To all tube lovers.......

To all the tube lovers out there: If you COULD NOT listen to a tube amp and you HAD to go solid state or digital, what amp would you get to replace your tubes? I've always been a tube guy. Every amp I've ever owned has been a tube amp. However, I may get a new speaker that is 88 db @ 4 (maybe 6), ohm. If so, I must get a higher powered amp. Keep in mind, I"m not just looking for any amp. Preferably 100 watts or more. Solid state? Digital? I've heard wonderful and not-so-wonderful feedback on Nuforce and Spectral in the digital camp.

I just don't want to regret getting out of tubes just so I can change speakers.
I would recommend an audition with McIntosh. I have two, born about 25 years apart and I will stay with them to the end.
I am also a "tube" person, specifically low-powered triode tube fan. But, if I needed more power and I had to go solid state my preference would be for the following brands that I have heard: Dartzeel, Solution, MBL. For more reasonably priced solid state, I would look into Ayre and Brown Electronic Labs (BEL).
From experience in my system, Pass Labs XA-.5 series, and by extension one of the offerings from First Watt...the M2 or J2.

I do not have experience in my system with Dartzeel, BEL, Ayre or Clayton. These might also be excellent, but I haven't heard them in a familiar system.
I would lean toward something from Conrad Johnson.
How about a hybrid amp?
They provide the best of both worlds; Lots of power and great bass response, like a solid state amp, and great mid-range and treble response, like a tube amp.

I suggest the Lamm M2.2 monoblocks. They have 220 wpc, with rock solid, deep, quick and tight bass response. And yet the mid-range and treble response is very nearly as good as some of the best tube amps I have ever heard, (such as the VAC Phi 300.1). Best of all, there is only one 6922 tube in each of these amps, so tube rolling is easy and relatively cheap. (I say relatively cheap, because a really nice 6922 tube, such as an Amperex pinched waist will still set you back a few hundred for the pair. But then again, in a pair of amps that cost approximately $20K new, what is a few hundred dollars.)

I have compared the M2.2's to the DarTZeel NHB-108, and the Lamms were clearly superior to both my ears and to my friend's ears. (The DarTZeel is somewhat underpowered in their bass response, IMHO.)

FYI: I currently use the Lamm M2.1 monoblocks and love them. They are just slightly dark sounding in comparison to their predecessors, the M2.2 monoblocks, but they can be had for about $7K used, versus the $12K used price for the M2.2s.

My two cents worth.
I've been very happy going to Plinius class A from tubes. With that said there are plenty of afforable tube amps that will drive your speakers depending on room size and listening levels. Have not heard a digital amp that I liked. What speakers?
McIntosh 7270. I have 85dB speakers and my Cary CAD120s drives them just fine. You WILL miss tube sound. Happy listening. The problem is your speakers. Happy listening.
I've got a Mac as a back up. Threshold and Pass Labs are awesome also. Look for class A rated.
Why would you buy a speaker that needs solid state? What amp was driving it at the demo that so impressed you?
I am enjoying the W4S ST500 which is something I didn't expect to be saying. It's not exactly tubes but it's not exactly SS either. Besides it sounding great (no SS glare), it is reasonably priced. No hum, no hiss, no heat, no maintenance, no other annoying sounds.
I bought the W4S to see how it would do on the N802's and figured it would be a good backup amp if one of the tube amps went down (it's small and light, easy to pack in a closet). I have this system set up for 3 months and I might leave it this way till summers over and go back to the VAC/ESP setup once the weather cools off.
I would jump on the Threshold SA-1's on this site right now......Built like a tank and sound like a dream......
Pass XA
47 Laboratory
If you're really a tube guy I don't think you'll find a SS amp that you'll want long term. I've owned a lot of them including many that have been mentioned, and others. At first you'll be enamored by the clarity and resolution, but you'll grow tired of it wondering why you never listen to an entire song anymore. Eventually you'll realize it's the SS amp and you'll be back on the merry go round. Not that there's anything wrong with the merry go 'round if that's what you want. ;)

However based on the specs you have given for your new speakers I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a push pull tube amp that would sound better overall than SS. I own two VAC Phi 200's that I used on an 83 DB 4 ohm electrostat and they sounded great. Better than any SS amp I tried. However an even better idea is to find a speaker that is more efficient so you can use tubes with no trade offs.

What are these speakers?
Symphonic Line RG1, BEL, Plinius
The Devil made me do it:


Why not Hybrid from Audio Research HD220 or Aesthetix Atlas? 200 plus watts.
Ditto on the Pass Xa.5 Series
simple, imo don't get the inefficient speakers & go backwards
If I was going to go SS, Ayre V-1xe. But I would rather get a more powerful tube amp from either BAT or Manley.
Unless your room is very large 88db should work with many tube amps.
88db is not inefficent,I have 81db Spendors driven with 50 watt Quicksilvers with no problem,stay with tubes you will get tired of solid state in time.
It isn't just a matter of sensitivity, but impedance swings; which are less than ideal for tube amps - take something like Wilson or Thiel which might be quite sensitive, but their low impedances in the bass region make for a disappointing match with most tube amps.

If I wanted a tube like SS amp I would go with the Pass XA.5 series, or Ayre.
Pioneer Z1 series.
The monoblocks are only 60W though.
Pass Labs Monoblocks Aleph 2 single ended 100 watts each. For sale now. Have heard these before and they are as close to tubes as you can expect. They do give off a lot of heat but oh what sound. Probably drive any speaker out there. My opinion but there may still be some reviews around.
Note: I have nothing to do with seller. Just heard them years ago at a local dealer and was about to purchase the Aleph 60's but went in a different direction.
I dunno- maybe get rid of a speaker that is not that friendly?

If you like tubes, don't buy a speaker that won't work with them.
How can a tube lover recommend an SS amp?
Possibly because some of us are not so wedded to the format as to the quality of implementation...
How can a tube lover recommend an SS amp?
Orpheus10 (Threads | Answers | This Thread)
Because being a tube lover doesn't necessarily mean being closed minded.
symphonic line kraft amp or SL rg4
I like Spectron and I am a tube lover too.
Hovland amps, like the Radia, are decent sounding to me and several of my friends who are more partial to tube gear. The company is no longer around, so there might be service issues, but, that would also mean that their used stuff will be cheap.
Lapierre: LOL! Good to chat again friend. Yes, Mcintosh is on my list. So is Pass, and dare I say, Nuforce?!? What I forgot to mention on my thread is that the amp I currently have is kind of a pain to bias. Also, it's the whole maintenance thing of tubes: biasing, changing tubes, tube failure, the danger of one exploding (as one did in the past). Tubes are just more of a pain in the ass ( I can't believe I just said that). However, like it or not, it is what it is: a component that requires more maintenance than others.

I want to keep my options open to ANY speaker that I may get in the future. I might look into another pair of Martens. I sold my old Miles II's in a moment of sheer stupidity, but what's done is done. There are a few more speakers that I won't get into now.

Thanks to all that responded so early into this thread. All of your thoughts and comments are with me through this never ending merry-go-round.
Rowland or Krell. Both have gobs of power, high current and can drive anything. The newer Rowland ICepower amps sound a bit like tubes....tough to go wrong with them, since you get such tremendous power in a very, very small package. Can place them anywhere, they're reliable, well built and Rowland's customer service is second to none.
Devilboy, I have owned two amps that sound very close to tubes:
Electrocompaniet AW180 and McIntosh Mc402.

I do not agre that Rowland, Nuforce, Krell or Symphonic Line sound like tubes. Those are good amps but they play clearly in the solid state league, Krell being the most forward-sounding.
Rowland and Nuforce class D amps lack upper treble "air" due to the mandatory Class D low-pass output filter, however that's not tube sound in my book.
Good luck with your search.
McIntosh or ARC 100.2
My question is this. This speaker you may purchase, have you listened to it and with what associated electronics ? What does the manufacturer recommend ? Also, what size room do you have and what listening levels do you listen at. The previous posts are all good recommendations, but as a tube owner/lover(I am speaking of you)the sound will be quite different......
I'm also a tube guy at heart but about 12 years ago or so, I went back and forth between a B&K EX442 Sonata (200 into 8, 360 into 4) and a pair of 8417 Paoli M60 monoblocks (highly modded Dyna mkIII's) and was hard pressed to tell the difference. B&K amps cost peanuts compared to what is being mentioned in this thread but are truly tubelike. Other than hi powered B&K, I think a nice hi powered hybrid amp like a Moscode would do the trick; otherwise, a hi powered PP tube amp should work fine....

I agree with Mmike84 that you won't be satisfied with solid state long term but while you are experimenting with it, why not try something like B&K which isn't a lot of money, but a total giantkiller.
good luck,
In my early days I spent a lot of time with both Krell and Ayre and they do not sound like tubes. I think people mention them because they like them, but they do not fit the criteria of the OP.
the last frontier :
symphonic line kraft-300 amplifier connected to their solid state flgship preamp : rg3 mk4 -with it's new gigantic reference psu.
the rolls royce of high end.
when you hear what this set-up is capable of, you will not feel the need to compare to others, even not to evoulution , balabo, fm acoustics etc.
i am positive that you will also forget about tubes, like i did, and i was a tube fan before i had this unique musical experience.
PLEASE read drdennis's reply above!I agree 100%.I was driving Dynaudio Audience 52SE's(86db @ 4 ohms) with 42 push pull tube watts per channel to ear splitting levels in a med.size room.With the abundance of great sounding 50 watt per channel tube integrated amps available I see no reason to switch to SS.
Without any hesitation, the new Rowland 625 class AB. Trust me on this one, go for an audition, you won't go look any further.

BTW, I own a ARC Ref 110 (tubes) but if I had to go SS, I would switch to Rowland 625. The guy is a genius..
A used pair of Cary 500mb's. 500watts into 8 ohms & 1000 into 4 ohms. Can drive just about any speaker on the planet and the closest thing to tubes that I have found so far.
nobody mentioned sim audio?? every review I've ever read said they were as close as it comes to tubes. just my 2 cents
Yamaha a-s2000 integrated amp...very TUBE-LIKE ! A CLASSIC that we will talk about for a long time !...