Are Tube Buffers for real or even worth it ?

Currently on one of my set ups I’m running a Carver TFM-35X amp through a Parasound ZPre3 Preamp to some Maggi .7’s.  Being I really prefer a tube sound I was wondering if I picked up a Tube Buffer for a few bucks and ran it from the output of the Parasound preamp to the input of the Carver TFF-35x amp would it tame the carver’s output to more of a warmer tube type sound out of the Maggi’s? Has anyone tried anything like this and been happy with the results? 

The Amp is a beast but just a tad Solid State sounding for my taste but kicks butt none the less. 

Any thoughts? 


You have to be careful using the inexpensive tube “buffer” preamps. Some are just straight wires input to output. The tubes only see filament voltage. I have one; only when I pulled off the covers, traced the circuit board, did I find that there was no “tube buffer”.  

Another one I have uses a unity gain opamp with only filament voltage to the tubes. 

Three times is the charm….The third one I bought actually uses the tubes for unity gain. 

And….The whole idea is to add tube harmonics to the sound! So yeah, they are distortion machines!!  LOL!!!!

The TFM-35 is an amazing sounding amp. I found one on eBay new in the box. Even today, its top end is astoundingly smooth even by today's standards.

I ran it through a Don Sachs preamp wih 6SN7s and it was heaven. Doing that and having a dedicated AC line put in helped bass output a good bit. 

Bass output on these amps is extremely flat. But, in many ways, this is a good thing because speaker position and treatment can fix that without things getting boomy.

As mentioned, no need to get tube buffers. Get the best front end you can afford. 

I tried a couple of those cheap Chinese tube buffers you find on eBay and they were no good.  They were starved plate designs - only about 12 volts or so on the plates and op-amps in the circuit doing the work.  Then I tried a Bellari PA555 tube preamp for only $300.  The single 12AX7 is actually functioning with high plate voltage followed by op-amps for a very low output impedance.  This is not a starved plate design.  Let the trolling begin but I am happy with the tube sound it adds.  

I have a Peachtree Audio Grand Integrated X1 amp driving Joseph Audio Profile speakers. The amp has a built in "Bascomb King"  dual tube buffer. The buffer is switch activated (on or off). It looks cool lit up but I can not perceive any sonic improvement to the music when its switched on.