I just had my Counterpoint SA100 completely rebuilt by Mike. My amp is now his new design. It's very similar to the Aria, but it's built in the old Counterpoint case. The Aria is still another notch above my amp...some different parts, plitron choke, a really nice case that was actually designed for the design, etc. So far (about 250 hours) I really really really love the amp.
From my experience, I prefer hybrid designs. I certainly haven't heard most amps, but both SS and tube do have their advantages. Sure...I'd love to try some OTL amps, but I honestly don't feel like dealing with all the tube hassles. A good hybrid design tries to make the most out of their advantages, and at the same time, use each technology to offset the other's disadvantages. I think Mike has succeeded. The amp itself is extremely neutral....capable of very smooth, detailed highs and powerful, controlled bass. Mike said it would sound like whatever tube you put into it, and it really does. It came with a US made 6SN7-GTA (i think...no branding on the tube...I don't know what it is) that sounds excellent...very smooth and lush, yet still detailed...lots of air? (treble noise? I don't know) I replaced them with some 40s Sylvania 6SN7-GT's and it sounds like a completely different amp. Extremely detailed...blacker background...huge bass...much more rounded, three dimmensional images. I was amazed at how different it sounded. The great thing is...I like the way it sounds with both sets of tubes. I prefer the Sylvania's, but I could easily live with any tube in the amp. It just sounds good. To answer your question...hybrids sound like tube AND solid state, and at the same time they don't sound like either. Make sense?
As far as the clipping goes...
Do you people regularly drive your amps to the clipping point?? I don't have a huge room (maybe 12'x 22'?) or very inefficient speakers (89dB)...maybe that's why I've never clipped mine. I honestly don't think I've ever come close...at least not since college when I had my Pioneer / Technics combo. My amp is rated at 100wpc, I think. I assume it would clip like solid state, but who know's? Mike Elliot, that's who. I highly recommend calling or e-mailing Mike. He's very easy to contact. Tell him what kind of speakers you have, let him know their specs. Ask him all about the details of how the amps handle overloads. He can tell you exactly how they work. We'd all be guessing.
I hope the rambling is helpful. My pre is a Pass Aleph P, my speakers are Merlin VSM-SE, and my cables are Cardas Golden Cross.