I'm thinking of getting into tubes, what do you

What do you have to do to run tube amps with a solid state preamp? What do you have to do to run a tube preamp with solid state amps? And finally, will any tube preamp and tube amp combination work safely?
Don't worry about mixing and matching tube and solid-state.Preamp output impedance should be low,amp input/high {40-100K}.You should be fine.
Agree w/Tpsonic, but generally accepted wisdom is that ss power amp w/tube preamp is better way to go than the opposite. However, many all tube combos will sound best.
The key is the amp/speaker combination. No advice on amps is useful, unless it considers what speaker will be used.

Thank you Tpsonic and Spencer. At one time I had Krell monoblocks and I was told that if I was going to use a tube preamp, I should send the amps in to get the transformer taps changed (?). Anyway, I've listed a want ad for a pair of VAC PA 160 mk IIs. I like the reputation, style and high power of these units because I have B&W 801 Matrix series 3 loudspeakers. Even though they are large, I'm using them in a small to medium space in a nearfield (about a 7 foot triangle) listening setup. And, I really like the style of the Audio Research SP 9, or SP 14 (I have a ReVox tape deck and a Studer reel to reel).
For just a little more,you can do better than the SP-9. I replaced mine with a BAT VK3i, which can be had for about $1K. Better all around.
I had a SP9-III, later a BAT vk5i, which was much better. Now using a Joule Electra LA-150, like that best of all. I think the more recent ARC preamps outperform the 9. They change models so frequently, that I have a tough time keeping them all straight.

A good friend uses a vk3i with his Mag 3.5s, BAT vk-500 ss amp, nice combo, too. Either the BAT or later ARCs would be good matches for you, IMHO.
Thanks for all of your advice. But do any of the BAT models have 2 tape loops?
I don't think they do. Maybe CAT?
Thanks again Swampwalker. After much consideration, I'm thinking about going with a later ARC preamp like the LS 16 mkII or one of the BAT models. It will work as long as the preamp has 1 tape loop and at least 1 set of aux inputs. It would need two sets of aux inputs if it doesn't have phono. (Yes, I'm an analog junkie--tape and vinyl.)
Get a separate phono stage. Most internal ones aren't competitive for the money.

Does the BAT VK5i have a tape loop and 2 aux inputs? Is an SE version available with the six paks and/or the Russian 6H30 tubes?
Think yes, but they changed the model number to, pehaps vk30. Call BAT to know for sure.
It's been a while but I think it does have tape loop & 2 aux.

Thanks again Spencer. OK, I'm going to put the BAT VK30 on my 'short list'. (I just missed a nice one on Audiogon.) But they are very spendy compared to an ARC SP-9 mk II. Would they sound 2 or 3 times as good too?
If you are using Krell amp then tubes preamp is not
advisable.IMHO you have to adjust something inside the
amp first,This is just a caution.
Thanks Jayctoy. Yes I know about the Krell solidstate--tubes mismatch. I sold my Krell amps a few months back. I'm going to be building a completely different kind of system now.
Update. I'm purchasing a BAT VK-30 tube preamp (no updates--yet) and a BAT VK-200 solid state amplifier. Any experience with, or thoughts on, this combo? Any experience with this combo teamed with a BAT VK-D5 cd player?
Update. I've got the BAT VK-30 and BAT VK-200 in my system and working now. It sounds nice but it's a lot warmer than I expected and seems to be lacking in detail. Either I need more time to let this system 'burn in'. Or maybe it was a mistake after all to get into tubes. Any thoughts?
Don't worry, just a little case of "culture shock". I had the same experience when I bought a VAC tube pre to go with my SS amp. Let it burn in a little more,150-200 hrs, before you do any critical listening.
Gfloyd53 - You may not need a pre-amp at all. I had the same experience with a highly regarded $8,000.00 pre-amp (soft, warm, lacking in detail, and I kept having to turn the volume up to get any satisfaction). I bought it used and kept for 6 months - never got any better. Sold it and bought a Placette passive unit which gives me detail, transparency, body, everything I wanted. Have had it for 8 months now and will probably never go back to a pre-amp.

By the way, I use a 300B SET amp and get extended high frequencies and transparency up the ying-yang.
Thanks Jose21 and Tomryan. I will be giving this combination a little more time. I wouldn't want to have anything for sale 'til after this year's traveling is done anyway. (a couple of nieces getting married.) But maybe I'm just a 'solid state' guy anyway. I'm thinking of getting a BAT VK-20 and just comparing the two side by side and then selling the loser or even both.
Gfloyd53, you got to keep in mind that not all tube gear are created equal. If you love transparency, detail, speed and dynamic then you should really consider getting Audio Research SP-11 MKII preamp.
I'm not a fan of BAT product. From my personal experience, their amp sound lush with very poor control in the low frequency and smeared in the mid range.
I've heard it on the new B&W 802s and it just made it sound awful.
Thank you S23chang. So far my wife and I concur with your assessment of the BAT sound. I'm still going to wait for awhile before I make anymore changes (see reason above). And I think I'm going to give up on the used market gamble and start making the rounds of the high end salons. With my own music and a notebook to record listening impressions. I could probably get better sound from something new that may even be less expensive than what I've done here. Thanks to everyone who tried to assist me with this latest outbreak of my audiophilia bug.
Gfloyd53, You're on the right track now. However, I don't totally agree that you can get better sound from something new (due to poor craftsmenship these days.)
Here are some of my suggestions before you jump on to the next "hi fi" gear.
Rule number One: Always audition it first. Once you done that, you can then decide whether or not you should buy the same product used or new.
Rule number Two: Don't rely on others opinion since it is your ears doing the listening and not theirs. It is hard for you to tell if the person who's replying to your question is being honest or just making up some stuff.
Rule number Three: Always ask specific questions. If you can't get the answer you are looking for then his or her opinion is worthless.
Rule number Four: Always do background research before and after you audition any product. You can find some serious flaw in a particular product.
Rule number Five: Always check every single piece of equipment you auditioned together. Every single piece of equipment will contribute to your end result. You might bring home the whole system but you didn't bring home the sound you like because you didn't use the same CD player or cables or isolation devices... you get the point.
I have put together really wonderful systems that I had to sell for various reasons (money, changes in the household, WAF, and, in the case of the Krell class A system, too much heat in a small room). The best systems I assembled took a lot of patience and a lot of money. There are more products out there that don't go together than do. IMHO. If I find a system with the coherence and sysnergy that I'm looking for, I'll buy it. But, like you said, they don't build them like they used to. So I don't really believe I'll find what I'm looking for. But I'm going to give it a shot. Thanks for your response.
System update. OK, here goes. First I put a Concierto power cord (I had left over from another system) on the VK-200 amplifier and put the amp on it's own dedicated circuit (the way I had done with my Krells). This brought some really big improvement in the bass. Then I moved the speaker cable connections on the B&W 801 Matrix IIIs to the midrange/tweeter connectors (there are straps between those and the woofer connections). This last change, and lots of playing time, has brought about the most surprising improvements. Much better, tighter more defined bass, much less 'smearing' of the midrange and a whole lot better imaging. And, although I bought the BAT pieces used, the equipment didn't appear to have had any use, or very little, at all. So I suspect that a lot of burn in time is needed.
Another update: Concierto Concert Grand power cable on the VK-200 and the older Concierto power cable moved to the preamp. About 90 hours of playing/burn in time. HUGE improvements all around!!! Much more open sounding most (about 95%) of the veil is gone. The bass is tightening up beautifully. And there is much more detail coming through. TAS said they needed 400 hours on the KV-30SE, so I'm looking for more improvements to come.
Just got caught up on this thread. Sorry to have left you hanging. I think the break-in was the key to your initial issues.
From your comment about jumpers, it sounds like the speakers are bi-wirable. I'd post a question in speaker forum or search archives re: B&W biwiring. On some speakers it makes tons of difference. You might be able to borrow someone else's biwires and give it a try. B&W dealers would also have recommendations.
Lastly, BAT gear is made balanced and strongly prefers balanced XLR interconnects. Hope you are using them. If not, you aren't hearing all that you paid for. Even lower priced balanced cables can outperform some higher-priced singe-ended cables with their gear.
Keep us updated, you're well on your way. Cheers, Spencer
Hello again Sbank,
Yes. I'm using XLR connections. I may be doing biwires someday. I have in the past like when I was using Synergistic Reaearch Designer's Reference and Resolution Reference with the big Krell KAS2 amplifiers. It was better than either single run. But, Siltech G5 Signature Echo Bay single run sounded better than anything else by a LONNNNG shot! However, I never tried biwiring with the Siltechs (too expensive anyway). The next thing I'm considreing for the B&W 801s is the Northcreek external crossover. It will be awhile before I get around to it though.
Thanks to everyone for their advice. However, I'm leaving tubes behind. The combo was really starting to open up and was starting sound pretty good when a tube or tubes in the preamp decided to act up. I called Kevin at Upscale audio and after describing the sound he agreed that it was probably one of the tubes. So, I sold the VK-30 as needing tubes. However I might stay with BAT solid state designs.
sorry to see you let go of tube. It's common to replace tubes and tube rolling, for me, is half the fun. I'm currently running Bat cdp and pre with a ss. amp. With revealing speakers tube rolling will allow you to "tune" the sound to your personal taste. Eventhough I'm relatively new with all this stuff and tubes was intimidating at first, changing them is as simple as changing a light bulb. There are good resources on tubes available on the net. Check out Joe's tube lore to get some basic information.
Don't feel bad about the VK-30 as I was never a big fan of their product. One best example would be the reissued Marantz 9.... the worst amp ever in terms of quality. Many of my friends bought it, tried it, and dumped it. Guess who build them for Marantz?
Hi S23chang,
BAT? I really don't have any idea. A Marantz SACD player is on my 'short' list. And I'm going to go to a BAT dealer and listen to their solid state stuff. I hope it will sound better than the tube equipment I tried. Other things in this price range just seem so 'junky'. The old Krell I had that I liked; KAS 2s, KRC-HR w/ Ref phono, KPS 20i, Krell BAFs, that stuff is all getting too old to spend good money on. Especially, now that money is in much shorter supply.
Hi Mhu,
I know a lot of people consider that to be fun. I don't. I find it annoying in the extreme to go to my listening room for some much needed musical escape just to find I have some bad tubes. Nope, no fun at all. Plus experimenting with the different tubes can cost as much as a component change in a hurry. Or, some cables anyway.
Hello again.I was a tube fanatic for many years,but had given a demonstration one week.Very impressive,customer came back the next week and the tubes had to be rebiased after each song.Unsatisfactory! I found the Lamm M1.1s very satisfying and I see a pair on the AGon for $6500?????
I am expecting my first tube amps in many a year.I looked for an amp with as few tubes as possible and an autobias circuit.I feel it it manditory to use NOS tubes as they last considerably longer than current production tubes modeled after the "classics".Just thought I would toss in my two cents.Happy listening.
Thanks Tpsonic,
I have ordered a VK-20 with the six pac plus and remote. I may someday get back into tubes. But I don't think tubes will ever give me the percussion I want. Unless I spend a ton of money. For now, I'll stay with solid state. At least until I get into into a better more permanent retirement and a better room. I'm still thinking of getting the Nortcreek crossovers for my B&Ws. But they are very expensive new and I haven't seen any for sale on the used market. Except with (including) speakers.