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  Class "A" solid state vs. Tube amp.?
I would like to hear opinions, for, i am listening mostly classical and the acoustic instruments! I never heard anybody more happier, than the Pass owners? I am tempted!  

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10-31-00: Sparky57
I have been very happy with a Threshold Stasis II amplifier I've owned for some time. Very clean sounding, wide soundstage, good basss extension, and utterly reliable. So what's wrong? Last year, I purchased a used Audio Research VT100 MK-II through Audiogon. There is no contest on unamplified music. There is an unmistakable "rightness" to the purity and timbre of strings and woodwinds. There is a natural "bloom" to the sound. Voices hang in the air. The Pass designed "Class A Stasis" amp was sterile by comparison.
Sparky57  (Answers | This Thread)

10-31-00   I have tried, but have never found an affordable solid state ...   Redkiwi

11-01-00: Cowman
A hearty Amen to both above posts. Redkiwi has it right. The conventional "wisdom" that's been floated for decades is that combining a tube preamp with a solid state amp gives you "the best of both worlds". IMHO, this may be valid if your musical tastes run heavily into rock or synthesizers and/or your speakers are power-hungry or present a difficult load. For all-around enjoyment of all types of music, rock included, my wife and I are both convinced it takes a tube amp to "deliver the goods". We've certainly had more than enough of both SS and tubed pass through our front door over the past twenty years. The only SS amps that haven't yet worn out their welcome are the Monarchy Delux 100s. These may not be the best SS has to offer, but are quite musical and a very good buy when discounted.
Cowman  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-01-00   Like the above posts, i have had similiar experiences. i hav ...   Lshreve

11-01-00   Solid state vs tube amps? is this a trick question?   Brulee

11-01-00: Tubegroover
Sparky57 is right on! But you CAN NOT tell someone this. It can only be experienced first hand. Some people would disagree and I'm talking experienced listeners. To me it is all too obvious but then again we all hear and listen differently. What is right for one is wrong for another. Then there are the system variables and impedence matters that would all but mandate a solid state amp. There is no absolute answer to your question. My answer to you is DON'T be tempted, and DON'T take a chance. If you are willing to spend the money you will for a Pass amp, I have heard and it is good indeed, for solid state, take the time to compare tubes and solid state. When you are finished comparing, you really won't need to ask anyone because the opinion that matters the most, yours, will hold the answer. My preference is obvious and am in full agreement with all the above.
Tubegroover  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-01-00: Joe_coherent
As offensive as this may sound to many tube lovers out there I find the sound of well designed solid state to be categorically better than virtually any tube amp unless your system is seriously flawed and requires tube coloring to disguise such flaws. In my experience most tube amps break-up when forced to reproduce complex passages of either classical, rock or jazz (i.e. large dynamic peaks, many instruments overimposed, etc.). The only exception are the "over-engineered" megabuck tube amps with which I have little experience but which in any event do not seem to overperform well designed solid state gear. Although tube coloring via excessive mid-bass and rolled highs is in many cases a tempting cure for poor recordings or poorly designed systems I believe there is solid state equipment out there which vastly outperforms these intricate system/tube pairings. If you want names I suggest you look at Plinius, Krell, Levinson, Rowland, as well as some less pricey stuff from such as Marsh, GamuT and Sunfire.Of course the rest of the system needs to be up to par.
Joe_coherent  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-01-00   The only transistor stuff that approaches the musicality of ...   Su2618

11-01-00   Ss is the way to go big time . thats only my thoughts , lis ...   Avoxo

11-02-00   Chedo: what is the rest of your system? it's a hard call b ...   Dekay

11-02-00   Joe welcome back. well in response to your comments i am fro ...   Tubegroover

11-02-00: Joe_coherent
Tubegroover, while I have the utmost respect for ARC products in terms of delivering good sound I frankly prefer the honest straightforward gain provided by the ss amps I listed. I have done sufficient comparisons of tubes vs. ss to conclude that the sweetness in the mids is unnecessary if the source is good, and in addition the compromise is too high when the system is reproducing more demanding passages. For the money, I remain convinced that you can easily match the ARC sound or best it (e.g. the GamuT)without the inherent hassles and practical limitations of tubes. Having said that, if your preference is for small ensemble music or vocals I can understand that a good tube amp will make for a very enjoyable musical experience that could cost many $$$ in top notch ss front end.
Joe_coherent  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-02-00   Hi joe_coherent. your statements do not offend me in the lea ...   Brulee

11-02-00: Tubegroover
Joe it is ironic that I find the opposite to be true so far as dynamics in complex music. The power supply of the amp will dictate whether or not it runs out of gas on busy and dynamic passages of full orchestral music. The VT-100 MK2 provides in the neighborhood of 500+ Joules filter capacitance which would make it hard to imagine that it would ever run out of steam and probably would compare favorably with most 200 watt solid state amps out there. My D-115 Mk2 by comparison has a total of 280 Joules and I NEVER hear congestion or compression during busy passages. But then again my speakers are very efficient and have a very flat frequency response across the band with no serious impedence dips. My MC-60 while not as extended at the frequency extremes as most solid state amps, still deliver the power. Filter capacitance is over 250 Joules each amp, they have been modified. They also never sound congested or compressed and offer better bass slam if not definition than the D-115 Mk2. The tube amps, to my ears, offer a better rendering of the micro macro dynamic swings that are evident in live music. This is another area where they excel. The one area where solid state is generally better is in the area of bass slam which eludes most tube amps of similar power. High frequency extention and smoothness is also quite good in the best designs. That said, I still think the ARC amps are superb in the area of bass definition. It is my understanding, although I havenít heard myself yet, that OTL amps are even better in this area. I hope to find out soon. Once again a matter of taste and preference.
Tubegroover  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-02-00   dekay i have sony es xa7es balanced! krell cav-300, and dyn ...   Chedo2@

11-02-00   I sure hope a tube pre-amp and tubed player make a differenc ...   Kevperro

11-02-00: Joe_coherent
Tubegroover: "The power supply of the amp will dictate whether or not it runs out of gas on busy and dynamic passages of full orchestral music." Are you suggesting that that is the only determinant of an amp's dynamic behavior and ability to reproduce complex passages with accuracy ? In my experience brute force is not the key issue in well designed amps, whether tube or solid state, (although I agree it is an issue) but rather a break-down in tonal accuracy which I find is better dealt with in solid state than in tubes, dollar for dollar.
Joe_coherent  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-02-00: Dekay
Chedo: The only part of your system that I have listened to are the 1.1's and I have only auditioned them twice for a short period of time. They seemed to require a great deal of power/current to open up IMO which limits your choices if you have a large room and or listen at higher volumes. I thought the speakers sounded great by the way but I realized when listening to them that I would not want to spend the money to power them. Considering that you enjoy classical music and how full scale some of it can be I might look into the Monarchy 100 watt monoblocks if I were in your position. I would also set up a demo for the Pass gear and take the speakers if necessary in order to see if they will give you the volume and dynamics that you desire. This is also very dependent on your room size and preferred listening levels. I have never used any push/pull tube gear that I believe is powerful enough to make your speakers "sing" so no suggestions on that end. If you enjoy louder listening levels any amp that strains or restricts dynamics in your environment is a waist of money. I being frugal and practical have SS class A/B in the living room and the tube stuff that I have been looking into will go into a tiny spare room where power is not such a concern. This way we will be able enjoy both worlds (we do enjoy the SS system). The living room system is always on standby and ready to play and I do not have a problem with anyone operating the equipment, even children. The tube setup will be there really just for my wife and myself to enjoy when on the computer or when getting away from it all (and each other) in the spare bedroom.
Dekay  (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-02-00   I agree with most of the above posts. the difference really ...   Dustych

11-02-00   Dustych: i tolerate and enjoy a musical fidelity x-a1. whi ...   Dekay

11-02-00: Tubegroover
Yes Joe I would say if current limiting isn't a factor due to an impedence dip caused by the loudspeaker load (thiels and several panel designs), the power supply limitations would be the primary factor that would cause audible compression in a tube amp. Again matching the amp with the speaker is important. What else would cause a change in tonal character? I have heard this effect more with solid state than tubes. Iím sure a ss amp on the order of a big Krell or Classe would not exhibit these characteristics with virtually any type of load; maybe the Apogee Scintillaís? On the other hand I am aware of no tube amp that can drive a <1 ohm load. The issue isn't brute force so much as having the reserve to provide effortlessness during dynamic, demanding musical passages. It certainly doesn't hurt bass performance either. Even when a tube amp does clip it doesnít exhibit the type of compression that solid state does when it clips, which is most audible. I really am curious as to what tube amps you have listened to in your system? And if you still have the Silverline Sonata speakers with their 93db efficiency rating I can't imagine you hearing what you are describing concerning a tube amp, even an 20-30 watt SET if not the flea flicker 3-7 watters.
Tubegroover  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-02-00   This is the typical give and take exchange from the two camp ...   Waldhorner@

11-02-00   Waldhorner i say to you, well stated. however in matters of ...   Tubegroover

11-02-00: Joe_coherent
My experience with tubes has been more limited than my experience with ss, because I prefer the latter. Just to restate, at equivalent price points, I have ALWAYS found ss to be more satisfactory. Granted, a $30K Atmasphere does not break-up when reproducing complex passages, almost regardless of what it's driving, but neither does my $2K Marsh, for the most part. I fond that most $2K tube amps I have auditioned do break-up in such cases. Second issue, tonal accuracy. Yes, I do not like the sound of most tube amps when they reproduce complex passages compared to similar price-point solid state. I do not think it is a question of power in reserve alone. But there I plead ignorance to any technical explanation and perhaps my ears are indeed deceiving me. In any event I appreciate all your patience and well though arguments. Maybe one day I'll change my mind.
Joe_coherent  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-03-00   Tubegroover; thanks for your feedback. regarding tube am ...   Waldhorner@

11-03-00   Waldhorner leave it to mcintosh to design an amp that will ...   Tubegroover

11-03-00   Dekay: the a3cr is mf's top of the line amp. it feels like ...   Dustych

11-03-00: Snook2
For the last 10 years I was a diehard tubeman. Having Cary, ARC,and Wolcott. I just tried a SS Aloia amp and got the best control and sound. It made me a believer in solid-state. Pass amps are very good but I think you will be surprised if listen to an Aloia amp. Must have the INDUCTIVE power supply
Snook2  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-03-00: Mg123
I'm not a tube expert, but have tried several, including the VT100 mkII and McIntosh mono blocks. I have also tried many SS amps, including Levinson and Krell. My current favorite is the Pass Labs Aleph 4 (pure class A). For some music some tube amps sound better, but overall for any music, I found the class A Pass amp to produce the most natural sound from very low smooth clean bass to beautiful highs.
Mg123  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-05-00: Sparky57
The only bit I would like to add to this lively debate is to relate a small story. I will never forget first hearing my reviewer friend's system circa 1980. It consisted of Infinity IRS, ARC SP-10, Conrad Johnson Premier One, Goldmund Reference, and Koetsu whatever. It was the first time I had heard a high end tube amplifier. Despite Mr Coherent's assertion, good tube amps do not compress dynamics or lose control in the face of complex passages. If anything, their clipping characteristics are far more forgiving than SS units. That system possessed the most incredible ease and clarity. Large scale works like Orff's Carmina Burana would knock you down with dynamics. Many years later, hundreds of amps have gone through his system, but he still prefers the naturalness of the best tube amplifiers. Either the big ARC Reference units or one of the Jadis amps. Unlike Harley enthusiasts, I do not prefer them out of some nostalgic interest in the past. I really find SS units more practical. You leave them on all the time and don't have to worry about warm up delays, re-tubing, and heat generation. Listen carefully in your own system and make the judgement. Audio Research, Conrad-Johson, Atmasphere, Cary, Jadis, VTL, Lamm, and many others do not exist to satisfy a lunatic fringe audience.
Sparky57  (Answers | This Thread)

11-05-00   Amen sparky57   Brulee

11-20-00: 7p62mm
I like my SF Line 3 preamp. However; the generally higher intial and maintenance costs of tube amplifiers caused me to decide to go with a solid state amplifier. One of the new pass amps may be the way to go if one can afford it.
7p62mm  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

11-21-00   Owned both solid state and tubes. to me, it is easy. tubes!   Steelhead

11-22-00   Rowland amps with esl's! dynamics with speed & grace!   Jerie

12-11-00: Hikejohn
To see what the top SS amps can do....try the newer spectral gear, easily surpasses AR, Krell, Edge, far as accurate reproduction of input material into excellent speakers. john
Hikejohn  (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

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