Tube-aholics Anonymous?

Is there a support group or 12-step program for audiophiles who have sworn off tubes but find themselves constantly tempted to go, as it were, back on the bottle?

I owned lots of tube gear in my reckless youth. I built the Dyna Stereo 70 and PAS3 at least twice. Later, I tried Conrad-Johnson and Quicksilver power amps. In an attempt to get off the wagon, I tried any number of tubed preamps (CJ, Quicksilver, Melos, Audio Research, Cary, Eastern Electric…) driving solid state power amps. I even tried a trendy tube integrated (the Primaluna Prologue).

At some point, I realized that rather than listening to music, I was fiddling with bias adjustments, listening for undue hiss or microphonics, obsessing over some obscure and overpriced NOS valve proclaimed as the Holy Grail of audio, or (based on hard experience) worrying that a tube would fail and take out the speakers.

I decided to kick the habit. I picked up a Naim Nait 5i a couple of years ago. I like the amp. I enjoy the music. There is nothing to adjust. It plays music reliably, fuss-free. I should be happy, right?

But every now and then I scan the Audiogon ads and come across some cool pics of hot valves, and the siren song lures me back. Oh, help me to resist…

You guys who are still out there knocking back the tubes, please don’t tell me what I’m missing. I just need the strength to stay solid – solid-state, that is.
Just a matter of time till you have another conversion, that one will be to iPodism. You will swear off real world listening and retreat to the 'buds'. Your computer will become your alter. You can count on one happy person in all this, that is your significant other as now all that strange looking equipment can leave their lives. You will be much richer for the change.
I love the sound of a tube system.

Last year, I found a solid state alternative that has made me quite happy. I don't mind not having to replace, test and troubleshoot tube problems (buzz, hum, hiss and general noise).

It's nice to turn on the system and know it works, and that it sounds the same today as it did yesterday, and that it will sound the same six months from now.

I'm growing to like the benefits of a non-tube system, but I absolutely will not say never again.

The sound of a tube system...
The question remains the same:
Tu be or not tu be
no one loves tubes anymore than me, i had sal marantz in the 50s, mcintosh 60, audio research 70, cary 80s, vtl 90s, now i listen to sweet solid state...inexpensive and sounds wonderfully musical, do i regret the ones left behind?, no, do i want the money back?, no, i just want to listen to music....the one thing that never changes with this the constant change
I decided to kick the habit. I picked up a Naim Nait 5i a couple of years ago. I like the amp. I enjoy the music.

Jhold - You say you're now enjoying the music!! It sounds like in your former life you were more into the gear.. don't turn back!

There's hope as you can at least admit your problem. You might consider the Betty Ford 'Tube' clinic. Good luck
Well sure... tubes are great. Buying a tube amp affords one the opportunity for spending more on NOS tube replacements than the amplifier is actually worth. Cool stuff!!!
Hey, if you're willing to suffer the slings and arrows of SS, who am I to argue?

Dave (24 tubes and counting)
How about the people who stockpile tubes, buying tubes they will never use??
Larryken, those people are SICK. I have hardly a hundred spares myself. Wait, that just counts the preamp tubes. Never mind.
Ditto Plato.. So true, tube dealers make more money than the guys that engineer the equipment
I to was a tube guy in the 90's,they do make great music,but the fuss and worry got to me.

I discovered that I could have my cake and eat it to.

Bought Edge amp and line stage,and could't be happier.

My name is Blindjim and I'm a tube-a-holic.

I haven't tubed today... by the grace of God

… but it’s early.

For years I hid my tubing. Resisting by will power alone. Hiding my affliction and sticking vehemently it to SS, yet things were always somehow lacking. I always felt less than. A part from. Unfulfilled. I shunned any idea that tubeing was my true self, and hence remained restless irritable, and discontented.

I stayed in the closet of my own denial. Locked up in a prison I had made for myself where all the locks were on the inside and I had lost the keys.

I held off just as long as I could.

Then, one day someone told me about Audiogone and soon thereafter I found out just how exciting enveloping and satisfying tubing can be. I became engrossed and severely affected by tubing. To the point where I had lost all control.

I would tube in the evening to all hours. Eventually, I would tube first thing in the morning… and sadly, one day, I could no longer help myself and began to tube alone.

In the office. In the bedroom. Yes, sadly, even in the garage.

Nothing else mattered. I had to tube. There was no other choice.

I couldn’t be satisfied with just one tube. Oh, no. I had to have another, and another, and another! It’s always that first tube that does it! I could no longer help myself. I then had to tube whatever the cost!

I was miserable. I hated myself. At every turn I wanted to try some other exotic tube thinking that would be the one! That would do the trick! I’d be satisfied finally. Such was never the case. One exotic tube led to another, and another….

I needed help. Desperately. Or I would surely be lost forever to my disease..

Then one day I found that help. It was right in front of me the whole time and I didn’t see it at all. It was my higher power so to speak…. It was my PC.

It gave me that peace I had lost. The variety that was long since gone. Fidelity rivaling that of my analog dreams. Happiness had returned to me. No longer was I in the grip of the small glass devils compelling me to do more, and more to the exclusion of all else.

No more burned fingers, bent pins, worries of catastrophe from wacked bottles. No more hiss, noise, and hour counting. Peace had returned.

I may tube again. Someday. Perhaps. But just for today I won’t.

I shouldn’t. I won’t. I can’t. It’s too devastating.

Who am I kidding…. I have no will power any longer and I’m doomed.

I want to tube so bad I can taste it.

But I’ll just tube a little. Just a couple hours… not couting warm up time. Just a day or two a week maybe. Yeah. That’ll do it. Just now and then! Sure. There’s nothing wrong with that right? Other’s can, so why not me?

Geeezzz…. It’s not the tubes… it’s me. It’s just me. OK then, I give up. Yeah… I give… maybe that’s a start. Knowing it’s me… not the tubes, to begin with.

Afterall, there are other’s who know this sort of pain and frustration, I’m sure. Maybe we can help each other. Together. One day at a time.

I did think about taking up whittling, but I'm the sort that can turn a Redwood into drum sticks.
i've held on to an mc275 for 15 years, and i worked for a manufacturer of great tube gear, but being of sound mind (barely) i can honestly say, your room and your speakers play a greater role in creating a satisfying experience. tubes are pretty though....and solid state boxes are 'spartan' by comparison. i generally use my revox ss gear over the mac.

Oh sure. You guys can say you have found solid state amps that could possibly make you happy. You know in your heart of hearts that you could really have the sound you know you want. Only a few clicks away. I personally just gave up on solid state. I don't change tubes every year or even every two years. The life like presents that performers have when I listen to tubes (good tubes) can't be replicated.
On the down side I can turn the lights down pretty low and still see well enough to find the remote. Is that a negative?
audiopile would condemn me on this thread if I don't tell everyone that i am a dealer. I know what you are thinking, "he is so biased he has no right to even be on this thread." And of course you are right.
Tvad "Last year, I found a solid state alternative that has made me quite happy".

May I ask what solid state alternative you found? I am constantly nit-picking over my tube gear and I have to admit that, in the last few years, I have entertained the idea of finding no fuss solid state pieces that adequately bridge the gap between tube and ss. Presently, my tube preamp is having some work done and so I am listening directly through my Wadia cd player preamp section into my amp and it sounds pretty darn good...and that has got me thinking again!
SS amps are Hondas (or Acuras); tube amps are BMW 2002s (or Jags). Whenever I drove my Accord, all I could think about was how great my old green 2002 was. When my 2002 broke down in West-by-God-Virginia, all I could think about was how nice it must be to drive one of those indefatigable Hondas. I've since gone to tubes (on top) and am looking for a 2002. Terrible beauty.
May I ask what solid state alternative you found?
Jppenn (Threads | Answers)

Pass Labs XA-60.5.

Following Stewie's car analogy, the XA-60.5 is a Honda (Acura) in terms of
reliability and dependability, but it's performance is akin to a BMW 540.
Thankfully, unlike my BMW, the Pass Labs is never in the repair shop.
The Naim gear is JUST PLAIN BORING, relentless, electronic sounding, and lifeless. No wonder you want some tubes!

Other than that its fine.
Blindjim, that's the funniest thing I've heard in a while. I wouldn't put tubes as BMWs. A Spectron switching amp is a new BMW M3. While traditional SS amps are more like a Honda. But a SET Tube amp (300B,2A3,45) is like a 2002 BMW just fun as h#*l.
I've had the best tube amps made years ago. Now my analogy is tube being a vintage late 80's town car; to solid state being the Rolls Royce ride. One of the problems is most have not experienced the best in solid state yet, as many manufacturers are still playing games. Like, more with the look as to the substance.It's not hard today to get to the BMW sound, but the Rolls, not that is another story.
I think P/P tube amps are a dying breed. IMHO the future is state of the art SS, Digital,and SET tube amps. The reason most went ape hockey over P/P tube amps was that the last twenty years was that digital sources and SS amps were just aweful. I've not heard a current production P/P tube amp that could keep up with a current SS or switching amp. SETs are just a pleasure reserved for those with good taste and they're getting better and better. My opinion only.
03-12-09: Lithojoe
I've had the best tube amps made years ago.
What were those?

Thank you. I had hopes that it would have not been taken as a slight to any one actually in recovery, but as simple humor by way of caricature and over emphasis…. As I can really get wrapped up in this deal… and indeed, I have at times.

Too many times I’ve elevated this ‘hobby’ far beyond the level it deserves. In turn, I’ve lost perspective on just how unimportant it really is. I can then lose myself in the process. After all, it is only a hobby… not a life…. nor family… nor a career (for me)… but plain and simple enjoyment... and it should remain just that and not more.

Regardless the passion or desire, or the money being spent, happiness is but one result I derive from it. I feel It should always remain just a part of life, not life itself.

My set up is not the best, nor the worst, but is quite good. Since I’ve gone to tube power finally. I enjoy it each time I turn it on and sit down to listen. That should be good enough for me, and usually it is. To lose such a perspective I no longer merely view the fly in the web, but take it’s place.... and I sure have in the past found myself smack in the middle of that web now and then.

It’s never the tubes, or gear, the accessories or the topologies that capture us into that web, it is our own hands which spring that trap..

When we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, we are indeed lost.
holy crap ! yes thats right, there are no good pushpull tube amps any more... what ? I just had belcanto ref500s in my system for almost 2 weeks. they were flat and uninvolving compared to my rogue audio m150 monos, pushpull. sorry , not even close. and its not just the belcantos. every solid state amp I have heard in my system in the last 2 years has also lost against the rogues. i use revel speakers which almost everyone says you cant use with tubes. NOT ! also I have had zero problems with my tubes, and my system is so quite you cant hear any noise or hiss from my speakers, even with the volume all the way up !!! I also use cheap newproduction tubes. the only solid state amps i would consider is the xa.5 amps from pass labs, but switching amps, forget it. chrissain
I'd like to hear the Rogue M120 someday.
tvad. I dont have much experience with the m120s, but I have owned the m150s for two years, have had them upgraded from stock, and love them. they are a hell of an amp for the money. a friend is going to have the pass xa30.5 for a listen and we will do a shootout, I will keep you posted. chrissain
I guess I meant the M150...
tvad. the m150s are very good stock, but they really can be taken to another level. I had mine upgraded before rogue had an official upgrade, I have compared my amps vs a friends stock m150s and it was like taking a blanket off the speakers with my amps, they went from good, to great with the upgrades. I have seen your posts before and I think it is you that has the pass labs xa 60.5s monos, and I would hope the pass is better for all that extra money, your amps would be the only thing I would consider replacing my amps with, when I can afford it. chrisain
I'm not considering replacing the XA-60.5.
I would not either ! If there was ever a case of audio lust, the new pass labs stuff would be it !! happy listening, chrissain