In my opinion you will hear two similar but different tube like sounds. They will both sound good, the question is which sound will you prefer?
Different tube preamps will also sound different, and the same tube preamp rolling tubes can be made to sound somewhat different.
No one can really predict what you will like best and there is no right or wrong answer.
Good luck with your endeavor.
I used to have a tube cdp, tube preamp, and SS amp that sounded really good. I changed to a different tube cdp, passive pre, and the same amp and it sounds awesome.
First I changed from a SF Line 3 SE to Placette Passive and the transparency and overall musicality improved dramatically. No dozen tubes to replace in the Passive and the initial cost was far less. The sound was further improved when I replaced the SFCD-1 with a Granite Audio 657 tube cd player.
The output level from the SFCD-1 was good with the passive, but the variable output on the tube stage of the 657 is better. I never have tried the cdp direct to amp, because there would be no remote for volume.
My set up includes a Jolida JD100, an ARC LS-12, and an Odyssey audio Mono Amps(SS) and the sound was great.
A few months ago, out of curiosity (from reading threads here about the synergy of tube CDP, tube Pre and SS amp), I bought an Octal-based tube preamp (Mapletree Audio Design Octal 6A Triplex at http://hollowstate.netfirms.com/) for $435 and tried it in my system. I figure that if it does not work, I can take the loss and charge it to experience.
My system sounded so much better ever since. The body and warmth of the sound is like an exotic delicacy where it gets fuller and more enticing as the tube aged in time.
From the SS amp, the "punch" was ever present. From the tube preamp, the timbre becomes lush without loss of detail.
The cd player? You know how good it is already because you have one. But in my case, it is a "plus" per se.
Go for the tube preamp. You will not regret it!
....hope this helps....
First of all, thanks for the feedback guys. I have a lot to learn and demo before I get the sound I want, I have a couple of follow ups:
Eagle: I went to the Granite audio site and read about your cdp, looks interesting. I have already read about the Placette from previous threads. Would you say the majority of the improvement in your system came from the Granite cdp or the Placette passive pre?
Amandarae: Sounds like an awesome system. I'm trying to understand your post... I thought the ARC LS-12 was a tube preamp to begin with? Did your Mapletree replace your ARC LS-12? If so, didn't you already have a tube preamp before the change?
Thanks in advance for your time with clarifications.
The ARC LS-12 is solid state.
I think the benefits were about equal from each component, but in different ways so it's difficult to quantify. The Line 3 SE preamp was gone before I got the Granite 657 cdp, so I could not compare them together to know what that combination sounded like. The Placette Passive linestage had the most initial impact, perhaps because it was used and any break-in had already been done. The sound was not only like a veil had been lifted, but some heavy curtains were opened as well. The Placette has made it easier to distinguish component, cable, and cord changes in my system.
It took some time for the Granite 657 to settle in, so after about 100 hours I swapped the SFCD-1 back in. Not long ago the SFCD-1 was considered among the best one box players available, but it was not as dynamic or musical as the 657. The difference was very obvious even with casual listening.
Both players had NOS tubes.
I highly recommend both the Granite 657 cdp and Placette Passive linestage. Both companies have a trial period.
Yes, the LS-12 is an SS Class A!
My LS-12 is now the "designated hitter" in my HT rig by virtue of the processor bypass feature. I also have a carousel CD in my HT system for my better half to listen to as well as for the kids.
I prefer the tube preamp(MAD Triplex Octal 6)on my dedicated two channel during my "quality" listening session. In fact, I have no intention of using an SS preamp again.
Here's the rest of my system that works well with the tube preamp in place and sounds great to me.
-Teres Audio 255 Turntable with OL Silver Arm
-Wright Sound WPP100C tube phono stage with WS04 tube power supply
- Benz ACE LO cart; still saving for the Shelter 901
-Hologram MKII and Hologram speaker jumpers
-Empirical Audio Interconnects and Vitual Dynamics P2 power cords
-Martin Logan Ascents Speakers
the CD player and amps as I mentioned on my previous post.
Good luck on your tube preamp search!
Hello everyone. I too have the LS-12 pre-amp. I would like to incorperate some tubes in my system. Should I start with the pre-amp,amp or cdp? The amp is a PS-Audio, the cdp is the Phillips 963. I like the sacd capabilities of the Phillips so I am leaning towards swapping out the pre-amp for a tubed model. Any suggestions on which pre-amp. Thanks
Don't get me wrong, the LS-12 is a fine preamp and as a matter of fact, I can live with it in my system. It sounds great! But the tube preamp in my opinion mates very well with a tube CD player counter part. In my system only and I cannot speak for anyone else's.
In fact the LS-12 sounds amazing when I was using a SS CD carousel player and an outboard DAC. I forgot to mention that that's what I have for two channel listening in my HT rig. To tell you the truth, my wife listens a lot of her CD's now because she told me that the sound (with the LS-12 as the preamp)is much better as far as clarity and warmth than when I have the receiver doing all the work.
Tube preamp or tubed CD player may or may not work for you as far as your preference is concern. As a suggestion, check out Mapletree Audio Design's Octal preamp. The price is not stratospheric and maybe it will suit your needs.
I use a tube cdp. I like the rounded feel to voices and bells. There is a spaciousness, and feeling of air I don't hear with solid state cdps.
I use a Pass Labs Alepyh P to do switching and volume. Pass labs X600 monos push the 1 ohm load my speakers present.
The Pass equipment is sweet and clean, allowing every nuance of my tube rolling to clearly show through.
This thread prompted me to try the cdp direct to the amp.
The way it was set up before made the 1m IC too short to reach the amp or I would have tried it sooner. Bottom line is it sounds better through the Placette Passive than direct from the Granite 657 to amp. It's very good direct, but it does not have the same three dimensional image as through the linestage.
Eagle, thanks very much for the trial and the feedback. These interactive threads are the way this site prospers. Info, debate and discussion motivate people to try new things. Ultimately, Audiogon hopes we try new things by purchasing the new or used equipment on this site, but at the end of the day our interraction with solid feedback is what I enjoy. Thanks to all who have contributed on this thread (so far).