Tubes Through Solid State

I've always had solid state or tubes; never mixed the two.
If I get a tubed front end and run it through a solid state power amp do I lose the tube timbre and depth? In other words are the tubes wasted or does it survive and get passed along? I am thinking BAT tubes for the front and I hae Pass Labs amps.
Here is a recent thread that may have some info.[]
Seems a personal choice. I like solid state linestage through a tube power amp. Of course, high quality gear is required.
I am not a big fan of mixing the two. I feel you gain some but lose more. I think you are on to something about losing depth especially. I could always tell there was ss in the system even though it controlled the speakers nicely I missed all tubes.

I do not think it is worth it.

I feel I am in the minority probably but this is my 2 cents...
My experience is that better sound is obtained via tubes into tubes. Ive tried my pre tube into various SS amps and it never improves the sound.
I've found that my ARC Ref3 sounds great into my Krell MDA/KSA amps. This series of Krells has a tube like midrange and treble plus the awesome bass of the Krells. The Ref 3 compliments and enhances the quailities of the Krells adding depth and imaging. With the Krells, one doesnt't have to worry about tube failure, but the heat issue is a wash.
In the final analysis, each to his own.
My experience was that a tube pre can work very well with SS power...
My experience has been tubed pre into ss amp. Ran this combo for years and liked it very much; kinda the best of both worlds. Equipment wise various cj tubed pre's and cj ss amps. Last combo was a cj premier 16lsII into a cj premier 350. Having said that I now use a Cary SLI-80F1 direct coupled integrated and I am very happy and have not looked back.

Is there an analog component to your question? I'm just curious why you asked here.

I've always felt this kind of mix was a temporary fix for another problem.
Each piece of gear in your system contributes to the sound output in a different (but equally important) way. You choose your amp to best match your speakers, or so the theory goes. With most amps, you can be more flexible with regards to preamp choices.

For many years I was running Apogee planar or hybrid ribbon speakers, so I used high-power SS amps and a tube preamp. I enjoyed those systems a lot. Later and with different speakers I paired a CJ tube amp with a CJ SS pre. I also enjoyed that system. For the last year or so I have been using an all-tube SET integrated with horn speakers. And I love this system.

What's the moral of the story? It's all good, and there are no hard and fast rules. If it sounds good to you, it's good.
Dan ed the combination of tubes and ss can be very satisfying so not sure what you mean about a temporary fix. And Br3098 concerning your last comment couldn't agree more.

I've almost always have had a mix. Mostly its been a tube pre and a SS amp because powerful tube amps tend to been more costly then there SS counterparts. It gives a nice touch of tube magic with the ability to drive a load well.

My current setup is just the opposite; tube amps, Rogue M180s, (a unbelievably great piece of gear, not particularly flashy but sonically stunning) and a JC2 pre (also unbelievably good!) and the combination is really amazing. It's giving me more tube goodness then any tube pre/SS amp combination that I have had. It also doesn't hurt that my cdp has a tube output stage,something I have never liked until I heard the Ayon.

Having tubes in your system allows for tube rolling which I love to do. It gives you the ability to change/improve your system at what is usually a small cost, not always, compared to a new piece of gear.

What you have to be aware of is the actual (can differ from published spec) output impedance of the preamp especially when it's tube and input impedance of the amp that you are planning to pair together. Tube preamps can have a high output impedance at the frequency extremes or across the board which can cause either the low bass or highend to be rolled off if paired with a amp that have a low input impedance. Usually a manufacture will give a spec at 1k but not tell you that at 20Hz the output impedance is 10x what it is at 1k. The typical rule of thumb is you want the input impedance of the amp to be at least 10x that of the output impedance of the pre but personally I look for a preamp that is less then 250 and an amp that is greater then 30,000.

Tel Wire
I liked tubes for the pre-amp, especially with edgy 16 Bit digital. I find no use for them with analog. I replaced my old Cary SLP-94 tubed with NOS Telefunken's with a vintage Mark Levninson 380S Solid State pre. It kills the tube pre-amp I had, has a remote and is much quieter than tube counterparts, not to mention better bass grip and no care and feeding maintenence.
Czbbcl, I didn't say it can't sound good. Not sure why a different opinion threatens your own. I've done the tube/ss mix. IME people do this because it is the equipment they have, the speakers they are using are inefficient so they need the control of a SS amp, and so on. To my listening preferences, either all SS or all tubes sounds better than mixing.
BAT's tube preamps sound more like solid state than tube. If you are looking for tube bloom, you might not like them. Make sure you audition them before making commitment.
Dan ed I just didn't understand your comment about a temporary fix for another problem. Not trying to be threatening nor am I threatened by anyones opinion. Sorry if you misunderstood my comment; my goodness.

I hope that this is a site where we can all share information and have friendly dialogue.

Thank-you all for your responses. I just didn't want to pay for tubes in the front end only to find that those tube qualities I am after don't survive the the solid state translation. Thanks again.
Yeah, if you want the sound of tubes, use tubes. If you want the sound of SS, use SS. Mixing them gives you some of the qualities of both, but it does not give you the best of both as many claim.

the combination of tubes and ss can be very satisfying so not sure what you mean about a temporary fix.

A nice way of saying "you're not thinking correctly." But I do appreciate your politeness about it.
Well Dan ed there are a couple of high end manufactures who would disagree with you. The comments here are only opinions (yours included) and not facts and should not be misconstrued as such. And Your Welcome most of us are civilized human beings:)

I have an ARC tube Ref3 with 2 Simaudio solid state Moon W6's mono blocks. The sound stage is open, wide & deep. The instruments have plenty of space and sound 3d. The speakers sound very relaxed without any strained. I have owned many tube amps and feel SS amp have better bottom end, extension and decay than most of the tube amps I have owned or tried. These two componants compliment each other very well.
I have tried SS preamps with tube amps and did not like it. The only exception was when I used a Pass P preamp with a tube amp. the output gain was too much and I could not set the volume higher than around 4. Thats with all the jumper set to the lowest settings in the Pass P.
BTW my speaker are 96% efficient so power is not the reason I like the mix of tube & SS. I just like the sound.

sm2727 you may or may not like the mix but give it a try. Audition them in your house with your speakers. Thats the only way you will know if it works for you. Not someone elses rant about it not.

The other nice thing is it does not cost an arm and a leg to retube a preamp as it does with an amp with comparable watts.
Well, if I want to try a mix one day I will probably get hybrids.
And what about phono stage? SS with the rest of the chain tube or the other way around? Or midway? Any experience with that?
Dan ed, I have all Tom Evans electronics. SS phono stage and pre and tube monoblock amps. He, as a high end designer and manufacture certainly favors mixing the two. And I certainly appreciates his work.
03-23-11: Sm2727
Thank-you all for your responses. I just didn't want to pay for tubes in the front end only to find that those tube qualities I am after don't survive the the solid state translation.
I just replaced a SS phono stage with a tubed (Jolida) one in my otherwise SS signal chain and the difference was immediately noticeable. How noticeable such a change would be would also depend on the low level resolution of the downstream components. A mid-'80s Adcom is going to obscure more of the tubes' traits than a Class A Nelson Pass, Krell, or Classe', or even an A/B amp heavily biased into class A.

I may replace my SS line stage with a tubed one but I'll probably keep my SS amp for the control and stability it exerts over my speakers.
Just out of curiosity, anyone mixed Rowland and Lamm?
Ah, so a difference of opinion really does bunch your panties.
I don't really care who builds what and how. I don't like mixing, I have tried it, it is not for me. And I note that I'm not the only poster on this thread who feels the same way.
Somebody needs their sippy cup refilled:)
Dan ed, I bet you prefer Scotch straight to any cocktail. I do too. Shaken not stirred.
LOL! Actually, Inna, I've been on a marguarita kick for about 6 months. I've lost another 6 lbs since I quit drinking beer. Single malts, now that's just a couple pieces of ice.
Yes, single malts forever.
And preferably 20+ year old single malts...
Well, I am a modest man and 18 year old Glenlivet is perfectly fine. I can even take 12 some days.
Again, thank you for your thoughts. I drink Costco wine so I am at entry level here. This has served to clarify my thoughts. I think the phono stage is where I need to use my tube money. If the signal is not "tubified" at that point, I would think that tubes beyond that would be coloration of some sort. Preserving the tube qualities is what I am concerned about. I love my set up, but I want to treat myself to something. I would love to abuse a dealer, but I can't buy new so that is not fair. I have to make educated guesses on the gon. Thanks again.
My system:
VPI Superscoutmaster with all the whistles.
Cardas cartridge
Clearaudio Balanced Reference run direct to amps
Pass Labs XA 60's
Coincident Total Eclipse (full range)
custom filter/ Bag End infrasub
Tara Labs wiring
PS audio power generator.
Tube phono stage? That's Lamm, man. That's the stuff worth paying for. About $3000. And it will last for as long as you need it to last.
Inna, If I took 12 shots of Glenlivet in a day, I wouldn't know the difference between a violin and a cello. Everything will sound like tube.
I meant of course 12 years old. And if I took 12 shots I would be in coma or dead, that's for sure.
Long live single malts and Hi-Fi!
Well I am fairly well off financially and with that I keep all my money in my dresser tied up in my panties.. Haaaaa:)

I also live by the motto that life is too short to drink cheap booze.


I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish. Can you describe something about the sound that isn't sitting well with your ears?

"Tubify" can mean many things, but to me it is implying that the sound is fatiguing and edgy right now. Just a guess. Anyway, the only one who is going to be able to decide what sounds right is you. Try to buy used gear and experiment.

Another thought. You like Pass amps, what about their preamps and phonostages?
In response to Dan_ed...I am happy. I am back to vinyl after many years of chasing the digits. I just know there is always more and that is why I love this hobby. I have had Pass pre-amps...not the phono. The Pass pre-amps are excellent, but I don't think they add anything and I don't need the switching, hence going direct. I started the vinyl with an AR PH 5 going through an Adcom 795 or what ever that Pass designed one was. An inexpensive set up that taught me a lot and was easy to sell. I was really impressed with the AR for the price. I little short on the top and bottom, but the mids were great. I love my current set-up. I just know that there are tube designs that can give me the dynamic range I have now with a bit more color and depth. Cost is my limiting factor, so I am choosing my shots carefully. Everyone had been very helpful usual.
I have a CJ pre and SS amp in the bedroom. I recently changed some NOS tubes in the CJ and the difference passed through the transparent SS amp. I heard the change in tubes quite distinctly. I believe your combination would work very well.
I have had the same experience with tube pre into ss amp. Although I tend to be an all tube person (pre and amp.) I certainly think the tubed pre into ss amp and perhaps vice versa has merrits. Happy Listening.