Some people may say it is, but it really relates to the particular gear in question. A great SS Class A amp may sound better than a less-than-great tube amp. Or vice-versa.
You don't state which speakers you have, which can make a very big difference in which might be a better selection.
In my opinion, with all things being as equal as possible, I'd prefer a good SET tube amp over anything, with the right speakers.
Everyone likes something different. Some people will not like the sound of SS nomatter how good it is, while others will not like tubes.
An apple will never be equal to an orange, and a man will never be equal to a woman. They are two different things, but both can still be wonderful. BUT never equal!
No, a pure class A ss amp is better than tubes (generally speaking). It will have deeper, tighter bass and more extended treble. And these differences are more apparent at low volume levels because of the way the human hearing mechanism works... Since you already have a good tube preamp, I'd go ss on the amp. Just my opinion, based on my own experience; YMMV.
this discussion will go on forever. the only ss amp i have heard that i could live with is gryphon. it is better than many tube amps . the best ss i have heard to date. i still am a tube man. if you blast your music tubes genrally are not the choice. if you like realistic sound vocals textures to the music. tubes win almost every time.
Definitely not, I have bought pure class A SS, I did not have courage to buy tube amp and it was big mistake.
Now i will have to buy tube pre to make sound more listenable.
It is not even close to what I have hear can do good tube amp.
I will go with Nrchy. The more I interact with other audiophiles the more amazed I am that it is a matter of taste. I though I would never go back to tubes but, you guessed it, I got about 35 of them heating up my listening room and they're class AB.
And they sound wonderful at low volumes.
Truth is, my previous SS class AB didn't sound too bad at low volumes either. Or loud.
Theoretically, class A amps should have an advantage since there is no transition from push to pull near zero voltage as there is in a class B amp. This transition can be a source of distortion. But, for the high end amps which are usually at least Class AB, the transition is moved up to higher sound levels (i.e. it is not at zero amplitude) and the amount of distortion due to the transition is greatly reduced.
Maybe some people are more sensitive. On my amp, which runs class AB, the amount of bias is adjustable. If it is biased higher, it provides class A operation to higher amplitudes and becomes more linear. So if you are sensitive to this just change the bias with some reduction of power tube lifetime.
Pass Labs Alephs do me fine.
Listen for yourself and then make up your mind. This method prevents most cognitive dissonance.
Pretty much a hypothetical question.As Twl correctly pointed out, there are far to many missing pieces in the puzzle to answer definatively.Speaker efficiency and the impedence of the speaker in question can have a major impact on the sound of any amplifier type, not to mention, SPL levels, and many other design parameters. High efficiency horn loaded types,Electrostatics,planars, 4 ohm,8 ohm,16 ohm, 2 way boxes, 3way boxes,driver size,bass Q and so on,will react differently with different amplifiers. FOR EXAMPLE...On generic box type speakers with...let say a nominal impedence of 6 ohms and a sensitivety in the average of 88db at 1 watt.One would probably prefer the Class A sand amp at really low volume levels and/or perhaps very loud levels.Another example: Large planars like apogee and magnapan,...require large gobs of current and power to wake them up and generally sound more lifelike at higher volume levels.Hell..the original Quad 57 electrostatic from the 50's still sounds incredible with old antiquated low powered push/pull tube amps! Hook them up with a top shelf modern day tube amp, and the class-A ss amp will sound like it's broken at any volume!.High Efficiency horns are another think piece again...to my ears they sound far more life like with good tube amplification at any given volume level.Your ears,your room...your call.
Although I have made a case for the class A, solid-state amps (earlier in thread), my personal preference is for hybrid amps with a tube input stage and solid-state outputs. My feeling is that this setup provides the best compromise between liquidity and linearity...
My amp is class A to around 50 watts and is SS amp, low level listening in my system is between 50-60db in my room. Every detail is in tact in every way as I listen to Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges this afternoon. That said, the amp is very warm even at this no more than 2 watt output. As far as tube or SS..Timo has the best advice, you should listen in your system at your Spl.
I have both: a pair of Class A monoblocks and a pair of Class A 2A3 based SET monoblocks. My impression of which is "best" depends on what I'm listening to and what kind of presentation I'm looking for in enjoying music - so all theories aside...
A good example is in how the piano is presented. With the tubes, the so-called distortion gives the piano a warm, pleasing sound that makes it easy on my ears. Very fluid, warm and relaxing. The SS monos (ML 20.6's) takes the piano apart. It gives you everything from the attack on the keys and string hammers, the pedal, the sounding board - everything. It presents a more realistic "you-are-there" sound where you can tell the difference between a Yamaha and a Steinway and the venue it's playing in. It also gives you a the presence of the pianist himself. So if you like to recreate a live performance, the SS mono's do a better job but take away some of the sweetness that the tubes give. Analytical? Yes. Unlistenable, definetly not. Just different.
Other types of music such as orchestra, rock, jazz, vocals, are presented the same way. The orchestra, for example, is better presented with the SS mono's because imaging, depth, instrument timbre is recreated in a way which makes the performance more realistic. The ss has power in spades to lift all the frequencies of the orchestra (macro and microdynamics) so that they are at the same relative loudness levels as the performance. The tube amps will strain under the crescendos and may not catch all the frequencies equally, but it will present an overall sound that is more pleasing, especially during low, melodic passages.
All in all, it all depends how and what you like. Sure, I'd say get both but that's going overboard. You can't go wrong with a pair of good SET's if you are willing to endure their finicky nature, if you don't need wall-shaking power, and are more interested in a pleasing sound rather than acoustic gymnastics.
Personal preferences aside, I think a lot of it depends on the rest of your system, and speakers in particular. There are many variables e.g., while there are always exceptions, high impedance loads seem to prefer tubes and low impedance loads seem to prefer solid state.
NO!!! Class A SS is definitely not equal to tubes. They are decidedly different in basically every case. Your preference may be for one or the other and will depend on your system (yada yada)...
Usual disclosure aside, I find that, if your speakers are efficient enough, nothing conveys the true power and emotion of a musical experience like a tube amp - more preferably SET and I find an altogether more natural sound that is closer to reality (at least in my system, listening material, yada yada yada...)
The primary difference between most solid state (including Class A) and tubes is the distortion each puts out. Solid state tends to put out mainly 3rd order harmonic distortion while tubes put out mostly 2nd order and some 4th order harmonic distortion. 3rd order distortion does not sound good at all. 2nd and 4th order distortion puts a musical sonic signature on sound that most solid state (class A or otherwise) do not produce.
Thus, it is impossible to equate the sound of most solid state (Class A or not) with tubes. Tubes add distortion (which can be very musical). This may sound like a bad thing... but remember that the distortion that any of your components (or any of them put together) do not even come close to the distortion added by your loundspeakers.
A famous Hollywood personality once said, "The Real World may not look like technicolor, but it should." I personally think that Real World Music may not sound like tubes, but it absolutely should!
Oh Tok2000, what a romantic thou art! :)
I might have to change the shade of my rose colored glasses, as I may not be reading this thread correctly, you know, with the yellow background and all.
Hey, I was into tubes for years (for about 10 years I wouldn't consider anything else) and still like them. They are most beguiling to the innocent. I just got tired of the microphonic problems, the constant tube rolling and tube replacement, and their relatively unreliable and inconsistant nature in general. And good tubes ain't exactly cheap anymore.
Now that some companies are producing better sounding solid state designs I see no reason to return to the problems and continual disappointments of tube amps. They almost always soften the bass, and the high frequencies, and although they can sound nice in the midrange, so can good solid state. My hybrid amps use one input tube per channel and that's all the euphony (2nd and 4th order distortion) I presently require, thank you very much. :)
I tried an Aleph 30 mated to a VTL pre (it's a good impedance match), but I ended up with a simple Rogue 88 amp (I would have gotten a VTL ST-85, but they aren't for sell that often).
Aleph: Clean, well-resolved imaging, but, I hate to admit it, a little "jangly" sounding. Didn't matter what wires I was using, it always sounded hot to me. Also, there isn't that 3-d soundstage.
Rogue: Warm, but not overly "euphonic." Good resolution (with a good $200 power cord), and life-like 3-d soundstage. The winner in my system.
All of this said, I think that it's totally worth it to buy two or three amps used, and try them out. One will probably definitely be The One.
However, as others of already pointed out, you have to go with what's important to you. Neither the Rogue nor the the Aleph is a thunder-bass type of amp. See, I don't listen for "bass extension;" rather, I want to hear, as authentic as possible, the sound of "a bass." That is, I want to hear the wood of an acoustic bass, or, if it's an electric, I want my amp to be realistic enough to reveal whether it's humbucking pick-ups or single coils. If it's a little recessed in the soundscape, that's okay for me.
I'm glad I tried the Aleph. I think everyone ought to ^_^
For me, all tubes just work better, and it really doesn't matter what genre of music I'm playing.
I reckon the thing to do is to enjoy the music, not so much the amp.
Plato, which hybrid(s) do you recommend? And, which do you not...?
I'm curious too which hybrids are recommended. Thanks