Tube preamp vs Tube cd player

hi all

need your kind advice

for power amp, most people prefer solid state ("SS")

but for cd player and preamp, there is a preference for tubes

so in an ideal setup, which do you prefer?

1) "SS" cd player, tube preamp, "SS" poweramp
2) tube cd player, "ss" preamp, "SS" power amp

thank you
My uncle's sweet sounding set-up was your first choice.

1) "SS" cd player, tube preamp, "SS" poweramp

I like having Tube sources (CDP or DAC and even a Tube Phono) to a SS preamp to SS power amp.

It is a matter of preference IMO.

What gear are you using right now?
No 1 all the way. I have an amp that though SS, sounds like a very good modern 120 tube amp. Van Alstine Synergy 450.
Used with either my AVA Pas4i tube pre with phono stage or my 8 tube Eastern Electric Avant I'm happy.

I avoid tube amps because they are a PITA with inferior power tubes from Russia and China . Putin not my favorite person either.
Anyone who thinks they sound good never heard Amperex 6550's in full cry.
I have done both... and prefer option 1). I have SS cd player and an AVA tube pre-amp with an AVA Synergy 300 power amp.

I have had tube power amps (Ayon). Sound great... but unreliable. Power amp tubes blow all the time and sometimes cause damage to other portions of the electronics as they go down.

The tube pre- adds some smoothness. A power amp (like the AVA) that is not harsh --- together, they make a great pairing.
Tube CD players only make sense as an easy (Not the only or even best) way to introduce some tubes into your digital initially.

So 1 all the way. Make the SS amp Class D. And tubes done well a nice option but not a requirement for the pre-amp.

The real alternative is tube amplification all the way. That usually means a different set of speakers to choose from as well in order to achieve the best possible results.
3) Tube CD player, Tube preamp, Tube amplifier.
I have the ss REGA Osiris amp and the REGA ISIS valve cdp
= marriage made in heaven.
"so in an ideal setup, which do you prefer?

1) "SS" cd player, tube preamp, "SS" poweramp
2) tube cd player, "ss" preamp, "SS" power amp"

This question really can't be answered. You're not taking into account the differences between similar components. For example, if you listen to 5 cd players, they will all sound different from each other. You need to look at actual products, not generic.
Try a tube CD or DAC. You probably won't go back. Less fatigue and more musical. Add NOS tubes even better. There is a reason tube output stage conversions are made for SS CD players. Not the other way around.
"Try a tube CD or DAC. You probably won't go back. Less fatigue and more musical."

Compared to what? Tubes don't guarantee anything. Like anything else, they have to be implemented properly or you can get bad sound, like any other design. If you are going to buy a tube product, you need to be able to tell the difference between a good design that happens to be tube, or a design that uses tubes to cover up problems. A good design is more important than just using tubes.

"There is a reason tube output stage conversions are made for SS CD players. Not the other way around."

Perfect example. The vast majority of the conversions are done to mass market digital gear. The tubes cover up the weak SS designs. I think the conversions are definitely better than stock units, but I feel a component that doesn't need that kind of help is much better. You don't see too many people sending out their DCS or Ayre or Wadia or other well made SS digital gear to be modified. It was made right the first time.
You made some very good points.
I most often prefer tube over transistor alternatives in general but it all depends. Just adding tubes into the mix doesn't make everything better and solve all problems. Some SS components have better midrange sound than some tubes. Some tube components will provide better bass and resolution than some SS components. Design, part quality and high level implementation are what determine ultimate success. I use a SS DAC with tube preamplifier and power amplifier and this is a splendid solution me. There are numerous paths to good sound quality. Quality execution of the individual component is the key.
I agree with zd's points as well. Design and implementation is the most important criteria not tubes vs ss. Poor design is poor design period. FYI, my personal choice is tube CD, tube pre-amp and tube amplifier, choice 3 like John. Not all tube amps eat output tubes but many do and of course they do deteriorate over time so they need to be periodically tested. This goes for ALL tubes used in any circuit.

So in an ideal set-up, on the surface at least, I would choose 1 over 2 providing the pre-amp is well designed, it's a better bet.
It's my own experience/observation (of course) but tube/SS differences seem less pronounced with digital front ends ( there's more sonic overlap between them). Power amplifiers present the larger gap based on my listening. If you really like what a good tube amp can do, SS amplifiers will simply sound different(better or worse in an individual opinion). My 2 cents worth.
Lots of excellent responses have been provided above, and in particular I'll third ZD's well stated points.

Also, regarding this statement in the OP...
for power amp, most people prefer solid state...
... a major reason for that is simply the fact that more often than not speakers are designed with the expectation that they will be used with solid state amplifiers. In many of those cases using a tube amplifier would result in some combination of tonal imbalances due to non-optimal impedance matching, inadequate bass damping, or inadequate drive capability. Also, a given number of tube watts generally tends to cost more than the same number of solid state watts, for a given level of quality.

But there are nevertheless many speakers that are best used with tube amps. And there are also many that are well suited for use with either kind of amp, with the resulting sonics depending on the intrinsic sonic character of the amp and the speakers, but not on factors involving interactions between them.

If a speaker has above average efficiency and sensitivity, and an impedance curve that does not dip down to low values (e.g. less than say 5 ohms or so) at any frequency, and an impedance curve that does not vary a great deal as a function of frequency, the likelihood that it will be a good match for a tube amp is increased.

Also, regarding matching a tube preamp with a solid state power amp, or a tube CD player with a solid state preamp, you want to be particularly careful to check that impedances are compatible. See my post in this thread for further explanation.

-- Al
All tubes. Amp (makes the biggest difference) pre, tuner, and cd player should all have tubes, or why bother? Just go ss. You just have to make sure everything matches up well, and that you have the right speakers.
You seriously think one should decide on a source component just by looking at the presence/absence of tubes ? That's quite rare and awkward as an approach IMO. Source is like the mother. It reproduces the music from the disc. One has to carefully select this component. And that can only happen with careful audition and research. Whether it ultimately ends up as a tube or ss component is postmortem discussion. I don't suggest you discuss such a subject right at the beginning.

My favorite CD players are Naim, esoteric, AMR and Audio Note.