tube vs SS my own little test

So last weekend I went to a audio show at my local dealer. But alas the dealer was sick so. I a distributor filled in for him. I have know for a few years.

So we started chatting. Last few years I have been changing/upgrading my set little by little. Different speakers, turntable, phono amp. However my integrated amp stayed. My amp is a Symphonic Line La musica. So out of curiosity I asked him what do you think. I my amp still up to it.

To which he answered, I don't know. Why don't you borrow an amp from the shop and find out. So I went home with an Octave V110 and an Octave Super Black Box.

So how do they compare? Well the difference is different from what I expected. I have never owned a tube amp, or any tube gear for that matter. The Octave is a push pull pentode tube amp. This particular V110 comes with KT150 tubes instead of the KT120 tubes which the V110 normally has. Since I know nothing of tube I have no clue what that means to the sound.

Back to the sound. First I was disappointed a bit. It didn't sound that good. a Bit lack luster. And no "magical" tube mids that I have read about. The SL was more punchy, better controlled bass, and the mids and high were not that different.

However that changed after some time. Me knowing nothing of tubes didn't know that it can take up to an hour for the tube to completely warm up or something. because after about 30 minutes the amp sounds a lot better and after an hour even better still.

The SL was still a bit more dynamic and maybe still had a little more bass power. But after an hour the Octace mids and highs are clearly superior. Not that the SL is bad by any standard. But the Octave sounds more organic for lack of better wording.

But how practical is an amp that needs close to an hour to warm up? How typical is that of tube amps? Since to me I think it would be a deal breaker. I do not always have the time sometimes I just have 20 minutes.

Do hybrid integrated amps tube pre/SS power suffer from the same "shortcoming"?

Coming days I'll listen some more and see if I can find more differences.
I think what you found typical. The tubes need to get warmed up and when they do the sound quality vastly improves. It may not be practical but much of what we do is not practical, we don't use earbud and our phones to listen to music. A goodly percentage of our world thinks going beyond that an unnecessary hassle.
Tube pre amp sections in integrateds or hybrids do not exhibit this behavior by and large. I have also come to believe however that it is tube power out put which really gives you the tube amp experience. So others who cling to the notion of a tube anywhere in the chain gives you tube amp sound should address your other questions. I think SS anywhere in the chain flattens the soundstage and incredible 3D effect good tube amps yield.
I have had many tube power amps and never had one that didn't sound great after 10-15 minutes. If the amp you brought home had not been played in a long time it may need more breakin. My David Berning ZH-270 tube amps sound perfect right from a cold start. Mt=y friend has an all VAC tube sytem which needs maybe 5-10 minutes warmup although it still sounds stunning from a cold start. The previous response which said what you found is typical is nonsence
any tube gear I have owned sounds fine after 15 minutes
I will let the others speak about tube amps, I can tell you about my solid state Redgum integrated. It sounds okay when cold, better after ten minutes of play and even better after maybe 20-30 minutes, then stays the same. Nothing should sound perfect when cold.
The amp has not been used in some time. I am not sure if that is the problem.

I spoke with some one that also have an Octave integrated amp. He told me it takes about 30 minutes for it to warm up completely.

I do not agree that tubes flatten the 3D effect. Personally, the best DACs (Maitner, EMM, dSC) and phono pre amps (RCM, Pass, van den Hul) I've heard were SS.

The amp has a setting to see if the tubes are still biased correctly. orange lamp is bad green is good. When I turn on the amp and set it for bias it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for all the orange lights to go out and the green ones to light up.
I owned both the V70SE and later the V110. AFTER the tubes are broken in I never had to wait more than 15 min to be fully biased. I found that when I left the unit in standby vs complete power down the biasing was a tad quicker. Now all green indicates a slight underbias (which extends tube life) but according to the Octave manual green with a little red is ideal. But be forewarned if you listen very loud the bias may increase and with all green you have a bit more 'wiggle room'.

That said I now own SS (Aavik U300) that I never turn off. With it I find it takes a good hour or 2 to sound the best.
I find the 15 minute/1 hour times typical for ARC gear with 2 hours being better as well. The first 12 minutes are a waste. Worth the wait though, like cooking on a charcoal grill instead of gas.
tubes worm up 5...10min after that no difference.
solid states at least half-hour.

What tubes did your V110 have?

I have heard the Aavik U300 a few times. The shop that borrowed me the V110 also has the U300 (and Raidho and Ansuz). The U300 is a very special product albeit far beyond my financial means.

Hopefully I'll have some more time this week to listen to the V110. So far my first real tube experience has interesting.

I've heard tube amps in the past in shops, amps like Lua and atma sphere tube amps. But they never sounded good enough to me to peak my interest.
First time I heard Octave and to a lesser degree Prima Luna I thought that tube amps might interesting.
If the amp had been sitting a while it may have taken a bit of time to form up the filter capacitors in the power supply. Prior to that the amp would not have sounded very good- that is a common experience!

In such a case if you continue to play the amp you will find that it does not take so long to sound right as the first time after its been sitting.
Why are you guys with SS turning them off...???!
Let state for the record that I have nothing against tube amps.

If I come across as anti-tube then my apologies. Some of the best audio I've heard used tube amps (Zanden, Octave, Jadis). But I've also heard very good SS (Symphonic Line, Pass, Boulder).

It might very well be that the times I heard tube amps under perform it might be bad amp/speaker match.
I have found that my tube and solid state amps and pre-amps need about 30 minutes to sound their best. (to me).

I turn the system on when I know I'm going to listen and go do something else for awhile.

Also, my preference is a tube pre-amp over a solid state pre-amp and a tube or solid state amp. However, this totally depends on the equipment auditioned.

If one was given the top 5 pre-amps (5 solid state and 5 tube) and top 5 power amps (5 solid state and 5 tube) in a particular price point range that could correctly power your specific pair of speakers, I would bet that you would be a very happy camper and you would have no problem going back and forth between equipment, regardless of whether it was tube or solid state.

But, back to the point, warming up equipment is really necessary to perform their best. Anyone telling you otherwise is trying to sell you something.

Don't let the oil get to temperature and flow correctly in your car and you will find that you will need mechanical work sooner than if you did let it warm up.

My system sounds cold (I know, not a great description), when not warmed up. But, when it warms up, it really opens up. Solid state and tube. no difference.

Stand-by, not off.
My SS amp is an A/B amp. High bias class A. My electricity bill goes up when I leave it on.

As a very general comment, I find that it takes FAR longer for solid state gear to warm up and sound its best. Most of the tube gear I've heard sounds decent in 10-15 minutes, some solid state stuff can take more than an hour to sound good. But, because it is more practical to leave solid state gear on all of the time, warm up issues can be avoided with solid state while it is almost NEVER a good idea to leave tube gear on for extended periods while not in use.

I am not familiar with Octave gear so I don't know about the particulars of your experience. I will say that there is a VAST difference between tube types and particular tube amp designs, and pretty significant differences between vintages and brands of any particular type of tube that one should not draw too many conclusions about the "sound" of tube gear based on limited exposure.

I know a lot of people demand power, and the KT120 and KT150 do deliver much more power than other tubes in that family, but, generally speaking, I much prefer something like the EL34 or 6L6 in pushpull amps. I find that there are a number of high-powered pushpull amps that, to me, sound much leaner (stripped of harmonic density and weight) and exhibit more "glare" (sharp prominence in the treble that creates a hard or shrill sound) than most top solid state amps.

It will be quite rewarding to hear a number of different amps. I don't know about the speakers you are driving, preferred listening level and size of your room, but, as a general caveat, don't overlook tube amps that deliver much less power than the solid state amps you are familiar with--you might be surprised how much less power you really "need" when the amp sounds right.

I don't believe in leaving any electrical equipment turned on. Its the perfect scenario where you come home and your house is burned to the ground. Except for my refrigerator, everything else better be off.

I have tube and solid state equipment and no way on this planet am I leaving my tubed equipment on anyway.

AR doesn't recommend that and with the tubes fully powered, the life of the tubes diminishes when the power is on. So many hours of life per tube. Makes no sense to me to leave tube equipment on when I'm either not home or not using it. Unless there is some standby circuit that doesn't impact the life of the tubes.

My amps get really warm so that isn't happening.

So, if I have to turn the tube equipment off anyway, I might as well turn everything off.

But, as I mentioned earlier, I would turn the equipment off anyway.

To each their own. I just feel better and safer with the equipment off when not in use.

Yes refrigerators are immune to electrical faults...they are powered by our trust.
My tube amp reaches the sweet spot after 45 minutes. My Class A SS amp takes about 15 minutes.
Mordante I had the KT120's for a short time in the V110. I personally did not like them at all. I liked the Ei KT90's in high power the most overall. But that said a lot depended on which speakers I was driving. With the Dyn C1 Sigs the KT120's were horribly shouty where the original Tung Sol 6550 solid black plate (in low power) sounded best. With Raidho D1's and later the D2's the TS were too warm and mushy sounding. The KT120 was a better but still not my cup of tea. Never tried the KT150's but the Ei KT90 sounded good with Dyn's and even better with Raidho's. Don't forget the little tubes 12ax7 and 12at7's make a difference too. Mullards are warm sounding and paired well with the Dyn's but not so well with the Raidho's. There I preferred the Gec CV6091's with a Telefunken ecc801.

But that is the beauty of tubes. If you want to change up the sound a bit just swap some tubes.
After some additional testing I can say the following:

1) Octave V110+SSB sound better compared to my Symphonic Line La Musica, but not by a huge margin. But better none the less.

2) Octave V110 without the SSB sounds equal but different compared to the SL

3) If I really want to upgrade I should may look at the V80SE or maybe a SL Karquelle/kraftwerk.

List prices
Octave V110 6250 euro
Octave Super Black Box 2500 euro
Symphonic Line La Musica 6080euro
The V80 has better output transformers. Also the little tubes are easier to swap if you get into tube rolling. A friend had the V80 when I owned the V70se. I couldn't tell the difference in sound but he has different speakers and his room is a lot better than mine. I traded my V110 just when Octave announced the V80SE.

Best of luck with whatever you decide
Mordante I recently heard the SL Kraftwerk Integrated w/MC, the SS job at my dealer's. Now that is a REALLY nice integrated unit that I feel confident I could live with long term mated with the right speaker. Very refined and natural presentation and certainly much better than some seriously more expensive SS designs I've listened to.