Tube Pre-amp with SS AMP or stay all SS?

I have a pair of McIntosh MC501 SS amps which I previous used with a Cary SL98P tube pre-amp. I did very much like the combination but now thinking of upgrading to a McIntosh C500. I have heard the SS + SS combo but do not have opportunity to audition the C500 tube pre-amp + Mc501. Anyone have any opinions on this or direct experience? I am using a pair of Dynaudio Sapphires, with a McIntosh MCD500 front end.

Thanks in advance for all the feedback.

The only thought that comes to my mind about moving to a more upscale preamp, be it tube or SS, is this... I’ve found that as one moves up the food chain PRAT and resolution increase. With a good line up, and I've heard the Mac top line pre with the 501s, and those XR series (12K) speakers, it was an enjoyable sounding event... albeit a brief one.. about 30 mins.

I'd suspect the house sound of THE Mac continues to improve in resolution and transparency as one moves up.

Personally, I'd be more concerned about going tube or SS from the CARY in terms of the systems needs, and naturally my own tastes.

By that I mean, What are you shooting for?

Another note is as tube preamps increase in price they seem to sound less 'tubey' as well... and I enjoy that smack of tubeyness though not sugary or molassess like... the influence of a tube preamp in the system just seems to introduce more naturalness to it… and has some life within it. IMO

i've mnot found an SS preamp which can convey such things.... of course I ain't heard 'em all either.
I had a Mcintosh 7270 amp and hooked it up to a new Cary SLP98P preamp and it sounded great! I sold the Mac after 17 years and hooked up a Cary V12R amp to the Cary preamp and could not be happier. Rule of thumb, SS amp to tube preamp, no tube amp to SS preamp. All tubes is the best. I'd keep that Cary! My old preamp was a Carver C-1 and it sounded good with the Mac. I got rid of 6 signal processors because I no longer need them, and got an outboard Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator.
Typically, the only issue is highish output impedance of a tube preamp connected to a lowish input impedance of a solid state amp. You need to know the worst case output impedance (and at what frequency) of the preamp to know how it will impact the frequency response.
Rule of thumb,not true.Tube power amp and ss pre amp can be equally synergistic.Irregardless of your persuasion you should have tubes somewhere in your system.
Thanks for all the feedback. I would assume that if I bought the corresponding McIntosh tube pre-amp (C500) for my McIntosh MC501 SS amps, that impedance would not be an issue? (i.e., would McIntosh match their own components?)


I'm sure a matching level preamp to the mono blocks will be a fine fit impedance wise. I won't say it's going to be the very best sounding, nor the worst. Therein lies the fun of matching and swapping other components about.

the general rule as I understand it for imp matching of preamp to amp is 10:1.

EX. Preamp output imp = 800 - 1100..... then an amp with an input imp of ten times the preamps output imp will surely work well. the greater the better. many Ss amps run from 50K to 100K.

The only confusing issue is how the makers came up with their imp numbers. Say on balanced inputs... are those stated imp numbers collective or for each phase? I usually just look at the SE imp numbers for the amp, and if it's also truly balanced, I just double them for the overall, or see it as per side in XLR config.

Mostly, output imp on preamps are very low... <1000.

You can get away with a bit less than the ten to one scenario but the gain will not be quite as great... but now I'm splitting hairs here.

I doubt you will have any trouble at all integrating any number of preamps to your monos... save for perhaps 'passive preamps'.