flight exhibited a little better grip on the Magicos, better low frequency dynamics and a better fleshed out cellos and basses. The cj on the other hand excelled at midrange resolution and palpability, resolving the smallest nuances and microdynamics and aliveness. Surprisingly of the two amplifiers, the cj appeared to have greater silence between the notes and allowed for greater appreciation of melody and rhythm on some jazz tapes I played this weekend. So it appears to me that the two technologies are proceeding in parallel paths improving their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.
    11
    Convergence
    63.64%
    7
    Divergence
    0%
    0
    Business as usual
    36.36%
    4
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
    -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
    -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
    -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
    -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

  • #2
    This topic is one that is fraught with the possibilities of arguments and general disagreement. Let's just say tube amps and SS amps are fundamentally different and they sound different. I think tubes sound more holographic/3D with therefore better dimensionality and overall realism.This is probably going to boil down to what you are used to as I don't think either technology is ever going to mimic the other. There are plenty of people in the high-end who own SS amps and would never consider a tube amp. There are plenty of people who have previously owned tube amps and moved to SS and never looked back. Of course the inverse is true as well. For those with long experience with tube amps, there is something there that borders on the magical with the right set of speakers for a given tube amp. Switching over from a tube amp to a SS amp will normally result in some improvements in the bottom two octaves that is readily apparent but can leave you wanting at the end of the day. I think Myles said he had the Audia Flight SS amp in his system for around 9 months. Since Myles is a dyed in the wool tube guy, that should tell us all something about how good that amp was if Myles left his ART amps unplugged all of that time. Returning the ART amps back into his system has made clear some of the things Myles gave up during the switch.

    ​I continue to be impressed with the improvements that are being made with regards to the bottom octaves of tube amps. The power supplies for really good tube amps have become massive in terms of energy storage rated in joules. Output transformers have continued to improve and now we have a new King of the Hill in the KT family of output tubes with the KT-150. There really is no right or wrong/I win you lose issue here. Everyone has to make a decision on which technology pleases them and works best with their speakers in their rooms. Again, there is no right or wrong solution.
    SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs, and a pair of JBL 4345 speakers.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mep View Post
      This topic is one that is fraught with the possibilities of arguments and general disagreement. Let's just say tube amps and SS amps are fundamentally different and they sound different. I think tubes sound more holographic/3D with therefore better dimensionality and overall realism.This is probably going to boil down to what you are used to as I don't think either technology is ever going to mimic the other. There are plenty of people in the high-end who own SS amps and would never consider a tube amp. There are plenty of people who have previously owned tube amps and moved to SS and never looked back. Of course the inverse is true as well. For those with long experience with tube amps, there is something there that borders on the magical with the right set of speakers for a given tube amp. Switching over from a tube amp to a SS amp will normally result in some improvements in the bottom two octaves that is readily apparent but can leave you wanting at the end of the day. I think Myles said he had the Audia Flight SS amp in his system for around 9 months. Since Myles is a dyed in the wool tube guy, that should tell us all something about how good that amp was if Myles left his ART amps unplugged all of that time. Returning the ART amps back into his system has made clear some of the things Myles gave up during the switch.

      ​I continue to be impressed with the improvements that are being made with regards to the bottom octaves of tube amps. The power supplies for really good tube amps have become massive in terms of energy storage rated in joules. Output transformers have continued to improve and now we have a new King of the Hill in the KT family of output tubes with the KT-150. There really is no right or wrong/I win you lose issue here. Everyone has to make a decision on which technology pleases them and works best with their speakers in their rooms. Again, there is no right or wrong solution.

      Fact is too, that some people, no matter how good a tube amplifier sounds, would never buy one. Heat, changing tubes.

      One area that tube amplifiers have made huge strides in has been reliability!

      It's funny. Alon didn't know if my ART amps would drive the S5. Drive the Magicos they did. I'm listening tonight to Portrait of Art Farmer on Contemporary and the sound of his trumpet is like he's he's playing in the room. When he adds the mute, it's eerie sounding. Absolutely magical combo!
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
      -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
      -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
      -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
      -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
      -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

      Comment


      • #4
        [QUOTE=MylesBAstor;n657]

        Yes Myles and Mark. I use tube preamp and a SS amp pure class A. The result is very neutral in terms of tubes and SS. I had a friend here once who uses only tubes and remarked how much more bottom end grip my system had than his. I think I would have more with an a/b amp. Anyway I heard my Revels a few years ago at RMAF with an all analog front end and an all Rogue tube set up in a Robin Wyatt room. I thought it was the best I had ever heard my Revels. Just more meat on the bone with tubes I think.
        TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Transfiguration Proteus Cart; Arcam R Phono Preamp; Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer; VTL 6.5 preamp, Pass Labs 150.8 Amp; Revel Studio Ultima Loudspeakers; Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls; Shunyata Hydra 8; Shunyata AC Cords; Audio Art Ref balanced ICs, MIT Oracle IC and Magnum Speaker Cables; Schiitt Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD700 Headphones; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner

        Comment


        • #5
          [QUOTE=1morerecord2clean;n1022]
          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

          Yes Myles and Mark. I use tube preamp and a SS amp pure class A. The result is very neutral in terms of tubes and SS. I had a friend here once who uses only tubes and remarked how much more bottom end grip my system had than his. I think I would have more with an a/b amp. Anyway I heard my Revels a few years ago at RMAF with an all analog front end and an all Rogue tube set up in a Robin Wyatt room. I thought it was the best I had ever heard my Revels. Just more meat on the bone with tubes I think.
          I think the best of triode tube amplifiers, for instance a Sonic Frontiers 211 based P-P amplifier that I had for review back in the '90s, have an incredible wrap around quality of any amplifier. I don't think manufacturers who configure a tetrode based tube in triode though get the same effect. IIRC, Cary also had a low powered 211 based tube amplifier years ago that was magical on quad 63s.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
          -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
          -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
          -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
          -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

          Comment


          • #6
            Until recently, I've been an avowed solid state man--mainly due to concerns about tube life and the hassles/expense of changing them. But after attending a few audio shows where tubes seemed the amp of choice, I took the plunge and bought a PrimaLuna Premium Dialogue HP after trading in my former Pass Labs INT-150. I can't get over how much more life-like the sound is--the instruments have more body and texture, plus it seems to be far more dynamic--all without losing details or clarity. I'm a confirmed tube lover, now!
            Last edited by TubeMan; 02-10-2016, 08:49 PM.
            DALI Epicon 2 speakers; SVS SB13 Ultra sub; McIntosh MA9000 integrated amp; Esoteric K-03 SACD player; Oppo 205 Blu-ray player; Sennheiser HD800S headphones VPI Prime Signature turntable/Ortofon Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge;

            Comment


            • #7
              Ha! Sounds like what I experienced in the early '80s when a good friend brought over his POOGED Dyna PAS 3 and its huge outboard power supply and we compared it to my van Alstine modded Hafler 101 preamplifier. After one minute, I exclaimed where is all that music coming from? Next day went down to Stereo Exchange and traded in my Hafler and bought a used cj PV5 preamplifier. That was shortly followed by a Premier 3 and I've never looked back.

              And that Prima Luna amp has gotten very good word of mouth and reviews.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
              -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
              -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #8
                Some of us build systems around speakers and some around amps, some of those decisions are directly influenced by the choice of speakers. I know that while my preference was always for tube amps I ended up with mostly ss when I owned Apogees. I changed course later when I came across the Lamm ML2s in 1999, choice of speakers is dictated by the amps since then.
                Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
                Distribution: NEODIO

                Special Sales: van den Hul
                Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

                Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
                http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
                http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by david k View Post
                  Some of us build systems around speakers and some around amps, some of those decisions are directly influenced by the choice of speakers. I know that while my preference was always for tube amps I ended up with mostly ss when I owned Apogees. I changed course later when I came across the Lamm ML2s in 1999, choice of speakers is dictated by the amps since then.
                  I totally agree that determination of amplification should not be done in vacuum (pun intended). I've always thought of it as engine/drivetrain vis a vis the rest of the car and vice versa. Many tube bashers assume tube amps can not be both linear and have more than adequate damping, I believe, because they are used to hearing tube amps with speakers that aren't ideal matches.

                  That said, our situations are reversed. I went for my favorite speaker and chose accordingly. At one point, so smittten by the ML3 that you use, I actually had a conversation with my favorite speaker designer about building a loudspeaker for the ML3s. Alas, life intervened and the project never got off the ground. The resulting loudspeaker would have been very large, too large to keep my space aesthetically pleasing. Regardless of what most people who know me think, my wife does have her limits! She's a saint but I won't push my luck.
                  Last edited by JackD201; 02-10-2016, 11:23 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How can solid state compete with the glow of tubes?
                    DALI Epicon 2 speakers; SVS SB13 Ultra sub; McIntosh MA9000 integrated amp; Esoteric K-03 SACD player; Oppo 205 Blu-ray player; Sennheiser HD800S headphones VPI Prime Signature turntable/Ortofon Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge;

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TubeMan View Post
                      How can solid state compete with the glow of tubes?
                      By adding Lava Lamps?
                      Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

                      Comment


                      • Garth
                        Garth commented
                        Editing a comment
                        The green ones make the sound to bright
                        The red ones the sound is to fat
                        you really need the blue ones to be just right.

                      • Johnny Vinyl
                        Johnny Vinyl commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Blue it is! Will match the blue lights on my IA and R2R!

                      • tima
                        tima commented
                        Editing a comment
                        snort
                        cackle

                    • #12
                      At line level, (preamps) tubes rule. But at phono levels and power amp levels, SS does have some competitiveness.
                      Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Teac A3300SX R2R, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
                        At line level, (preamps) tubes rule. But at phono levels and power amp levels, SS does have some competitiveness.

                        Of course the determining factor is cartridge output, speaker efficiency, even amplifier sensitivity. You could get away and use an all tube phonostage with a 0.5 mV output and an efficient speaker and have a quiet background (the most important quality for me). But you just can't get a quiet background with tubes, low output MC, inefficient speakers, etc. We could also interject that statement from David Wilson that we just need tubes somewhere in the recording chain or system.
                        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                        ________________________________________

                        -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                        -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
                        -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
                        -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
                        -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                        -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
                        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post


                          Of course the determining factor is cartridge output, speaker efficiency, even amplifier sensitivity. You could get away and use an all tube phonostage with a 0.5 mV output and an efficient speaker and have a quiet background (the most important quality for me). But you just can't get a quiet background with tubes, low output MC, inefficient speakers, etc. We could also interject that statement from David Wilson that we just need tubes somewhere in the recording chain or system.
                          I was just trying to say that for line stages, tubes are the best and there is no compromising with tubes, but with MC phono stages and High power amps, tubes do have some caveats/compromises compared to SS. This is not to say that SS is overall better, just different or better in some ways.

                          Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Shelter 501 Mark II Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Teac A3300SX R2R, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, DIY Silver Interconnects

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            I was discussing with an audiobuddy tonight ss vs. tubes (after my Vitus comments) and he was sharing his observations that ss amplifiers seem to get one frequency extreme or the other right but not both at the same time. Tubes on the other hand, get the mids right and one or the other (usually the upper octaves) right.
                            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                            ________________________________________

                            -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                            -cj 40th Anniversary ART300 monoblock amplifiers
                            -Ensemble Fuoco hybrid integrated amplifier
                            -cj GAT preamplifier Series 2 preamplifier
                            -Doshi V3.0 phonostage
                            -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                            -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                            -Lyra Atlas SL, Fuuga, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                            -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                            -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Allnic cables, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, MG Audio, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies Power Cords
                            -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                            Comment

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