I just added a tube pre to a solid state amp last weekend. I think they sound pretty good together.
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I have a Rogue 66 tube pre mated with my Bryston 4B-ST and really think there is a nice synergy between the two. The Rogue replaced a Bryston BP-25 preamp (SS) that while I found to be more revealing and accurate didn't provide the warmth and musicality the Rogue does. Audition a tube preamp if you can...
After owning the Electrocompaniet ECI-3 amd Simaudio Moon I-5 solid state integrateds, I have found true happiness with the BC21 tube preamp and BC22 solid state amp from Blue Circle. Being that the BC22 is rated at 120wpc versus the 70wpc for the two integrateds and having a nice tube preamp as a compliment, I find the Blue Circle combo to be more dynamic and much smoother. Overall, very good dynamics, liquidity and amazing soundstaging.
I've got a VTL TL 2.5 and a Bryston 4b-st combo that I like a lot (driving Thiels), though I am hoping to upgrade the VTL to a Rogue 99 magnum. I AB'd the VTL and a Rogue (standard edition) driving some Audio Physic speakers with a Krell amp (Cary CD for source) and, all else being equal, liked the sound of the Rogue much better. There are almost as many available combos as there might be folks to have opinions regarding how each might sound. I could only suggest that you mix and match to taste. As a general idea, though, I'd give the combo approach a hearty thumbs up.
I have a couple of tube amps/solid state amps & I occasionally mix n match them. Solid state and tube stuff do sound 'good'.
BUT, I found that once I had ALL amplification stages running tube (as in my arc ph-3, bat vk-5i, and arc vt100), you take a pretty big jump. All of a sudden the music is REALLY alive with the full-on tube magic. To date that is probably the most engaging system I have.
It doesn't have a wisp of the ultra-resolution that I get from SACD's on my SCD-1/Aleph P/Aleph 2, but definitely more 'alive'.
Swapping a single solid state component into this rig ruins the vinyl playback. Wish I could get my CD's to sound so good...
Anybody out there find a similar effect with a tube cd player ?
I have had a wild hair for a tube pre-amp for quite some time. The deal was closed when I went to a pawn shop and found an Audio Research LS15 for $600!! I have to order a remote for the unit, otherwise it is in perfect condtion. I am using a Aragon 4004MKII(hopefully I can get my hands on an 8008BB because it has balanced inputs)and the two have mated up very nicely. The soundstage is tremendous(it extends way beyond the speakers)detailing(guitar picks on the strings, pianos sound like pianos, a thumping noise that I never heard before on one of my discs-a foot pushing on the pedal of the piano), bass has great slam due to the Aragon. The voices, especially female, are smooth, silky and life-like. Prior to the Audio Research, I was using a Jeff Rowland Consonance which is also a great pre-amp. Aragon is made by the folks at Mondial, which has its fingers in Mark Levinson and Proceed products, thus the great sound and bullet-proof amps! The combination of solid state and tube pre-amps make for a good marriage.
I have used a variety of different Preamps and Recievers to control my ATI 2505 amplifier.It is amazing the difference in Sound Quality that can be heard from one Preamp or Reciever to the Next.I Finally Purchased the "Audio Experience-Symphonies" Preamp on Ebay for $375.00 plus shipping.It Uses "1 each 6X4 Power tube" and "3 each 12AX7 or 5751 tubes" It comes with the 12AX7 Tubes.I am using the "Symphonies" between my Denon AVR-2802 Dolby Digital Reciever Front-Left and Right Pre-outs and the ATI-2505 amps.I at first was amazed at the "Airiness" and the "Spaciousness" the Symphonies added to the sound and then the "Depth" and also the Excellent Immaging.The Instuments sound much more natural and vocals had depth and sound like the singers are in the room with me on many recordings.After about a week of listening I went back to using the Denon only.It was then that I Imediately Realized The benefits of using the Symphonies TUBE PRE.After about 15 minutes I hooked the Symphonies back in and hope I never have to use a solid state only setup again, although I will continue to use the Solid State Power Amps.WHAT AN IMPROVEMENT!!!
Tubes can be noisy buggers, and for this reason some people prefer keeping tubes away from the low-level signals originating from source components. This would favor those who support using a ss preamp and tube amp. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just that it is one rationale for going one way over the other, and results will obviously vary from system to system and component to component. Like most things audio, this is one of those areas where you'll likely have to try some combos yourself to come to your own conclusions, but hey, isn't that half the fun? Best of luck.
Try active biamping. A ss amp could be used to power the woofer, and a tube amp could power the squawker and tweeter. In this way you could use the strong base advantage of the ss amp to get a clean, solid base slam; and use the mild mannered advantage of the tube amp to bring out a more pleasing, soft, but detailed sound from your squawker and tweeter.
I'm running a Classe CA 300 and Audio Research LS25MII and I think it's an excellent combination. Matched to Vandersteen 3A signatures and 2WQ subs. I'm approaching over the hill gang status and my previous love was 4 Dahlquist DQ10's mirror imaged with each pair having one mounted upside down on top of the other and 2 DQ1 subs. it was fantastic in the 70's, but after a 12 yr stint oversea's, I returned and they had been stolen from storage. It hurt and I stayed away from HiFi until a few years ago. I have used many different tube amps but miss the ss bass and extended top end. Not that tube gear sounds weak in the bass or highs, just after direct comparison you do notice what most tube gear offers, a sweet liquid midrange which translates into a trade with the bass and the high's. I find the Classe to be excellent top to bottom, the midrange is smooth and detailed enough that I really don't miss the tube midrange. Now you might think that I'm getting some of that tube sound from the LS25MII, but it uses the new 6H30 tubes which have a very neutral, detailed sound and as of yet I have not found an alternate tube. This is the main reason for up front and center soundstage which I like. I would recommend an audition before purchasing of course. Good luck, I'm listening to music again after a long hiatus, and I love it!