Depends what the tubes are doing. Parallel triodes, SRPP or cascode configuration, or voltage regulation or constant current sources. It's likely more will sound better but not definite.
You have to take the ceteris paribus approach. Would the same basic design be improved by adding more tubes? It depends on how the design is implemented. Say you have a two tube preamp and it sounds good. Then you add another two tube voltage regulator which tightens up the bass and soundstage. Now double it for stereo and separation improves. Now replace the anode resistor with a tube constant current source to improve the fine details. Replace the diodes for a tube rectifier may add better dimensionality etc...
@emergingsoul Did the OP simply mean # of tubes or # of active elements? Just because an ARC SP9 has 2 tubes does not mean that it does not have any other active components. Then the argument is tubes vs solid state and not the number of tubes.
OP. Have you heard a $20K tubed preamp? I have owned and auditioned dozens of preamps over the last fifty years. They matter, and over time (as the art has developed) and with greater expense they sound much better. Right now I own a Audio Research Reference 6SE ($18K)… after many years owning a ARC 5SE… and it is clearly superior to those before it. At some point I may upgrade to the Reference 10… a two box preamp.
‘’What makes them so expensive? Designing a high end preamp requires a top engineer… but also testing/ knowing the sonic effect of each individual component, how to design circuit boards such that every component and connection avoids interference of everything around it. There are constantly new components on the market… a lot of high end companies end up designing and manufacturing sub components themselves so they have complete control over the end product.
I have had the good fortune to have worked in the high tech electronics industry for forty years. It is truly amazing the value we get for out money. The first high end amp I bought cost $5 in 1979… that is over $18K in todays dollars… my current amp cost $22K…. It is leagues better than that amp from 1979… amps are even an “easier” thing to design.
OP… I am really sorry to hear this. One of the most inspirational things I did over the years was to visit high end audio stores and listen to their best system. It helps give you a sense of what is possible. My partner is disabled and can’t often leave the house. I am lucky to have been able to build her an incredible home theater… which is her thing.
Schiit is really good sounding stuff. I have a few pieces myself.
Its possible for anything to be too simple to do its job. For example, if there is only a single tube in a line section, you might have a fairly high output impedance, which will be exacerbated by the output coupling capacitor (even higher output impedance at bass frequencies). This can have a big effect on your results in particular if you want to drive a particular solid state power amp or if you need to drive a longer interconnect cable.
OP…. “schiit is so good why are others sooooo expensive.”
Like in all things, there are budget brands that get it right and perform above the average. How do they do it… smart design, managing component cost, probably minimum marketing budget.
Why are others so expensive? Well first and foremost they sound a lot better… to do that it requires top quality components, design, reliability and you get better fit and finish, resale value etc. . High end audio is so addictive because “diminishing returns” doesn’t work in the same way as in many things. A really great system is like an instrument… the more sensitive one of the pieces, the better system sounds… the more sensitive it is to a smaller improvement, the perceived performance is much higher.
you are a real gent, gently giving careful, proper explanations to the op
i personally am out of the patience with this particular one... if you look back at the history of posts, it is a cavalcade of the inane...
….well there are five or six reasons why Schitt is so GOOD for the ( your ) $. These are all things you can….read about from home… see the BOOK Schitt Happened by the founders Jason and Mike. I will summarize:
Good ears and extensive prior high end audio experience
Solid cost effective designs w reasonable sheet metal cabinets, no billet
Circuit boards, point to point isn’t always better
SMD where it makes sense, surface mount devices enable some great pricing on precision discrete parts, automated pick n place and wave solder.
Volume, Volume, Volume
Direct sales model
OP. “How does one learn so much?”…
First of course you have to be really drawn to music. Assuming that… then you have to be drawn to really complex problems. Over my lifetime I realized… I am ok at book learning… but I really like and am really good at multidimensional problems… I really like sideways thinking… considering many different aspects of a problem at the same time. So, you must navigate marketing BS, technical specs that do not reflect actual sound quality, figuring out what aspects of sound you like, technically grasping really fuzzy aspects of sound, assessing sound… research… etc. I am sure you could pursue high end audio for a couple of lifetimes. So, it holds the interest in some people over fifty years… like me. It is constantly rewarding.
Not surprising, one of my real joys of my career has been leading organizations to chose and implement global software. Same deal, highly ambiguous multidisciplinary problems. It also allowed me to afford increasingly high quality audio equipment.