I have an expensive system except forthe digital which i have not upgraded in awhile.
I tried a small Chinese tube buffer and it did nothing of any value for me.
So i went and bought a VAC Standard four tube preamp to use as a glorified tube buffer and that made a positive difference.
I still use my main preamp a Bryston Bp-26 and have the digital sources to the VAc then from VAc to Bryston.
Works for me.
I would be very hard to say in advance what would work for the op.
All I can say is a cheap sub$200 buffer did nothing for my setup. The used VAC is wonderful and solved any and all issues I have with digital. So i paid $1,400 to solve my digital issues.
Have you ever tried using just your VAC without going through the Bryston preamp? It should sound better.
Thenis, it might be helpful if you would list the equipment in your system, speakers, amp, source, and cables.
My experience was with a Yaquin CD-SD3 tube buffer with Jan Phillips WGTA tubes. In my system, it did make a difference, although I can't say that it was all for the better.
I originally got it for the reasons that you stated. To take the edge off of the highs in my solid state system. I was running an NAD C162 pre amp, Aragon 2004 amp and Paradigm Studio 10 speakers. The buffer did take the edge off of the highs, but it also made them sound rolled off. The bass got less tight and, sometimes, downright sloppy.
After getting the buffer, I got into a pair of Silverline Minuet speakers. No more edginess or glare, so I sold the tube buffer.
Many have referred to a tube buffer as being a bandaid. I think that in your case, this could be true, in the sense that you want to use one to "fix" a problem and is likely not the best way to go about it.
What's your setup, anyway? I have recently altered my system to consist of a Marsh P2000 pre, Aragon 2004 amp, Emotiva XDA DAC and the Silverline Minuet Supreme Pluses and I don't get even a hint of glare or edginess.
Oh, I also meant to ask, are you thinking of a tube pre amp because you want the tubey sound or because you just want to get rid of the harshness?
DYNAUDIO CONTOUR S5.4 SPEAKER
MOON W3 AMP
MATANTZ SC11-S1 PREAMP
MOON DAC 300D DAC
CLASSE CDT-1 TRANSPORT
AC CABLE AND INTERCONNECT ARE JPS LABS
I dont want to get sloppy bass but i would like to get soft hight and mid,
I hope it will help you
I owned the same tube buffer as Tonyangel. It did make a positive difference on a Nad/Rotel set-up. (not huge) I then upgraded to a used Conrad-Johnson tubed-pre and the difference was big. Sounds wonderful with my digital sources. I would definately choose the tubed pre to get the best out of your nice rig...
I don't know man. It looks like you have a nice system. Maybe some room treatments are what you need. What's your room like?
My wire from pre to amp is seven meters, and is a balanced pair. the VAC is only RCA.
So no i have never bothered to go VAC only. As i do not own a cble which will work in RCA at that length.
Plus my phono is to Bryston. And the phono is a part of the bryston as it uses the BP-26 power supply.
So basically there is no way i am not using the Bryston.
As I said. i like my setup. I do nto need to 'make it better' Heretical words for an audiophile, but really no way am i changing anything at this point. It sounds great to me.
Well If I had $15K I would buy a pair of Magnepan 20.7s to replaace my 3.6 Maggies.. but that is about the only thing i want.
And even if I got the 20.7s all the rest would stay the same.
I would find what is causing the harshness and not add another box to mask a problem.
Czbbcl got it right. Ya, what he says. Tell us what you have and a little about your room.
Oh, I also meant to ask, are you thinking of a tube pre amp because you want the tubey sound or because you just want to get rid of the harshness?"
That's the question a lot more people need to be asking. Should I use a band aid or fix the problem for real? This is probably the most common issue on this web site. Fixing the problem is usually harder to do but you are much more likely to be happy with the results. Quite often you find that you don't need to use tubes. The best way to be successful is to get as much hands on experiance as you can and try not to rely on things like equipment reviews.
Yeah, fix the problem....
Spend a few tens-of thousands to fix it. Then discover it still sucks. LOL
Or get the band aide.
My band aide cost me $1,400 and I am happy as can be.
Now can you say that?
I get annoyed with theory crap. "In theory you should blah blah blah.. Screw theory. Do what works.
Tube amplification is tube ampification. Buffer, preamp, doesn't really matter as long as done well and has synergy with the rest. Both can yield results ranging from really good to poor. Ic used with separate buffer will matter also.
Thenis, to your question: "Why people use a tube buffer when he can replace a ss preamp for a tube preamp."
I did it to maintain functionality of my pre/pro for HT/surround application, while enhancing 2-channel experience. I had Joseph Chow of Audio Horizons custom build a combination tube buffer and phono preamp into one box. It's in front of Class D mono's and as Elizabeth said, it works for me. At some point if/when I go to straight 2-channel, then a tube preamp with phono stage might be the way to go.
BTW, I believe Audio Horizons still offers in-home audition. So why not find out how it sounds in your home and with your system? FWIW, I started out with the Yaqin small buffer, then upgraded to Musical Fidelity X10v3. In my humble opinion, compared to the AH TB series, they're not in the same class. Good luck and Happy Listening!
Without pregidous, buffers are usfull if there's an impedence mismatch.
It may appear your pre is outclassed by the rest of your system, you could beg or borrow other species of preamps perhaps Pass or even Moon which may give you synergy or ARC or Vac on the other side to find the forgiveness with resolution you seek.
Adding more components like a buffer is oportunity to introduce more colouration and distotion not to mention the added cost of another cable.
Shorest signal paths, quality parts well implemented . The devil is in the detail.
I'm sure there are other valid opinions, but I would prefer to weed out the offensive component than to upholster over it.
All The Best.
I definitely agree that adding another piece of equipment to mask the problem makes no sense, as it would be better to just eliminate the source of harshness, although it may be a more difficult task. Also, changing to a tube preamp will definitely sound different, however, if the preamp is not the problem, it may just mask the harshness like a tube buffer. I have to ask at what point did this harshness begin? Can you recall an equipment change when it started, or has it always been there? If it resulted from a change, then focus your efforts there. If its always been there, then I would start with the source components. Have you tried a CD player only, rather than transport and DAC? Is your digital cable extremely short or at least 1.5 meters in length to help minimize jitter? I helped a friend audition many digital cables in varying lengths and types. Results ranged from very smooth and laid back to bright, harsh, and forward. I have also tried different CD players (SS and tube) in my system, and found that some tubes can even sound harsh.
Spend a few tens-of thousands to fix it. Then discover it still sucks.
Anyone that throws expensive components and cables at a system to solve a problem is foolish, and should just get out of the hobby. Also, solving the problem correctly allows for greater benefit in future upgrades.