can a tube-o-phile be happy with ss?

I switched to tubes over a decade ago, after realizing that I no longer listened to the stereo because it did not sound like real music and ss and digital were irritating, on a subconscious level. Went to all tubes and mostly LP's. It worked. I even prefer triode with no negative feedback settings, usually. Now ss has supposedly improved, and its advantages beckon, e.g., less heat, electricity and trouble, better bass and perhaps more detail and clarity. Have any of you voluntarily gone back to the dark side and been content? (with the understanding that it never really ends, for an audiophile). On an unlimited budget one might have few complaints, but this question is necessarily in the context of a semblance of fiscal sanity, not top of the line Boulder, Ayre or Zanden.
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The answer is yes, if you go with a totally Class A ss amp. Audition at a dealer to see if the 'sound' agrees with you. Source material must be MC vinyl.
I've had both, and I presently use Class A solid state, but if I had the right speakers, I'd probably go back to tubes. No complaints with what I have now, though.

My instincts tell me someone who likes triode with no negative feedback is probably not a good candidate to go solid state.

I use Pass Labs XA .5 series amps. They're certainly worth a home audition if you can get one.
Yes. I am running 2 systems: the first is all tubed except for the cd/dac and tuner. Analog delivers the goods on both systems. The second system is in my bedroom, and is solid state. Analog still delivers the goods, and I don't miss the "tube hassle" in the bedroom system at all. In fact, I might just consider going solid state in the :big rig" too, although I am quite happy with it. (Bedroom system: Mr 78 McIntosh tuner, Toshiba sd9200/ARC dac, Garrard turntable/shure v15 cartridge/ YBA integra DT with phono stage, and Martin Logan SL3's; The "big rig" in the living room is: McIntosh tuner (MR 67, this one is tubed), Toshiba SD 9200, Meridian 563 dac, Oracle Delphi Mk1 TT/grado master cartridge MM, or, my trusty old AR TT, Atma-Sphere MP 3 with phono stage, Revox a77 RTR (no tubes in the RTR tape machine), Atma-Sphere M60's, and Harmon Kardon Sixty's.
I'm bi and proud. Could swing both ways, but usually come back to tubes when all is said and done. Still, I've enjoyed several good SS amplifiers in the past. I have similar tastes in that I prefer SET, but that hasn't stopped me from trying and enjoying SS for the strengths it has to offer. I haven't gotten hooked by SS as of yet...always have come back to SET. Best SS I've heard in my own system has been an Ayre VX5e and Bel Canto Ref 1000's (the latter being Class D). I could probably live with the Ayre and not pine for my SET amps...I think!!!????? The sacrifice would be in the width and depth of soundstage and general sense of space, which I find very compelling about my SET amps. I don't know if the Ayre falls into the realms of your own sense of fiscal sanity, nor how it might pair with your own system, but I'd say it'd be worth a listen if you were so inclined...that's my .02 cents on the matter...ymmv, as always.
Bi is whimpy in my book: Pentode, triode, Ultralinear, 7 watts, 120 watt monos, Class A solid state, Class A/B solid state, Theater, Stereo, SACD, DVD/A, Vinyl, CD...all I'm missing is a headphone amp (anyone have an extra?).
I have a DC amp you can check out if you want :)
It depends entirely on your speakers. Some speakers love tubes and sound poorly with SS whilst other speakers simply can't be controlled adequately with tubes.
If you've found the speakers that suit your room and make you swoon, see if they actually respond to solid state?
Not this tube guy; SS simply sounds sterile and uninvolving to me. Not only my big rig, but even my office rig is all-tube; and my home theater has a hybrid 5-channel amp, though SS pre/processor.

Then again, I like harmonic juice...
True tube guy can only be happy with glowing bottles. For the borderline believers, LAMMs, Pass XA.5 or Luxman brings a lot of tube like qualities.
LAMM, PASS & DarTZeel - my personal top 3 within my reach.
But I am not looking to make that change............tubes rule in my "CRIB" :)

Just purchased Sugden A21SE integrated. Have owned VTL Tiny Triodes monoblocks and custom built tube preamp. Must say that Sugden is damn nice and gets most things right. The Class A amplification is lightening quick.

Vocals and acoustic piano are very nice. As sweet as tubes? Probably not, yet very tolerable and without the hassle of biasing, cost of tube rolling and all the things that come with tubes.

I'm running Coincident UHS TRS Triumph monitors with LAT International speaker cable.
There are some solid state amplifiers that, in a blind audition, would surprise and fool even the most ardent tubeophiles.

Let's not paint all sand amps with the same wide brush.

IMO of course.
If you think you can't maybe trying a moscode 401hr,402au or similiar amp will get you the best of both worlds.
Moscode also has a in home 30 day free trial and tube rolling won't break the bank.
I don't think it would be possible to establish a long term commitment to solid state once accustomed to tubes. Once the new and different aspect wore off, I think I would need to gravitate back to tubes. I had both types of systems at one time and always preferred the tube system. Now, both systems are tube based.
This is a response from atmasphere answering the question;
Which is the most tubelike solid state amp around?
"The most 'tube like' (meaning to me: musical without artifact, detailed, I can listen to it all day and not think about the sound of the amp, just listening to the music) transistor amp is the Ridley Audio amplifier. No other transistor amp is even close; it is better than many tube amps I've heard. It also costs about $100K and employs a heater circuit to heat the output section- it runs as hot as any triode class A tube amp of the same power"
So if Ralph can like a solid state amp then there is hope.
Personally I probally will change back someday.
Why do you always see questions such as "What is the most tube like sounding solid state amp?" and never, "what is the most transistor sounding tube amp?" Tubes rule.
As someone said it depends on your speakers, source components (tube or SS or hybrid). The type of amp is going to sway the sonic signature more than the preamp, imo.

I am using a Spectron MK w/V-Cap upgrade that is very musical and not SS or tube sounding. I paired it with a Audio Research LS26 and am happier with the sound vs. the SS preamp I have before. My souce components are a Cary 303/300 and a Magnum Dynalab 609T tuner; the speakers are B&W 803D and the diamond tweeter is much 'friendlier' than their non-diamond tweeters.

I've listened to McIntosh tube amps like the 501 monos with the speakers but miss the speed, overall headroom and soundstage and bottom end punch of the Spectron MK2 (the V-Caps make the amp more liquid sounding).

So,imo, start with speakers you like and then try them with electronics (tube or better SS) until you decide what you like long term.
Can Romeo be happy without Juliet? Can Lloyd suddenly go from tube-o-phile to transistor-phile? (Do transistor-philes exist?). Those of us who have been on both sides of the fence know that you may be okay with SS, but you will never be happy!! You will miss all of the tweaking, tube rolling and all of the other BS that goes with tubes. Why would you want to give that up?
Tweaking? - that's why I have vinyl!!!

Some SS amps provide the best of both worlds with a good tube preamp in front of them (aka McCormack's with the Rev A or better mods, but there are certainly others also).

You will miss all of the tweaking, tube rolling and all of the other BS that goes with tubes.

I just miss the sound qualities. I have never had any attachment to tube rolling or tweaking, though I've certainly participated. I prefer to set it and forget it, but I still come back to tubes for certain qualities of sound. Once I find the tubes that work for me I don't change them. BTW, my SET amps auto bias, are stone-simple and I have have never once had a problem with them in 7 years. When I think of it, contrary to some naysayers of tubes I've never had a single problem with any tube component other than a fuse blowing and or a tube arcing in one amp (which was a new Russian-made tube), both of which were isolated incidents, and easy to diagnose and fix. I'm sure I've owned over a dozen tubed components. To be fair, I've also had pretty good luck with SS components: I did once purchase an older Bedini 25/25 SS amp that turned out to need repairs and was returned to the seller eventually, and I was on the verge of wearing out my first SS amp and preamp (BK EX 140 and Superphon Revelation) as both were exhibiting early signs of problems when I sold both (cheaply) at about 10 years old (full disclosure on the sale, of course). Perhaps I'm just lucky - in 25 years I can think of no gross unexpected failures, or maintenance issues that were headaches in that time and with so many components. I'd consider myself a pretty average technically competent individual when it comes to dealing with such technical issues. Oh, no wait a minute, I just thought of an exception. Vinyl!! As much as I love the sound of vinyl I DID find that aspect of this hobby to be a royal PITA as far as tweaking and maintenance. It is just because I prefer to set it and forget it that I eventually (about 14 years in) gave up vinyl altogether and sold my entire record collection. It was not for any failure, but I couldn't stand the amount of maintenance and tweaking it took. I'd much rather spend that time listening to music!
Can Romeo be happy without Juliet? He sure can if he could see her twenty years later from the day he first meet her. To say you can not enjoy a SS amp over tube is nonsense. I am amazed how many think just because it's tube it must be getting me closer the truth. There are bad tube designs as there are ss, and idea of maintenance along with tube rolling does bring us closer to a hobby like setting with individualising the sound to our own taste. What is right for you might not be right to me and so on.
Thanks for the opinions. The advice that it depends most on the speakers makes sense. It sounds (ahem) like it has been difficult to go back to SS and stay with it, for most who have tried, after becoming accustomed to the beauties of tubes, but like any generality, there are exceptions.
Yes, it is possible.

I went from tubes to a Pass Aleph (with Quad 2805) and is very happy. But a real class A amp like that doesn't exactly give much of a heat/electricity advantage over tubes!
Don't do it! There's no reason to jump off a roof. The best TUBE equipment is better sounding than the best ss. More attention to detail when they are built. Good Luck.
I must be like Deon Sanders… for as much as I enjoy my all tube power train, the aspect of now and then adding an SS amp sure is nice. Probably I won’t add an SS preamp though. Definitely not on par with the tube preamp I have, anyways.

Mainly, and speaking for myself only, this vasilation of mine from hollow state to solid and back again, stems from deep within. Nothing else. Both sides of the how to do music coin, Tube or SS are valid enough methods that can be lived with long term.

But now isn’t some degree of ‘both’ even better? Doubtless here when I say both, I should say both together. 50/50. SS + Tubes, or vice versa.

AS was said already, your speakers are likely gonna make the call which way you wind up going, if one, the other, or onto a 50/50 basis. Even if you aren’t aware of it going in. Ultimately, you’ll find your best combo I’m sure…. But having both around sure is nice, if for no other reason than a change of pace now and then.

eg., Tweaking & rolling… I’m with Jacks here.. once you get there, why keep going?
I replaced Jadis Defy7, JA30s, JA200s, for Odyssey Mono Extremes with the glass ceiling upgrade. I never thought I'd listen to anything other than tubes. Was I wrong. Resolution(the Jadis do not have anywhere near this level of resolution. Never knew what I was missing till now. I can never go back), dynamics, control, extension. They make my Jadis amps sound very colored and rolled off.
The statement made by an audiogon member pertaining to tube gear "More attention to detail when they are built" is equivalent to junk science period. There is no proff that a designer of tube equiptment when compared to ss, paid more attention to detail when designing a piece of audio gear. I remind you all of a preamp shootout many years in the old absolute sound when a ss design blow away all the competition, encluding top tube designs. The preamp in question was the DR-5 and 6 by Dave Reich of old Classe.
To say tubes are better than any SS model is a statement I thought many in this hobby would be too smart to support but I keep on being surprised. Tubes can and are great but so is solid state, and to say one is better than another is mere opinion, arrogance and at times dilusion.
I never stop being so amazed as why so many insist on views that have no proof and why in such a solitary hobby so many care what anyone thinks in the first place.
I second what Chadnliz said.
I don't get it.Tube and solid state amps are different animals,you can't make a solid state amp sound like a tube amp and why would you try.I enjoy red wine,you claim white is better so am I going to make a red wine that tastes like a white wine.How dumb is that.Music is a medium and what audio gear we choose to enjoy that medium is a personal decision,yes.
For me, every time I have SS gear, I either find myself either changing gear a lot or not even listening to it at all. But whenever I've had tube gear, I go many years without a single change in gear - which says one thing to me - I can't be happy with SS...Tubes rule.
Here is my experience.....Bought a SS amp - didn't like the way it sounded, so I bought another, didn't like it so much either, so I bought another, ditto, ditto, etc.

Then I bought a tube amp! Almost wonderful - bought some different tubes. Different sound but not much if any better. Bought some more tubes, it sounded worse. Bought some more tubes, ditto. Couldn't get the perfect sound. So I bought a new tubed amp - very similar result, only the details change. Never could find the perfect tube amp either.

Now I've given up on finding the ideal power amp, but I have taken to listening to tubes as my new hobby. To hell with the music.

Or so it seems some times......:-)
Newbie that's funny. Thanks. For a good long while mine was listening to wires.
Chad has it right.

Hearing a pair of Apogee Duettas or Scintillas with a high quality solid state amp is a breathtaking experience.

Given all the makes and models of loudspeakers available, past and present, a one size fits all approach makes no sense.
Markwatkiss, the wine analogy is very apt. . . I would even push it so far as saying that most wines are sadly poor, with reds and whites tending to the 'terrible' each in their own idiosyncratic ways. . . then there are a few marvellous ones. . . red, white, and some. . . rose. . . . and so are stereo components. I do confess of having a preference for certain full bodied reds, yet I do recognize cheerily that SS is not necessarily for everyone.
I loved Chad's and Newbee's posts, had a similar reaction to Jadis like Loki1957 a few years back and completely agree with Bill.
After a few sleepless nights and finally throwing fiscal sanity completely overboard (following the late Harvey Rosenberg's suggestion what to do with the female members of your family, when the audiophile lust overcomes you) I settled both for a Boulder and a Wavac phono preamp. Both bought here used. Of course they sound different, but I would be completely happy with either of them. At the beginning I thought of reselling the one I preferred less but now I find that I use the Wavac generally with chamber music, voices and small jazz combos and the Boulder, which contrary to suggestions in their literature, I had to tweak with Walker's Valid Points to make it sound right for my ears (the Wavacs rest on SRA bases)comes into play with large orchestra, opera and generally when I want slam next to finesse. My subs are solid state of course, but my tweeters, the aCapella ion tweeters are tube driven.
So I run a happy mix of gear, the choice of which my ears decided for me. The discussion which technology is better is completely moot, I find. There are "musical" rigs and "hifi" rigs, rigs set up by concert goers and rigs set up by review readers, a distinction of course not made with a fine comb, but these differences are possibly more worth while to pursue and discuss, or music lovers versus gear lovers at that, than SS versus tube. That I use tube amplification with my Sound Labs, (VTL Siegfrieds and the Atma MA2 Mk3s) was more dictated by my choice of speakers than by any preference for tubes.
Lloydc wrote....

"I even prefer triode with no negative feedback settings, usually."

Maybe there are SS amps that sound like my VAC140's..but I doubt it. But I have a modified Accuphase P300 and could live with it as my only amp gladly. Although the P300 sounds lean in comparison to the triode....This particular SS amp has inner detail,transparency,and a smoothness that really suprises me...I like it a great deal. too can find happiness....two is better than one. Btw What preamp do you use?
Wavetrader, I currently use an old AR LS-15/EAR 834P/Hagerman Piccolo. Budget constraints (the SEP-IRA is long gone.) Adequate, but...
Hi Lloydc,

I crossed back over into SS land a few months ago, though not entirely. I was all tube (DAC, Pre, Amp) and now have gone with SS Class A amp (s/hand Gryphon Antileon). My speakers are also Sonus Faber, so i get an organic quality to my sound from a variety of components. The Class A SS qualities in direct comparison to my outgoing CJ MV60 amp were surprising.

1. On a technical basis, i found the voice magic (organic, dimensional female vocals) was equaled, marginally bettered by the SS amp
2. Air surrounding voices and strings were also equaled.
3. The difference was in power and visceral slam. Now, i find myself listening to orchestral so much more, as a result of the improved soundstage depth and dynamic capability
4. At the same time, even though i know the "air" of both amps is the same, because the smaller tube amp did not have dynamics, the air came to the fore more, and with the SS amp, it recedes back as the dynamic capabilities come forth when you start to think about the quality of sound you are, you do not revel in the air as much even though in a direct a/b comparison, it is clearly there...because there are other qualities to listen to now such as the dynamics, soundstage width/size, etc.
5. I also find the SS to reveal more upstream changes, and as a result, i am now tube rolling my DAC. there is added detail that the is coming thru the amp, which means i now am upgrading from a Jan Phillips 6922 (which is highly microphonic, but surprisingly musical for $20/tube cost) to a Mullard ECC88.

and i just ordered a Mullard E88CC and Amperex 7308 to try out. (as an aside, i will say the Mullard ECC88 provides much greater solidity to the sound and detail, but to my ears and in my (slightly tempermental) Zanden DAC, the upper strings and upper piano registers are still somehow more musical using the original JAN Phillips 6922...shocking frankly.)

In sum, i finally found (after 12 months of intensive search) a SS Class A amp that matched my wonderful CJ amp (which i enjoyed for 9 years!) and gave me more...and further challenged the rest of my components to keep up.

And thus, the search goes on...;) As it does for so many of us. Hope that one person's experience helps.

Yes you can and I did.
I've had only tubes in my system up until about 4 years ago. The cost to retube an amp and the cost to purchase a new tube amp over 100 watts made me look at SS. There are a few amps out there like Moon and Pass that come close to tube sound, look around. I am staying with a tube Preamp though, I feel there is a large differance in the sound compared to SS and the cost to retube is minimal. So keep your tube preamp.
Sigh. One more time. A tube pre with a ss power amp is the combo that J. Gordon Holt recommemded years ago. Of course, each must be worth listening to. I've had a tube pre with ss power amp for over a decade and will not go either all tube or all ss. Right now a 12au7 based pre with a Hypex based "Class D" power amp. Sweet.
I have owned some very good sounding ss amps and sadly some others that seem to intially impress but wear you down in the long run. I think you can be satisfied with a good ss amp coupled to a well matched tube preamp, giving you the best of both worlds.
I think you can follow the advice of Phd and find happiness. Again, the tube pre-amp is the key. A SS pre hooked to a ss amp is a no go for me.
Lloydc, based upon your initial post, noting the long attachment to tubes and vinyl, the answer is no. You will not be happy with solid state at least without spending considerable time and expense to get it right. And as a tube-o-phile, it may still be all in vain.

That said, I agree that pairing a very high-quality SS amp with a tube preamp, gold cables, and gold fuses can be very good, and even ideal for many speakers. Plus, amplifiers have advantages for many aspects of music reproduction (ie. the bottom, the top, speed). But it isn't easy to get the midrange fullness and texture that sounds like real, natural music. I am now getting close to the sound I want, but it is taking many months. In the end, it will be worth it, but the trip has its ups and downs.
can a tube-o-phile be happy with ss?

I honestly don't believe so...
The tubes, nothing but the tubes, so help me God.
Here's an hypothesis. The sound of acoustic instruments is nearly unknown to most people. Rarely do we ever hear instrumental music, and especially vocal music, without amplification. To make matters worse, most of the time we hear music through mediocre to poor PA systems at higher than natural SPLs, and often ridden with distortion. When we actually hear clean, clear, low distortion music, it's such an anomaly that it doesn't quite "sound right." The shock to our ears has us longing for a more "natural" sound, not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of distortion. The Goldilocks sound of tubes and LPs.
Excellent point!
Ojgalli, I can hear live, unamplified jazz on a weekly (or more) basis if I want to, and for a long time I did.

(Now - most of the time I prefer the smoke-free environment of home, where SETs and vinyl make the experience as life-like as possible!)

However, this tubes vs. solid-state business is gross oversimplification. There are solid-state amps that sound more like single-ended triode tube amps than many other tube amps, for example.

Topology - single-ended vs push-pull - and negative feedback are actually more important criteria than hollow-vs-solid-state output stage.
I just traded my beloved Cary V12R amp for a brand new Cary 120S. It is hooked to a Cary SLP98P preamp. I'm into my 2nd hour of burn in and I can't beleive it'll sound better in another 98 hours. It sounds fantastic already. All I can say is that I am lucky to own one! Maybe someday I own a tube tuner, cd, tt, and even tube speakers. If we can figure out how to air condition any of these these things, we'll get rich. Good luck to all, ss or tubes.