MOST tubelike solid state amp

Sorry for another "most" thread.

I am rebuilding a system from scratch and desperately wish I could find a truly tubelike ss amp. I am particularly sensitive to "excessive detail," but had hoped I could get away from some of the challenges of tube gear to take advantage of the many strengths of ss....

My speakers love high current, as will their replacement pair (Avalons- Opus now, Eidolon some day). Front end is digital now (ML390s). I have listened to many of the usual suspects- levinson (336 and 33H), Pass (a couple from the X series, but not the biggest ones), Classe Omega, Plinius... but now find myself contemplating a VTL MB 450 or MB750.

Are there any other SS amps which tube lovers find wonderful too? What about YBA, Goldmund, Spectral, Rowland? I haven't heard these yet, but feel the pull of tubes getting stronger with every fatiguing moment...

Your opinions are much appreciated
Jwaugh-I have avalon Eclipse and have tried many amps with them. I borrowed a friends accuphase a-50v for a short period of time and it was by far the most tube like amp I have used. JRDG amps sound very good with avalons. I have yet to hear Halcro's with them-though I can't imagine it would be anything less then amazing. I myself use a BAT VK60 and love it and am thinking of upgrading to a VK-75se eventually-and I have plenty of power. You may want to consider a Convergent audio JL-2 tube amp, a truly great tube amp at a remotely affordable price. If you don't think you will like solid state-chances are you are right. BAT VK-150se mono's would work well with your situation, in fact for the moment you could pick up a VK-75se and then when you get Eidolon's get another(VK-75se) and then make them mono's. Most feel that avalon's need high current solid state with gobs of power, I don't agree-and there are a few other members here that run avalon's with tubes and insist it is the only way to go-it boils down to if you are a ss or tube guy.

their are many great ss amps out their , but i think that if you like tubes , then only tubes will make you happy. good luck .
If you need some power then consider the Sim Moon W-5 or the Blue Circle BC26.
I believe that if you audition the Lamm 1.1 Hybrid Monoblocks you will stop looking for the magic
These amps will give you ALL the power and low end authority as the best Levinson's or Krells coupled with the Magic of the best tube amps from the likes of Audio Research or Cary or Atmasphere or many others

Read the reviews, call Vladimir and give them a try
I have associated Classe' (before 201/301 etc. series), Plinius, and Pass with a tube-like mid-range, but HQ SS bass. I would also include the McCormack DNA2, and especially the up-graded versions in the tube-like mid-range group. I have a DNA2 Rev. A. But if you're a tube guy-- well the only thing that will do it for you is tubes;>) Good Luck. Craig
the tube police will be visiting you for your recent ss transgressions...
Have you heard the older Pass Labs Aleph series? They are two stage SET design. very tube like .... In fact I saw someonw selling a pair of the Aleph 2 mono blocks at an amazing price. That would be the best of the bunch.
I would check into McIntosh, Classe, or Rowland. Did you not like the Omega? I personally love the McIntoshes for a warmth like no other I have listened to (any of them but the older ones are even warmer IMO). I had the same question several years ago and McIntosh turned out to be my answer. MIT cables also help noticibly in the warmth dept. I listened to a Blue Circle amp (don't remember model) and it was very nice as well.
I agree with Tireguy with regards to the A50V. It is a wonderful match with the Avalon speakers. Another choice is Jeff Rowland amps. I would avoid the Spectral gear like the plague if you are looking for a "tube like" sound.

As an alternative to changing your amplification, try to borrow an Audio Aero Capitole CD player. That may solve your problem and leave you in bliss. Where are you located?

BTW, I am an Audio Aero dealer. My recommendation is based on the fact that the 2 tubes in the Capitole might give you what you feel you are currently lacking. It is heavenly.
May I suggest you listen to a solid state amp from the masters of the tube, Audio Research? Plenty out there used, and they share many of the qualities that they also build into their tube amps. No, don't have all of the snob or I am different appeal, but still an incredibly fine product.
Having owned Eidolons, if the ML 33Hs are still too cold,
would suggest the VTL 450s and 750s. Great amps, lots of power. Other suggestions are the Lamm 90 watter, the Audio Aero, and the Bat 150s.

They are good speakers, but can be too sterile with most if not all solid state. You might try the Edge monos if SS if SS is a priority.
Jwaugh, the most tube like solid state amps I have ever owned are the Pass Aleph 0s and the Audio Research 100.2 and would recommend either of these without hesitation. I believe any of the Aleph series would also be in the same category. Good luck.
Thanks to all for your help so far...

Wow - already there are a lot of great suggestions. I will check out as many as possible...

I have to admit that my pulse quickened most as I read the tube suggestions, but I had several noteworthy omissions from my ss "must listen" list and will try to locate SF Bay Area auditions.

I'll keep checking if anyone has other suggestions too...

Thanks again,
I'm surprised nobody mentioned Conrad Johnson MF-2500. 240 wpc ss amp made especially to drive difficult loads. A must hear if you want tubelike (sp) from solid state.
I would listen to the Belles 350A. It is 250wpc and sounds a lot like tubes. I have its little brother the 150A Hot Rod and it is as close to tubes as you can get.
I recently upgraded my ML 27 to a 333. I found the dynamics and clarity of the 333 incredible, but the 27 had a more lifelike, which to me equates with tubelike, sound. I am currently switching between the two (I didn't sell the 27), and my further listening confirms that judgment.
I listened to a VTL ST-150 just before getting the 333 and was very impressed. I hadn't listened to the 333, but bought it, over the VTL, thinking, "If the 27 (100 watts) sounds this good, then the 333 (300 watts) ought to . . . " Well, it does and it doesn't.
I'm thinking of the VTL, though I've been through so many changes lately, I may take a break until I'm more certain.
I am suprised no one mentioned the Innersound ESL amplifier.
I am under the impression it is very smooth, but NOT tube like? Maybe there are not many out there. Anyone care to comment?
I second conrad-johnson.
If you like tube sound go with tubes. What are you doing for a pre?
I was looking for the Audio Research VT-100 with an Ls-25 but it was out of my budget... I got instead a YBA Passion Integrated. I auditionned pretty much the whole line of YBA an I can tell that the whole line sound pretty close to tube amps. Wether you choose the YBA 1, 2,3 or the Signature Series, the sound is always very detailled without being analytical (each series to a different level). YBA does not have an in your face sound, it's never fatiging... The amps are not extremely powerfull (I beleive they are all rated under 100W/8ohms (except the Signature and Passion series) but they are more than adequate for the majority of speakers.

Note: There is a high current, double transformer version of the Series 2 and Series 1. I don't think you will have any problem running any kind of speaker.

The best tip I can give you is to go audition some of their gear...

Of course, this is only my opinion...

Best Regards
Don't know if i'm repeating someone else's post, but maybe you want to try a tube preamp with SS power? Lot's of people think that's THE way to go........
I love my Pass Labs x-250 class "A" to 40watts about as tube like as you can get.
The Ayre amps are quite tubelike and a good value on the secondary market. Happy shopping.
all of the EDGE line
I have to agree with Aball. I am a devoted fan of tube amps and preamps. The most tube-like sounding amp I have owned is a vintage McIntosh MA-6100 Preamp-Amplifier. The sonics are very close to my MC30's.
I third conrad johnson
A vote for Balanced Audio Technology, they make wonderful tube stuff, and the VK500 solid state amp is quite warm and lush as well.
If you are in San Francisco, I would recommend contacting CC Poon at Monarchy (in South SF). He builds some very nice sounding mono-block amps. I have heard on several occassions that the Monarchy amps sound like tube amps.

I have the least expensive Monarchy SM-70s and I think they sound great! The SM-100 Deluxe or SM-160 are suppose to be very good and they are inexpensive and local for you.


As said by many posts above, try the SS amps made by the best tube people: ARC, BAT, CJ, and Lamm. They are all excellent. Also look into Pass Aleph and X series, Ayre, and Rowland, all excellent as well. Forget about Levinson, it's just not going to cut it.
Do yourself a favor, do'nt miss trying the Lamm M1.1 hybrid monoblocks, will give you the best of both worlds.
I heard Llanos is pretty good?
Thanks again for all of the great suggestions. I knew I could count on Audiogon readers to think of a lot of great combinations I had missed. I have started listening already...

It looks like I will have to work hard to audition the LAMMs, since there appear to be no local (even remotely local) dealers, but it sounds like it might be worth the work.

Thanks to all...
I own a C-J MF-2250 and drive it with the EV-1 and PV-14L. The MF-2250 preserves the tubelike sound without tube amp hassles. C-J specifically designed to work that way. It's the solid state amp for tube preamps. It runs cool as a cucumber and should last for several decades of constant use. Spearit Sound is offering a special for $1295 new-in-box with full warranty.