question about ss or tubes


So right now the sound I'm getting is wonderfully enveloping and fills my little space up with the music.  The music has reasonable amount of depth it images beyond the edges of the speakers and sometimes sound comes from behind me or right next to me. However I know I'm missing some detail and it has me contemplating a phono stage and I'm just wondering would I lose what I have going to solid state in order to get detail or is it possible to keep this spacious floating sort of presentation with something like a Sutherland 20/20 for example. On a side note I'm getting some new power tubes for my amps so I think this should help with my detail but my question is still does solid state do this sort of presentation or is not a ss or tube question at all but a system room synergy thing that causes this.

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The Sutherland 20/20 is bland IMO, however there are many SS phono stages that will give you your depth and imaging.

Tubes do not have a monopoly on depth and sound staging.
Thanks that's good to know. I briefly tried one (2 weeks) that was very good but there was something about it that I did not like but my system was much different then. Also I don't know if two weeks was enough time to properly let it settle in. I may try it again. What suggestions do you have?  Thanks 

Both tube and solid state take some time to break in; in addition both take time to warm up. Tubes take about two hours to really sound right and solid state takes 24 hours to a week (meaning that if its a solid state preamp it should be left on all the time for best results. Consult your manufacturer about the safety of doing so).

If you feel like you are missing some detail I would consider sticking with tubes. Triode signal tubes arguably have the greatest linearity known to man; If there is any place to put a tube its as close to the front end of your system as you can. Once you loose information no matter how good the amps and speakers are you can't regain it downstream.


Atmasphere, the solid state phono pre never got shut off for the two weeks I had it. I had an ss amp once that took forever to break in, probably in the hundreds of hours. I've often wondered if the same can be expected from ss preamps. Thanks for the suggestion on sticking with triode signal tubes. I don't think throwing out the baby with the proverbial bath water would be right. Not to discount ss but a 180 about face is probably too extreme of an unknown. I see your point about closer to source upstream stuff. But, Isnt it just as likely downstream areas can mask things as well. It's gonna be interesting to hear what changing from the Shuguang's to the EML does. Thanks for your input. 
Hello, I am not an expert, but I can tell you what I have, and how it performs.

i have an audio research amp and preamp, both tube.  For the phono stage, I have a Whest PS .30R, a solid state unit which is priced in the same range as the one you mentioned.

i have to say, my analog front end has amazing qualities compared to my digital, and my digital is no slouch!

the analog is a Lyra Delos cartridge, a JA Michell Tecnodec, and the Whest phono stage; the digital is a PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC mkII.

the result is the analog has more life and presence, better details, and better stage, but not by a huge margin. The PS Audio DAC is pretty darned good.

In my non expert opinion, the analog system I have works wonders. And the phono stage I had before the Whest was an Audio Research tube model!

hope that helps in some way.  Good luck!
Mark, thanks for sharing your experience. ill bet your analog is so very detailed. It's sounds very interesting. I wish I could hear it. The whest combined with the Delos. I had my eye on those whest's awhile back and wondered about them pretty seriously. I can tell your digging on it. Cool table to. I've only read about those pieces. Ive heard some Audio Research gear and I thought it was also pretty detailed. Are you by chance using any warmer tube brands? Again thanks and I'm still open to a ss pre, and I think which direction I end up going will depend on how the system sounds with new eml's and the flavor it gives. Those Tom Evans pre's sound like a possibility for the ss side of the fence. What I'm most worried about ss is it won't sound natural but that may just be a silly cliche. 
I just had an opportunity to demo a (well broken in) Sutherland 20/20 that a friend loaned me while I was waiting for a Manley Chinook to arrive.  The 20/20 was a nice step up from several phono stages around the 1k mark (Heed Quasar, Sutherland Ph3D, Croft RIAA Phono).  It had more detail and better decay and high frequency extension.  However, the Chinook was a gargantuan leap forward (in my system, of course).  Yes, the sound stage was much bigger, the details were more natural, and the bass depth was better, but most importantly I stopped thinking about the sonic characteristics of the phono amp and started thinking about music.  The Chinook was the single biggest improvement I've made to my system.  
it is always fun to read ss vs tube debates. I don't believe there is a right or wrong in the discussion. There are some wonderful ss devices and also some wonderful tube devices.
I do agree with Atmosphere's advice. However, I would alter that slightly to say that the best place to place the nicest, cleanest equipment is as close to the source as possible. 
 I guarantee that if one picks equipment within their particular price point, ss and tube and compare them, there may be differences, but you will find they are both great.
If you are using a CD player and/or DAC as a source, and that device does not have a tube output stage, then you are already using a solid state device.  Everything else in one's system can be tube, but if the source is ss, then there you have it. You have already "corrupted" your signal with ss anyway.  But, the amazing thing is that is still sounds great, doesn't it?  I wonder if anyone makes tubed DAC output stages?  Hmmm.
My point is that if there is one transistor device in the signal path, then, well.....ss is already there and it sounds wonderful anyway.
Most people are upgrading/changing one piece of equipment at a time(which unfortunately tends to lead to other upgrades as well, such as wires), and therefore, as I mentioned, pick a price point that you can afford and find the best in that price point range, both ss and tube and demo as best you can in your home.
But apples to apples comparisons are fair.  All others are not. One can't honestly discuss the differences between a $500 ss pre-amp and a $5,000 tube pre-amp and honestly say tubes are better.  Same is true of the opposite. 
So, whenever, I read about people harping about how great tubes are vs ss or visa versa and they don't mention the equipment compared, or the price range of the equipment, I take it with a large grain of salt and think, here we go again.

Someone is trying to sell you something.  Either their opinion ( I love ss or I love tube and the other is crap), or they literally are trying to sell you something.

But, when a person is saying that "they are missing some detail", well, that really opens a large can of worms doesn't it?  Source?, interconnect cables?, power cables? power conditioning? speakers, amps, pre-amps, tube vs ss, or, here a very big one.....The room itself.  I still having figured out how to correct for that. 

One can't simply demo dampening or room acoustic equipment in your home and return it if it doesn't work.  Experts coming to your home costs lots of money also.  Room correction is a tough one. At least to me.

enjoy

I have a sign that says "no experts allowed" outside my front door, so that solves that issue…although they do sneak in from time to time and I have to fumigate...Room correction issues can be messed with by using one of the room correction gizmos (officially called Electronic Nannys) in the signal chain, although I personally refuse to allow somebody else's bass attenuation/compression formula into my sanctuary (let alone my listening room). I find that a small flock of sheep trained to avoid blocking my speakers from reaching me at my sweet spot does work, but cleanup is bothersome and they're often noisy. I go through a "too live" room thing every time I mix a concert where the venue is empty during the sound check…I've considered filling the room with the aforementioned sheep (same issues as before), fully dressed wax figures or manikins, or simply quiet people who don't mind sitting through the sound check and then getting the hell out of there until showtime. More to the point (what was that point anyway?), I don't care who likes or doesn't like tubes but I do know tubes are more fun. That is a fact.
Nice coming home to read the above responses. Thanks guys. Smrex13 that was just the first hand experience between those units I was looking for. Very sweet. It seems and I'm just thinking out loud, that I see more chinooks on the used market than I do the Sutherlands and I would love to know why that is. 
Minori, I'm with ya I'm not in an either or frame of mind myself, yet. As I learn about what's important to me it seems those qualities come from tubes. But that could change to. I'm really attracted to quiet black backgrounds and great stereo separation with units that are dual mono like the whests and liberty's, et al., both of which seem to be great strengths on the solid state side. 
WolfG, cool job dude. I'll trade ya. 
You have a very nice system, I would look at upgrading your grado cartridge, it's strengths do not include loads of detail.  Good Luck
Thank you for the compliment and I can't say I haven't thought about the cart myself. Out of curiosity I auditioned the Dyna 12d3 I think it was. It's the one that has the super short diamond cantilever. That went into one of Bobs devices. I had no expectations but I could not believe how badly it sounded. Like nails on a chalkboard, detailed yes, but noisy, brittle. I wasn't sure what to think. I set it up carefully. I'm a complete noob with mc. That was my first try. I was thinking that it might have been because my system is tuned around the Grado and maybe that's why.
 A 12au7 in the linestage went out recently and I'm currently running from the tape outs of the Quick and into a passive that has brought about a nice degree of refinement and detail. It is one of the reasons that has led me to really consider what a less long in the tooth more modern option might be able to wring out of the grooves without losing the essential character of what I love about the sound. If I did go for a cart change given some of the background, any ideas? The Grado is gonna need retipping or exchanging in the not too distant future. 
Grados do fine with detail- just like any other cartridge, care and feeding is important (IOW they have to be set up properly).

When was the last time you got the tubes tested in your Quicksilver? Maybe they just need replacement?
I experimented with tube rolling, but after some frustrations, I went back to the Audio Research chosen tubes.

However I know I'm missing some detail and it has me contemplating a phono stage and I'm just wondering would

I am just wondering how you know (& it seems you know for sure) that you are missing details in the music? "Details" in music is not necessarily a good thing - it could be distortion masquerading as details.

The loss in "details" could be due to any number of things such as distortion in your front-end components & distortion from your loudspeaker.  

 I'm just wondering would I lose what I have going to solid state in order to get detail or is it possible to keep this spacious floating sort of presentation with something like a Sutherland 20/20 for example

The other assumption I read here  is that it's your belief that only s.s. gear can give you details & that tubed equipment is incapable of doing so. It's a very wrong assumption.... Medium-priced tube gear is very capable of musical & satisfying playback. The key is to find the least distorting equipment at your price-point for every component in the signal chain. Tedious work, for sure, but the end result is worth it.... 

Atmasphere, no I haven't. I don't have access to that type of equipment personally. I am just waiting to take the pre in to get looked at for something. It does seem to be using 12au7's too quickly. Last 2 years I've put 2 in. I could probably have this person check the rest of the tubes at that time. Thanks for your prompt on that. 

Bombawalla, I know because I heard some material that I have at home played at an audio show that honestly kinda was like a bombshell.  I could only listen for a quick minute or two but it sure was something. It was not analog. The material was Madeline Peyroux-Careless Love. Ocean Way Audio was the room. I know the record well and there was no two ways about it, it was an honest to god revelation. 

im sorry I didnt mean to imply that about ss. My question was based more on idea to bring about a gestalt of different strengths Generally associated with each one. I entirely agree with what you said and btw I think the chinook sounds like the one. But it doesn't mean a used Pass Ono wouldn't be the cats meow, or is it pajamas, either with my set up or maybe it is the ticket for someone else's similar waypoint on their journey, right?  No dogma adhered to in my world, It's all good. Many paths to enlightenment might be the only absolute I subscribe to but Im not so sure I can commit to that either. I'm pretty much all in for the golden hued road to tubalishissness. 


thanx for the response fourwnds.

i also have the Madeleine Peyroux Careless Love album & I like it as well. Tell me more - which track & what you heard at the audio show that 'stunned' you...

you did not offend me in any way so no apology required & good to read that you dont subscribe to the tubes vs ss dogma. best to keep it that way; makes you a better audiophile long-term....

Bombaywalla, the track I cannot recall. I do remember walking down the hall heading somewhere else when I heard what I recognized and know well enough so ducked in for a quickie. At first I thought is this a big band version but I quickly realized it was the same album but there was just more of everything. That's the only way I can even attempt to describe it without using banal audiophile vernacular. i looked around quick for the source and the only thing I saw was two pretty discrete small looking components on a left rear sidewall and that it is all I can tell ya. I thought to myself at the time that shite okay this must be some of the hirez digital stuff. The rooms rep was busy talking with the only other person in the room so I didn't get a run down. My friend was waiting to get to another room that for the life of me I cannot recall whatsoever. I should of went back and I regret that. 
ok, thanx,
yeah, i know that audio shows are hectic & there are always regrets that one did not go back to a certain (or certain number of) room. I've had that experience personally at the RMAFs that i;ve attended.....