SS pre sounds like tubes


I had a Tom Evans Vibe, was the best preamp I have had.  It sounds like best tube preamps but even better.  It is op-amps.  Are there other SS preamps that sound like this, or close, maybe with opamps?  Not too expensive, maybe $3000 at most?
inburrito
inburrito, your statement,
Tom Evans Vibe, was the best preamp I have had
makes me wonder, why look at anything else? There is the latest model Vibe-Lithos 7 and Pulse II for sale right now and I know they are excellent, because I used to own them (but have no affiliation with the current seller).

I really liked that preamp because of its clarity, even-handed treatment of all frequencies and touch of fullness which, in combo, made it very musical and enjoyable to listen to.  It is absolutely quiet which would be a nice feature with today's high resolution digital sources.  For a number of years I kept going back to them and I actually owned four of them at different times.  I have owned over 20 relatively high quality preamps in the $4-10K range (including many with tubes) and would put the TE Vibe with Pulse in the top three.  IMO, it really does nothing wrong.  I would call the soundstage "tidy" instead of expansive, but I was fine with that.  Another issue some might have, in comparison to the best preamps in the range, it was not the most dynamic pre I have owned, but it was always very musical and well-balanced.  It was amazing to me that TE was able to accomplish such a nice sounding preamp using op amps which, in general, I have found to flatten the sound and reduce micro-dynamics vs. using discrete circuits.  I do not notice this with the Vibe.  I would never say it sounds like a tubed preamp, but I would say I liked it better than several highly rated tubed preamps.

As far as a purchase, it seems things have improved somewhat in that there is a larger USA dealer network than I ever remember.   SORAsound and Sound by Singer are listed as Dealers, but no USA "distributor" is listed.  If you go to the TEAD USA website, more dealers are listed.  If you go to the TEAD UK website, the company appears to be more active than in the recent past, with new products in design or production and even an upgrade offered to the Vibe.   

Let us know what you end up with.


Actually the trend is for the companies to meet somewhere in the middle....s/s electronics are sounding less s/s...tube electronics are sounding less like tubes.  I guess everyone is agreeing that these are adding artifacts into the soundstream that shouldn't be there.  Have a listen to Ayre, or top of the line Audio Research.
"SS pre sounds like tubes"
There is no such thing as far as I know and when someone says his/her amp sounds "tube like", I usually assume he/she has never owned a tube amp. I would love to hear specific examples like abc ss amp or preamp sounded just like xyz tube amp or preamp with the same set of sources and speakers.
I think a great way to get that "tube" sound is to use tubes. Reviewers of amps and preamps use the "tube-like" description so often it's become a cliche', but I get it, and I use tubes. I am into hifi accuracy (!) although with recorded music you're at the mercy of the engineer's choice of mikes, mood swings, pan pot manipulation, and artist mollycoddling. When I bought my tube power amp a dude at the manufacturer's headquarters said they were going for a "modern" sound, meaning somehow less grease in the amp's output, which combined with a very clean preamp (note preamps for hifi should put out such a stress free low output signal to an amp that distortion of any kind from the preamp should be nearly undetectable) should be both less bad tubey, and more good tubey…so the question remains: Tubey or not tubey?
wolf ...

Tubes rule the day ... and night. The comments I get when friends are over during those late night listening sessions, when the power coming into the house is at it's most pure is ... "Now THAT'S what we love about tubes!" 
Typical audiogon fashion - ask a specific question and get a bunch of responses from people recommending the gear they own with little to no bearing on the inquiry.

Yes, they say the Tom Evans Vibe "sounds like tubes", but what they mean is it has all the good characteristics with none of the bad, and none of the bad qualities of solid state either.

I have had many many tube preamps some up to $20K US new.  The Vibe is more natural and more musical than those.  This piece does things no tubed preamp can do that I know.  There must be other solid state preamps like it in the world.

I bet not one person saying here "just buy tubes" as if no one thought of that has heard the Vibe.

As for the suggest to buy the Vibe, yes that is maybe not a bad idea, but they are very pricey new and service is maybe not easy to get, I don't know anymore.  Budget is lower now.

Thanks for replies that were on topic.
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In case I wasn't clear in my post, there is a used Vibe/Pulse for sale here that may not be too far above your budget. I was not suggesting that you buy a new one.
The Vibe does indeed share the same sonic rightness as the better tube preamps. I liked the SoulMate preamp even better however!
so your preamp actually colors sound to be similar to tube preamps?
Sure, all gear is flawed. 

"There must be other solid state preamps in the world like it"

I am sure there our but not at 3000.00.
i prefer neutral sounding preamp no matter what it uses vacuum tubes or semiconductors for casual audio listening. for instruments and effects different. the most neutral sounding preamp i've ever had was mccormack micro line drive. i bought it for $300 shipped.

czarivey, if you liked Steve's Micro Line Drive, check out (on my system page) what he built for me out of a TLC-1. A buffered no-gain preamp using Lundahl transformers, an outboard choke power supply and a Shallco discrete resistor volume control using Audio Note tantalum resistors.  It is the only preamp I have owned that I like better than the Vibe/Pulse combination.  I would rank Lamm LL2 Deluxe third, and everything else further down the line, including two that were $10K+.  IMO, it has nothing to do with tubes vs. SS, but rather does the preamp adequately drive the power amps, is it quiet and clean sounding, does it have body and drive, and is it musical.
Sounds like you guys would love an LDR based passive from Tortuga or Lightspeed. I owned both and they deliver what you like! 
That's what I've always preferred in preamp: buffered active unity gain or low-gain. You get transparency, control and no color. I don't care how tubes or semiconductors sounding. I only care how music instruments and voices sound so to me "tube-like" sound means something wrong or missing.

I believe the TEAD Vibe has only 6dB gain.  It is very quiet but still has great body and tone.
For my preamp, Steve offered me the option of zero gain or +6dB through the transformers, same as his VRE-1, and I chose zero gain.  Having zero gain has in no way affected the body or drive of this preamp, which are outstanding. I have not had an opportunity to try the LDR based preamps yet and, since I need balanced gear, they are harder to find.  I did try the Bent/Jay Sho autoformer preamp and thought it sounded good but not to the level of my preamp, which seemed to have a bit more body and richness, to me.  I have always liked the sound of good resistor volume controls for some reason and the tantalum resistors Steve used in mine are very nice sounding indeed, and even more musical than the low noise, laser trimmed, 0.5% nichrome SMD resistors used in a Goldpoint passive I have here.
Mitch2, I share same strategy:
IMO, it has nothing to do with tubes vs. SS, but rather does the preamp adequately drive the power amps, is it quiet and clean sounding, does it have body and drive, and is it musical.
In my approach lowest gain or unity buffered gain of preamp is the best surrounded by sources able to provide sufficient output level and sufficient sensitivity of poweramp. In other words fixed output components have large gain and variable output components have low or unity gain.
@mitch2 , Can you tell me please, where the one you had is for sale? I may be interested. Is this the one in LA?
It is listed for sale here on Audiogon by Mark Block, with the Pulse II.
The Bedini BC-800 s/s preamp and their solid-state power amps from that era (BA-801, -802, -803 and their Classic series) come as close to tube sound as I've ever heard. Hard to find; most ended up in Europe. If you want a real tube preamp that can drive anything down to 20k ohms input or lower, Don Sachs in Nelson, B.C. makes a beauty for under $2,000. See: http://www.dsachsconsulting.com/custom%20line%20stage.html
I run modified and upgraded Dynaco-based gear in my main system and use the Bedinis in the man cave. BTW, not on anybody's payroll here, but you don't need to spend 10 large for a superb preamp.
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I need to add (having not figured out where the edit switch was), that the Dynaco-based gear is all tube and is made in either kit or assembled form by Vacuum Tube Audio. So I've got a half-way ability to AB solid state and tube, albeit through different speakers (Tyler Decades in the big room and antique Dynaco A-35s in the den) and I love 'em both. Guess my ultimate point is that there is some incredible new tube gear, U.S.-made, that won't cost you your first-born, as some very good solid-state stuff on the used market that can make you very happy.