Not all tube preamps are a hassle and many run SS and Tubes.....I prefer a tube pre over SS preamp even with a tube amp...
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I run tube preamps with SS amps. The results are great, and I agree, Tube preamps aren't as much hassle as tube power amps. Tube preamps however don't provide the same level of "tubey-ness" as you get with tube power amps. None the less, a good tube preamp with the right ss power amp is a good way to go . . .
I would not be too concerned about the extant SS versus tube debate. I have found an equal number of pres in both technology camps that I have enjoied. There are also high and low output impedance pres in both camps. In the end, give yourself a budget, and try out a few devices, and keep an open mind. G.
It depends on how you define hassle. If you want to just turn the system on & listen w/o warm up, then tubes can be a hassle. There are some SS pieces that need warming up too, so warm up isn't a blanket statement that only applies to tubes. Then there's biasing, although some pieces have auto biasing. Then again, you might be referring to replacing tubes. The hassle factor might be the cost or frequency of replacement. Again, it depends on what constitutes a hassle for you.
I agree w/Guidocorona & especially to keep an open mind.
As for the heart & soul, again that depends on your perception. With that, I 2nd what Tgyeti said.
I replaced my SS pre with a tube pre and SS power amp and noticed a big difference, but I never tried combining a SS pre with a tubed amp. After about six months with the tube pre and SS power amp, I replaced my SS power amp with a tubed power amp. I now have a tubed preamp and power amp. I wouldn't say that tubes are a hassle, but they do require more care than SS. As mentioned, impedance matching is important. Input impedance of the Power amp should be at least 10 times larger than the preamps output. My amp input impedance is 100,000 ohms and the preamp output impedance is 400 ohms.
Tube Hassle or Is It?
In all Joule-Electra preamps (and surely some others) you have stand-by feature which allows you to have 24/7 warm-up preamp. Just flip switch and off you go.
Next, in Joule-Electra preamps you need to re-tube every 5-10 years and if you can connect USB cord to your computer then you can install vacuum tube.
Next, Joule-Electra preamps have two outputs: one with 1200 Ohm impedance and another with 350 Ohms impedance. If your power amplifier allows you to use 1200 Ohms output of the preamp then the life span of your signal tubes...double.
Finally, this is unique to Joule-Electra - to the best of my knowledge. The cost of re-tubing is about $200 and you get the best NOS tubes in the world (Joule-Electra has thousands of them for half century, I think). No other preamp manufacturer come even close by price and ..only currently manufactured tubes.
All The Best