Does SS cost more than HS for superior sound?

I sure hope I’m saying this right… I may be off the mark a bit….. Money talks… money matters as well, perhaps now more so than ever before.

For a while now I’ve been hearing or keep hearing, and in part am finding out for myself by acquiring this amp and that here and there, in order to obtain an equivalancy in audio refinement a SS amp will cost far more than will a tube amp when seeking out a natural, organic, or more dense and lifelike sounding presentation.

To me it seems less expensive a task to acquire these elements with tube amps and preamps, than with the likewise solid state products.

EX could be one will find far more bright sounding SS amps than one will find bright sounding tube amps, indicating extension isn’t all it could be in the world of sand only products.

I have heard repeatedly solid state appliances that are cool, dry, and uninvolving yet quite expensive.

I’ve not heard all of those characteristics in tube powered devices, although I have heard not long ago very pricey tube amps I simply wouldn’t buy with someone else’ money…. Yet they weren’t dry or lifeless, but they didn’t captivate.

Also I’ve never heard a tube preamp or amp that was prone to listener fatigue.

OR… could this possibly be more a matter of preferential requirements, and merely the age old subject of taste?
I think you're talking about two separate things.

One is taste. You clearly have a preference for tubes as opposed to SS so of course you would feel that way. That is what I prefer as well so perhaps I am no less biased, however I think I appreciate them both for what they do well.

The other is cost versus quality. I think lower cost tube products sound much better than the equivalent lower cost SS. To my ears great sounding SS tends to be quite expensive, although there are some lower cost manufacturers that are pushing those boundaries as we speak.

I'm not exactly sure why that is the case although I suspect it has to do with supply and demand, and build complexity and parts cost. SS is easier and less intimidating to use, and gets most of the mainstream press. Therefore they sell more product and are able to charge much higher prices as a result.
Jim, I think state of the art sound is very expensive in either format.

An audiophile friend recently purchased a well known tube integrated amp made in China that sells for a very reasonable price. He thought he was getting pretty good sound until one day he decided to hookup his old 1977 Kenwood 40 watt integrated. With his efficient speakers the Kenwood blew away the tube amp.

Dynaco Stereo 70 amplifiers are popular yet they only sound slightly better than a Japanese receiver. So, maybe it is a matter of taste.

But if you are looking for the latest and greatest in solid state from Levinson or Pass or tubes from Audio Research, VTL, Atma-Sphere, Canary, etc. you can expect the price to be high on either.
Sorry. I can't figure it out: What does "HS" stand for?
Me either Rpfef.
Sorry. I can't figure it out: What does "HS" stand for?

Glad to know that I am not the only one.

Guess its just me, but how can somebody be a member on this site for a number of years, have done plenty of transactions, participate in the threads, but has a hard time finding a particular amp ?
"Hollow State." It took me a little while to figure it out also, a while back.

-- Al
Oh yeah I remember.

Thurston Hollow III

Gilligan's High End
"Capital", Bill.
That would be Thurston HOWELL III.


Yes. "hollow state"

Sorry folks.

I've seen that term "hollow state" in a number of articles and thought to go outside the box of so very often and over used terms here by employing it now.

BTW… No one was born knowing all the abbreviations the modern slang, shorthand, and the web holds… and it’s ongoing people… so Hey! Catch up.

know how long it took me to figure out ICE, SOTA, LOL, & FWIW? Let’s not even mention... ‘ROTFLMAO’ ?

It’s showing…. I’m not a txt-ter… if I’ve a phone in my hand I’ll call… like you’re supposed to.


>> Guess its just me, but how can somebody be a member on this site for a number of years, have done plenty of transactions, participate in the threads, but has a hard time finding a particular amp ?<<

Better put perhaps… finding the particular affordable amp.

I don’t know why I bother to have to explain myself, but just to lessen your pain, but it's pretty simple. Just be vehicularly & financially challenged, and fairly picky.

Add to it a need to sell what's on hand at times in order to get the 'unknown' certainly different and only ‘possibly’ better, gizmo.

Then too, if all those pesky amp makers would just stop making amps differently, or altering them significantly all the damn time, this would be much easier a thing to contend with… but this ain’t about my other thread.

Riley804, What’s the rush? You spend your money when and how you want and I’ll attend to mine in my own fashion. Neither method can be construed as inferior.

Of the 9 or 10 amps and 2 receivers & 1 multi ch processor, i've bought since being a member here i've not disliked but one and i did much to it prior to letting it go. I took a lot of time and effort in order to try getting it to it's best level of performance prior to selling it…. IMHO

Not every purchase I’ve made or sold in electronics has been done just on this site.

One or two i have now of that lot I feel are true ‘keeper’ ampsthe rest? I’m reasonably satisfied with. i've no real designs on selling a few of the others unless i'm forced to.

Consequently, i think my methods are working so far. I’ve yet to find something I simply had to flip quickly as it’s performance levels were sub par… yet. I aim to keep it that way.

Actually, I just found it too too curious a theme that continues to crop up repeatedly as I peruse the multitudes of electronic articles accounting for this amp or that one, as over half of those reviews compare the described SS to some other vacuum tube amps in order to further illuminate either shortcomings or advantages at some point during the article.

While reading thru these press clippings, seeing statements like, ‘the cool side of neutral’ or ‘could be seen as bright sounding’ or ‘bass shy’ aren’t inspirational notes in my mind either.

I was a little worried my bias would seep into things, but did not want it to.

Your point on merely the 'cost' differential between the two classes for likewise results, is indeed my aim… not necessarily though, SOTA .
>>05-14-10: Tpreaves
That would be Thurston HOWELL III.<<

No fooling Sparky.

It was a play on words


Get it?

How about Thick as a Brick?
Heard that one?
What's an example of a hollow state amp: make and model?
"Hollow state" = tubes, slang for the antithesis of "solid state."

-- Al
05-14-10: Almarg
"Hollow state" = tubes, slang for the antithesis of "solid state."
Thanks Al. I was really in the dark there...and that was even after I Googled "hollow state amplification".

I've learned my new thing for the day.

I think personal taste is the main factor that will determine which way to go.

If you like a tube sound, then the tube route is clearly more practical.

I've found I have limited appetite for hearing my electronics, be they hollow or solid states. I like to believe that I cannot tell the technology of my system by listening, only whether it sounds natural or not to me. I think accomplishing this with all tubes would prove to be not an inexpensive proposition.

I'm finding I like a good SS system with just a dash of tubes. I know there are other ways to achieve similar results applying pure tube amplification, but I have not stumbled upon one yet that would save me any money. Plus, I still like the low maintenance appeal of SS over tubes as well.

If the case were that I could only achieve my goals with a pair of speakers that require tubes to perform well, I would feel differently I think. But for me, the most irreplaceable ingredient in my system are the OHM omnis and these are not inherently tube friendly speakers.

The other technology that I am finding can really make the SS equation work very well and cost effectively are Class D amps.
Buying either SS or tubes in and of themselves will have no guarantees. Not all tube designs are good as not all SS designs are good. They have to match with the speaker. Generally tubes are more musical IMHO, but not always. Try first and be open minded. With low efficency speakers, good SS is a great option. With high efficency speakers, low power tube amps are glorious in well matched systems.
One other thing that matters I think is kind of music listened to.

In general, I think electronic or pop music involving clean tight bass that you can feel as well as hear is easier tackled with SS amplification and matching speakers. For those interested in jazz classical and acoustic music mainly, tubes may be the ticket. But reproducing a symphony orchestra to scale on a tube system will not come cheaply. Neither will SS for that matter.
05-14-10: Mapman
In general, I think electronic or pop music involving clean tight bass that you can feel as well as hear is easier tackled with SS amplification and matching speakers.
Easier tackled...I agree. Presently in the high end marketplace, I believe there are more speaker options to attain clean and tight bass with solid state amplification, but excellent bass quality and response is not restricted to solid state amplification.

Clean and tight bass that you can feel is just as viable with tube amplification. It's all in the amp/speaker match.

Yes, I've heard it with PSB speakers and Rogue tube amplification but there was a powered Rel sub involved also.
Mapman, I've heard it with two speakers and amplification. No sub.

However, in each case there was a substantial cost in dollars, or a substantial cost in space required for the speakers...or both.

As you said, it's easier with solid state.

I'm willing to give up a bit of bass quality for the other things tube amplification does so well.
No fooling Sparky.

It was a play on words


Get it?

How about Thick as a Brick?
Heard that one?

Yes,I got it.Sorry,I didn't realize no one else except you could make a funny.
How about asshole,I'm sure you're familiar with that!!

Thanks.. as always, good thoughts.


That’s looking more and more like my particular issue… eyes free operation with sort of high eff speakers.

It’s difficult for us mere mortals to be as enlightened as brother Bill is… or as comedic and endearing.

Here’s another term to boggle Google with… “sand amplification” check out how many of those 1.6 Gigazillion results match up. Sheeshhh.

(another one is coming up soon, so keep the Google engine handy)

Were it put like this things might make more sense even to the sensless…

“Does SS cost more for quality sound with more eff speakers to recreate?”

… as that looks like a case for a better debate.

Otherwise it’s as was said by a few that the amp + speaker connection is key and that Sand fits most often best with lesser eff units, and tubes apply best to mo’ eff squeakers.

Fine. Got it. Got it a long time ago in fact… so how about now. How about applying sand amps instead of hollow those squeakers above the Mendosa line, of say, 91 - 92db?

For the sports trivia challenged, the Mendoza line is a .250 batting average… wherein one can still make millions in MLB, but is a minimal gbatting production stat for most all players other than pitchers.

Sometimes I forget that some folks sneer and jeer at those things they aren’t familiar with immediately as they lack an open mind or wider spread exp than purely audio interests.