Neutral Sounding Tube Amps - what gives?

If I'm in the market for a tube power amp or preamp, it's because I enjoy the sheer musicality of tubes, the romance they bring, the warmth, the inner-glow, the bloom, the whatever the heck you want to call it.

So why, when I'm reading current reviews and forum comments on the latest tube gear, has it suddenly become a good thing to encounter modern tube gear that sounds 'neutral,' 'transparent,' 'uncolored,' etc.? These were not the attributes that drew me to use 'valves' in the '80s (A classic Leak Stereo 20 driving Quad ESL57s), and it's not what I want from my tube gear today.  

Who changed the rules? Did anyone else get the memo?

With the above in mind, what do you consider to be the best tube preamp offering a 'classic' tube sound, but built in the last decade, say in the $10K new range? I'm not shopping, I'm just curious to see if I'm missing something.


There are a ton of good sounding Valve amps out there. Set, Push Pull, selectable, and VALVE swappable. You can get all over the map with a single stereo valve unit, or mono blocks for 5K or under. I been having a great time with a few different models, Cary V12R, all tricked for my ears, and tricked out pair of 6 packs.
Macs, MC225,240,275,60s, I roll them in and out of setups all the time.

They all have their place. 12 to over 100 watts per rail, is plenty for me. I use to have a pair @ 360 per rail, TOO hot, too much, I quit using valve amps for bass duty, too. It cleaned up, a lot of issues and removed a LOT of the summer room heat. Over 114 last week. 121 in the Valley. HOT!!! It's still class D time for 3 more weeks or so..
I really dislike vent noise to stay cool enough to listen to the stereo..

@ebm .
You're. Sorry for being pedantic.

-Though if you mean SS can offer Tubes 'sound', then I agree.
I'm just curious to see if I'm missing something.
You are, if the colorations are what draw you in. In looking to avoid colorations I find unpleasant, I've been drawn to tubes because they are less likely to have the colorations of 'bright and harsh' with 'tight bass', all of which do not seem to occur in real music. But otherwise I want to get as close as I can to the musical experience, so I demand the amp otherwise be as transparent as possible. I find that such amps are more relaxed and easy going (more involving) than tube amps that have traditional colorations, which to me sound harsher especially at higher volumes. IMO/IME a stereo should not sound loud unless the music sounds loud, even at high volume levels it should stay relaxed and simply present the music.

IOW, what you may be missing is the experience of music sounding real in your room, made by an electronic reproducer.
I'm not sure why people feel content to talk about how "tube amps" sound because when you change the *tubes* a helluva lot can change.
I run a Supratek Chardonnay with some upgrades for the pre and like very much the 6SN7 presentation. It’s hard to describe in typical audiophile terms being that it just sounds right to me. More dynamic than any other tube unit I’ve heard but having heard and owned a few, just say it will shove when you ask it to. Great bass, never soft, never shrill.
As for amplifier, came across a demo unit Audiopax Maggiore M100.
Sometimes I just grin when the combo gets going. Runs KT88s in triode, six in each mono block, but I doubt it’s ever been pushed as speakers are 100 db efficient and the amp outputs 100W. When ramped up, the sound gets bigger more so than louder.
As an aside, Almarg, in his usual insightful and unpretentious manner, helped me sort out the particulars. Forever grateful to my favorite Audiogon poster. May he rest in peace.