Should I got full tubes or stick with hybrid amps?


I currently have a Jolida 1501. I like it but I think I have upgraditis. I originally bought it (hybrid) because I’m really sensitive to highs (get a headache). It’s been good to me and I can listen without fatigue.

To help with upgraditis, I just bought a Yamaha AS801 to try out and although it definitely sounds good and has nice detail it is creating a little fatigue for me. I’m still in the break-in period so this may smooth out a bit.  (I definitely like having bass/treble controls).

Thinking about picking up a full tube amp or another hybrid for comparison. I don’t know much about other manufacturers of tubes/hybrids.

What’s the difference (sonically) between a hybrid and a full tube amp? Any recommendations?

Thanks!!
soundchasr
How are your room acoustics??
Compare both and let your ears decide. No one here can tell you what you're going to like.
Return the one you don't like. 

Simple.
Curious as to whether you have tried different 12ax7's in the Jolida.

The Jolida uses the tubes in a buffer stage (the preamp section is passive) but, they will still affect the sound.

DeKay
@dekay 
I've tried a few different tubes.  Right now I'm using GE 5751 from 1955.  I had Mullard 12AX1s from '67 before that.  

@erik_squires 
Room acoustics are probably not great.  Hardwood floor with an area rug covering most of it.  Hard objects everywhere....

Am I right that the hybrid should have the warmth of the tube amps and the bass of SS?  So, the best of both worlds?  


What loudspeakers? We can't help you if you don't help us.  
Onix Rocket RS750. I really like them. Laid back.
Room acoustics are probably not great. Hardwood floor with an area rug covering most of it. Hard objects everywhere....

Am I right that the hybrid should have the warmth of the tube amps and the bass of SS? So, the best of both worlds?  


Really depends, but the general practice of using tubes for color and warmth, with SS amps for better speaker control is often the right approach, but not all tube pre's or SS amps are the same.

Do this experiment, throw some blankets around the room, and pillows. Especially include the floor between and behind your speakers.  Also experiment with the walls.

I suspect your opinion about what you need may change if you do this.  Let us know. :)

Best,

Erik

@erik_squires 
That is a great idea. Will do that. 
Am I right that the hybrid should have the warmth of the tube amps and the bass of SS? So, the best of both worlds?

Its a little more complicated than that. The finest tube amps have excellent bass, better than a lot of SS to my ears. Better power, better slam, better dynamics. Way, way, way better palpable presence. The best amps, tube or solid state, they draw you in. The last thing they do is fatigue. Anything that does is by definition undesirable. The whole point is to want to listen to music. Wanting to stop listening to music, what fatigue does, is the exact opposite.

If you want to buy by design then why the baby steps? Why not go the Full Monty? Decware zero feedback all triode.
Am I right that the hybrid should have the warmth of the tube amps and the bass of SS? So, the best of both worlds?
Brightness is caused by distortion when it comes to amplifiers. This is why so many traditional solid state amps have sounded bright over the last 60 years- its not a trivial matter although it is treated that way. Quite literally its why tubes are still around! If I were you, I would consider going to separates rather than an integrated approach, and then use a tube preamp and sort out what sort of power amp is going to do the job for you.
The description of your room makes me suspect that issues there at least need to be sized up properly before gear changes. I have very low ceilings and they helped eliminate a lot of speakers -- and I knew it was not the speakers fault. But if you don't have low ceilings, there is a lot you can try to see if you can mitigate those headache-producing highs. Once you hit some limits in how much better it's getting, you can reassess how your current amp works or doesn't and then move ahead with gear changes. I'd just hate to see you buying more gear and then realizing later that the room is still the main culprit.
I have never heard ONIX loudspeakers but the web says they are 88db efficient and warm sounding. I think I would dump the tubes and go solid state, maybe a Musical Fidelity integrated. Low efficiency and warm loudspeakers don't really cry out for tubes. 
@russ69 
How would the Musical Fidelity compare with the Yamaha AS801?

@hilde45    
I'll throw some comforters and pillows around this weekend and see what happens.  
I have the Yamaha A-S701 (same as 801 w/o the good DAC), and at first I found it to be a hard in the treble.  I did several things that addressed this, and the sound is much better than I would have thought it could be.  

First I used vibration control footers underneath it and a weight on top.  I also replaced the stock fuse with a HiFi Tuning Supreme Cu fuse - these tend to give a warmer sound.  And, of course, I used a decent power cable with it.  I was surprised by how much it improved the overall sound and relaxed the treble.  Of course, I would recommend these tweaks with any amp - it's not just the A-S701 that benefits.  That being said, if you are looking for a smooth, non-fatiguing top end, the A-S801 is probably not the ideal amp for you.  

Just my two cents,Scott
"...How would the Musical Fidelity compare with the Yamaha AS801?..."

I would recommend a M5si or a M6si. Tons of power, more than their wattage rating suggests. It would be a giant step up from mass consumer products.

P.S. I have heard a number of Musical Fedelity integrateds and they all sound great. I run an M3si with a pair of Martin Logan electrostatics and it sounds great. It replaced a 6K 400 WPC McIntosh amp.
If you're curious what the full tube experience is like, you'll never know without giving it a try.  Then do some tube rolling to taylor the tonal balance  and signature specifically to your liking.  It's not only fun to do, but is part of the experience that only tubes can offer.  Most won't go back.
@russ69 
Those Musical Fidelity amps are considerably more expensive than the 801...... I'm sure they sound great. :-) 

@smrex13 
I have a better power cord I'll try. I've never heard of changing out the fuse before. I'll look at that.  

I'm also still about 20 hours into the break-in.  
Why not try to score a Jolida 102 or a 202 (202s are available on ebay all the time), and then you can do your own comparison, which is going to be more reliable than what anyone can recommend here (actually the only reliable test).  If you prefer the 1500, you'll be able unload the 202 for pretty much what you paid for it.  If you prefer the 202, sell the 1500.  In the end, you'll be out maybe $100-200 at most, and you'll feel you know for certain the answer to your question.
@jdane   

Good idea. I'll check them out.  
I own both a Raven Blackhawk MKIII (tube) and a Pathos Acoustics Classic One MKIII (true hybrid) both are great integrated amps but the Pathos has a better soundstage and is way cleaner.

Buy a Pathos and put it all to bed. 
@soundchsr

I'm still learning but my guess is that

(a) your corner windows are a problem, as is the glass front on your fireplace
(b) you have different items behind the two speakers (asymmetrical)
(c) your first side wall reflection points are an issue, too
(d) glass framed things are a problem.

I cannot see your rear wall.

So, my guess is diffusers and absorbers in various places.

Watch some Acoustic Fields videos as a starter. Here's the first pull on that thread:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQIV341IUCg&ab_channel=AcousticFields
How would you treat this room?

https://ibb.co/pJ0pxVx

I gather you listen quite a bit from your desk.

1. In my office, I re-configured my desk, no drawers on the right, so that I sit off-center of the desk, thus centered on the speakers, and the monitor also centered on the speakers for all the music videos I stream.

Never better sound/imaging in my office.

2. Next: dogs OUT, the breathing, scratching, licking, lip smacking, farting of large dogs is not a good mix with concentrated listening.

3. I might try tilting those speakers up some, just to hear if any difference.

4. Do you pull that black chair out in front of your desk for focused listening? Slightly angled up might reduce tweeter’s output, may be advantageous regarding fatigue from such close focused listening.

5. Tubes: I say yes to all tubes, perhaps try something you can return or sell without too much loss.

two concerns.

a. speakers 88 db sensitivity, needs more power, i.e. 4 power tubes each side,

b. thus more heat. It seems like your equipment is behind those closed cabinet doors? Tube amps, especially that size tube amp wants lots of air for heat to escape.

6. Integrated Tube Amp, with remote volume, tone controls, and preamp bypass to bypass the tone controls if you want. Tone controls may be the best solution to your fatigue issue, neutral or adjusted for particular music.
Tone controls can be the real stumbling block since, for some un-fathomable reason, most designers have decided they are no longer required. Another factor is the type of sound you are looking for. You've stated that you don't like fatiguing highs. Depending on the tubes, even full tube set ups can sound harsh. One unit I will throw out there for you to consider is the Vincent SV-237MK hybrid integrated amp. It has a three tube pre amp stage with a very good solid state amplifier. Two of the tubes are 6N1P-EV's which pretty much don't have many sound changing replacement options. The third tube is a 12AX7 which gives you lots of options to change the sound. Besides bass and treble controls, it has a tone bypass, and something that used to be standard on just about everything, a "loudness" switch. I have owned one for awhile now and it is an excellent sounding integrated. At 150 wpc at 8 ohms, it will drive any speakers with ease.
Tubes Harsh? Huh?

I’ve used Tubes since 1973, 47 years, harshness never entered my ears.

always in the 30-35-45 wpc size (4 power tubes total)

Fisher Mono Blocks 80Z (EL37, substitutes)
Fisher Receiver 500C; 800C (7591, substitutes)
Current Cayin A88T 6550 or KT88

I think I put EL34’s in the Fisher Mono’s, -5 wpc, a vauge memory

Fisher’s used lots of 12...
Cayin uses 6....
Other Cayin’s now use 12 ....

I found both the pre 6’s and the Power tubes brands definitely sounded dirrerent/preferrable, but none sounded harsh.

I’m thinking I like the 6.... better than the 12 ....
You seem to be forgetting that those big output tubes have smaller tubes driving them. Those smaller tubes CAN sound harsh and pass that harshness on to the output tubes. I find that it is mostly the new production tubes that can impart harshness, but some NOS can also have those characteristics. If those tubes didn’t affect the tone, nobody would bother rolling them to find the best sound. It should also be noted that tubes for the most part are a lot more finicky when it comes to the speakers they sound best with. 
@hilde45   
Didn't think about the fireplace or the pics.  Definitely need to look at some acoustic panels.

@elliot  
Great suggestions.  I only listen from my desk (in this room).The black chair just sits there. Considering getting rid of it.  I don't use it. Equipment is to the left of my desk. Sitting on a table.  Thanks for the tip about 4 power tubes.  That will probably change what I can look at.  

@hobo1452   
I'll take a look at the Vincent.  I heard (somewhere) that they soldered their tubes and weren't very helpful if you wanted to change them or needed other support.  Was your experience with them different?  

EDIT: The Vincent is almost $3k.....  dang.  I like everything else about it though! Tone controls and loudness are sweet. 






@soundchasr, I’d place two nice dog beds in the middle. Good absorption, especially when occupied. 
I am actually doing an all Tube System for the first time in my life. I've had Class A/B Transistor Amps (Adcom/McIntosh) and Class D (PS Audio). I've enjoyed them all but once I got into Electrostatic Headphones by way of  a Stax SRM-007tA (eBay) with a pair of Koss ESP-95X's (Massdrop), I am now hooked. This past summer, I traded in all my PS Audio Amps for a Balanced Audio Technology VK50-SE Preamplifier. My friend was selling his VTL 300MB's at the time but it was well out of my budget. The Music Room was a great place to work with with the PS Audio trade for BAT Preamp. I'm now working on getting a Jolida Fusion 3502P Amplifier to power the top section of my KEF 105/3's.  The Woofers of those Speakers are being driven by a 1000W ICE Power Amplifier from Parts Express. 

Enjoy the ride ! :-)
Ok, everyone.  Let's say I put aside $2,000 for an integrated or separates.  What say you!?


I have never heard a hybrid that wasn’t the worst of both. I am picky, as I had a wonderful CJ tube preamp for decades, but the only tube piece I’d consider under $5k is the Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III. Separated only make sense if your budget is well over $10k
Those speakers 88 sensitivity put you in the category of more power needed, I think you might need more money in your budget. 

Spread the difference over several years, then it seems easier.
"...Those Musical Fidelity amps are considerably more expensive than the 801...... I'm sure they sound great. :-)..."

Yes but you will just be breaking into the first rung of real hi-fi sound. They are cheap for what they deliver.    
“Low efficiency and warm loudspeakers don’t really cry out for tubes.”

Beg to differ. Ok. Maybe not low powered ones. Currently using a
Rogers High Fidelity KWM-88 Integrated Amplifier (fully returnable) to drive Souns Fabers and the sound is mid range focused. Not to bright or trebly. I have also heard gushing over the rogue amps.
2k might get you a used PrimaLuna?

There’s an old saying that kind of fits here. “Price, Quality, Speed; pick two.”
Well at a budget of $2000, stick to an integrated amplifier. 

I doubt the Yamaha 801 is an upgrade to the Jolida, just different and likely not less harsh ( I own the Yamaha 701). With a budget of $2000 a true up grade can be found. 

As mentioned by others, play with absorption materials as your room is very lively. Explore this using the two amps you now own prior to making an additional investment.

Don't recall if your room size was mentioned, what is it?
Maybe put some or all of the 2k into the room. You could be amazed. 

The room is a component. 
@mesch 13x19

@elliott  
How much power?  I thought 60w per would be enough.
I would think that 60wpc would be enough with 88dB speakers  in that size room unless speakers are difficult to drive impedance wise.
soundchasr;
The tubes on my SV-237MK are NOT soldered in place, nor were they on the SA-T7. I am not aware of any of their current production equipment having that decidedly unattractive fault! As to price, keep a regular eye on Audio Advisor's site as they do have Vincent open box items pop up from time to time with some decent reductions. Upscale Audio also sells the SV-237MK. There are also rumblings on the air waves that Vincent's stuff is made in China. Whether it's true or not, I couldn't say. You certainly couldn't tell by just looking because the build quality is exceptional. 
Also to soundchasr; 
Don't limit your search by excluding chifi equipment. There is some surprisingly good stuff coming from China lately. Before I bought my Crimson 275, I bought a Chinese made integrated tube amp to see if I really wanted to get back into tubes. I started with a Muzishare X-7 that ran four KT88's and pushed 25 wpc in triode mode and 45 in ultralinear. As a straight integrated amp with no tone controls, I found it a little too  neutral for my liking, but using the SV-237MK as a pre amp, it was very impressive. Both the build quality and appearance were exceptional as well. You might be surprised what you can get for your stated budget. The down side is if you have to return it. I got mine through Amazon so that wasn't a problem, and mine arrived in perfect condition and working order. Check out https://www.china-hifi-audio.com/en for ideas and then cross reference on Amazon. If my budget had not allowed me to step up to the Crimson 275, I would have been more than happy to continue using the X-7. 
Well, duh to me! Where does Jolida come from?! Anyhoo, it's still good stuff. 
I owned a Vincent SV-226MK and the tubes were not soldered in. Wish I had not sold it. They are made in China to Vincent's specs and parts choice. May by a company (forgot name) that is known to produce a fine chinese product.

I have never owned the SV-237MK, however, based on my experience with the 226 and feedback within this forum I believe it to be a great integrated in it's price range. 
soundchasr:

Sorry I didn't get back sooner.

Assuming that the sound of the tubes in a "buffer" is similar to what they would be like in the gain stage of an amplifier the GE 5751's were a good reasonably priced pick if you were aiming for more clarity/detail over typical 12ax7's (probably what I would have tried).

I would also take a look @ the Sovtek 12ax7LPS if your goal is to squeeze more detail out of the 1501.

Another cheap/free experiment would be to support the 1501 with "hard" footers to see if doing so increases detail enough without robbing fullness/richness too much.

Perhaps something around the home used in a 3-point position?

I've owned various purpose made cones and ball bearing footers, but have also experimented with things as simple as bull nosed lug nuts and small ceramic ramekins.

DeKay 


@dekay 

I don't know anything about footers or isolation.  Do they really impact sound that much? Even in an amplifier?  
Yes, they have for me...

Hard cones/ball bearings brighten up the sound VS soft footers (less/tighter bass/more detail), but they are a mixed bag.

Just rec'd trying something cheap/free as it seems to me that you like the Jolida, but just want a bit more detail.

I ended up (years ago) using the stock footers on my gear in combination with specialty shelves in my rack for the source components (TT/CD), but did try various soft/hard footers with power amps/ preamps/phono preamps & dacs and...

Yes, the footers did change the sound and my electronics are not even located in the listening room (see my system link/details) so airborne vibration was not really a part of the equation.

Even a hard wood cutting board placed under the amp (forgot to mention that one) may make enough difference in adding detail, depending on what the amp is resting on now.

DeKay
It's actually on a glass top desk. :-)
What does everyone think about the PrimaLuna Evo 100?
Funny...

Try something different under it and see what changes soundwise.

Since I stopped experimenting (15+++ years ago) I now have an assortment of plastic cutting boards because people give me all kinds of sh/stuff.

Actually the plastic ones are nice for meat/fish.

You could also try placing something soft/complient under it (pieces of an old mouse pad?) just to see/hear any difference.

The weirdest footers I recall trying were foam-like rectangles that my wife used to buff her nails (liked them under the original Bel Canto DAC1 that weighed about 2 ounces;-).

Others tried were by Mapleshade, Racing Cones/something, E.A.R., Vibropod and a few other popular ones (names forgotten).

DeKay
PS:

You could also try soft footers under the new SS amp, which per my experience trying them under a Musical Fidelity X-A1 plumbed up the LF's making the HF's less prominent in the balance.

Pretty sure I tried Vibropods under the MF, but they could have been E.A.R. as I purchased a bunch of them (2 different sizes) around the same time.

I'm harping on giving the 1501 additional tries/chances because I heard one running Magnapan MMG's years ago and was rather impressed with the overall sound quality as well as its ability to properly power the planers.

Not a clue as to how it sounds with easier to drive speakers though.

DeKay