tube amp sound more engaging

Hi folks, can you explain why everytime I listen to high efficiëncy speakers, like old Klipschorns, powered by not-so-expensive single ended tube amps, the sound is more engaging (largely due to greater immediacy and presence) than when playing the same music through expensive high-end solid state amplification (high current, high powered design, with the most sophisticated switch mode power supply, etc.) and a pair of very accurate, high tech loudspeakers. This is not funny, because the much older and far less expensive system makes more musical sounds than the so called state-of-the-art and ultra expensive high end stuff.
How about current vintage SETs with efficient, modern, very accurate, hi-tech loudspeakers?

I've read that whatever distortion tubes add is more pleasing to the ear (odd order vs. even order?).

I've also heard that tubes are 'easier on the signal'.

It's also been said that tube equipment just sounds good no matter how cheap it is. Try listening to an old tube radio - mono, cheap, etc. - it will probably be at least somewhat pleasurable to listen to. Then listen to a cheap solid-state radio and prepare to cringe!

SET amps have quite an advantage in sound due to their design. Most SET's have limited power however. As the Klipschorns are extremely efficient, they respond very well to low power SET's. The Klipschorns certainly have their advantages and you apparently appreciate what they can do. There are lots of different approaches to quality sound reproduction and there is no "best" approach for every listener. It seems as though you have found what you like.

Happy listening,
TO: Dazzdax

In reading your post , I must agree with you and have been saying this for the last 5 years or so. Just because one spends xx amount on a system doesnt guarentee good sound. While I dont have the Klipsch Corner Horns, I do have a pair of the older Fortes in the garage that I use for background music , but the main speakers in the house are the Klipsch KLF-30'S. If one wants to hear music, then SET amps and Klipsch speakers is the way to go, as it doesnt get any better than this!!

Enjoy the music,


Hi Brad, thx for your response. 1. Most people who own expensive solid state system haven't listened to a SET/horn system before, so they just don't know how such a system sounds (unawareness). 2. If you spend lots of money for a high end solid state system you are not eager to admit that a more older and cheaper system is better/more musical sounding, even if you know that (denial). 3. Most people think that the more expensive an audio system is, the better it should sound (self-delusion 1). It should because of (state-of-the-art) modern technology. They tend to compare old and modern audio technology to old and modern automobile technology (self-delusion 2). 4. Modern and solid state audio systems are more accurate and in that way they are better than less accurate old fashioned audio systems consisting of tube electronics and hornspeakers. If you want to hear real music, you should listen to the more accurate system, even if the sound is far from beautiful (self-torture?).

Dazzdax (aka Chris)
I have problems when posters say "most people xxx". You can't really know that - it cheapens your argument. It's just as easy to say "many people xxx" or "some people xxx".

You are right Metralla, thx for mentioning it.
I have owned my beloved Khorns for around 10 yrs,quite frankly Paul Klipsch was a bona fide genius,what his speakers do no other speaker does,he has always maintained that the world needs a great sounding 5 watt amp...hence the SETs...I use both solid state and a variety of tube amps including a pair of 3 watt SETs and they all perform quite well...i tend to like the tubes better. I also have other (dynamic) speakers which I also enjoy,but man those Khorns....I have owne quite a few systems and speakers in my day...things may come and go but my Khorns aint going anywhere....ever !

My big problem with most"hi end systems" is that many expensive speakers are very hard to drive, need a gizzillion watts to drive them and the end result is a sense of strain....with the khorns it is a sense of ease and a large full open sound.

It is interesting, that with all the hi tech of the 21st century,people flock to tubes and Khorns...who Knew ???....Paul Klipsch I said a bonafide genius....all the way.
Superhonestben..."Gizzillion" watt amps are cheap. Good high efficiency speakers (like Khorns) are expensive.
How about current vintage SETs with efficient, modern, very accurate, hi-tech loudspeakers?

Excellent question, Metralla, one that obviously leads to a matter of personal preference. I've listened to at least fifty systems, some costing as much as $100K, and both SS and tube. And our 7W SET amp sends music through our Klipsch La Scala's with an immediacy and humanity that I have yet to find elsewhere. And I assure you, it's not for a lack of looking.

Even when paired with our Silverline Sonata II speakers, the amp still sounds wonderful. But to my ear, those efficient, modern, very accurate, hi-tech loudspeakers seem to 'massage' the music, to blend it to a level of pleasantry and refinement that sounds perfect to my audiophile's brain, but one that remains distant from my musician's gut.

There are so many fine components out there. A couple of weeks ago, the Eggleston Works Andra II's knocked my socks off. And the Avantgarde's I heard were amazing. But no matter what else I've heard--and I am regularly listening to other systems--I always find myself saying in regards to the speakers, "Those sound incredible." With the Klipsch, however, I don't hear the 'those'. The speakers disappear, and I just hear the music as it fills the room with the emotion and humanity of the players.

My wife and I agree that the 'next step' for us is a pair of K-horns. Oh, but first the proper room in which to welcome those babies.

Have a wonderful New Year's,


Relative to the cost of many toys found in this audio playground, $2500 or so for a pair of used K-horns (or ANY speakers, for that matter) strikes me as downright cheap.
I would think that very, very low powered SS amps could sound great with horns...something in the 25 watt range if used with a volume control with a slow ramp-up.

question for boa2,what 7 watt set amp are you using ?? also in regards to a right room for khorns....any room will do large or small. I have them in a 12x15 room, not to big and they work great. I do use them with a Mac 252,they work great with that,also have a nicely restored dynaco st 70.also great, have vtl too, also great with the khorns....must meant theKhorns are great....sure are to me.

Also in response to my gizzillion amp thing..what I am talking about are big Levinsons, krell, Rowland etc...trying to drive a monster speaker that goes down to 1ohm..with cables you could hoist a piano with etc... I mean it starts to get ridicilous...the whole point is to play music....I too have heard many some big electrostatics driven with the gizziilion watt mega expensive amp, connected by wire that cost what a used car does...the sound wasn't too good, sales guy blamed the room...yeah right.

I Know Khorns aren't for anybody and there are very good dynamic speakers out there etc. but sometimes it seems that too many get hung up on the equipment and the "sound" rather than is it definition of musical is any system that makes you want to listen to more music...thats musical.

We are going to move soon, so when we know that we have a room with two suitable corners, we will get a pair of K-horns.

We have an Audion Silver Night MKII--a 7W SET. Picked it up for a ridiculously low price, and it is a phenomenal amp. Pick your favorite singer and let her sing in your ear--that's truly what it sounds like!
ok thanks for the info, hope you move soon to get those Khorns, thanks,Ben