23 responses Add your response
I prefer hybrid amps, (and preamps), myself.
(However, that is not to say that there are not excellent units using either tubes or solid state, as there are a fair number of them out there. However my friend and I have done a fair number of shoot outs and the hybrid amps, (that we use), always came out on top. Admittedly there have been some other amps that were as good, but with different strengths and weaknesses.)
IMHO, hybrid amps come into their own when they're used in high power situations, where normally solid state amps tend to be the norm. (In low power situations I agree that tube amps are the way to go.). Hybrid amps will give you a nice touch of tube sound, without having a large number of tubes that need replacing, nor will they generate as much heat. Hybrid preamps are similarly used to avoid the use of (lots of) expensive NOS tubes, as they tend to use much fewer tubes, which need to be of the low noise variety.
FYI: I base my opinions on the use of my 200 wpc Lamm M2.1 monoblock amps, as well as my VTL TL 6.5 preamp, both of which perform splendidly in my system.
My two cents worth.
I had Counterpoint SA-220 hybrid amp, SA-2000 hybrid preamp almost 25 years ago. The preamp had a solid state power supply versus full tube rectification. This set up sounded way more tubey than other full tube setups I tried after Counterpoint. The SA-220 had plenty of power. Very musical, holographic, but bass control was just OK. Not the most detailed either. Amp also ran quite hot too!!!
Always wanted to try a Butler or Moscode but have not as of yet.
I also like tubes in the circuit and found a happy compromise with a tube preamp, tube cd player, and solid state amplification. Amps run fairly cool - and no more costly output tubes. Given how audio has evolved over the past 25 years we finally have numerous choices of solid state amps that are musical, pair well with tube preamps, and do not cost a fortune.
If you value the unique aspects of each technology, then the answer might well be yes.
Otherwise, probably not.
No doubt there is some overhead associated with use of tubes, especially in a higher power amp, so a hybrid can be a nice solution.
Overall system synergy is still the most important thing. If that is off, all bets are off as well.
I've owned two hybrids (a Consonance integrated and a Van Alstine power amp). While I can't say they were better than non-hybrids (I have not heard enough different ones to judge), they did provide some tube sonics, which I prefer. So all they did for me was make me search out all tube gear. At this point in my experience and anemic bank account, all tube is the only way to go.
Sometimes. I have a pair of Platinum Plus Counterpoint NP-220s driving Magnepan 3.6s. You only hear the sound of the voltage gain front end tube section, in this case the beautiful sounding Mullard ECC35 CV569s with all their virtues. You get about 400 watts/ch driving 4 ohms, plenty of current drive and bass that's just not possible with any tube amp
Barrysandy take a look at atmasphere's ma2 and ma3 amps;they will drive anything; but generally I think you are correct.
I am a tube guy and also have a pair of roland 6 monoblocks and it is nice to flip flop back and forth; I always wanted to listen to the Moscode au402 amp but never got a chance.
What hybrid are you looking at?
Not to mention you need to lay out a C-note or ten for a good tube tester unless you get off switching 8 tubes in and out to find the hiss a couple times a month.
SS has improved enough in the last decade or so that IMO tubes, though I still have a tube amp and 3 tube preamps, are a thing of the past.
Tubes aren't going anywhere IMO. As long as there are talented tube
amplifier builders, people like me will prefer what we hear to be superior
and more realistic sound they provide(certainly some feel that way about
solid state). There's room for all manner of amplifiers when you consider
the vast range of personal taste that exists. Tubes and transistors are both
safe and need not fear extinction.
One of the best hybrid designs is phonostage AudioResearch PH3.
Counterpoint amps IMHO don't seem to pick up both of worlds as well as Pathos. Joule Electra VAMP is descent, but still can't say best.
In most of cases mixing all tube preamp and matching solid state amp can bring best of both much easier than in one box. As mentioned before they only use words such as "best of both worlds".