jmcgrogan2 … I pulled this explanation from an article in Canadian WiFi magazine.
"Tube or Tubeless
Much like with most other audio components, when considering a phono stage the quandary of whether to-tube or not-to-tube comes into the mix. Three different types of phono stages exist: solid-state, valve or hybrid. The bulk of phono stage products, especially those in the more affordable range are of solid-state / transistor designs but there continues to be a number of valve / tube-based products, as well as those which are of a hybrid design – utilizing a combination of solid-state and tube. In these hybrid designs, the tubes are typically used as an output buffer to condition and soften the output signal before it is sent to a connected preamplifier. All three designs have their supporters and which is best depends on a number of variables, including the cartridge, turntable, connected electronics and speakers as well as personal preferences."
Since I am eventually going to upgrade my whole system I would want a Phono stage that will work with the widest variety of components.
As I understand it… Tubes sound more atmospheric and do a better job on highs and midranges while the SS does a better job with the bass and low end and overall precision of sound (tightness?). The Phono input on my HK990 does a good job with the lows and bass but seems lacking in the midrange.