Uh, Mike - as long as we're "crossing all our t's and dotting all our i's", I feel compelled to point out that the good ol' correct spelling is 'vacuum'...
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Mike, I agree with you also, they do sound good. I am not in tube or SS camp as I have listened to some fine systems, tubed and SS in my audio journey. That being said, I could never tell a novice that tubes are the last word because tubes are not always the best and can only be best to some. There is a review over at AA under the Amp/PreAmp section posted yesterday by (Basstwo), he has two very well thought of (maybe even hyped) tubed preamps: Supratek Syrah and Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista that he has owned and knowes very well. He bought a passive transformer volume control: Bent Audio (also maybe hyped). It is a good read for a novice who just wants to enjoy good musical sound, you may enjoy it to, even us old pro's can learn.
Since most "novices" are going to build a system based on a digital source, recommending a traditional preamp/amp
configuration using tubes may not be the path to better performance and enjoyment.
Digital amps can take a digital signal directly from a CD/DVD transport or PC Hard drive and provide volume control. This eliminates the need for a preamp, D/A processor and the associated cabling.
Digital amps can voiced to emulate the best tube amps and modular design will permit them to be updated to handle new digital formats.
I love the sound of tubes, but I’d also love to have an energy efficient audio system that doesn’t heat up my listen room and has the power to drive any type speakers without me taking out a second mortgage on my home.