Not head to head, but,
I heard the Mark Levison black monoblocks that were huge and put out like 25 watts Class A and 300 as heat and they were the most impressive solid state amps I have ever heard (of course dealer showroom and perhaps I was in a good mood but it truly was a memorable demo). I forget the model (ML2 ML25?) early 80's.
I have heard from tube guys about Bedini (sp?) monoblocks that are supposed to be sweet.
Me, no contest, tubed cj for sure, but let me know if something knocks your socks off!
I am looking to find one that sounds close to the classic tube sound.
I won't be surprised, if i am told that none exists. But then, maybe there is one, hopefully in production.
IMHO, you said it yourself, "none exists".
There are several solid state, (or hybrid amps), that do some things as good as, or even better than, some tubed amps.
(The hybrid Lamm, and the full Class "A" Pass Labs, amps immediately come to mind).
But none of them have that classic tube sound that you state you are looking for.
If you find one, let us know!
Good Luck in your search!
I don't care for ss amps but the best I have heard are Odyssey Kartego and Stratos amps and Nelson Pass class A amps
I have a friend that owned a N.E.W. DCA-33 class A single-ended battery powered solid state amp (boy, that was a mouth full) that is as close as I've heard to a tube sounding solid state amp. He recently bought a N.E.W. DCA-66 amp that has twice the output of the other model, and sold the DCA-33 to me. I have not used it in my system yet, which is ALL tube, but plan on comparing it to my amps sometime when my schedule permits. The amp comes with a battery box that holds four 12v batteries and has a charger built in. The output is 33 watts per side and sounded much more powerful than that on my friends Silverline 90db spl rated speakers. N.E.W.(nirvana electric works) is no longer in business, but you can have it serviced by Cary Audio who had something to do with the original company. I see them come up for sale from time to time for around $400.00, I belive the original price was around $2000.00. If you come across one you should check it out and see if it does as I say.
Good Luck, Tish
I remember the N.E.W., it was quite impressive; and it's the only SS amp that even came close to tubes. I'll buy one if it pops up.
I own a pair of roland model 6 monoblocks as well as audiovalve challanger 180 mono's with 6550c's;the rolands sound very close to these tube amps and I drive 2 pairs of speakers when I rotate the amps;usher rw729's and soundlab m2's with otl mods.
thanks for the feedback, i suspect its a matter of trial and error as to how close i can get , yet realizing i would be able to hear the difference.
i would prefer to search for an amp n current production.
the pass and some mac amps have been touted for their performance.
perhaps there is a small manufacturer who sells direct that may be the answer.
i thought i was going to get close with mike elliot's aria.
however the sensitivity was too high for my passive pre.
he has 2 versions, but recommended the one with 6sn7s, which, unfortunately would not mate well with my passive.
oh well, the search continues.
i don't think i would have a problem getting a hold of mac.
audio research is another possibility.
i heard one of their ss amps driving magnepan 3.6s and the sound was fairly well behaved. i don't remember the model number, as it wasa a ces of about 6 years ago. magnepan was playing sacd discs, using 2 1.6s in the front and 2 3.6s ihn the rear.
then again the cds could have been a factor as well.
I think the key here Mr. Tennis is that you are looking for the classic CJ tube sound of the 80's and 90's in a ss amp. I have never heard any ss amp that is remotely in this camp. I do however agree that some of the most memorable ss amps, all Class A bias by the way, have some of the attributes in good tube gear but not in the way I expect you are looking for based on your list, that rather rich texture and resonant presence that especially classic tube sound is and ss can never be because of the differences in the devices used. Good luck in your search and if you find it please post your impressions, I'm sure many reading this thread would be interested.
I never heard the Carver amps from the late 80's that supposedly sounded like tubes in a ss design, the Carver challenge whereby the transfer function of a tube design allegedly was implemented in a ss design. I always felt it was a marketing ploy by Bob Carver regardless of how talented an engineer he was. Does anyone remember this and did anyone that heard his amps from that time come to the conclusion that his ss designs ended up sounding like a tube design?
What publication or society do you review for?
Orpheus I remember the N.E.W. amps, those little boxes from the 90's. They indeed were impressive and inexpensive but for sure I never believed for a second I was listening to anything other than a really decent ss amp.
Carver may be nutty, but he isn't crazy.
His M400t, which I had for 2+ decades was nice. Clean with good dynamics it drove my MG-1 panels very well, right up to clipping.
The method of making the amp match was to hook the Carver amp and the 'reference' amp to the same speaker. But out of phase, I guess. When the speaker produces NO sound, they are the same.....The louder the speaker, the further apart the amps sound. Bob would adjust internal parts values and bias, until this condition was met.
This applies to that specific amp pairing with a particular speaker. Other speakers and reference amps will differ. Carver chose a well known and highly regarded tube amp as his target.
With the above conditions, I'd remove the word 'allegedly'.
Have you reviewed any of Nelson Pass' First Watt offerings? I think you would be pleasantly surprised of the sound of several of the First Watt amplifiers. Specifically, the First Watt F3 and M2 are soild-state designs that IMHO sound the closest to the classic tube sound. The First Watt amps don't quite have the classic tube sound because they are low distortion and do not have the high amount of second harmonic distortion that many tube designs possess. For the past 11 years I have owned horn loudspeakers and have owned/demoed many tube and solid-state amplifiers. The First Watt offerings are my favorite solid-state designs.
Tubegroover, I think your confusing the N.E.W. 20.1 with the amp that Orpheus and I are talking about. The N.E.W. DCA-33 amp is battery powered and are NOT little boxes and they retailed at about $2000.00, the N.E.W 20.1 retailed for about $700.00 and I think that is the model that you remember. If you get a chance to hear one I think you would be pleasantly surprised!
If you go back about 10 years or more I would say yes. But now it seems like the trend is to get more resolution and detail-everything just seems to be getting brighter. To me this is a negative. For tube like sound I think the CJ solid state amps are a good bet. Some of the older integrated amps from England have a warm sound. The Creek 4330, Audio innovations Alto, and Magnum Audio are good examples. You can always go for a 1970's receiver.
cont.. Many of these companies have gone under and the ones that are still around have also become much brighter sounding to my ears like the newer Creek amps. I heard the "Heed" from the country of Hungary sounds sounds warmish. Maybe the Audio Analogue stuff from Italy too. You can give them a try. There sadly is not much new solid state gear out there these days that sound warm and/or tube like. Either the amp designers are getting older and are losing their hearing or too many people are going to too many loud rock concerts. :) I hope this changes in the future. Someone please design a warm sounding, analogue sounding solid state amp.
Thanks for the clarification Magfan, it seems I was playing a little loose with all the facts in this case. The further result was that Carver did develop an all out tube design that was highly regarded. I still take issue with any classic sounding tube gear and ss of any variety I've heard sounding similar in the way that it seems Mr. Tennis is looking for. I am quite familiar with 2 out of those 3 amps the MV75 and MV 125, owned a few cj pre-amps from that era and was in love with that sound myself at the time and I have NEVER heard any ss amp that sounds similar. That was a real signature sound for Conrad-Johnson. I can't say I am familiar with their new offerings and where they have gone.
Yes Racamudi, it was the N.E.W. 20.1 but weren't they battery powered as well? In any case I was quite impressed actually very impressed. I saw them at an audio show back in the early 90's and there were several demos using that amp.
I purchased the NEW DCA-33 back in 1996 along with the P-3 preamplifier (built by Cary and based on the SLP-50 circuit) and LP-3 phono stage. I enjoyed this set-up for about 7 years. The amp was definitely on the warm side of neutral, but after comparing it to a Cary V-12i I don't think I would confuse the sound the DCA-33 produced with the classic tube sound of the Cary.
While living in CA I happened upon the designer of the DCA-33. IIRC he confirmed for me that the design was based heavily on a Nelson Pass circuit known as the A-40. It's available on the Pass DIY website.
i review for audiophilia.com.
The power supply that turns AC into DC is a problem component. AC is problematic period. When I listen to "euphonic" music that's into subtle nuance, the noise floor on amps other than the N.E.W. let me know it was there. That's what was most impressive about the N.E.W., it was what I didn't hear.