C12000 Owners! Help. Tube vs Solid State Question

Hi all, When I run my Mcintosh C12000 through the main out using the RCA connection I cannot hear a difference between tube and solid state settings when I switch back and forth using the automated feature.

When I switch between tube and solid state using the XLR outputs manually set with the plugs then the difference become audible.

Has anyone else made this same comparison? Could you hear a difference?


I am trying to figure out if my unit is defective or if this is normal. Thanks for helping!


Most likely you are hearing the difference in your cabling or the 3db difference between RCA and balanced outputs.

Hi russ69,

Thanks for replying.  A little more information.  When I compare between tube and solid state using the main out RCA, (the only output that allows the automatic switching), I can hear zero sonic difference between the tube and solid state.  Its almost as if no switching between preamps actually occurs.

I understand the difference isnt dramatic as this preamp is so quiet, but I expect to hear something.  In contrast when I listen between the solid state and tube preamps by manually switching between the XLR inputs then I can hear a sonic difference.  The tube has a broader deeper sound stage but less detail with percussion.   Solid state is detailed, fast but with less soundstage.  

I am using Audioquest Columbia interconnects both XLR and RCA. I am only comparing XLR settings against XLR and RCA vs RCA so dB difference doesnt factor. I am only comparing details.  

Have you or has anyone had a similar experience with their C12000? Besides this issue its a wonderful preamp  


I’m afraid I can’t bring any insight, but I’d be interested in hear more of your impressions of the c12000. I have a c2300 and considered an upgrade.