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Here's my standard response...
I've had tubes for years and loved them. I mean really loved them. However, there are compromises I'm willing to make because 1) I want something I can leave on 24x7, 2) I need something that doesn't generate as much heat, 3) I don't want to continuously wonder if a NOS set of Pope 6SN7s sound better than my NOS RCAs or if my 12BZ7s are aging and need to be replaced, and 4) I want hardware that doesn't require as much real estate. Given my wants and my needs (which also includes equipment that does not smear the time domain), Ayre seemed the ideal choice.
I now use an Ayre AX-7e (and I could not be happier).
I have had many tube amps, Bat VK-75SE, Art Audio Jota and PX-25, Cary V-12R, Music Reference RM200 and I tried a Cary SLI 80 F1 integrated cause I wanted to try headphones. I now have a Hovland Radia that I am really enjoying. It is driving a pair of Verity Audio Fidelios along with a Audio Aero Capitole MK2se which has a tubed pre amp section. I am not looking back.
It all depends on the application, synergy and preferances.
The goal is your satisfaction, not the trends to follow.
IMHO - tube amps are more flexiable and easier to build. Good sounding SS amp is extremly difficult to design and work properly.
Those that succided are usually very expensive.
I find tube amps easier to fine-tune by mods and tube rolling.
But that is just me. YMMV.
Owned some nice SS amps in the past but it had more to do with matching my ML speakers then anything else. Macs were probably my favorite SS for the money.
I converted to PS Audio Gain Cell technology; started with GCPH then got a GCC then got a DLIII.
I'm content for now, although I still love to listen to tubes whenever I am able to audition some killer systems that I cannot afford.
My last visit to Stereo Unlimited in San Diego, I was drooling over some Sonus Fabers connected to a BAT tube integrated, which had an Aesthetix phono stage w/ 20 tubes and a VPI Super ScoutMaster. Don't know what cartridge.
It was one of the few times when I questioned myself converting to SS. The music was uttterly mesmerizing.
Of course it probably cost at least twice as much as my system if not more.
Yes, for my preamplifier, as I went from tubed units by Counterpoint and ARC, and went with the solid state Ayre K-1xe. (I have noticed that Ayre has been mentioned a few times in this thread.)
And a qualified Yes for my amps, although that depends on whether you count a one tube hybrid to be solid state (i.e. my Lamm M2.1 monoblock amps). Most people seem to catagorize this amp as a solid state amp, including Stereophile magazine.
I am the usual SS to Tube person, with a slight twist. I found that my 50 wpc McIntosh 2505 works best with my ultra sensitive Klipsch La Scalas. There is fantastic synergy between the two brands.
The stated sensitivity is seems to be true. The Klipsch are very very easy to drive to ear spliting spls with low power. When I picked them up the previous owner was using 2A3 amps with all of 3wpc, they were loud and I know loud. They seem an obvious choice for flea power tube amps. The only thing is that the bigger the SS Mac the better they sound. The speakers have infinitely better tonal balance with SS the Klipsch "MIA bass" finally shows up. The Macs simply spank the tube amps I have tried with them.
I started with solid-state amplification in the 70's then went heavily into tubes in the 80's. In the late 90's I went back to solid-state, then, about a year ago, I drifted back to a "tubes-in-moderation" philosophy.
So now I use a custom 6SN7 single-tube preamp driving the NuForce Ref 9V2 SE digital monoblocks. This is the best amplification package (without a stratospheric price) that I have experienced.
I am also very fond of my recently acquired PrimaLuna Dialogue Two integrated amp that I have driving a pair of Silverline Prelude speakers in another system. That combo makes its own sweet musical magic.
Sometime in the 2010 decade I might try going all solid-state again.
I too agree that McIntosh (7270) to Klipsch (Quartets) or any Klipsch speakers is a good marriage, but after geting a Cary SLP98P tube preamp and a Cary V12R tube amp, the tubes simply blow away SS. I got rid of tone controls, graphic eq, parametric eq, spatial enhancer, dbx range expander, bbe sonic maximizer, and still have a better sound without them and I was a real tweaker to the max. The only thing I missed was SH so I bought a Carver C-9 sonic hologram generator and I am totally happy again. Enjoy the holidays!
'83-'93 ALL tubes ALL good (tried lots). '93-'07 SS amps + tube pre (numerous combos). '07-?? ALL SS-oo gooood.. Although a very long and slow transition I believed it to be a sure one! The latest were moves from a VTL 7.5 to ARC REF3 then late last year to an FM 266MKII. All these 25 years have always thought there is no way in the world that I could live without 'any glow in the flow', but was proved wrong! It was such a revelation, so much so that I'm ordering their one up model the 268.
All my life I loved tubes and even today I have tube preamplifier. However, my speakers sound the best with high powered amplifier so I had to look everythere.
My choice in power amp is Spectron Musician III - with midrange same as the best tube amplifiers I ever heard. On other hand its not SS amp either, its class D.
If I would have a horn speaker I would use tube SET amp.
I suggest you to read excellent article on this sugject:
All The Best
"Even though the Spectron is a class D amp it is still solid state"
How so? Congress decided or you, personally?
- shred of evidence, suggestion, a clue would be most welcome
If you want to say that pulse modulation is made by two transistors then please don't - they are, at least in Spectron, out of signal pathway and out of power supply too. Its not amplification device (as transistor or tube are in transistor or tube amps) - nor do you have transistor's pattern of distortions (0.0000%)
I am not the expert in classifications. For example you use terms class D / class T and I believe that the later is just invention of the marketing division of currently defunct Tripath corporation. Read about the subject in the article by Bruno Putzeys, Chief Engineer Class D Audio at Philips Digital Systems Labs: http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/audioprinciples/amplifiers/digital_classD_amplifiers.html
If you are amazed "if class D or T switching amps are not solid state..." then its your burden to prove that they are solid state amps not mine.
In my mind, difference between tube and transistor amps is only in what device is used for amplification: tube or transistor. (Both incedently can use diode rectifier in power supply). From all class D amps I know - not a single uses transistor or tube as amplification device.
I thought that the author of the thread did not care if display, say for example, run by transistors or horses or whatever.
I thought the thread is about SONIC characteristics such as dynamic range, type of distortions of both types of the amps.
I frankly do not care about anything else but sound; and YES current Spectron Musician III Mk2 sounds like the best tube amplifiers in the world and with iron clad control over speakers which a very few solid state show and yet does not have any in its signal path or power supply (except diode-rectifier).
Also if you noted Spectron advertises its amps, here on Audiogon BOTH in solid state AND tube amplfier sections.
I am out of this discussion.
All The Best
No. I have three two channel systems. One uses a tube amp and SS preamp, the other uses a brute, class A SS amp with a tube preamp, and the third uses a SS amp and tube pre-amp. They all sound different but I like all three. I love the rounded, warm, involving Music Reference tube amp sound coming through my modified, stellar, and cheap Parasound pre-amp. I also "love" the sound of my Vincent (Sheng Ya) 300 wpc monoblocks coming through my glorious, heavily modified Air-Tight tube preamp. Not sure which I would pick if forced - so since I am not forced, I don't pick.
Rwwear, you bring up a good point. . . seems though that, in the common lore, SS has ended up denoting almost any circuit with no major moving mechanical, electronecanical, electromagnetic, optomagnetic, parts, no vacuum tubes, and no old style ferrite core memory. So, where do we place switching amps in the taxonomy?
I can live with the Class A Pass Aleph and XA.5 series of amps - they are the best SS I've heard, though I suspect I would also like the Ayre gear as well. I own an Aleph J, but will always keep a tube amp as my primary amplifier. Having both is good, but if I could only have one, it would still be tubes.
"If it has no moving parts it is a solid state device. A tube amp moves electrons though a vacuum"
....I think I will move my electrons thru air to the nearest bar there they will became static and unmovable for receipt of a vodka-tonic with flashy positrons on the side, dragged by the dranken bartender with very sold and state credentials.
Not sure about "no tubes needed", but I would say with B&W SS is needed. Some speakers B&W, Thiel, Vandersteen seems to need what SS can do and don't thrive with tubes because of their need for high current and drive into the low frequencies. The speakers you own has a lot to do with whether you get better perfomance for tubes of SS.
Here's one for you to ponder - Gary Pimm, a very well respected EE & audio designer (http://www.pacifier.com/~gpimm/), has a solid state version of his Tabor tube amp which he prefers. The tube Tabor is a very highly considered power amp so the SS version must be startling. His design & comments are found here http://www.pacifier.com/~gpimm/solid_state.htm
A quote: "This is a very nice sounding amplifier. Totally quiet on my 95dB speakers. Sounds very much like the tube version of the Tabor but cleaner. No hint of "solid state sound".
I suspect the cleaner sound is the lack of microphonics of the 6AU6 input tubes and the directly heated output Pentode."
"Solid-state electronic components, devices, and systems are based entirely on the semiconductor, such as transistors, chips and bubble memory. In solid-state components, there is no mechanical action, or no moving parts, although a considerable amount of electromagnetic action takes place within. The expression was especially prevalent in the late 1950s and early 1960s, during the transition from vacuum tube technology to the semiconductor diode and transistor. More recently, the integrated circuit (IC), the light-emitting diode (LED), and the liquid-crystal display (LCD) have evolved as further examples of solid-state devices.
In a solid-state component, the current is confined to solid elements and compounds engineered specifically to switch and amplify it. Current flows in two forms: as negatively charged electrons, and as positively charged electron deficiencies called holes. In some semiconductors, the current consists mostly of electrons; in other semiconductors, it consists mostly of holes. Both the electron and the hole are called charge carriers. An example of a non-solid-state component is a cathode-ray tube (CRT). In this device, electrons flow freely through a vacuum from an electron gun, through deflecting and focusing fields, and finally to a phosphorescent screen. For data storage, solid-state devices are much faster and more reliable than mechanical disks and tapes, but are more expensive. Although solid state costs continually drop, disks, tapes and optical disks also continue to improve their cost/performance ratio. The first solid-state device was the "cat's whisker" detector, first used in 1930s radio receivers. A whisker-like wire was moved around on a solid crystal in order to detect a radio signal"
Thank you Rwwear, as I suspected, switching amps belong to the SS phylum. . . which is just fine by me.
Bill, I have very fond reasons to suspect that my old girlfriend was a superior hybrid device. . . and that the one that followed was regretably based on switching technology. . . just thinking about the number of times she could turn from moderately warm to icy cold in a scant minute.
"Not sure about "no tubes needed", but I would say with B&W SS is needed. Some speakers B&W, Thiel, Vandersteen seems to need what SS can do and don't thrive with tubes because of their need for high current and drive into the low frequencies. The speakers you own has a lot to do with whether you get better perfomance for tubes of SS."
B&W's are a tough load, but I have heard high powered tubes and prefer SS. I got tired of the headaches associated with tubes.
But to each their own.
I think SS will almost always work better with B&W, even high powered tubes, tubes need speakers with flat impedances, the higher the better, otherwise SS will handle the speakers better. I do find that no matter how hard I try to want use SS, even some of the finest like Pass XA.5 series, as wonderful as they sound in their own right, something is missing for me that only tubes provide - tubes make me feel more involved, engaged and connected to the performance - my ears and preferences and indeed to each their own. Some extra "maintenance" is required for tubes - no doubt. Then again, my speakers are designed for tubes (Merlin VSMs). If I had B&W I'm sure I would not be so happy with my tube amps - well maybe CAT JL2s or 3s - but not cheap.