Please explain what is motivating you to make this change. Is there something "wrong" with your current setup that you think a solid state amp would correct? As a point of comparison, what is your current amp?
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Yea I agree we could use some more info, I feel there are very few solid states worth using and they tend to be a lot if $$$. They include accuphase, boulder, Rowland, Cello, Halcro all of which are pricey(to most of us) and a good quality tube will sound nearly good if not better in most situations for less-of course there are exceptions. Is there any reason you feel you should change?
After 10 years with tubes I switched back to SS. It all depends on what you like and the synergy of your system. I owned Cary, Wolcott,Roger Majesky amps all of which are excellent. When I heard the Aloia amps in my system is was the best match I liked.Other than sound some of the problems I had was reliability, Constant biasing, tube failure.
Brad, if you're happy, then why change anything? You have what appears to be a tremendous sounding system. At your current level, it is actually easier to screw-up your system then it is to make it better by substituting equipment. If you haven't already done it, you might want to invest in a serious equipment rack and try to address isolation issues.
Also, have you tried running the Wadia directly into the power amps?
No current SS amp sounds like the best tube amps in spatial qualities - and if you've got Pro Acs and run the Hydra why would you want less in that regard, unless strict convenience was your predominant concern (which doesn't sound like that's the situation here). For instance, the Pass SS single ended stuff does get the air "within" the sound source more correct, but the space around players is still less well treated, and particularly as you move deeper into the soundstage (its still nice stuff though). Yes, Pass would be a good SS choice, and no, never go from CD outs directly into amps as pre's are the fulcrum of any good harmonically nuanced system, but why don't you instead swap the First Sound pre for Joule's new LA150? Joule amps are thinner harmonically (even though OTL) than their pre's which are richer. Predictably, they mate well. I think that might settle you down from that stereo-buying-gremlin for a long while... Of course, assuming that is what you are after...
bRAD, i WENT FROM TUBED AMPS( MELOS AND THEN AUDIO RESEARCH) TO MY CURRENT jEFF ROWLAND. THE TUBE AMPS ARE A LITTLE MORE ROMANTIC. BUT THE ROWLAND HAS IT OVER THEM IN EVERY OTHER WAY. PLUS A LOT LESS HEAT, FAR MORE RELIABLE AND YOU NEVER WANDER WHERE YOU ARE ON THE TUBE LIFE CYCLE.
HOWEVER, IN THE PRE-AMP SECTION, TUBES ARE THE ONLY WAY TO GO IMHO.
As I said above, I use a Pass X-150 with my Proacs, sometimes with a First Sound and sometimes with a Placette. I also have a CJ 11a amp that I play with from time to time. It has wonderful bloom and a huge sound stage, but I always return to the Pass. Ultimately, the CJ sounds rolled on top, slightly muddy (cloudy might be a better word) and the Pass gives me focus and clarity and resolution, which is what I hear in live music. It's a bit "buttoned down" compared to the CJ, but I can live with that. For the life of me, based on what I've tried in my system, I can't understand all the unbridled enthusiasm everyone has for tube amps.
Drubin- With your choice in speakers, ss could easily be a better match. However, (and this isn't intended as a slam against the CJ-11a, but ...) you need to try a much better tube amp (and possibly amp / different speaker combo) before you dismiss tubes as a clear alternative. There is a reason why there are so many ardent supporters of tube amplification. In a friends system, the Pass amp (the bigger brother to yours) was totally uninspiring, and I'm being kind, when compared to a 8 watt Air Tight SET or the 12 watt Viva SET or a 25 watt Graaf OTL. Certainly, the Pass could play loud, but with efficient speakers, it only reproduced a recording, never the illusion of music.
Yes, I've been at this long enough to have owned and listened to many good to great ss systems. It may be partially true that because I like to be more actively involved with my system, I have gravitated toward tube equipment. However, it is the illusion of a musical event, the transcending of time and place, which stirs us emotionally that is the holy grail of audio. The technology that allows each of us to best attain this goal should be clearly secondary. Audio isn't simply a competition between which technology has the lowest distortion figures or the highest SN ratio.
There are major system dependencies and personal preferences involved in building any great audio system. I just wish that everyone could get the chance to experience (live with) a great tube-based system. Of course, one might still opt for ss gear, that's obviously an indiviual choice. But at least you would have a true reference point by which to understand the tubaholic.
Just my misguided opinion.
Jeez Brad what kind of ss amp do you think could replace an OTL amp? Maybe you're tired of the heat and tube hassle? If you make the switch I'm giving odds you'll eventually come back to tubes. Spoken like a true tubeaholic.
Jctubes I couldn't agree with your "misguided" opinion more, very well stated.
Drubin, I agree with your opinion of the CJ amps. Just because an amp has tubes does not mean it is going to be romantic, sloppy bass, warm, rich with a softing in the treble. I sometimes get the feeling many believe this to be the nature of tubes. I have heard tube based systems that I could not tell if it were tube or SS except for the 3D effect and spatial qualities mentioned by others. The comments and comparisons Jcbtubes talks of were done in my system. There is no way the Pass X350 sounds like tubes. Maybe I should say in my system the Pass could not pass off as a tube sounding amp. If possible take a listen to a whytech, Wavac, Viva or a good OTL. You will soon understand the wonderful world of tubes. You will soon be following the 12 step program of the tubaholic. IMO, if you want to mix SS and tubes (I am not sure why you would) use a tube amp and a SS preamp. Just another misguided opinion. Wish you the best in your hunt for realism.
Hi Drubin, partially due to the events of 9/11 and my companies idiotic practice of hiring hundreds of six figure salary, do nothing VPs (i would love to give the name of this co. and the moron who took over but i am sure they would take away my severence. do i sound bitter?) I no longer have my system. I just shipped off my Coincident Total Eclipse speakers to a very good home. My amps were Viva and the Cary V-12. My preamp was made from scratch by my very talented friend Jcbtubes. Tube pre of course. I got lazy and sold my TT a few years ago. I have the Electrocompianet EMC-1 CDP. JC now has my Viva. Wires are FIM Gold, Coincident Total Ref. and OTA. All PCs are FIM. Mana racks with the wonderful Neaunce boards. I have been fortunate to have a very good friend who owns a highend audio shop. I have been able to borrow everything he sells or comes his way. I have a dedicated room that I will fill up again with some new goodies when times get better. Starting over will be fun. It will be a tube based system. Hopefully starting with some Tenor amps and maybe even getting back into the ol'TT. Although I am not sure if I want to get back into whips and chains. My best to you in your search.
Using Symphonic Line RG-7 (150w@8 ohm) and
like sound of having almost tubes. Considering
going back to tubes and the Grand Marquis is
one I want to listen hear. Speakers on my short
list are Kharma 1's, Alon's and Avalon's (87-90
db) units. Whats the problem or is it just the
"hobby bug" to try something else?
While auditioning speakers i used a 60 watt Pass labs aleph amp (don't remember the number) and an ARC VT100 mk II tube amp. The pass sounded good but didn't have the air or refinement on top that the tube amp had. The difference in bass handling was not noticable between the two amps though admittedly the ARC had more power. I went VTL and don't think i'll ever change except to maybe bigger VTL