2 vs 8 tubes in preamp, sound difference?

More tubes the better??  


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.

While we often crave one dimensional solutions to simplify our lives, it's not possible to land at any conclusion on SQ based on the number of tubes in a preamp.  It's all about the implementation.

It’s all in the implementation like 3 said. All of my components have 8 or more. I attribute the sound to the Audio Research design.

Just for a different perspective...designs that are using 8 preamp tubes most likely are the more expensive preamps but no idea if that relates directly to sound quality. There are some good tube preamps with just two tubes. 

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...

But they also use MOSFET output buffers and solid state voltage regulation. Anyway, unless it has a phono stage, a preamp is a fairly simple device.

All about the design and implementation - Tube regulation tube rectification, etc.

My ARC SP9 mkll has two tubes in it. One for the preamp and one for the phono section. It was my daily driver until recently, but now maybe once a week.

All the best.


You only need enough. Having more tubes is no better than having more woofers.....in the right configuration and application, it could have some benefit.... but could also just be more, and maybe too many..

Absolutely not! The fewer the tubes the better. The finest sounding amps are SET with one output tube per side. That goes double or preamps. 

sure -- exactly 4 times better!!! go for it!!!

just like salt on food

ibuprofen for pain

ambien for sleep

more more more... yep, that is the answer...


@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.

Seems 2 tubes is very close to ss.  What is a hybrid preamp?

have heard a higher priced ss is just as good as tubes and handles higher and lower end freq better than tubes

While everybody in this thread has made great points, @jjss49 clearly wins. ROFLMAO! Thank you. Cheers,


Good pts, yet much confusion herein.

line stage preamps are needed and simple, so why are they soooo overpriced? $20k, 30k, etc. just crazy.

what makes very nice amps so damn expensive?



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.

No havent heard a 20k pre. Disabled so cant leave home so i buyon faith. Need to upgrade my schiit freya which sounds good. Great functionality.


recommend a 20k tube pre?

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.

Post removed 

So hoping to improve sonic bliss with a better pre vs schiit freya. 
if schiit is so good why are others sooooo expensive. 

Just a thought, have you perused your other preamp threads to see if your last question was already answered?

Maybe this one in particular?  Similiar theme


Why would more of any component be presumed to sound better?

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...



Thank you. Yes, I know… I just like to think that one person can make a difference. Thank you for your kind words,.. it feels good.

So, tell me, how does one learn soo much about audiophiledom.  Seems its such a wide assortment of people so consumed with this hobby.  And so many r sooo challenged to understand it.  Some really mean spirited tirades and some very helping souls.

and then people move on. A cruel cruel world.

….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


So, tell me, how does one learn soo much about audiophiledom.

Putting together and upgrading many systems really helps. As does visiting very high-end dealers with great sound.

Like acting, gardening, and cooking, you either have it in your soul or you don't. 

So, tell me, how does one learn soo much about audiophiledom. 

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.