Does SS phono preamp negate tube amp sound?


Hi. Running a Sutherland Inisght phono preamp into Yaqin 10l integrated tube amp. Does the nature of SS Sutherland phono preamp cancel out the benefits of the tube amp? Or is it cleaner going tube phono preamp to amp? Thank you experts :-)

Phill55
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In one of the best demo's I ever heard Chris Brady of Teres Audio swapped out a number of components in an otherwise static system. He changed platters, motor drives, some other stuff I forget after all these years. Each change was one at a time. So you knew whatever you heard exactly what it was. At one point he changed phono stages. 

In the beginning the components in the system were all tube. Of course the sound was easily heard to change from platter to platter, motor to motor, etc. But there was an overall character to the sound that was there all along, and it only became apparent when the phono stage was changed. Now this wasn't the point of the demo, but I know Chris and I heard the change and so I asked him about the second phono stage. Yes indeed it had SS in it. 

I forget which one it was. Doesn't matter. Point is, even a little SS adds a layer of artificial hardness, grain, and glare that just isn't there with tubes. Its not a lot, at least not if its really well done like this one was, but its there. 

It won't cancel out the benefits of your tube amp any more than anything else. Its no different really than a poor power cord, interconnect, or speaker cable.

I have no idea what "cleaner" means but there are as always tradeoffs. If you listen for noise then you need to know its much harder (read, more expensive) to get really low noise from tubes than SS. If you listen for music then you need to know its darn near impossible (read, regardless of price) for SS to make music the way tubes just naturally seem to do.

Ultimately all you can really do is try these things out and hear for yourself. I've never found a SS phono stage I could live with. Although, they are not all the same. SS vs tubes is not an all or nothing deal. Technically, my Herron that I really love is not all tubes. Nor was my Audio Research PH3-SE. They are what I would call mostly tubes. Brought home an awful lot of phono stages along the way in figuring this all out. Hope this helps.
Nice summary weighing the differences and trade-offs @millercarbon.  In the end I agree that the tube presentation is the one that stirs my soul with vinyl and the phono stage.  Whenever I contemplate a SS phono stage I have to look really hard for one that doesn't remove the tube sound from the rest of my gear.  The closest I come is with the Tom Evans phono stages (i.e Groove+ SRX MKII and others).  These phono stages do a nice job at keeping noise super low and providing a very wide dynamic range yet without injecting many of the negatives of SS phono stages.  

In the end I go with a tube phono stage instead of trying desperately to find a SS phono stage that sounds the most tube-like!  It almost sounds silly to type that.
Thank you for your time and insight. Greatly appreciate it. Will have to tube phono preamp and see...or at least demo one. Any you have in mind for under $1k?
Croft phono stage for $995 is exceptional.  
Running Linn Sonedeck LP12 w/ Hana SL cartridge. Impedance >400ohms. Would Croft work?
One other question, what about running a SUT between TT and phon pre amp? Cinemag ?
Croft is MM only. You'd need a SUT like a cinemag (Bob's Devices) before the phono stage. Or look at other tube phono with SUT built in. Many non-SUT MC phono stages use JFET solid state MC stages.
@phill55 Generally speaking, if you are wanting to mix tubes and solid state, the consensus is that you are better off with a tube preamp (including line section) and then a solid state preamp.

If the front end of your system is imparting a coloration or losing detail, there is no way to correct for it downstream. Solid state colorations tend to be brightness and a harder top end; this is caused by a variety of factors related to distortion, although overall solid state tends to have less distortion than tubes.


The problem is the ear converts all forms of distortion into tonality (hence the brightness) but the ear also has a masking principle. The lower ordered harmonics (2nd, 3rd and 4th) tend to mask the presence of the higher orders (which contribute to brightness and hardness) and this is why tubes sound smoother, because the higher orders are masked. What is not well understood is why the lower orders can contribute to soundstage depth and detail which causes circuits with them to sound more neutral; this is an area which I think needs more research.


Thank you fo reveryone's responses. Looks like I have another piece of gear I have to save up for :-)
Generally speaking, if you are wanting to mix tubes and solid state, the consensus is that you are better off with a tube preamp (including line section) and then a solid state power amp.


Took the liberty of editing the penultimate word there. Otherwise QFT.