from solid state to tube

Hi all, it's probably a strange question but are there audiophiles who have been tube aficionados for quite a while but are now being converted to solid state? The other way around is a more common phenomenon: audiophiles who have been listening to solid state and are being converted to tubes in a late (final?) stage of their audio evolution. Some say that single ended amplification + high sensitivity speakers are the key to musical nirvana. To them the Soul of Music is then freed at last from the electro-mechanic hardware.
There are a lot of different ways to audio satisfaction. I wouldn't say I was ever a tube aficionado, but I did own a number of tube components over the years--more out of curiosity with the flavor of sound than anything else--but, alas, I've turned to the "dark side," aka solid state. I now have an amp that can do most of the tube tricks and has none of the traditional drawbacks, and my SS digital front end is very natural sounding as well. I just got tired of the usual tube hassles, and though it took me a while to find SS gear as musically satisfying and enjoyable as the best tube gear, I think I've finally found it. Color me a happy camper.
My friend moved from a Conrad Johnson MV60SE amplifier to a Lab 47 Gaincard (50 wpc model) and is quite pleased. He still wants a tube amp but his budget cannot afford what he wants (high powered SET or push/pull interstage coupled amp).
get the cj back.....your friend is on the road to nowhere
Well, I have done (almost) exactly what you said, and have only just backed off it just a bit recently. (Except I have not gone the SET amplification - high efficiency speaker route. I did it my way, to quote ole' Blue Eyes!)

I used to run all tube equipment back in the late '80s & early '90s. (Counterpoint preamp w/ CJ amp.)

Then a few years ago, in the early '90s, I went to Solid State (SS) amplification, by substituting a Levinson No. 27 amp for the CJ amp. (The tubeyness of the CJ amp finally got to me. I really wanted something that had full frequency range extension and got rid of the euphonic bloom that grew tiresome after awhile.)

A few years ago, I got back into stereos, (and especially back into vinyl), and went with an ARC LS-2 preamp and a ARC PH-3 phono preamp. I appreciated the reliability of the ARC equipment, as the Counterpoint was starting to breakdown more frequently. (Counterpoint had good sonics though, especially for the price.)

However, after a couple of years, I grew extremely tired of the tube rushing from the ARC equipment, so I went totally SS. I replaced the ARC preamps and went with an Ayre K-1X preamp, including the phono boards. (This preamp is pretty amazing, as it is both musical and detailed. The phono boards are very, very good, especially for the price. And it is dead quiet!! Yea!)
Note: At the same time, I also upgraded my old Levinson No. 27 (100 wpc) to a Levinson No. 23 (200 wpc), as my new speakers, Revel Studios, (which are not very efficient speakers), really wanted more power to really open them up. (I knew that the Levinson was pretty decent, but I realized that it was more of a placeholder, until I could figure out which amp I really wanted.)

Just a couple of weeks ago, I put the final piece in the puzzle. I upgraded to the Lamm M2.1s, which are a hybrid mono block amplifiers (1 tube in each), and they have ended my search. They have just a touch of tube sound in the mid-range, otherwise they have all the makings of a great SS amp, with none of the weaknesses (no HF glare, no grain, etc.). They have great frequency extension, and no tweaking necessary, unless you really want to play around with the one tube, which I might at some point.

At this point, I am through with my amplification portion of my stereo system. (In fact, I am almost done period, as I really like my entire system. At some point, I might upgrade the turntable and arm, but that will not be for a year or two, until I can pay off the Lamms. Yeah, they are expensive, but well worth it in my opinion!)

I am now: One Happy Camper!
(My wife is glad the journey to audio nirvana is over too, as it was getting pretty expensive in the later stages!)
I am slowly trying to add solid state components to what is a predominantly tube set-up. I started with the digital fornt-end. Now I am trying to add a solid state phono stage and a solid state amp. In addition, a vendor I trust explicitly that had made some high quality and expensive tube amps/preamps is now making solid state amps they feel have the tube sound and are dead quiet. So the question makes for an interesting discussion.
I tried and came running back to tubes...
I'm doing the high powered SET with "medium" efficient speakers and like it a lot. But I'm still keeping my solid state amp around.
For many more years than I care to count I have wanted a tube based audio system. Finally made the move and picked up an integrated tube amp and some new speakers as well. I've yet to set everything up. But can hardly wait, for there is real magic in tubes.
i just compared my little dared vp16 to two ss amps; a hopped up hafler and and beefed up odyssey. the little guy made more music in ea. case

ss is nice in the bass. too bad the music lies elsewhere.

i did have a lot more trouble distinquishing the ss from the tube equip this yr. at the rmaf. last yr. i could walk in a room and immediately tell the difference.

are tubes more hassle. yes. are they worth it? i am sure you get more bang for your buck with the tubes.
There was an article in Stereophile magazine not too far back and the reviewer in question was astonished at the resurgence of interest in tube gear, stating that the solid state gear of today is far superior. My personal opinion is that if your satisfied with soft music only, all tube may be the way to go. Could find satisfaction using a combination of both. I don't want to be locked into a system that only sounds good with audiophile music. Whatever choices you make, "Keep listening to them tunes!"
I've always moved both tube and SS into and out of my systems and IMHO the differences are becomming a lot less obvious. I think SS is very, very good these days.
Examples (which I am listening to now) are the ASR Emitter, the new TRL st225 and the DNM PA3S...three very different designs that all seem to get the beats right.

The designer of the Tonian Lab TLM-1's that I recently sold voiced these 97db 16 ohm speakers with SS amps and they (Tonian's) sound truly marvelous with the right SS amps (as well as with tubes)

System matching and synergy and dealing with the room are, IMO, much more important issues these days to sound quality than if it is Tube or SS.
Why not have the best of both?

I use a tube preamp with a SS amp in my home system. Get the great SS definition, clarity, bass, impact, transient response while also getting a naturally rich timbre and liquidity of tubes - all in one.

I use a Bada PH12 single ended Class A, OTL tube/MosFets hybrid headphone amp that does the same thing - the best of both solid state and tubes.

It doesn't get any better, believe me.
A recent rotation of various speakers through my system has been an eye opener re: power needed and voice in relation to SS vs Tube. A small pair of power hungry monitors can sound excellent with tubes, while the SS amp will cause them to sing with more dynamics but lose other attributes. Switching to various sets of more efficient (and also much larger physically) speakers demonstrated that even low power tube can fill the room to concert sound. The bottom line may be to find the speakers you want to drive and go from there. The 100db efficiency Altecs lay waste to the 86 db Dynaudios for brute strength and room filling dynamics- even when pushed with a watt or two, but for low level late night mesmerizing, the little monitors are tough to beat based on detail and image of sound, they just need the few more fractions of watts to hit the sound level needed. The bottom line is I've been from tubes to SS and back to tubes AND SS, and tubes... and SS ...and