Need SS preamp that sounds like tube .

I love the tube sound, but I don't necessarily want the tubes. I currently run a CJ PV12. Does anyone have any ideas? My main problem is that auditioning is limited in my area. I am pretty confident that the SS CJ stuff will sound tube-like. But I don't even think there is a dealer in my area. Some needed information: run a Bryston 4B-ST for power, Meridian 508.24 for CD, some PMC FB-1 monitors for speakers, silver Audioquest cable all around. I would like to keep the damage under 5K. As for auditions in my area, I can probably find Bryston, Audio Research, Aragon, Meridian. Oh, I'm sure these stores are authorized dealers for a lot of stuff, but they don't carry some of the pricy brands in stock or as demo. Help would be appreciated.
Since your Bryston and Meridian equipment is balanced, take a look at the Bat Preamps. They have SS and tubes. The tubes should last years...why not stick with tubes? The BAT VK50Se is one of the best preamps around, you can get them for just over 5k used. The tubes are supposed to last 5 years. I've had mine for over a year, you'd never know there are tubes inside unless you take the cover off. Very low maintenance. If you want to go new, try the VK30SE I think it lists for $4500. You paid for balanced operation with your CD player and amp, might as well get the full benefits with your preamp!
It's my opinion that any attempts to mimmick valves in ss devices is doomed to failure.
In every instance that I am aware ,the approach has been to capture the "warmth" and "romance" by manipulation of the components frequency response characteristics by rolling the upper octaves or to slow and roll rise/response time leaving an highly altered signal shape which is,in the long haul unsatisfactory at capturing the emotion,spirit and intent of the performance.
I think it better to find a warmish SS amp with low levels of grain and capitalise on what SS does well(ex-speed,attack and rhythmic qualities).
Another approach that imo yields better results is to tailor the presentation by using a SS pre and couple it to an authoratative and dynamic valve amplifier.
To my ears,Valve pre's coupled to SS ampification(hybrid pre's as well)exhibit the worst of both worlds.
As Caterham, I also had a happy experience (yrs ago) using a fast pre coupled w/ valve powers. The set up was a DNM 6 driving EAR 519 cap modofied monos, driving Apogee Stage speakers. Felt like the DNM kept the EARs rocking.
But that was back then, with THAT equipment... you could give the alternative set-up a try, though. Otherwise, the BATs Jfrech suggests are an option (if available in yr area).
Good luck!
With the Bryston amp I would go tube pre-amp. Had a 4B and played around for a while with half a dozen pre-amps before I went SET. Tube pres and SS amps can sound very well together. Have to get the synergy right. This can be attested to by quite a few of my friends who run an assortment of systems. A good bet is join an audio club. Best thing I ever did. If you are determined to stay SS, try the BAT SS gear. It has a coloration that appears to identify with "tube like." It doesnt quite make it in my opinion, but I guess to a degree it could be system dependent. Maybe a good consideration for you would be a hybrid pre. See some Lamm gear time to time at your price point. Best of luck and let your own ears decide......
Argent, why spend any money at all? Your Conrad Johnson is a fine preamp. While it may not be the creme de la creme of preamps don't sell your PV12 short, especially with your Bryston 4B. If you feel the absolute need to change the BAT SS pre and some of the Audio Research LS pre's are nice. Good luck with your choice. PS: If you nixt the PV-12, could I have it? :-)
I would definately recommend CJ solid state, particularly the MF-2500. Personally I think it's the closest to tubes as solid state can get. It has this wonderful rich midrange to die for which is very close in character to CJ's tube amps. You'll also like its excellent imaging capabilities, but that's were the similarities to tube gear end; the dynamics and bass extention and slam are like in a really good ss design. Add to it its high current delivery that will drive the toughest loads and you don't have to ask for more.
There is currently a Conrad Johnson PFR SS Preamp on eBay, listed by a very reputable dealer. Auction# 1231260687 ends on 4/25 at 3:51pm PST. Stereophile Class A.
I recently did a showroom comparison between Sonic Frontiers Line 2 and Bryston BP-25, using SS Classe power amp and Martin Logan electrostatics. SF pre was slightly more 3D, but Bryston had better tonality, sounded far more musical and less analytical. Even on mid's, for which tube gear is always more acclaimed, Bryston exhibited more musical tones. I wanted to buy the SF going in to the audition, but I left without being certain of which was better. BP-25 is very nice. SF is slightly more open, with good detail and depth to soundstage.
You could make a substantial improvement in your system by changing speakers and speaker cables. A used pair of Dunlavy SC-III will run approx $2500 (more or less) and use a 4 awg speaker cable (assemble them yourself for approx $1.50 a foot including terminals). The difference in sound quality will more than compensate for the tube effect you want to achieve. The 4 awg cable will provide a warm, detailed sound emulating tubes.
Hi Argent, never heard a SS pre that sounded like tubes. IMO if you want the sound of tubes then ya gotta use tubes. Most tube pre-amps today are very reliable. Trying to emulate tubes with SS could be frustating because SS is SS and tubes are tubes. Kind of like a man trying to look like a woman. Ya get a bit closer and somethin aint right.
Thanks, everyone, for all the input. I do agree that to get tube sound you have to have tubes, but I was just curious if any SS came close. Anyone own the CJ Premier 17LS (back to tube again). I read the review in Stereophile. Curious what a realistic price on this piece is (Stereophile quotes list).
I have a Klyne 7LX3.5 preamp that is wonderfull...I feel
one of the best SS preamps out there.
try plinius SA series, you can get the SA100 MKIII below 5K brand new or SA250 MKIV for $5K used
If you like tube sound, you should stick to a "REAL" tube preamp. There are absolutely no substitute!!!!!
SS preamps can not give you real tube sound.Try a Rogue 66.
I digress, but good to know Ken that I am not the only one to believe that solid state pre with valve power is a better combination than the other way around. The High End took a wrong turn when it went the way of "difficult to drive" speakers, demanding "big brute" power amps that never sound musical (unless you spend mega-bucks). And then to fix this people have used a band-aid approach by employing warm and lush tube preamps. Fortunately the High End has made the U-turn and we are getting speakers that are easier to drive.
Check out the Bat, you won't be disappointed. A used Bat vk3i should run you under 1,500 with remote(this is a tube preamp). I've seen them as low as 1,000. When new they were about 3,500. Great surenergy with the bat vk200 used about 1,700 new they are 3,500. I own the bat vk200 and it is rated at 100 watts, what a joke. My old bryston 3bst was rated at 125 and the bat blew it away. Sounds closer to 200 watts. Good luck.
I musta bin a bad Audiogon citizen when I made that last post, coz I have negative votes. Having seen the error of my ways and being truly remorseful (but not offering reparations), I will refrain from posting opinions that do not conform to conventional wisdom, thereby making this site more comfortable for those that only want to hear what they already believe. Yeah right! Whoever gave me the negative votes... you are a poxy moron! Put up or shut up!
Don't let those negative nerds get to you Redkiwi. I started this thread, and all opinions are welcome! :)
Thanks Argent and good luck.
Yes, the pox on that moron, mate, and how right you were in that post of yours Red-Kiwi. I couldn't agree more. Shall go and even out right now. Cheers !
Hey Redkiwi, Im going to break my no voting policy. 2+2 4 u.
redkiwi, i also have gotten negative wotes, sometimes not even for expressing an opinion, but yust cuz it's *me*! ;~)

i can honestly say that i completely disagree w/your position - i tink it's the synergy betwen the specific amp & pre & speakers that makes a system work, & many, myself included, have found a tube pre to work great w/solid-state amps. of course, the electrocompaniet amps i use *have* been accused of having a toob-like quality... ;~)

regards, doug *the negative wotes weren't from me* sedon

Why give a hoot what people vote.I could care less if I was Negative 5000000.I am going to tell it like it is.The real issue is most people can hanle only so much truth.Give them the real story they cant handle it.
Want tube sound use tubes.Want sand grating on glass use sound use SOLID STATE.SOLID STATE MAY DISTORT LESS BUT ITS DISTORTION SOUNDS LIKE NAILS ON THE CHALK BOARD.Tube distortion sounds like music and is not fatiguing to the ear.
Now you proxy morons flame me.I dont care I stated the truth and if your way of dealing with it is to post negative votes vote away.
c'mon leafs - i tink yure generalizing a bit here. i've heard equipment that made nice music, both toobed *and* s/s. i've also heard equipment that i thought *dint* make nice music, also both toobed & s/s.

for me, personally, i've come to realize that, in order to get sound i like from a solid-state preamp, it's outta my price-range. for me to get sound i like from a toobed amp it's outta my price-range. so, for me, my retail $4600 toob pre & my retail $6k s/s amps work yust fine. of course, if i bought 'em brand-gnu, i couldn't afford *them* either... :>)

re: wotin', i agree it's a yoke - in fact, i find it quite amusing that my prewious post got +2 for delivery, -2 for content. especially ironic, since the point of my post was that i tink it's rediculous to wote negative yust cuz ewe may disagree w/someone... glad some geek disagreed w/me, but liked the way i said it! ;~)

regards, doug s.

I'm currently running a Bryston 4B ST with a Pass Labs Aleph P and the unbalanced Meridian 506.24. It is essentially a balanced setup as I have an RCA out to XLR cable from the CD to the Pass. As for sound, the Pass totally blew away the Cary tube pre amp I had-quieter background, no hiss at idle, more gain, taller & deeper soundstage, tighter bass and more detail. In fact, I'm so impressed with Nelson Pass gear that I'm selling my Bryston, which is only 7 months old, to get either a Pass or Threshold amp. Also, I'd like to mention Stealth cables. Serguei, who runs the place, is an extremely helpful individual who not only has a tremendous product, but is quite knowledgeable. Plus his cables are very reasonable. Cost wise I paid $1,100.00 (used) for my Aleph P and had it completely reworked/retrofitted by Pass Labs for $500.00. The Meridian 506.24 (used) cost $1,000.00. Bryston was $1,700.00 (used). Stealth cables (both silver, one balanced, one RCA to XLR) were $312.00 (new). Speaker cable $13.75 per foot (new, AQ Crystal single bi-wire). The speakers I have I stole for $665.00 (retail $3,400.00) I consider myself a true budget audiophile & there are deals to be had. Full retail price of my system around $12k, but I have under half that invested. My system has great detail & a very nice soundstage with plenty of headroom & presence.
For a better explantaion on Tube VS Solid state.Pick up the latest issue of Listener and read Harvey Gizzmo Rosenberg article.
Hey someone gave me some neg votes also. Maybe they were an employer of God.
Pcc: It must have been because you stuck your neck out by actually voicing an opinion. Try being more wishy-washy in the future and see if it garners more positive votes for your tally. Just remember "It's all about the VOTES" now, so forget about the hobby and/or actually spending any money at this site and just "Go for the VOTES".
Chuckle, chuckle. Really enjoyed the posts here. Hope we haven't subverted your original post too much. Back to the topic for a moment - I just want to re-state Caterham1700's point that solid state pre and tube power tends to have better PRAT than the reverse to my ears.
I am looking solely at tubes again. What convinced me?--actually I turned on my present system and just listened. I've decided that I just really love the CJ tube sound. Never harsh, never bright, always warm (at least in my system), and that is the sound I want. Probably this year I'll upgrade to newer CJ stuff (still looking to audition 17LS), then next year will be the fun part...speakers. :)
I've tried tube pre and tube amp together, it was just to tubey for me(kelly if your out there can you check the spelling on tubey, not sure if I got it right.LOL) I and I state I prefer tube pre and solid state. I still get the tube sound with the power of ss. Like to try one of the big boyes but the big tube amps are way out of my price range. Last time I asked the wife if I could sell here truck to buy one, she threated to put a cart in the garage for me. The bat pre tube and ss amp I fell work great together and are in my range. pete
pete, yure rite where i'm at now - i'm tryin' to conwince myself i need a pair of melos mat-1000 mono amps, which retailed for $10k/pair. even used, i dunno how the budget wood feel... but, as dekay sez - be careful 'bout woicin' an opinion - yer wotes will suffer - mine sure did! ;~)

doug s.

I replaced the Bryston 4B NRB that I used to have with an Audio Research 100.2 solid state amp and never looked back. I compared the 100.2 with the VT100mk2 tube amp amp the 100.2 sounded so good that I bought it. I am not saying that it sounded any better than the VT100mk2, but for much less money it came very very close. If you want the beauty of tubes without hassles, this is the amp for you. Be warned that this amp does not sound overly warm and tubey like some tube amps, but more neutral with great resolution like Audio Researches tube amps do. Good Luck!
"poxy moron", great! but what the heck is PRAT?
PRaT stands for Pace,Rhythm and Timing-the fundamental temporal qualities of music reproduction that somehow never featured in the lexicon of Holt and Pearson.

(a middle earther)
I'll mirror mbognar, Stan Klyne makes one of the finest preamps available, ss or tube. It doesn't sound like tube or ss, just music. It's truly one of the best bangs for the buck out there. I've been auditioning pre amps for some time, looking to upgrade, and listened to everything I could including the high priced tube pre often praised on A'gon, reference preamps, etc and nothing bested the Klyne. I ultimately had to go off the deep end and get a CTC Blowtorch to upgrade.
Tubes are not that difficult, and the cool part about it is that you can upgrade (roll) your tubes and custom tailor the sounds to meet your audio needs. Some tubes provide more bass, some are warmer, and others have sweeet highs, but the greatest thing about tubes is the full body sound that I've never heard in solid state pre amps. But, I've also gone back to vinyl so I may not be the best person to ask in regards to maintenance free audio.
Pass labs x series amps and preamps.
i think if tubes did not exist , i would be looking at newer jeff rowland.