tube pre amp with tube / SS /hybrid power amp ?

hi there

i need help on guideline or best practice on mating a tube preamp. i am after a tube, detail, and transparent sound but need more power.

would it be more sensible to mate with another high power tube or SS or hybrid power amp?
Having owned a couple of tubed power amps and many ss power amps as well as quite a few of both tubed and SS preamps, I generally prefer a tubed preamp with a SS power amp.

The benefit of SS amps of tubed amps is partially an issue of convenience and reliability. While I feel that one can get excellent sound out of a tubed amp, it comes at a cost as stated above. The right SS amps perform excellently with excepional reliability.

By using a tubed preamp, one can achieve a high level of the "tube" sound. This is my recommended approach after trying both combinatons.

You need to watch for synergy, obviously. Look at the dampening factors and also whether either the tubed preamp has output coupling capacitors OR the power amp has input coupling capacitors to protect the power amp from stray DC voltage that tubes are much more likely to produce than SS.

Adding some additional details will allow others to provide more specific feedback, if you are looking for any specific suggestions.
Ckoffend, your kind of input is what i am looking for.

will tube pre and SS power amp can preserve the tubey sound i am after?

so you mentioning about damping factor, whats the guideline for that?
some 10 times of the other? pre damping factor has to be around 10x of amp damping factor or vice versa?

if there is no coupling cap to protect the amp. will it be possible to install ourselves?
You are pretty much describing Blue Circle gear. Most all the preamps are tube and most all of the amplifiers are hybrid.
I matched a Lamm LL2 Deluxe tube preamp with a Moscode 401HR (tube/SS hybrid) with outstanding of the best combinations I've ever owned.

A friend matches a CJ CT5 tube preamp with the Moscode 401HR with equally good results.
It would help us 'Goners trying to advise you if we knew what speakers you were driving.

However, I too would recommend the Blue Circle gear, at least their power amps. I'm running a deHavilland Ultraverve 2 preamp with NOS tubes into a Blue Circle BC-28 tube/SS hybrid power amp. It is a low cost alternative to the all Atma-Sphere system I used to own. While not up to that standard, it does quite well without the heat generation and retubing costs. Very good tonality and clarity, overall a musical sound that can be listened to for extended periods of time without fatigue.
My father has on order a Aesthetix Atlas hybrid amp that we demoed with a Audio Research ref 3 (same pre as he owns) and the match is sonic heaven.atleast ith his Vandersteens.
If you get the chance, listen to the Sanders ESL amp driving the Vandies. It allowed the Vandies to breathe and a measure of expression which I had never heard before.

My favourite combination of tube/SS is the ModWright pre with the Sanders ESL amps. On the ModWright, change the 5687 tube for the Amperex 7119, then listen to music so sweet and natural, it suspends reality.
The dampening factor should be a 10 times factor as a minimum. That is the preamps X 10 (or more) = the amps.

Typically, I have not heard of people adding coupling caps on their own. There are also those that say that the use of coupling capacitors degrades the performance. I can neither agree or disagree with this as I have never had the opportunity to listen to the same components within a system with the caps activated and then with them not activated.

My preamp (Aesthetix Calypso) has output coupling capacitors. My amp (Krell FPB300C) has the ability to activate input coupling capacitors; however, I have never done this due to my preamps configuration (ie. no need to).

There are many very good combinations of tubed preamps with SS power amps, and there are some suggestion above.

However, this does not mean such recommendations are good for you. To get the best feedback, you should consider a couple of items and report on these to get better feedback for your goals. Such as:

Do you already have speakers you want to keep for the long term? If so, what are they? This will say a lot about what other equipment is most apt to play well.
What sources (digital or analog) you prefer and run?
What are your performance objectives (other than everything), what are the 2-3 most important characteristics to you?
Share some info, including budget (perhaps you don't need to hear about the best $12,000 combo if your budget is $3,000 for example). New/used?

There are many people that run tubed preamps with SS power amps without any coupling capacitors and some say there is little risk. While I don't dispute that the risk may be low (especially if you are good about watching your tubes), my concern has been once I got to a certain level (ie. budget), I was not willing to risk a large (to me) investment in a power amp by taking this risk.

You can get great sound from moderately prices equipment and don't need to spend tens of thousands to get very rewarding sound. You can also spend tens of thousands and get not very rewarding sound!
05-30-08: Chadnliz
My father has on order a Aesthetix Atlas hybrid amp that we demoed with a Audio Research ref 3 (same pre as he owns) and the match is sonic heaven.atleast ith his Vandersteens.

Hey Chad, did you get a chance to compare the Aesthetix Atlas with the ARC HD-220 in the same system? I'm just curious as these two amps would seem to make natural competitors. I would think the ARC HD-220 would mate better with the ARC Ref 3, but this may not be so.

I am not sure what this 10x, stuff is about with damping factor above, but what most need to look at with matching a good TUBE to Solid stated device iE: Tube Pre to a SS AMP.. Is the Impedance factor... This would be better to have from what many say at least 10 times the impedance at your amp inputs over what the output impedance is at the preamps outputs..

But normally if you stick with a Tube pre having 1000 ohms or less output you theoretically should be able to drive even many SS amps with a input impedance of 10,000 ohms, or 10 k ohms.

I would normally say look at conrad johnson or several other tube pres putting out like 50 ohms up to about 600 ohms, and you should be just about safe with any SS amp you chose, however this is kinda the Technical side of what many consider "Synergy" being an actual value matched to help you get good electrical synergy between your components..

However the other type "Synergy" can be simply one flavor of sound feeding another for the extra musical balance you seek as well, and that synergy will have to be decided by you if you like one combination or not.

Good luck, and by the way I am not a tech, but somebody can attempt to correct my above assumptions with better detail.
That 10X's impedence matching rule is VERY conservative, IMHO. Most of the credit for the 10X rule goes to Victor Khemenko of BAT. However, others, like ARC, recommend at least 30X.
From my experiences, the higher levels are much, much better. Yes, I suppose you could get by with 10X's, but I find that 100X-300X sounds better.

By the way I totally agree with you.. and have found that is a very conservative rating, hit or miss.. And only reason I said "Theoretically" was to tell the original poster exactly my point as to why people keep coming up with this 10x factor that flies around.. Whether even that is optimal is questionable.
No I didnt demo the ARC model but to be honest the amps performance was so pleasing that even if the ARC performed very well it would have just served to cloud the issue.
Thanks for the reply Chad, I was just curious as to if there was any synergy between the Ref 3 and the HD220. I'm sure the Aesthetix Atlas is a great amp. I own the ARC Ref 3 and have heard it with tube and SS amps (I prefer tube), but I haven't heard it with any Hybrid amps.