I've wondered the same thing, but I still have tubes... I'd probably start off looking at amps that have a lot of Class A bias. The Claytons caught my eye as well, and apparently Accuphase has some amps that would fill the bill. The ones I'm keeping my eye on at the moment, though, are the Parasound JC-1 and maybe some of the new digital amps like the Rowland 201. I've never heard either, but they'd be at the top of my list to investigsate if I were to get serious about jumping from SET to SS.
I currently run Wavelength amps with WE 300B's, and I think it would take a pretty remarkable SS amp to give me that kind of magic.
1. Probably not, though I love the sound of my c-j SS amp coupled with a c-j tube preamp. Best of both worlds?
2. You might get more or better responses on the amp forum. Most of us analog addicts just use a big horn mounted on top of the needle. ;)
This begs the question, what tube amp is giving you all these worries? Tubes in my Berning amp will last 10 years, and need no biasing. Maybe a different tube amp is the solution.
FWIW, the Pass Labs single-ended ss amps are sort of tube-like. Others have offered a few suggestions on similar questions, but I think it's rare to find something ss that will keep a tube-lover happy in the long run.
The bel 1001 MKV. Beautiful smooth sounding amp with incredible detail, lots of bottom end and all the rest. 50 watts stereo, 200 watts monoblocked (8ohm)I don't know how the owners of 10+ tube monoblocks handle it. Darn I left the amps on over night. Oh well won't have to turn on the heat this morning. As well as those tube replacements can be fairly costly. Ahhhh the decisions and sacrifices.
Having recently auditioned a number of SS amps, I cam away with a very favorable impression of Theta's amps. In fact, I bought an Intrepid for multi-channel, and hope to land a pair of Enterprises for the main speakers. While I would not describe them (or any SS amp that I have heard) as tube-like, they did have a nice musical presentation that was slightly warm. The imaging, depth and width of soundstage, and definition of the Enterprises was most impressive. Granted, the day after I decided that the Theta Enterprises were the amp for me, they get reviewed in Stereophile by an apparent tube amp fan (who was not inclined to rush out and buy a pair, but who overall gave them what I would consider a very favorable review), but from what my ears tell me, Theta offers most of what is good about SS amps, and a certain degree of what is good about tube amps.
If you are considering the JC-1's, then I would strongly suggest that you also audition the Enterprise monoblocks.
Some tube-o-philes have suggested that digital amps resemble the "tube sound". In particular the CarverPro ZR1600 (which I use) is priced so low ($840 for 600 wpc at 4 ohms) that you might take a flyer and give it a try.
Just a word on the Claytons - I have no personal experience w/ them but I have *read* that these amps favour a low impedance speaker over a high(er) impedance speaker. In particular, the M100s seemed to perform stellar with a 4 Ohms speaker. From the pro review (if you are willing to give it any credit!) it seemed that even 8 Ohms would not bring out the very best from them. Search the archives of http://www.soundstage.com
The reason I know this 'cuz they were #1 on my short-list but I ended up buying the German Symphonic Line amps as I could not find Claytons in my price range. IMHO, the Symphonic Line amps also offer tube-like performance. All the Symphonic Line owners I have communicated with mutually agree that these amps have "soul". These amps are available from Klaus of Odyssey Audio. Of course, this could be viewed as a biased opinion as I am an owner.
NO, but I'll through out the BAT VK200....
Aria WT-100 Hybrid does a great job of reproducing tube tonality. In terms of full bodied, 3D midrange, I still feel a all tube design is best. Either way you go you must accept compromise however.
I have used tubes and solid state. I used a big Theta Dreadnaught for a while. But, the one I have found to give a natural, revealing sound without any of the transistor nasties is the Belles 350a. I have paired it with an Audible Illusions L-2. I have found the compromise perfect. I think using a tube pre with a SS amp is about as close as you'll get. No SS amp sounds like a tube amp but, if you want natural, honest, musical sound, there you go.
I would seriously consider one of Conrad Johnson's SS amps very musical and very tube like in their delivery.
The Sim audio w-5 is a amp that I think is just as smooth as tubes with resolution that is the best I've heard in my room.The soundtaging is soooo massive and the midrange is palapable and real, the highs are extremely clean and extendedwithout sounding splashy.The low end on this amp is very accurate and fast with good punch.My speakers are a cruel load at 87db, and when I drive this amp loud and hard there is no heat on the heat sinks.Well I also own a MFA D75 and have had 4000hours on the oem tubes kt90 and with no trouble at all.Maybe a different tube amp may be in order,I think a used w-5 is a very good bargain with no headaches (advil is helpful in this area also).If you can get both since there is no absolute sound -Dennis
I really don't think tubes are the pain that you make then sound like. My tubes amps sound so glllloooorrrrriously good that I simply don't worry about "how much better" they could sound. I've not been compelled to hunt for NOS tubes and even so, I'm a JJ tube fan--they sound close to the best NOS tubes, are very affordable, and readily available. The only bummer about tubes is waiting ten or fifteen minutes for them to warm up a little--but even that isn't such a big deal as I have incorporated it into my listening routine. Waiting for the tubes to warm is a great time to clean records, check VTF, or pur yourself a beer ;) Take it from me, my generation isn't supposed to have any patience ;)
But at any rate, check out the LFD Mistral integrateds. Tubes are tubes and no SS will sounds like them, and although I have not auditioned these in person, I have it on good authority from opinions I trust that these are fairly "tube-like" SS amps. They're also quite affordable, available with two different power amp sections, and either internal or external optional phono stage if you wish.
No, but if you want something natural and uncolored try Gamut D200 amp.
Ayre is the most musical amp I've heard, plus their customer service is without a doubt one of the best I've dealt with.
Tube is tube, and ss is ss.
I used to have the same worry on my tube amp, then I get rid of my worry and my tube amp has been singing ever since.
It's close enought that I have a 300B amp now sitting in the corner looking ike a paperweight
I'm with Brooks, I think comparison is getting closer all the time. If a more "tubey" soundung SS amp desired, I'd suggest looking at a manufacurer that makes tube & SS gear (like C-J). They seem to voice SS amps to sound more "tubey."
Try an older Classe' amp they are nice sounding amps that will give you a tube sound with out the worry.I used to have all tubes but like you I found myself listening to the equipment and not the music.I have enough headaches at work when I come home I just want to listen to the music.Now don't you tube people slam me but I know how this guy feels.
I second Bombaywalla opinion. Everytime after I went for a concert, I always enjoy listening to my symphphonic Line over and over at home, they reproduce reality at home. SL does produce SOUL, very well said, Bombaywalla.
Choice of amps depends more on the speaker. My speakers really need a good SS amp to drive them. The amps I use have a midrange to die for and people think they're tube amps (except for the bass):
Marantz Ma-5 Esotec monoblocs ( 30W class A ).
Also the Forté amps are really good. I have one also.
A great amp is a great amp: tube, SS, hybrid or digital.
What do tube amps sound like? I've heard Cary's, i've heard Audio Research and i've heard Atma-sphere's, etc.... All are tube amps but they sound NOTHING alike. Each has their own merits and run tubes, but classifying them together as sounding the same would make me think that someone was either deaf or there was one helluva "bottleneck" in the system somewhere. Sean
Hmmm...I notice above that we again have the idea floated here that tube amps need 15 minutes to warm up, as if that were a relative disadvantage. Solid-state amps, in my - and many others' - experience, commonly need in the area of up to 8X that warm-up period or more in order to give of their best. Of course, since transistors for practical purposes don't wear out as opposed to tubes, many SS owners leave their amps always-on, but that option can be less attractive if the amp is biased heavily into class-A, or lacks a standby switch.
Anyway, I suspect the honest answer is "no", but there are probably some that offer transistor bliss...The real question may be: Is that bliss just as blissful? :-)
The Bow Technologies Wazoo is a solid state design specially engineered to produce a tube-like sonic signature.
What is the "tube sound" anyway. What I remember is a faint hissing, and then a soothing hum when the volume is turned up.:)
Eldartford - the only "hum" I get from my system appears to be coming from Glenn Gould.
The nice thing about buying well-engineered tube gear is the silence that is broken only by the appearance of musicians in the listening room :-)
Gliderguider...I hope you realize I was jerking your chain :)
Yes, engineering does have a lot to do with it. Many years ago I built a Heathkit preamp. It had what seemed to be miles of hand-twisted and shielded wire, some of it encased in spring-like outer sheaths. It was very difficult to construct. It hummed. The next preamp I built was a Dyna Kit. It had not a single piece of shielded wire, was easy to construct, and (almost) dead silent.
The good tube equipment that I have heard does not hum enough to be a problem. (Audible only with volume up and no signal). On the other hand, I have never had any hum from SS equipment, except when there was a ground loop needing correction. I think this is because ss circuits run at low impedance, and are less susceptible to magnetic fields.
Yes, I just couldn't pass up the "Glenn Gould" crack :-)
It has amazed me, though, to hear less noise from a combination of tubed DAC, tube preamp and tube power amps, than I was used to hearing from my SimAudio 4070 sand amp.
Engineering is king.
Lab47 GainCard, Pass amps
These are very nice sounding amps that don't sound solid state, very wide/dep soundstage and very musical.
The Carver series of TFM...transfere function modified...amps, monos 7t, and 9t, and various stereo models, are transistor amps specifically designed to sound like tube amps. Carver built the Silver Seven awsome tube amp, then copied its transfere function into several subsequent transistor models, to prove that two amps can be made to sound alike if their transfere functions can be matched. He had this theory that the transfere fuction of an amp is what gives it its particular sound. Anyway, I believe that there is a March 1993 issue of Stereo Review or Audio magazine where you can read about this. According to what I have read, he did seem to prove his theory about transfere function and the sound of an amp. Also, I personally think the whole thing about tube sound is over rated: I have had lots of amps, both tube and transistor, and I personally prefere the transistor ones. I still keep my Marantz 8b on display in my room, and will probably never sell it. It was the frist 'high end' piece of equipment I ever saw when my father brought it home in 1963, so it really has (nolstalgic)...if I spelled that right...value to me. But you know how I get around the tube /vs/ transistor (delimma)...if I spelled that right also...I use a tube preamp, with a transistor amp. This way, I have the best of both worlds: I get that tight controlled fast bass that good transistor amps are known for, with all those sweet mids and highs, and supposidly great imaging, that tubes amps are know for. This might help psycologically also: I ultimately chose this route, because I read an article in Stereophile magazine that said this was the best way to go. But don't ask me which issue, however, because I chucked them all out years ago. So there you have it, a solution to your problem, and from, indirectly, an authoritative source. Oh, by the way, the being who wrote the article in Stereophile was an alien from a planet in the Andromedia Galaxy. It was later learned that he traveled to earth specifically to save mankind from ultimate cataclysmic war over this debate. His hearing range, it was also later learned, was far beyound any signal capable of being generated by primative earthling audio amps. As good as some 'audiophiles' in fact. lol.
I've been using tube amps for 36 years, and the closest solid state amp, that I have listened to for a length, is the Parasound Halo amps. I've only listened to the big monblocs, so these would be my choice, instead of tube amps.
i have tube 300b pushpull. the ss is proceed . they only differ in the low bass and how loud they can play.
Best substitute: Pass Labs Aleph amps. The Aleph 3,5,or 4 amps or any of the monoblocks will offer the jaw-dropping tube bliss. They can be bought on Audiogon for peanuts considering the incredible value you get but careful system matching can be tricky.
Dear Samwise: You, like the 95% of the people in this forum are tube lovers: I respect that, anyone have the right to live in the mistake for ever. Let me explain: all tube electronics are the more expensive equalizers that you can find ( a bad one ): when a signal goes through a tube the tube generates harmonics that does not exist in the signal ( so the tube function like a sound generator ), the problem is that we can hear that inexistents harmonics in the original signal, great!.
Other issue with tubes: the frecuency response of a tube amp changes with the changes in the impedance of the speakers: great equalizer! ( this is one of the reasons why the tube electronics have a degraded sound reproduction at the extremes of the audio frecuency response ( for understand this issue you have to have a full range loudspeaker in your audio system ).
So: When do you really can hear what is in the recording when you are using tube electronics?, answer: NEVER, nobody can, the phisics laws are the phisics laws and nobody can change it.
I know that everibody there loves this equalized sound, no problem with this, understand: I'm not against the tube electronics: I'm in favor of the music, that's all.. But all of you are very far from the music than the people that have SS electronics ( today there is no SS sound. This is a myte of the past ).
All of you, music lovers, have to give you a chance to hear the reallity of the music reproduction with SS at your home: it is a different sound?, shure it is: it is nearest to the music. Yes, you have to re-equalized your ears and mind.
Not only I but anyone can probe what I'm speaking here. All the tube manufacturers knows that ( but that is their business ), the reviewers knows that ( but that is their business ), the dealers know that ( but that is their business ). ( take a look to the review of the Wavac SH-833 amplifier that has a retail price of only: 350,000.00 dls ).
Tube lovers ask you why John Atkinson, Larry Greenhill, Anthony Cordesman, R. Harley,... use SS electronics in their audio system.
Sam is up to you.
Regards and enjoy the music.
I have to come to the defense of tubes here. Yes, perhaps tubes cannot reproduce the whole spectrum as accurately as transistors. And, I will even concede that tubes may or may not add harmonics that were not in the original signal.
HOWEVER, there are things that tubes do that sound more like real, live music than transistors. It is true that the gap has narrowed and there are great transistor pieces out there. I should know as I have owned both tube amps and solid state simultaneously.
To my ears and inclinations, it is not as important that tubes may slightly shift the frequency balance or enrich the harmonics of the signal, as it is that they make MUSIC more convincingly, and they sound more pleasant to listen to. There is less listening fatigue with tube gear in general compared to transistor. While the gentleman above is entitled to his opinion, likewise, we who enjoy what tubes have to offer are entitled to an equal respect from transistor-philes.
Musical Design amps,,,Smoooooth!!! sound.
Dear Kevziek: You don't have to do any tubes defense, first because I'm not against them and second because we can't change the phisics laws. BTW, I'm not a transistor-phile: I'm a music lover.
Like you I live for some time with tube electronics till I can understand what happen with the music reproduction through tubes and through transistors in front of live music.
When I change to transistors electronics, it was a terrible experience because my perception of the home sound reproduction was equalized for tubes electronics. It takes me a long time to have all in order with the SS electronics: I have to change the loudspeakers position, I change, too, all my cables, detect some other problems in my audio chain system that with tubes electronics I don't knew there exist: but when everything was right on target, the experience was and is amazing: you can be near to the whole thing: MUSIC. You have to try, again.
Be patience with a change like this.
Regards and enjoy the music.