Intergrated or Solid State Whats The Difference ?

New to this equipment and I do not understand (quite a few things)the difference between an Intergated and a solid state amp, or the Pros and Cons of each.
And another thing, how do mono blocks provide enough power to drive power hungery speakers like VSA VR4's or B&W 800 or 802's. Seems to me the average tube amp provide 50 to 80 wpc.
You're comparing apples, oranges, and kumquats. Here are the basics:

There are two basic kinds of amps: solid state and tube.

An integrated amp is a combination of a preamp (the control center, with volume and tone controls, among other things) and a power amp, which does the actual amplification. An integrated can be either solid state or tube.

A monoblock amp is a single-channel amplifier. In other words, for a stereo system, you'd need two of them, one for each channel. Again, they can be either solid state or tube.

Tube amps generally offer much less power than solid state, and have much higher measured distortion. Tube partisans offer a variety of rationalizations for why this is irrelevant, and why tubes are better anyway. To each his own.

But tubes are definitely not for neophytes. I'd strongly recommend that you stick to solid state until you've moved further up the learning curve.
Hap123, you have a few of your terms mixed up! You can get an integrated amp, which includes an amp and pre-amp in a single chassis. Or you can buy an power amplifier and pre-amplifier separately - each has it's own chassis (metal box). The pros of the integrated would be less expense, less space needed, simpler. The cons of the integrated would be some compromise in sound quality related to a single power supply, other compromises made in design to get two functions into a single chassis.

Your question on mono blocks is a little confusing also. When choosing an amplifier, straight power amp or integrated amp, you can choose an amp that creates it's power(gain) using tubes , or transistors(solid state).

Mono blocks refers to a straight power amplifier that uses separate chassis' for each channel (left and right). You can get tube mono blocks, or solid state mono blocks.

There are a wide range of power ratings available for both tube and solid state amps. In general tube amps are lower powered and would therefore require more efficient speakers to create the same volume level.

I hope this helps clear things up. Welcome to Audiogon.
An intetgrated is an power and pre amp in one box. You can have a solid state, tube or hybrid style.

Maybe someone with more knowledge can explain the power of a SS to a tube. I do know that my Quad 909 (140 wpc) doesn't have as much punch as my buddies Rogue M150 running in triode mode at 75 wpc.
An intergrated just means that there is a preamp and an amp,within the same chassis. They come in SS or with tubes---they both also come with varying amounts of power.
And there are stereo amps and mono block amps. Stereo amps have two amplifiers contained in one chassis, one for each of the left and right channels. Monoblocks essentially split the chassis in two so that there is a physically seperated chassis, one for for each channel. Both of these configurations come in both tube and solid state versions, and, as, Avguygeorge states above, in varying amounts of power outputs. One hopefullly chooses an amp(s), regardless of configurations, that have sufficient power to meet the requirements of the connected speakers.

Keep reading, it will start making sense to you in a while. Concerning your questions:

An integrated amp is a pre-amp and a power amp built in one chassis.

A solid state amp uses transistors for amplification and a tube amp uses tubes for that function.

Mono-block simply means that there in only a mono amp built on the chassis. For stereo (2-channel) you would need a pair of mono-block amplifiers.

Tube amps can be anywhere between about .5 watts/channel and several hundred watts/channel. They can come in mono-block layout or they can be stereo (2 channel) amps.

I hope this helps a bit.


What can I add, well a few things. Neither integrated or pre/power need be intrinsically better. In most manufacturers lines the best tends to be statement pre amp and power mono blocks, but that is traditionally where the "cost no object effort" goes. There seems to be a trend to more "no compromise" integrated amps now though.
The drawback, putting the delicate pre amp circuits, with there low voltage near the interference of higher voltage output circuits and transformers. Also many so called integrated amps are just power amps with a volume control and input selector stuck on, not a true pre amp at all and a good pre amp can of course make a big difference to the final sound. Some integrated amps do have a true pre amp section though, but many of the cheaper tube amps don't.
The drawback of separate pre and power amps? To me, the main one is cost and cost is an issue for all of us. Two boxes, more components, fewer interconnects, less rack space, an integrated should give more bang for your bucks. Secondly there is the question of shorter signal paths with, in theory, less risk of interference to the delicate signal.
As for myself, I've gone from a separate Pre Power to a choice of 2 integrated amps, a Lavardin IT and Viva Solista and I am not getting rid of either
Is it possible that the original question is in reference to integrated circuits?
Maybe someone with more knowledge can explain the power of a SS to a tube. I do know that my Quad 909 (140 wpc) doesn't have as much punch as my buddies Rogue M150 running in triode mode at 75 wpc.

Have you hooked both up to the same speakers, in the same room? If not, you're comparing entire systems, not amps.

It's also possible that you are subconsciously playing the tube amp louder. A fair comparison requires you to match levels--with a voltmeter at the speaker terminals, not a cheap SPL meter. (It's possible that one is playing slightly louder without your knowing it; that's why precise level-matching is necessary.)

If you've covered those bases, then it's likely that there's something audible in the tube amp's distortion profile that gives you that "punch."

It's also possible that the specs are misleading. This has nothing to do with tube-vs-SS, of course. One amp may do better into a particular load (hence the better spec), but not so well in real-world conditions. You'd need better measurements to check this. Good measurements are graphs, not numerals.

Finally, it' always possible that you're just preferring the tube amp subconsciously. Try comparing the two blind (and level-matched), and see if the tube amp is still punchier.
I think he did mix Up terminology HYBRID is the thing left out here, Using Tubes for the input section and Solid STate output, by the way an nice design for the budget pieces in an integrated amp or preamp..
I need to learn how to get back to this thread :-) Could not find it for a day or so. Thanks for the tons of info ,insight and understanding. Its coming together. The quest continues. . . what to purchse for the objective of good listening, and stay in the budget. My present amp have XLR inputs which I would like to keep in my next unit, if possible, but I am happy with my current unit (CinePro 3K6), it a little aged, but works good, in my unexperience opinion

To get back to this thread, simply go to "mypage" link at the very top of any AudiogoN page. Once you sign-in using your user name and password, you will see a link under tools called "forum Threads". Click on that and you will get a list of threads in which you have participated. You will see all of your thread responses there.


Thanks for the info.
Hap123: one of the best attributes of Audiogon is that you are now part of a community of fine folks who help each other develop his/her own paths along this road to increased satisfaction of music listening. Welcome.

Thanks Steve, I'm glad to be a part of this listening group.