Tube Phono with Tube Integrated Amp?


what are the drawbacks (if any) of this setup?  

i recently acquired a VPI Prime (amazing) with a Soundsmith Zephyr MKIII.   using a ProJect Tube Box S (which was a phenomenal upgrade for my previous ProJect Carbon table).  right now, running this through a vintage Kenwood KA-9100, powering Elac UniFi's bookshelf speakers. 

i'm looking to build a 2 channel system that i can grow with, so please disregard the amp/speakers for now.  I've read great things about the Manley Chinook and the Allnic H1201.   in the event that i upgrade to a tube integrated amp in the future, is there any downside?
i've read on this forum that a tube phono is better paired with a solid state amp.  



mjb87062017
Jump on this. Offer 2K and you'll have a smokin'  table/ phono amp setup.

if I were looking for a new phono stage, this is a contender.

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/phono-zesto-audio-andros-ps1-tube-phono-preamplifier-andros-phonos...
There is no real downside to owning too many pieces of tube equipment, unless you consider tube maintenance/experimentation to be a bad thing.

Probably those that have said that a tubed phono preamp is better paired with a SS amp feel that way due to their speakers. Some speakers just mate better with SS amps.

I'm running a H1201 with my VPI Prime, and it works very nicely. The Chinook is also nice, as is the Zesto listed above, and don't forget about Herron.
Allnic H1201 will be a great choice for you..
I've been quite happy with my (tube) Eastern Electric phono preamp mated to my PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium integrated.  Been using this combo for the past three-plus years and have no regrets.
I have a Herron VTPH2A paired with my Musical Fidelity NuVista 800 hybrid integrated, and the sound is sublime. 
i prefer a good quality solid state phono preamp with my tube integrated amp.   it sounds spectacular and also closer to my digital sources that way.  
The primary drawback is that you may spend too much time listening and neglect your work, spouse, etc.
"i've read on this forum that a tube phono is better paired with a solid state amp."  I don't know where you read that, but on a technical level, the opposite is usually true; if you want both tubes and ss in the signal path, then you are better off using an ss preamplifier to drive a tube amplifier.  This is because the output impedance of tube preamplifiers is generally much higher than that of ss preamplifiers; conversely, the input impedance of a typical SS amplifier is much lower (as much as 10X lower) than that of a typical tube amplifier.  Ideally, the ratio between the output impedance of the driving stage should be around 10-fold lower than the input impedance of the amplifier.  As you can guess, this will not always be the case if you mate a tube phono to a SS amplifier.  The result of such an impedance mismatch is potentially a loss of gain or roll-off in the treble range.  But there is no imperative to mix the two technologies, anyway.  They both play well together, tubes with tubes; SS with SS.

Manley vs Allnic.  Two excellent choices.  You won't go wrong with either, and I think both of them offer limited functionality as line stages. So you would not need to buy a separate line stage, if you only use one other source besides phono.  (Check me out on the specs for the Chinook and the H1201 to be sure in fact that both do offer at least one high level input.  I use a Manley Steelhead, which does have that feature.)  Also, check out the new Atma-sphere phono, with pricing in the same range as the Chinook and H1201.
Check me out on the specs for the Chinook and the H1201 to be sure in fact that both do offer at least one high level input. I use a Manley Steelhead, which does have that feature.

Neither the Allnic H1201 nor the Manley Chinook offer any high level inputs. Both are strictly phono stages.

Also, check out the new Atma-sphere phono.

I see no information about this on the Atma-Sphere website. Must be too new!
EDIT: In my post of 10:16 AM today, I wrote the following confusing sentence: "Ideally, the ratio between the output impedance of the driving stage should be around 10-fold lower than the input impedance of the amplifier." Obviously, the sentence does not make sense, would better have written, "the output impedance of the driving stage should be around 10-fold lower than the input impedance of the amplifier". Thus the ratio between them would be 1:10.
First off, it’s bs to say generally that a tube phono goes better into a SS integrated. Second, the Chinook is actually a hybrid, with SS step up into a tube MM stage. That part has never really been advertised about the Chinook.
"First off, it’s bs to say generally that a tube phono goes better into a SS integrated. Second, the Chinook is actually a hybrid, with SS step up into a tube MM stage."

Mulveling- your system sounds great just looking at the pics..bravo!
I can only dream of having a system at that level.

I was wondering if anyone would tell it like it is. Although what's "best" is subjective, why do so many reviews of SS units say..."the unit sounds like a tube unit"? Maybe a very good designed SS amp is nicer than a so-so tube amp?

Someone can check me on this- Isn't there a FET in the 1st gain stage of the Chinook? I've demoed one in my rack next to my existing tubed phono, which feeds the tube line stage and tube amp(oh no..it not SS!)




Seems to me that hybridity is the sweet spot for a lot of designers. My Doshi (tube) phono stage has a SS step up as its first gain stage, like the Chinook. My Art Audio Jota amp is a classic (at this point?) SET tube amp, but it has transistors for power regulation, and the output transformers have a lot do with its sound and its flexibility regarding speakers.  So point is, the SS/tube debate can really be overblown. 

I think the OP is right in noticing that it's a "thing" to pair a tube preamp with a solid state amp, but I think the conventional wisdom there is oversimplified. 


Jolly, Where do you read that it’s a "thing" to pair a tube preamplifier with a solid state amplifier? I’m just curious, because, as I pointed out, unless you know what you’re doing, it can actually be a bad "thing". If one wants to do it, one needs to know the input impedance of the ss amplifier and the output impedance of the tube preamp. It is not unusual for a solid state amplifier to have an input Z of 10K ohms. If that’s the case, make sure that the tube unit provides an output Z of less than 1000 ohms, the lower below that, the better.  If the SS amplifier has an input Z of 25K ohms or higher, you're usually on safe ground to use a tube preamp.

Lots of "tube" phono stages use an FET or a bipolar transistor at the phono input to boost gain for an LOMC cartridge. So what? This makes it unnecessary to use a SUT with such cartridges. I don’t take this practice as an a priori indictment of the phono stage.
@lewm - no disagreement here. It's just something I've heard bandied about as a little 'factoid' among people into audio, and not just online. Maybe it's a generational thing? guys that are younger than me speak knowledgeably about getting the benefits of tubes in the preamp, and the power and "cleanness" (goes the story) of SS in the power amp. I don't actually think it's true, I'm just reporting. (Btw I read your post on impedance matching with great interest. And as I said, my phono stage has a FET MC input, and I ain't complaining). 
It wasn't you who attached a negative connotation to the use of FETs. 
As to tubes vs transistors, that's one of the oldest arguments in audio.  But I don't think one should mix technologies with the expectation that out of that mixture one will get the best of both worlds.  There's no guarantee of that.

i'm in a similar situation i'm looking for a Phono stage in around the $2k give or take a few hundred. and there is so many out there that are good in this price range. the Chinook and the Musical Surroundings super nova 2 are high on my list, as the Zesto is just a bit out of my price range used still. but i'm still open to suggestions as well so i'll be keeping my eye on this thread.

but to answer some of your questions. tube phono's tend to be more musical and slightly warmer but tend to have more hiss and back ground noise. SS are quieter but not as lush sounding. that's of course a generalisation as there is great SS and Tube phono stages, specially as you go up in price and they can spend more on tube components the tube vs SS gap closes. I tend to like the synergy of tubes driving tubes but if you follow the impedance rules your fine. I've been happy with both.

But don't forget to look for something that will allow you to change carts as you mentioned as some phono stages have more flexibility then other when it comes to settings like input impedance and capacitance.

I meant to include in my last post regarding the Chinook as a hybrd(SS FET stage)-

The Manley was impressively quiet against my  all tube(including rectifier) unit.
Such that, I initially thought the thing wasn't working! It won the noise category.

Realism presentation however, went to my existing,hissy(at ridiculous levels) all tube unit. Even the GF and her friends  present agreed. My unit has active gain for LOMC, so a wee bit noisey.

Perhaps I could achieve both, but not at a 2-3k price point. 

If you expand your horizons to consider used equipment, you'd be amazed at what you can acquire for $3K.  Just take a look at the Audiogon listings. I do understand that many are not comfortable with purchasing expensive second hand merchandise.
For a couple of  years I ran  an all tube amp chain (Ear 834P, VTL 5.5 II, VTL ST 150), but the background was never quiet enough. There was always some tube rush. I swapped out the EAR for an Audia Flight Phono (SS) and I could not be happier. There is at least as much clarity in the midrange and sparkle in the treble and there is a little more bass focus (not impact/volume so much as just a greater tautness). But it is a lot, lot quieter.

Using an older Conrad Johnson PV9a into an mv55 amp. Use the Manley Chinook as the front end. Cannot tell you how great all 18 tubes sound together . The 2 jfets in the Manley are a compliment. Otherwise you would have humming transformers.
I've had a Primaluna HP Integrated with a Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage and couldn't be happier.  If you can get a used Zesto, it is the best value in my opinion.  Best of luck.
Tubes of solid state, thats the question....
first: tubes are voltage amps, second: solidstate are current amplifiers.
Both are good, but the ouput transformers in tube amplfier do have there own characteristics. With other words, there is an influence on the sound; not bad, but it still is.
(think of the hysteresis of the electro magnetic field...)

Due to a lack of these transformers in solid state this "problem" does not occur.

Normaly a solid state amp will perform better then with tubes, but if you like the tube characteristics: just do it and have fun, that's where it is all about.

regards
Ton
The Netherlands


Tubes of solid state, thats the question....
first: tubes are voltage amps, second: solidstate are current amplifiers.
Both are good, but the ouput transformers in tube amplfier do have there own characteristics. With other words, there is an influence on the sound; not bad, but it still is.
(think of the hysteresis of the electro magnetic field...)

I never realized my tube amps were "influenced" so much by traditional iron core transformers.  I've gone to fully tube based Linear Tube Audio preamp and amp, based on David Berning's designs.  This allows tube magic to drive the sound without traditional transformers. 

I also use a tube phono stage custom made by Don Sachs.  My all tube electronics provide zero background noise and emit no tube rush or other negative artifacts from tube operation. 

My all tube system now is as quiet as my prior all SS setups.  The tubes however allow for the most realistic presentation with amazing imaging.  My SS setups were always Hi-fi sounding but not that realistic. 

RSHAK: 

"I've been quite happy with my (tube) Eastern Electric phono preamp mated to my PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium integrated. Been using this combo for the past three-plus years and have no regrets."

i learned about the EE phonostage 7-8 years ago, and have kept it in mind ever since. I also have the PL Dialogue HP Premium integrated with stock tubes. 

What speakers are you running with this set up?
Are you using the stock EL-34 and 12AU7s PL tubes?

Hello, graber -  In the EE phono preamp I use  NOS Mullard 12ax7's I bought from Upscale Audio a few years ago.  In the PrimaLuna integrated, I'm running Gold Lion KT88's and NOS Mullard 12au7's.  All purchased from Upscale Audio.

One of the Mullard 12au7's in the integrated got noisy a few months back, and I swapped in one of the stock tubes that came with the amp. The overall sound is still wonderful.l
Oh - - forgot to mention my speakers:  Omega Hemptone's - - I preordered the speakers months before the official release and the Omega guy (Louis, I think) told me that mine were the first production pair to be sold.  I got the Makassar (sp?) Ebony finish.  They took about 200 hours to open up, but ever since have sounded superb.