Solid state power + tube pre or visa versa?

Over the decades I've run solid state preamps with tube power amps and the other way around without being able to say which combination is necessarily always going to be better. I'm about to replace an entire system lost on a flood and find myself wondering at a recommendation that the combination of solid state preamp with tube power amp is ALWAYS better. Wanting to reduce my shortlist of potential amps I wonder if anyone has has a theory as to why these claims are made, a scientific one that is.
At the moment my short list is headed by the same Leban preamp I lost with a pair of bi-amped solid state power amps. Any thoughts?
Speakers are yet to be considered - I know - I should audition them first then choose amplification . All I know for sure is they WONT be horn loaded and highly efficient. Something like the top KEF's reference series maybe.
For the kefs ss amp for sure.

Speakers will determine which power amp works best. That's the second thing to get right. 1st is speakers that work well in the room. It's that simple.
Here is a read you might find interesting:
Listen to the speakers first. They influence the sound you will hear the most. Second imo would be the preamp. Ask the speaker mfgr. What they used to voice the speakers and what they recommend.

As far as tubes or solid state there are tens of thousands of combinations that would sound great! No right or wrong there. It is up to you and your unique preferences and budget.
I think you have that backwards. A tube preamp with a solid state power amp is the preferred combination. When is the last time you have seen a hybrid integrated with the power amp section tubes and the preamp section solid state?
"When is the last time you have seen a hybrid integrated with the power amp section tubes and the preamp section solid state?"

That's a good point.

One common scenario where tube pre-amp and SS amp might not work as well as possible is when SS amp has low input impedance, say under 40-60Kohm. Part of putting together an effective combo is to make sure to get this right.

With SS pre-amp and tube amp that issue will not arise however now one must be particualrly careful about choice of speakers to provide an "easy load" for teh tube amp to drive.

GEt those two things right and either way should work out well.
Tube amps always make the bigger (for the better) difference, but both tube amp and tube pre works best for me. Good luck.
"A tube preamp with a solid state power amp is the preferred combination."

SS pre-amp with tube power amp can work on paper but probably least desirable and relatively uncommon.

Most that want a tube power amp (higher maintenance and TCO) will also likely want a tube pre-amp (which does not add much if any downside at that point).

Probably no need to think about tube stages in any source devices as well in any case once in place somewhere upstream.
I think, you finally have an opportunity to have all tube pre/power. Why not seize the moment?
I am a tube pre-amp/Class D power amp fan myself and use that in my main system.

I recently added a digital Class D integrated amp to my second system just to see how that might do in comparison and have been fairly pleased though the two sound significantly different. I could probably live with either sound alone if I had to.

I would also consider downsizing to a hybrid integrated like Rogue Pharoah or Sphinx as well if I had to.

Class D amps is SS but a totally different ballgame than Class A/B or even Class A and should hold a lot of appeal for many.
Speakers really drive the decision as to what type of amp to use. Power ratings, impedance, etc. and, efficiency of the speakers. The room size and layout also affect the decision on amp.

I have heard excellent solid state pre-amps to tube amps driving fairly efficient speakers. I have also heard excellent tube pre-amp driving tube and solid state amps.

Just remember that when you are auditioning speakers in the store, you are also auditioning the amp/pre-amp combination also. So, be prepared to request the store salesperson to swap amps and pre-amps with that set of speakers.

Have at least two different amps of the correct power ratings and impedance characteristics available with the speakers.

This would also be a great opportunity to listen to a solid state power amp and tube power amp with the specific speakers to be auditioned. Just to hear the differences.

For example, I would want to audition a particular set of speakers at a store and say for example they also carry Mark Levinson and Audio Research equipment or Atmosphere equipment.

You can then swap the amps (ss vs tube) with a particular pre-amp to hear the differences on the specific speakers.

So, room size, listening position from the speakers and really important, my price point for the speakers will determine what speakers I can afford and which ones I really like first.

Then, what amps can specifically correctly and accurately drive those speakers. Taking into account what the speaker manufacturer recommends also. Solid state and tube.

Then, audition pre-amps with the speaker/amp combination.

I haven't even started on cables and power conditioners, etc.

But, decide on the speakers first (if you are starting from scratch), and work backwards from there.

I hear more detail with my tubed pre-amp and solid state amp on the upper panels of my Martin Logan Monolith III Speakers. However, the Audio Research REF 250's just sound soooo good that I use the Mark Levinson on the base drivers and the AR REF 250's on the upper panels, with a AR REF 3 tube preamp.

Very hard speakers to drive, but tube pre-amp and tube/solid state amp combination works well for me.

The op can seize any moment he chooses really. He's asking the right questions to help decide.
Mapman, you just don't get it, do you?
The OP has been moving back and forth for decades and he is no close now to choose. Comprendes, amigo?
11-03-15: Dismord
... find myself wondering at a recommendation that the combination of solid state preamp with tube power amp is ALWAYS better.
Unequivocal absolute statements like that are ALMOST ALWAYS wrong :-). This being no exception.

This question has been debated in many past threads, and IMO the only reasonable answer is that it depends. On many things. Including what kind of amplification the speakers are designed to be used with, how their impedance varies as a function of frequency, how much power they need, the relation between the input impedance of the amplifier and the output impedance characteristics of the preamp (tube pre/ss power being the easiest combo to go wrong with in that respect), listener preferences, listener budget (a given number of tube watts will generally tend to cost more than the same number of solid state watts, for comparable quality), and of course the specific choice of components.

In my 35 years as an audiophile I've had some experience with all four combinations, and in recent years I've settled on tube-friendly speakers, tube power amplification, and solid state preamplification (although used in conjunction with a phono stage that I've just changed from solid state to tube-based).

Sorry to hear about the flood issue you experienced. Good luck as you proceed.

-- Al
I think he got good advice in this thread in response to his question that should help whatever way he might choose..
In that there are many combos of tube and SS that can work out quite well, as OP has exprienced first hand and has been re-iterated here, the key to to decide where to start and just do it right from there. Some will build their system around a tube amp. Some will build around particular speakers. Doesn't really matter as well as done properly with a plan to help assure things work together optimally.

You can even build around a particualr pre-amp. Does not matter as long as all teh pieces of teh puzzle fit together in the end including most importantly (IMHO) how teh speaker will perform in teh target room.
The only thing I can add is that I wince whenever I read someone say they want to put a tube something (often a pre-amp, but sometimes a buffer) in their system "to add some warmth" or "to warm it up". What an un-HiFi concept! I saw that comment made by Steve Hoffman, of all people. I wouldn't have thought it needed to be said, but apparently being mistaken I'll say it here: "Adding" anything is the very antithesis of High Fidelity, where being as transparent and sonically invisible is the goal.

If you find a system to sound "cold", the solution is not to add warmth, but to get rid of whatever is causing the coldness. First principle's! Real good tube products don't sound "warm", they don't sound anyway at all if they are transparent. The same with real good solid state products, which don't sound "cold". If a component adds warmth or coldness to a system, it is not a perfect High Fidelity product, by definition. While there may be no perfectly transparent components, adding two wrongs to make a right is not a recipe for success. Better to work at minimizing imperfection than trying to perfectly counteract a greater than necessary amount of it in the opposite, also imperfect, direction.
"High Fidelity" does not mean the results are pleasant, only accurate.

A high fidelity image of Medusa is the ugliest of all.

Though in a lot of modern depictions of Madusa, she is actually kinda hot! Must be photo shopped....
Tube preamp ss amp is the only way to go.
I agree you have had plenty of good advice here and you're obviously an experienced and intelligent guy yourself. Lots of listening combined with patience and you will find a happy combination... Worse case you may miss the mark by a little, or not...and of course you will really refine it all with cables and room treatments.

I have become more impressed with the evolution of SS in general but once I "Discovered" quality tube sound it still brings me far closer to lifelike reproduction than anything else... FWIW my system runs through a tubed phono stage or a tubed Dac into a tubed preamp and matching tubed monoblocs.

Lots of great equipment out there of both genres sounding remarkable but my ears still tell me: "Tubes Rule"!

Good luck and enjoy the ride.
Happy Lissn'n!
So quite obviously "the way to go" or "preferred combo" is whatever sounds best not someones oft repeated dogma. You're off to a great start just keeping an open mind, one thing I would suggest is just don't be afraid to get it wrong. It's the journey as much as the destination. Keep listening and it sounds at least like you know a preamp you like, Leben, so why not start there? And like someone else said don't be afraid to go tubes with tubes, many of us do here myself included with no ill effects to show for it. And quite often great sound. Happy listening!
Dismond, if you're still there, listen to Almarg.
I will add to his points: though it can happen with the opposite technology in the opposite parts of the chain, it's more likely that the high input sensitivity of some ss amps might make the high output of some tube pres volume controls so sensitive and restrictive to become a hindrance.
it's more likely that the high input sensitivity of some ss amps might make the high output of some tube pres volume controls so sensitive and restrictive to become a hindrance.

This statement is false. What is true is you have to be aware of how much gain the amp and preamp have such that the combination works with the loudspeaker you have.

Some tubes amps have high gain others do not; some transistor amps have high gain others do not (for example the Pass amplifiers have the same gain as our amps do); some tube preamps have a lot of output while others do not and finally some transistor preamps have a lot of gain while others do not.

If you have a speaker of high efficiency its likely not to work so well if your amp has 50 db of gain and the preamp has 20 db. Conversely it won't work so well if the speaker is 85 db and the amp has 25 db of gain and the preamp has only 6 db or none in the case of a passive.
^Did you read the preface posted before what was excerpted?
Yes- that part is not false. Just the statement as I quoted.