A tubes vs. Solid State question.

I have followed several of the threads regarding the tubes vs Solid State debate and I am puzzled by the dogmatism of this issue. I have several friends here on AudiogoN who are avid tube lovers so my question is obviously an attack on this stand, but do tube lovers think people with solid state equipment are deaf or is it that they have never heard tubes.
I have owned tube equipment and was fairly content with it but I have since changed to all SS gear. I am much happier with my system now that I have ever been before. Dare I say it? Yes I like SS amps, pre-amps, and phono stages! Does that damage my credibility or was it already gone? Maybe I'm wrong but I get the impression tube people think if we SS people ever heard tubes we would trash all of our gear and run to the nearest glowing orange light to buy all new equipment. Am I off the mark?
Naw,heck no.If one were that much better than the other,we would all have "that"--the other would be "dead".Remember,most of us are guys;you know how guys are--mine is better,bigger,best---.Girls already know this about us.

I remember just a few years ago HT talk was shunned here.--Just another example of preconceived notions. Sure keeps thing lively here though.
I don't know. Have you tried smashing up your stuff to see what it would sound like?
Just kidding, man. I am definitely with you. I like the way solid state sounds very much.
There are some who say that it shouldn't sound like anything, but obviously, they are different.
I have always prefered solid state to tubes in my stereo equipment. But lately, I have been seeking to make it tube, because mostly I haven't done it yet. For me, in order to really check it out, I have to actually get it.
I already have a tube pre, but I modified it to have the option of being passive, and have been listening to that mostly.
I think a lot of the hoopla is that there are a lot of people out there that would definitely prefer tube, but they haven't tried it, because despite all the talk of tubes, most are solid-state.
But I dig the way good solid state sounds. The tube guys tend to give them a bad rap, but for true harmonic integrity, dynamics, and neutrality, and of coarse, textural complexity, solid state is where to find the best of it.
Besides, I wonder if most tube guys listen to mostly cd's or vinyl?
Nrchy, Basement

What solid state pre are you using?
Nate, since I am probably one of the biggest offenders in that department, I should respond.

While I promote good tube sound, I do not "hate" SS products. I used SS amps and preamps and phono stages for most of my life. I enjoyed them. I am sure that I could enjoy listening to a good SS amp even today.

However, I have found that certain really good tube products(not all) can provide an insight into the music, that I have not experienced with any SS amp. I have not heard every SS amp in the world, and cannot say with certainty that there is no SS amp that may be as good as tubes in that regard.

Tube gear has its own set of problems, just like SS does, except they manifest themselves in different sonic characteristics. I have found that the primary problems with tube amps revolves around the problems with the output transformers, and also the multiplicity of tubes in Push-Pull and traditional OTL designs. Very good tube designs can reduce these problems to such a minimum, that they hardly appear to be a problem at all. As many here know, I like the Berning ZOTL design. First, the output transformer is eliminated, and no mutiplicity of tubes is required for impedance matching. And it allows SET design in an OTL configuration which was previously impossible with typical speaker loads. This is very nice, but does it sound good? Yes. In some cases, good innovative design pays off in sound quality. So this type of design is one or the main reasons that I like the tube products, because it offers the best that tubes can offer, with little of the down-sides. Not a spec issue, but a design issue, that addresses the fundamental needs to improve tube sound.

As others have said on this board, it is common for people to ask what SS amp has tube qualities. They are looking for tube qualities, but usually are afraid of reliability issues, so they want that sound in a SS product.

I have also heard that tube people want the bass control and slam of a SS amp. And also in some cases they want the upper-end extension of SS amps. So they ask which tube amp has those typically SS qualities.

Others try to get the best of both by mixing SS and tube in hybrid designs or tube preamp and SS amp.

These examples show that there are percieved problems with both types of gear, tube and SS.

My OPINION is that, at this time, the Berning designs give the best combination of these characteristics, and that is why I am in the tube camp. I am not trying to get "even order distortion" into my system. I am not trying to "euphonize" my system. I am trying to get the best sound possible, in a cutting-edge way, by using the products which best mitigate the obvious shortcomings in traditional SS and tube designs. It is also my OPINION that the best tube designs, like the Berning, do this better than any of the SS designs THAT I HAVE HEARD.

I have no animosity toward anyone who uses SS products to make a real improvement in their system, and prefers that sound quality over tubes. I do have a real problem with those who claim that paper specifications dictate the real world performance of these products, and attempt to use that as "proof" that one design is better than another. The measurement instrument that is paramount in an audio system is the ear. No other measurement instrument can take the place of the ear. Ultimately, regardless of the specifications of a product, the sonic result is the determining factor. Specs are merely a weak attempt to quantify this result, and fail miserably at it. In fact, if anything, the marketing use of specs has led to poorer sounding equipment, due to the maximizing of specs, at the expense of sound quality.

While I may sound dogmatic and sometimes hostile, it is not any hostility that I feel toward others, but a frustration that much of what I speak of here should be common knowledge, and it appears it is not. I have fought many of these battles in the 70s and 80s, and thought that by now they would be widely known. Maybe some were not around then, and did not get the info that was determined at that time. This is not something that has changed or improved over the years. An amp that has good specs and sounds good is better than an amp that has good specs and doesn't sound good. What's the difference? The sound, not the specs.

In summation, if a SS amp came out that smoked my Berning, and I could possibly afford it. I would buy it tomorrow. I do not let dogma interfere with my sound quality in my audio system.
PEACE, folks!
Avguygeorge named the habit "my is the best, the biggest" and so forth. That's crap.
I was happy with SS gear for years and years until I came across that McIntosh tube amp. Well, I was lost the moment I auditioned it for just a couple of bars of music and of course I bought the amp. Ever since I find VERY satisfying SS stuff once in a while but I lost my ear on tubes and my heart knows why. Only thing I'm saying is: give tubes a try - maybe you never want something else.
Good luck!
you know what you like so other people's opinions should not matter.
SS - Tubes. It doesn't make any difference. The debate is over. All you need is this and a brush. Measurements don't matter either. Just paint over the numbers and be done with them.

I remain,
Tube-O-Lator. WOW! the ultimate tweak! clueless, after you've used up your first bottle please write up a testimonial for us. or a pan, whatever. FWIW if you can't hear a difference with tubes or value the difference you hear then stay with ss, its easier to use and it can actually sound quite good. in fact many speakers sound best with ss. i just find it ironic that no tube product manufacturer advertises that its product sounds like solid state. Hum, wonder why.
Tubes are simply superior to solid state; boy that should get them going.

I from tubes (CJ Premier 11a) to ss (MF2500) and felt I lost some inner detail but gained some bass. However, my tube amp was only 70 wpc and my ss is 250 which may explain the increase in bass. The amp is driving Thiel 3.6's thru a Conrad Johnson Premier 16ls II pre-amp.
Hey I forgot the best of it. As the ad says it "transforms cold and harsh sound into warm emotional sound."
If you put Tube-O-Lator directly on your ears even your spouse sounds like he/she is "on tubes." Warmer with a slight "blush" in the mid-range. I highly recommend it.

I remain,
Tom, I have always enjoyed it when you weighed in on any given subject because I usually learn something form your comments. I certainly did not have you in mind when I asked the question.
I know several people here for whom I have nothing but respect who are in the tube camp. I do not mind people having reasoned opinions regardless of the conclusion. I may be wrong about some of my opinions, and I have no problem with people absolutely loving tube equipment. I am certainly not suggesting I will never own another tube pre-amp, or that I will never audition a tube amp.
Maybe I never should have started this thread, but it was the few who act like SS people are tin-eared or have never heard tubes so they do not realize how much better tubes sound that caused me to do it.
Judit, I am using a Krell KRC-2 right now. This is my second Krell pre-amp and I really love the sound of it.
Anne, I agree with you and have no intention of running out and buying something because it glows in the dark. It is more the mindset I am asking about. I'm not sure if this is an inapropriate question but are you really a female audiophile??? That is a rare discovery!
Clueless, you have all together too much time on your hands, but you always make me laugh. There should be some kind of reward for that!
For the most part I ask questions like this to dialog with intelligent people about issues which concern me. Thanks for your responses.
Great thread! I suppose it's simply a matter of taste and what one finds to be appealing characteristics of sound. The "organic" feel/sound of tube components can be quite inviting as can some of the better designed SS components. Oh the beauty of expression, how grand it is!

peter jasz
Nrchy - I think that people just like to categorize and rank things it's not easy to. What are the three best Beatles songs? Who's better, the Who or Zeppelin? What was the best movie from Jan 2001 to Jan 2002? It's all good, I say, just different music for different moods and you can in a sense have it all.

I guess one difference with picking amps is that practically most people have to settle on putting their money into one for their stereo - so you ultimately do have to make a ranking, although maybe people take too big a step into "definitive ranking" territory.

There are aspects of SS that I prefer over tubes and vice versa. Certain things about tubes make the music sound more "right" to me, but other people's ears pick up on other cues and factors that make for "right" to them.

I think that SS or tube nazis tend to overlook that someone else may value the benefits of, or not be able to overlook the disadvantages of, one over the other in a way that's different from their way of listening. Think about Lord of the Rings fanatics who thought that it should sweep every award at last year's Oscars - I see why *you* like it, but that don't mean it's the best movie ever, period.
Nrchy, I am "the few who act like SS people are tin-eared or have never heard tubes so they do not realize how much better tube sound" the guy. SS are suck! LOL. Oops, ladies' around? Welcome to A'Gon Anne, can I get you some thing to drink? ;-)
Judit; I just threaded into the quicksilver ls review-It explains my current pre situation.
Besides budget pre's, I haven't really checked out pre's too much. I have never really been a fan of pre's because to me it always seemed like a lot of money to spend on something that is only going to degrade the sound. (I can buy a volume and put it anywhere I want, you know.) I am currently a man without a real power amp, and no dough, so I gotta use what's around the house (a luxman). I got the pre when I tried out some pse studio V's, and found that the input was such that they seemed to need a pre, so I borrowed the quicksilver, and it found a home and the pse's went back.
I remain ready for my christmas check, and enough versatility to try any power amp I might run into to drive a pair of vandy 2ci's, with any length of ic, passive or active. Then, I will decide on whether or not I evan want a pre, or if ss or tube.
Thing is, when it comes to cheaper equipment, I can't stand the distortions caused by tubes, where I can live with the distortions caused by ss. Dynaco's, old marantz, and sorry guys, McIntosh, don't cut it for me. (notice i DID capitalize Mac.) I much prefer older rotel, I'm living comfortably with the luxman, parasound, and the like. But note that these are in the bargain catagory, with of coarse less perfection. Most of the systems that I have heard that stand out in my memory have been tube, so I'm going to aim higher and give it a try.
I have lots of experience with tubes in my guitar amps, being of audiophile sickness, so I am pretty familiar with different tones and distortions associated with tubes. SS in that realm I don't like, and I'm not just being a typical "hip" guitar player. I find ss fatiguing, evan hybrids, and those that I would consider good sounding. In the stereo world, less fatiguing seems to be a buzz phrase for tubes, so perhaps I will discover something to that.
Nrchy, it is fairly easy to make tubes sound good and costs like Hell in time, effort and expense to make solid state perform worth a darned.....Other than the transconductance amplifier Audible Illusions came up with over a decade ago there is really not much new in tube or linear solid state design....I find it a challenge to build something that sounds like and measures spectrally like a triode using a solid state design.....
cheers guys...i am female audiophile! yep, there are not too many of us around here. i have an ARC preamp with Pathos power amps...best of both SS and tube world, i feel.
Takes a bold person to put lacquer on components in
a SS device that costs many $K.
I still haven't gone back to tubes, but the Klyne pre-amp which replaced the Krell a couple of years ago has more of a tube sound than SS. Does that count for anything?
Tubes I liked, because they are more forgiving, less synergy problems overall, and always a nice touch to any system. And they are the most Tweakable so this gives options to the user, in regards to tube rolling, normally easy to change out capacitors, and power conditioning etc..., they are just a tad more sensitive to change and can reward or tell you no this is not working faster than solid state. However I have gone the way of the darkside and found for my end need that Solid state is superior all around. This would probably not be true 10 years ago, with the inferior digital and other solid state equipment, but with the much, MUCH better Engineered Recordings Today from about the year 2000' on up and Gear that has Closed that gap between the Tube and solid state with making some very musical and emotional pieces its very tuff. It will take some matching still with SS' no doubt so not every combination is perfect, but you got to many choices to get there, basically I guess the still safe bet in the middle of the road is to get a Tube pre-amp in between and you find some of the magic if it is still needed. But as for tube amps, to much money to run and too many power tubes to get the kinds of power I need to have that bottom end and super smooth scale I like to hear.
The subject of this thread can be modified a bit into: solid state and single ended, low powered tube amplification. Some audiophiles, including very venerable ones from Japan (Sakuma, Kondo, Shindo) are preaching that the way of listening to music is through single ended amplification and high efficiency transducers (horns or single full range driver designs). This is also the most simple set up with the less number of passive and active components. To these people reproduced music should sound alive and engaging and devoid of "electro-mechanic" sound. It is also notable that one of the most musical sounding solid state amps, the 47-Labs Gain card is based on this minimalistic philosophy. This amp can be considered to be a solid state substitute for a tube amp.
Dazzdax, I agree, I always found the higher quality powered solid state with high efficiency speakers the superior way to go.
Maybe one aspect of tube gear that I hadn't considered is the possibility of tube rolling. It seems that the sound can be tailored to the coloration the listener prefers. I guess even tube lovers cannot agree on tubes!?!

FWIW I have had an integrated tube amp for about six months now. I must not be a real tube guy since I only replaced my 6550s with Electro Harmonix KT 88s and then left the setup alone. : )
It is funny that there such extremes of opinions. My first high end system and several systems after that were all solid state. I appreciate the characteristics of both SS and tubes as there are benefits and strengths of each. I presently own a tube integrated and love it however, if I heard something solid state that blew me away, I would purchase it.. Glad you are enjoying your system more as that is what it is all about to me.. The music.

As usual, Nrchy, most posters on this and similar sites, overstate their preferences such as loving tubes, and 'hating' solid state, condemning those who disagree with them--so your reluctance to be completely forthcoming with this 'admission' is understandable.
It seems that the dislike for solid state gear goes back to a time when most circuits were 'hard or harsh' sounding by comparison. Actually, solid state simply has harmonic distortions which are more objectionable to the human psyche than tube distortions, which when analyzed, have actually a 'pleasant'(comparatively) sound. There are even devices in recording studios which emulate, or reproduce tube-like distortons, which some performers have become 'hooked on'. Aphex Aural Exciter I think is the name, but that could be wrong it's been a long time since I heard that name--someone out there probably remembers this. For many years Barbara Streisand was known as an 'aphex junkie' because of her desire to have her voice, over processed with this sound.
I personally like tubes-yet find that a combination of both is almost ideal for my taste; for example during my years in the retail business, I would mate a good solid state amp with a really good tube preamp. That combination was almost always preferable to 'my ears' as being better.
Here we are now with some hybrid integrated amps doing well, so perhaps there's something to this combination. Or in the instance of truly great products like the Rowland or the Gryphon, in which the circuits crafted carefully, that 'harshness' is virtually non existant.
I hope this helps you to get a glimpse into the thinking of some of those who state such strong and emperical preferences.
You have a great rig and nice ride....this hobby is very subjective as to what floats your boat...and you know that...glad you have something that satisfies you.
Simply put, you've got to go with whatever it is that makes you happy, until self-doubt returns, at which point you begin the search anew. SS can sound fine, as can tubes, and sound can be different but not necessarily better. 40 years of SS and now one year with tubes ... I really like what I'm hearing, as I find it to be a more comfortable fit ... for me. I prefer to integrate music into the environment rather than struggle to redefine the environment in substantial ways. A simple system set up for ease and enjoyment, and I'm very pleased. I spent a lot fewer dollars getting here, too.
Alright- the reason I prefer tubes is that they lack coloration- and by that I mean they lack odd-odered harmonics that are signature of every transistorized amplifier I have heard.

I don't like the fact that tubes are less reliable, generate more heat and I agree that there are many tube amps and preamps out there that have too much in the way of coloration, which is why I started making my own.

But for the extra hassle, there is also extra performance, and if properly realized, it is State of the Art. Transistors fall well short of the mark in every department that matters once compared to a State of the Art tube amplifier.

The caveat that one must always issue is that tube amplifiers and transistor amplifiers behave fundimentally different in a number of ways, in particular in how they relate to the speaker. IOW, you had better take some care with the choice of speaker to demonstrate the extra performance that tubes offer. If this care is not taken its apples to oranges!

One other thing that seems to come up in these debates is taste in listeners. For example, I like an easy going presentation that I can listen to 24 hours a day without fatigue. I want the last detail in stage width and depth, and complete delineation of tone colors and timbre. The presentation must complete bandwidth too and I am not satisfied if the bass falls short. I can't stand hardness in the highs!

Others may have an issue with the heat (to get what I want I use triodes operating class A) and I can't fault them for that. Once you stray away from class A, it is no longer capable of state of the art, so when you are comparing tubes to transistors, you have to keep in mind that you are dealing with a *ton* of variables that may not allow the truely objective listener to make a proper comparison!
Atmasphere "the reason I prefer tubes is that they lack coloration- and by that I mean they lack odd-odered harmonics" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What about the even order harmonics that tube amps have!! Some with a massive second harmonic, giving the extra fat of tube sound. That's not coloration?
If the amplifier is push-pull, then such harmonics can be cancelled in the output. This is how transistors do it too. Single-ended triode amplifiers thus have much more even-ordered harmonic coloration, which is the source of their (IMO) overly-rich (fat) sound.

It has been shown that humans object more strenuously to odd-orders than they do even-orders- this has to do with the way the human ear has evolved over millions of years and I for one have decided that it is not worth it to fight this reality :)

So if a tube amplifier is properly built its even-ordered harmonic generation can be quite low (and how low depends on feedback or other design characteristics, which is how transistor amps get their low distortion numbers too, BTW). It is a simple fact that tube amplifiers make less distortion (open loop) than transistors to begin with and so need less or even zero feedback. This means that a tube amplifier can be built in such a way that it lacks coloration wheras this is nearly impossible with the current state of the art in transistors.

Unfortunately there are many tube amplifier products that are actually designed to produce even-ordered harmonic colorations, but again IMO these amplifiers have more in common with musical instruments than they do with musical reproducers.

Just because I prefer tubes does not mean that I am not aware of their weaknesses :)
LOL, tube gear does a few things very well, ask any musician whom requires distortion, or, an on the stage heat sorce for what ever reason a roadie determines.

Seriously, I have had VTL, and CJ and I was only impressed with two areas, one being the "cool' factor, and the other being with concern to the female voice. Problem is, SS does all the above equally as well, and often times better, with NO maintence, and a considerably less expensive buget (considering WPC). Now if with were to compare the best of the best I believe SS would win this contest w/o any problems what so ever. After all the Holocrons and Krells prove SS is truely king.
Well, I think that one should go with gusto after the sound that pleases them the most. I must say that I'm of the "Use a Transistor, Go to Jail" dogma (Thank you, Upscale Audio!"). I've never heard an SACD player that can outperform a good vinyl rig, and I've never heard a solid state amp that can outperform tubes. But, hey, that's just me. I love that particular sound. It makes me all warm inside. Also, I have to say that I haven't heard the absolute best of the solid state gear (I've heard the best SACD players; they don't match up to vinyl. I don't care what anyone else says). But, I know that some companies, and I wouldn't count Krell among them, are excelling in solid state performance. Theta, Halcro, Jeff Rowland, etc... I would like to hear their products in my home (but then I'd have to GO TO JAIL!!!).

Cheers, and enjoy the music, for cry-eye...

It surprises me that at this late date, this debate can still go on.

I remember in an analog/digital debate years ago someone mentioning warped records as a reason to throw out all analog forever. It was a sideline comment- obviously just because a few records are warped does not mean that all of them are. We face a similar issue in this debate as well.

IOW this begs the question: 'Have you heard the very best tube amplifier compared to the very best transistor amplifier?"

Once we get to this point all bets are off. The correct answer to the above question for everyone here is: 'No.'

First, one would have to determine what is the best tube amplifier and also the best transistor amplifier in order to effect the comparison to begin with. That will take a few years at the rate we are going. I know our amplifiers are the best available at any price, and having heard the best transistor amps (mentioned in this thread at least) its obvious that they have a ways to go before that can beat what we make.

Of course I am sure that there are those who disagree! But they've not heard our latest efforts either...

I think you will find that any designer worth his salt is convinced that their way is the best. Most designers I know are *extremely* dedicated and do this out of passion and the desire to make the best, rather than money, and that is how it should be.

When the product gets marketed, the ad says its the best, as will the dealer- they can't all be best! This has been going on for 40 years... So the only real way to know what is the best is to take it home and play it. Obviously it might work for you, but the simple fact of the matter is no-one has the resources to actually find out which the best is- and this is essential if we are to determine which is better- tube or transistor.

In the meantime this. Is. All. Opinion :)
Absolutely. Atmasphere said it right. I won't use a transistor, but that doesn't make my way right. It just makes me happy.
I just hope everyone out there can find the gear that gives them goosebumps and makes them forget about the gear and just drown in the music.

Mr Atmasphere, I agree with most of what you said, but even that is meaningless since I will never know as much about amplifier design as you.

When I posted this thread it was in response to comments made by a few people who seemed to think that anyone who did not own tube gear were either deaf or stupid. Some seem to think that the difference is so immense that anyone who hears tubes will never go back to SS. I don't even know what odd order and even order harmonics are, but I have heard a number of SS amps that I liked very much.

This is not an attack on AtmaSphere since they are one of the few companies whose gear I am currently interested in buying. Unfortunately my amplifier is not a weak link, so it will be a while before I look seriously at amps.

I have heard SS gear that sounds good and tube gear that did not sound good. Good sound is not mutually exclusive to either design.

But I can't help but wonder why the human ear would evolve a dislike for odd ordered harmonics? And why would all of them have followed the same evolutionary course?

Since there is no best tube amplifier and best transistor amplifier, they can no more be compared than evolution can face scientific scrutiny.
Hi Nrchy, even ordered harmonics are harmonics where the fundamental frequency has been multiplied by an even number, 2,4 and the like. 'Times 2' yields the '2nd harmonic' and so on.

Odd orders are fundamentals multiplied by odd numbers, 3,5 and so on.

This is probably more than you expected to hear from me about this :) but:

There is something extremely interesting about harmonic distortion, that no person can escape: the ear/brain system evolved to use odd-ordered harmonics as a loudness cue, as it is a very efficient means to analyze loudness without having to use all the cognitive facilities.

If you think about it, before (and after, FWIW) the beginning of civilization, quite often loud sounds were associated with extreme danger, thus the detection of how *loud* these sounds are is quite important and might need to be acted on immediately (as in 'fight or flight' behaviour). IOW the response to odd ordered harmonics can connect directly to the amygdala, the so-called 'reptilian' or 'lower' brain.

If you ever wondered how music and its reproduction can invoke an emotional response you need look no further!

What we can conclude from this is that odd-ordered harmonics at the very least induce stress, and indeed, tests GE performed in the 1960s showed that humans are quite intolerent of vanishingly small amounts of odd-ordered harmonic content.

So in simple terms tube amplifiers in good condition will be less stressful to listen to, as in general, they produce less odd-ordered distortion. Because the cerebral cortex can overcome messages from the lower brain, it is possible to still enjoy a transistor amplifier, but it will always been seen that a properly operating tube amplifier will be less stressful.

Reduction of this type of distortion was thus a paramount design goal with the Atma-Sphere lineup, as I was interested in getting the equipment to conform as closely as possible to the rules used by the ear/brain system. You might say this is a more 'organic' approach, and some designers feel that it is better to conform to the rules of linearity instead. I feel that in doing so this allows for small amounts of odd ordered harmonic continue to be ignored.

We are a long way from using all the ear/brain rules in audio reproduction. Just for example, we use linear recording and playback systems, yet the ear/brain system is logarithmic. It will be a while before anyone attempts that!
The explanation about odd-harmonics being perceived as bad by humans is probably a lot simpler than Atmasphere's explanation. In the beginning, before electronics, the only harmonics that anything (except bagpipes, of course)could produce were even harmonics of its root vibration because that is the nature of vibrating bodies and sound and the nature of human hearing.
Old mechanical alarm clocks had to sound much more loudly than present electronic alarm clocks, because the old clocks produced a base tone with even harmonics due to its inherent vibrating nature, therefore the sound being more pleasing, while electronic alarm clocks produce (purposely) a base tone with odd harmonics (or dissonant chords), therefore the sound being more annoying, thus not needing to be as loud.
Salut, Bob P.
Well, with the above science being used in this topic I will say this, as science goes its all theory until something else comes along, nothing is set in stone. But, from the above explanation, conditioning is the culprit, not true physical characters, that is to say- mental conditioning has caused this, not human DNA. I believe we as humans have evolved beyond this "flee or fight" factor.

Vinyl, as vinyl goes, brings with it many problems that the digital world needs not contend with. Possibly I am biased because I have only owned 1 or 2 decent TT's in my life and the rumble and hum at high output levels created a severe dis-like for such sources and their inherent problems.

Another words, for me digital is far simpler, and when done correctly, very close to the truth, as close as any analog source I have ever listened to. However, NO matter the source, there is an inherent loss regarding ANY recorded sound. There fore, one can only be better than the other in accordance to the listener’s preference- nothing more, thus making this conversation mute.

But for me, music is meant to be an enjoyable experience, one that is simple by its very nature, and one that can be reproduced at REAL levels w/o inherent problems and conditions that require extravagant means to reproduce such music.
When driven too hard tube amps do not clip much to the ear, but are out of steam, well done solid state which in my opinion will always use Bi-polar or Jfet type transistors can do this just about as well, and still have Slam factor to wake the dead keeping characteristics of non-fatiging music and highs, of course backed by digital or analog capable of this in the first place. Mosfet has never seemed to work for this in my experiance so I stay away, whoever said that mosfet is more tubelike is wrong in my opinion, however Mosfet used in a Hybrid amplifier design with the inputs rounded off by tubes in the first place can work well. So for me Hybrid systems are the best, Via Tube Preamp, with excellent solid state amps, or using a hybrid Amp or Intergrated could have similar results. Tube amps in the end for me are too much hassel, too costly, to much to re-tube, and too much heat for things that in fact can be very closley matched with tube solid state combo's that will get you 99% of the way there with reliability on top of that.
Matrix, do you think that Mosfets are compromising Pass designs?
I have had a couple thresholds, Not all are as bad, but honestly I think the Thresholds I had were Bi-polar or Fet, or IGBT type anyway, no mosfet... the newer ones I am not sure, I did have a CODA which is also by developers of original thresholds it was excellent, Coda to this day uses a FET input with bipolar out, and yes I think they are for the world of expense in the mark levinson, pass labs the better of them. but have not heard all of it, I have heard some Krell which I don't know what they use and really don't want to know to be honest, they never impressed me for the money especially.

Now that being said, call boulder, Dartzeel and the likes of these guys, they are in fact some of the highest praised and closest sounding to tube and pure musical solid state devices on the planet, guess what all exclusivly use Bi-polar devices, they state way better sound, smoother responce, and much higher reliability than any mosfet can provide. I have always heard the difference and reality is many of the newer mosfets of Rotel, or whoever are normally in cheaper amps, and another fact that most hiend manufactures will verify if you call them is many have even moved away from mosfet based designs and gone to bi-polar the older and more musical stable technology, what does it mean, Nothing accept what your ear hears, back to the pass designs I don't know the answer, but I think he just went back to his low power hi quality amps again called "first Watt" and this is an un-altered Quote right from his own page, remember designers sometimes build with the current fad, and Mosfet was a 90's fad to some extent, so I guess to answer your question Pass found his own design comprimised.

"from first Watt, mr. Pass, heres the link and quote...

First off, for comparable devices at a given bias current, we see that the power JFET has much less distortion. The original F3 circuit was designed with a MOSFET, and comparing “apples to apples”, the power JFET operated with one-fifth the distortion of the MOSFET.

That’s only the beginning. The JFET has much less distortion operated as if it were a MOSFET, but it’s not a MOSFET, and it has characteristics which allow for even better performance.

When we look at the anode (or tube plate) voltage curves for devices we see what I would call the “triode character” and the “pentode character”.

In recent years, advances have been made in vertical JFET design which makes them more competitive in switching applications, and as a result power JFETs have been re-introduced after a thirty-year absence. Earlier this year I published the “Zen Variations #8 – the Power JFET Amplifier” and now First Watt is introducing the model F3, at this time the world’s only commercially available amplifier using power JFETs.
And to the best possible solid state on the planet for less than a pair of Krell mono's or whatever , it aint cheap though is the Dartzeel, heres a quote and link as well...

"darTZeel chose bipolar transistors -- ultra linear and fast -- for a straightforward signal path:"

Here is the un-varnished truth: At the very high-end of audio, a vacuum tube, properly implemented, is an inherently superior and more natural sounding amplification device than a transistor (for many of the reasons already stated and more).

Unfortunately there are enough highly colored, high distortion, poor quality tube designs to make any blanket statements about "tube amplifier" superiority meaningful. It is the tube itself that can be described as having more potential than a semi-conductor.

Most of the people who fight the good fight for solid-state are correct in noticing how good the sound of some transistor circuits have gotten. They really are very good. But when cost, maintenance, heat, size, and anything other than sound quality are not factors, the best yet achieved has still been through a vacuum tube.

Some in the solid state camp have never experienced the sound of a state-of-the-art modern tube amplifier or system. Some just aren't as picky about sound or just don't hear subtlety very well. Others are swayed by things other than their ears (watts per channel ratings, THD ratings, etc...).

Very few if any in the vacuum tube camp are guilty of not having spent time with comparable transistor amplifiers or being swayed by anything other than what their ears tell them.
Yes, and no,, the only best resonable but still far too expensive, costly to run, and replace tubes are the CAT mono's.. Atmosphere's are okay too, but again put one of the tube pre's in front of one of the best solid states and its gonna be tuff to Fight the good fight for excessive tube usage as well, I have heard what many believe to be one of the best systems with 30,000$ VAC mono's and wilson Grand slams, well it was not overly impressive, and I have heard some of the supposed best solid state mark levinsons on Eggleston works, and Krells as well, well again not overly impressive, so there is a balance and in no way is just tube amp systems going to be all superior to some great solid state, but this is not represented well by the big name products all the time on either solid state or tube. For me the most popular Tube's of Audio research I do not like, and The most popular for solid state Krell I do not like, so I might be the 1% that can't hear real music very well and 99% of you love these products :)
Sorry correction above, I meant VTL mono's with wilson's, I never heard VAC's.
Hmm, this is getting to be a good conversation. I have heard Krells, VTLs, Brystons and Holcrons in the same room with the same speakers and the same source players, what sounded the best to me? LOL, the Conrad Johnson in the other room.

All that aside the best system I have ever heard was a Crown reference amp and a top of the line Classe CDP on maggie 3.3's and a Velodyne 18" sub- it was a truely involving listening session. It blew away the top B&W's, and Vandersteens, I was amazed, and it is why I run 15" subs, real bass requires SPL and air movement to be real.
I have been listening to the GamuT Mk.3 for 2 years. This amp is very transparent and coherent. It clips gently. The GamuT is unique in that it uses large switching MOSFET output devices, only one for the push and one for the pull, each channel as opposed to a dozen or more output devices for typical equivelent power SS amps. This results in a very clear "single voice" sound with no matching problems. I counted 7 reviews on the GamuT D-200 Mk3, all which rated it reference level and some compared it favorably with many good tube amps. A French publication said the GamuT was rated in Europe among the top five amps being produced. It has been particularly popular with symphony orchestra conductors so I have been told. I use the GamuT with a SET tube preamp, a superb combo. The latest Pass Amps ie X350.5 use MOSFETs for the ouput(however in this case multiple devices) and are getting many positive comments regarding their musicality. These are two examples of excellent amps using MOSFET output.
And, for those who can't decide, how about a bridged configuration with one tube amp and one SS! I did this once in a matrix multichannel experimental rig. It worked fine.