Changing sides- Adventures in tubeland

I'm no youngster (57) and have been a solid state guy all my life. Recently, while changing out speakers, I damaged my vintage upgraded Sansui AU D-11. Kwowing it was going to have to be sent to my usual tech (and original upgrader), I was looking for a replacement to use while it was gone.

Hence tubeworld. I asked a local audio dealer if he had a loaner of some sort I could borrow or rent for a while (I bought my speakers from him previously along with a few other accessories). He said he had a Sophia Electric Baby for sale but would consider a rental to me. So it started. He also had a Project Phono Box MkII he would sell me for $50 since my other phono stage was in the Sansui and I only listen to vinyl on this rig.

Right away, there was a noticeable change that my wife immediately liked. There was a warmth and clarity not heard before. I was concerned about the limited power with the Baby, 10 watts class A, and the fact that I use Kirksaeter 220 towers for speakers. However, their 92db sensitivity with bass output about 28hz and the Baby's extended bandwith made this a very good pairing. Bass went much lower with definition than I had before, although there was a slight loss of dynamic punch at the lower frequencies. The mids are more natural and warm, although not as neutral, and the highs are sweet and well defined. The music is much more...well, musical for lack of a better term. It is far more engaging even at the mandatory lower volumes. I now listen at about 3/4, full volume plays "near loud" on some recordings. The Baby is amazingly quiet at full volume.

A couple of days later my dealer friend came over and brought a Bellari 130 phono stage. Now the sound has taken a significant step forward. And for me and my wife an irresistible sound. Needless to say, we are the proud owners of these two items, I think we got a pretty good deal $600.00 for both.

Now, I've read about upgrades, tubes mostly, but I'm more interested in better CAPs, etc. in both and I'm hoping some of you can help me with this. Any info regarding types of caps for either would be great. I'll eventually change out the tubes for better ones too.

I'm still going to have my Sansui fixed soI'll have both, but for the moment, my family is very happy living in Tubeland.
Welcome to the club! I was in your camp 10 years ago. I now have sold all of my SS gear and have tubed CDP, network digital player, pre and amp.I can't help you w caps, but I can tell you that different tubes will most likely have a significant impact on the sound. However, I would avoid the temptation, that I did not, and buy from flea-bay. I learned the hard way, after I bought a tube tester, that many of the "NOS" and "used but good tubes" sold there and elsewhere, are rarely better than only marginally functional. For example, after getting my tester back from being calibrated, I checked 10 or twelve tubes last night. A few were "bad", most were in the questionable range, and only a couple measured as "NOS". Buy from established retail dealers or folks w long track records here on the 'Gon. The long term cost will be less and some of them may even be experienced w your equipment and able to make informed recommendations. Enjoy!!!

Thanks Swamp. I will follow your advice about where to buy tubes. However, I don't have that many options with the Sophia. The 6p1t Russian tubes are not really interchangeable. The other couple, yes, plus the single tube in the Bellari. It'll be fun.
Since you are not changing the CAPs yourself, it won't be cheap or easy. Tube rolling is easy and you can always go back. Change caps and you are done for better or worse.
For the cost of this, I would be inclined to tell you to upgrade the entire amp (when ready) instead of changing caps.
Thanks Elevick. Sophia has a CAP upgrade option in place for about $160, but. I'm wondering if there's better still. I've heard what quality CAPs did for my Sansui.
don't change anything until you've become very familiar with the sound you have now that you may not want to change and any change you make might make you lose what you have....I'm a tube fan myself.
Thanks Larry. Very sage advice.
Auricaps are the upgraded capacitors for this amp, and they are good capacitors. I had a baby for a short time, and I really liked it, but if you were to upgrade any further than Auricap, you'd probably have more cap than amp. I'd wait then move in the direction Elevick pointed.
Thanks Calbrs03. I really like the Baby. I'm simply trying to get the most from it and the Bellari. Moving up (even when ready) is $1000+. I appreciate everyone's suggestions.w
You have discovered my secret weapon, that being the "Baby". As soon as I plugged it in, I knew what I had, so I immediately got in touch with Richard, at Sophia, and ordered the cap upgrade. This I did at home, not difficult at all. I then bought old stock Western Electric 396a's, which also made a nice improvement. I think these relatively inexpensive upgrades are well worth the expense.

Thanks much Dan!