Tubes vs Solid State - Imaging, Soundstaging, 3D

I have limited experience with tubes having had a couple tube amps with Gold Lion KT88s and EL34s. The majority of amps I have owned have been solid state. In my experience, SS always seems to image more sharply and offer the deepest, clearest field.

Is this common?
1b184d15 a649 4ae9 8b8b a29fd2b617a1michaelkingdom
No not usually. Tubes tend to be superb image making devices, with outstanding sound staging. Some tube amps will roll off the uppermost treble giving the sound the syrupy "tubiness" people think of when recalling the sound of older tube amps. Modern tube amps can be very clear and clean sounding even crisp.
All that said I don't doubt your experience with tube amps, but you did ask the question. Try to listen to an Audio Research tube amp, it might give you pause. Were the Gold Lion tubes current production or old stock? Were the tubes really EL-34 or KT-77?
Not in my experience, but the use of words such as imaging, soundstaging, 3d, as well as your terms "image more sharply and offer the deepest, clearest field" are open to diverse interpertations often based on totally different and not necessarily revelatory audio experiences.

I have found SS components in general can create a square(ish) wave which as it relates to the rise time can create a dynamic (impactful) sound. This can create the sharpness effect you mention, however the back side of the wave when correspondingly sharp, as it often is, creates a sense of clarity at the expense of natural decay and renders the sense of sterility that many notice with SS (as opposed to tubes). Your observations may be correct as far as they go but I would think that what you are hearing may not have as 'natural' a sound as I, and I think other tube-o-philes would prefer.

I have not had the fortune of hearing SS create the 'depth of image' you have experienced. I don't mean to be offensive but I think perhaps your experience with 'depth of image' may either be limited by exposure, or equipment/synergy/set up, or broad base acquired listening skills. Apart from liquidity this is one of the things for which tubes are prized.

From my somewhat limited experience with tube amps, I have found a definite difference in what tubes you are using in any given device.

In my two current amps, I have gone to almost all NOS tubes, Telefunken small tubes in my VAC, and Mullard XF2 EL 34 output tubes.

My other amp, an SET 300B, has all NOS tubes except the 300B's, which are quite good Chinese mesh-plates.

In both amps, changing to the NOS tubes, made a great difference in the quality of what I hear. I didn't expect to hear such a great improvement, but, for me at least, the difference was significant.

There is no "tubey" sound, per se, just deilicious, high-resolution musical enjoyment. Before, I was a confirmed solid state guy, but not any longer. Better tubes make for better music.

Mechans - I am using an Octave V40se with Svetlana Winged C EL34s. The Gold Lions were reissues in a Cary SLI-80 signature.

Newbee - While I might not have broad based listening skills that it may take a decade or more to develop, I have owned 20+ good speakers (1-5k) and just about as many amps/integrateds (1-5k). I'm really interested to find out how a tube amp could bring me the clarity and realism I sense from SS gear. When I switch from tube to SS, I often experience a relief, as if the sound is coming into focus.

Islandmandan - I plan to try some Svetlana Winged C KT88s which I have heard are a great match with Octave. Perhaps I just haven't heard enough tubes. I will say that the EL34s are very smooth and easy to listen to. I also would not say that I could recognize a "tubey sound" but when I switch back to SS, I definitely sense a change (that I happen to like).
A couple of questions, first of all, are we comparing apples with apples? That means are you comparing solid state integrated amps with the two tube integrated amps that you are using? Separates could make a difference in what you are hearing. I have even noticed that monoblock amps offer a clearer image and larger soundstage than their stereo counterparts.

Secondly, did you experiment with any of the small signal tubes? From my experiences with tube integrated amplifiers, changing the small signal tubes makes a much bigger difference to the sound than changing the power tubes. Try changing the 6922/ECC83/6SN7's in the Cary or Octave, you may have better results than playing with the power tubes.
What JMCgrogan2 sez, except in my experience some power tubes are more linear in tone than others. With those more 'linear' tubes, such as the GL KT88's or SED 6550's I would agree that small tubes can make a greater difference than the two power tubes would make on their own. But with the SED KT88s, which are not so linear, i.e. increased upper bass and extended highs, small tubes matching is essential, as is amp matching. I've used SED KT88s as well as SED 6550's, SED EL34's, and SED 6L6GC's for some years and while I really enjoy the KT88's when they work (as they do now in one of my amps) as often I've not been able to dial them in using other amps, especially those with a more modern design ('neutral' tone, such as ARCs etc). I know nothing about your amps but I didn't care for the KT88's at all in my Cary mono's, but found the 6550's quite acceptable.

If you want a crystal clear toned linear tube, if you can use it, you might find the SED 6L6GC to your liking. It lacks the power of the 6550/KT88 and the mid-range warmth of the EL34, but it has clarity in spades through out the FR.

BTW, what kind of speakers are you using? Do you feel you have maximized your set up opportunities so that they are positioned to sound their best. In a 'dark' sounding room I can imagine that a tubed amp/speaker combo might sound less energized and a SS amp sound better, especially if you speakers are voiced on the warm side of neutral.
I suspect we all listen for different things. My experience has been that tubes and solid state do different things well at the lower end of price then struggle to converge at the higher end

Solid state has dynamics, biting detail, can rock the house
Tubes have mid range rectitude, vivid tone colors, can make you weep with the emotion of sung story.

To be honest image is the last thing I listen for; what good is a razor sharp spatial location if the instrument doesn't sound real for tone color, like its in the room with you. If that's right, image seems to follow at its heels
LOL!, I was going to post, I agree with Davide256 post, I prefer the sound of both ss and tubes together!, solid state amp and tube pre-amp, or tube digital player with analog balanced volume control, the mix of solid state and tubes together may be exactly what you are looking for, It works very well for me, the best of both worlds!, however, I would not use a 6h30 tube based anything with high quality solid state amps, to me, the sound is to sterile and can be analitical, A good 12Au7, 12aux7 tube componet matched to a very good solid state amp sounds pretty good to me, very magical and real sounding to say the least to my ears, Happy listening.
Having used Tube based preamp(s) for years, and in general having avoided like the plague the notion of Tube based power Amplifier(s), I got a bit of an awakening recently.

My reason for avoiding Tube based power amps are all the standard reasons, maintenance, heat etc.etc.

A perfect storm recently occurred in my life and for whatever reason I decided to replace my ss monoblocks with tube based monoblocks.

I was literally shocked at the difference! I would never have guessed that in 2013 there could be this much variation between great SS and great Tube electronics.

Different strokes and all, so I'm not even going to enter into any kind of tube/vs ss and which is "best". suffice it to say I strongly prefer the tubes. Others could and I'm sure would prefer the SS.

Personally, I see NO downside whatsoever to the tube amps. (other than of course heat, but my old SS amps were high-bias, and they threw a fair amount of heat also) Bass, imaging, focus, balance, depth are all as good or better in the tube amp. And, there is simply as one would expect FAR more what I call "harmonic richness" to the music. Call it euphoric coloration or whatever you want, the tube amp simply adds and/or extracts more meat on the bones of the music. Violin is a perfect example, it's a different instrument all of a sudden.

The added tube "lushness" would I thought always come at the expense of some level of detail. Not in this case, These are razor sharp, with no added harshness.

Just my own personal 2cents worth, I only wish I'd have done this years ago!
Hi Michaelkingdom,
Keep in mind that you may just simply prefer SS amplifiers as some others
do. Don't forget that the particular speaker in use plays a major role
regarding amplifier compatibility. My experiences are very different from
your own, I found well designed tube amplifiers to be as transparent, clear
and resolved as any transistor amp. The advantage I discovered with tubes
is a purity, natrualness and realism that the transistors couldn't equal.
Tubes have the tonal vibrancy and truthfulness that were closer(not
identical) to the real thing for me. With the many transistor amps I've heard
I was always keenly ware the sound is reproduced and a bit more artificial
("canned"). The tubes were more convincing of reality that I
consistently hear with live instruments and vocalists.

As with what Islandmandan said, the SET amps took the tube convincing
realism to an even higher level, I fully understand what Dan is presently
appreciating. The point is each of us will have differences in hearing
perspectives and interpretation. Some will relate to my personal listening
experiences and quite naturally others will not.
The suggestions given here to try various types of signal and power tubes
is wise advice. You can substantially change a amplifier's character and
sound by doing this.
If SS amplifiers continue to impress you more tht means you've found your
direction and that's the route for you.
Best of Luck,
**** I found well designed tube amplifiers to be as transparent, clear
and resolved as any transistor amp. The advantage I discovered with tubes
is a purity, natrualness and realism that the transistors couldn't equal.
Tubes have the tonal vibrancy and truthfulness that were closer(not
identical) to the real thing for me. With the many transistor amps I've heard
I was always keenly ware the sound is reproduced and a bit more artificial
("canned"). The tubes were more convincing of reality that I
consistently hear with live instruments and vocalists. **** - Charles1dad
Rayooo, that coloration you call in the midrange is not a coloration to me at all. I could say the same thing for the less color or lean character of the solid state amp and call that a coloration as well. The whole point is to portray the instruments as life like as possible and if that is a coloration then live instruments with their beautiful rich tone is a coloration as well. I don't know why a lot of people fight this very issue, perhaps they don't go to live classical concerts or to jazz clubs. Whatever the reason I'm glad you discovered tubes and all I can say is enjoy.
In my experience, SS always seems to image more sharply and offer the deepest, clearest field....

I am using an Octave V40se with Svetlana Winged C EL34s. The Gold Lions were reissues in a Cary SLI-80 signature.
To the extent that it may be safe to generalize, given that there will inevitably be exceptions, my perception has been that the prevailing viewpoint among experienced audiophiles is that a particular strong point of tube amplification tends to be imaging and dimensionality. And that has certainly been my experience, and the experience of several of the others who have responded.

We can only speculate as to why your experience has been the opposite. Perhaps the speakers you have used with the two tube integrateds are not ideal matches for tube amplification, as was suggested earlier. Also, the Octave amplifier is unusual in that it provides only a single output tap, which is ostensibly suited to a wide range of load impedances, but who knows what tradeoffs that might entail with any given speaker.

Also, do you feel confident that your combination of speaker positioning, listening position, room configuration and acoustics, and the radiation patterns of the speakers you have used with the tube amps is conducive to good imaging? One speculative possibility that occurs to me is that if those factors in your particular setup are not conducive to sharp and well defined imaging, the reduction in dimensionality and image size that may occur with many solid state amps relative to many tube amps may be compensatory.

-- Al
I have owned two tube cd players including my previous modded Ayon CD-5s which I used as linestage paired with a Boulder 1060. I also rolled the factory tubes with NOS mil-spec tubes. Tubes certainly provide midrange lushness, sound holographic & are delicate with strings, female vocals, jazz etc. Properly isolated no doubt a good tube linestage can do all that. I must say how pleased I am however moving from tubes to my current Vitus SIA-025. I am hearing the same richness I enjoyed with the Ayon and with only about 30hrs on my amp, speakers & most of my cables & with my S5's temporarily sitting on carpet swabs (without any feet fitted), the soundstage is already impressive. Once my system reaches 500hrs & I put some Stillpoints under my speakers, I should have a better idea of the sound. But for me, there is life after tubes.
One point that I have found undeniable over the years is that a rather large majority of speaker designers use robust solid state amplification. The reason could be as simple as tubes begin to degenerate the moment they are turned on and by comparison, solid state is more stable or constant for comparative listening and measurement purposes.

Another area of the audio industry were the preferable stability of solid state is used predominantly is in recording and post production studios. It's my experience that heavy handed producers can suck the life out of a recording in post. The experienced producers actually create the sound stage you're comparing by using discreetly recorded tracks mixed to place their location. The depth of the stage can come from many combinations of reverberation, compression, and digital manipulation.

Regardless, our combination of room and components is what defines the stages end result. As always in this hobby everything matters and the exact same stuff won't sound the same in a different room.

To quote my favorite Bartender, "So, what's it gonna be today?"

Tubes degenerate very slightly over time and there is no significant audible change until they wear out, conventional (or convenient) myths notwithstanding. Tubes are more fun, and tube amp owners are usually better looking people likely due to the fact that they are having more fun. The one exception is that tube amp owners may have singed fingers from trying to dust around their tubes when hot. Harmonic distortion content is the primary difference tonally between tube and SS amps (2nd order, 3rd order, lunch order), and note that SS amp advertising hype says "tube like" exactly 37 times more often than tube amp hype says "SS like." The biggest advantage of tubes is the ability to enjoy "tube rolling" as it is the rare SS amp owner that says, "Marge, I'm heading out to the transistor store to score a set of Mitsubishis for the Onkyo." My tube amp images so well I've actually gone through what I thought must be the Carnegie Hall exit only to fall into my hot tub.
Very funny post , tube's life like imaging can be a potential hazzard. Be careful and pay attention to those virtual exit signs.
I find it amusing when tube guys bang on about how much "fun"
they have stuffing around checking tube hours and rolling tubes to get
better performance. Audiophiles who buy SS amps which offer similarly
rich, holographic sound as the best tube gear without the maintenance
issues simply spend more time enjoying music and leading a balanced life.
Then there is the fact high end SS amps generally have higher current,
lower noise (and therefore better low level detail) and can more easily
control a difficult speaker load. Also did you notice Wolf didn't comment on
how much fun it is charging his Visa card for the cost of his replacement
tubes? SS guys simply put that money toward their mortgage or next
10-19-13: Charles1dad
Very funny post ....

On another note, I'd like to emphasize to everyone that the OP has referred to using speakers and amplifiers and/or integrated amplifiers that are each in the $1K to $5K price class. And he has asked a specific question about imaging. It seems to me that generalized debates about the merits of tubes vs. solid state are not on point.

-- Al
The OP specifically made a comment and observation of tube vs SS amplifiers and people are simply responding just as you are doing. To me this isn't a battleground and your preference for a SS amplifier is understood and fine, that's why both types are available . What you hear and are drawn to is different from what attracts me. If you're as satisfied with your amp as I'm with mine, you have found pure contentment. If you honestly believe that the SS amps offer equally rich and holographic sound with better inner detail than tube amps we'll just very respectfully disagree.
Best Regards,
Charles, I think it's time to stop playing cop on this forum . If you want to be
a moderator, nominate to be one, otherwise leave members to participate
freely in this forum. If Wolf_garcia wants to express a view on SS vs Tube
amps, so too should I be free to express my view.
You obviously didn't read my post, that's exactly the sentiment I expressed,
if all about individual preference. I don't see how you could have read it any
otherway. There's no logical way it could be interpreted as anti SS
amplifiers. Reread if you don't mind.
All SS amps (other than hybrids) are 100% guaranteed to not use tubes. They excell at that. Good tube amps excell at "low level detail" and are quiet, or zillions of serious listeners wouldn't be using them. Does anybody really say, "I like tube amps SO much I'll put up with crappy, distorted no low level detail weak sound?" I've spent a lot more money over the years on SS hifi amps than tube amps (including reliability issues with some otherwise well regarded SS stuff), except guitar guitar amps continue to bury attempts to market SS amps, although SS keeps trying to raise its little head up in that market (modeling amps, tiny practice amps, etc). Pretty much every professinal guitar player, except a few jazz dudes, use tube amps. I don't claim well designed SS hifi amps suck, that would be kind of lame...I own a few I like. I do enjoy modern tube amps more though, as the designers seem to have figured out how to get slam and power out of 'em and currently they give nothing up to SS in audio clarity. They didn't used to (really...they didn't), but they do now. For mirthless Melbguy1 I'll add that I DO enjoy spending money on tubes...there...I mentioned's fun.
Mel, I think you overreacted. How is Charles being a cop. He stated is his opinion, as has you. Charles has always given helpful advise and is an asset on this forum.

I have both types of amps and enjoy both. They each have advantages and disadvantages. They both have come a long way in sound. Good SS isn't thin, bright, and fatiguing. Good tube equipment isn't slow, colored, fuzzy, sounding. I like tubes a little better, put can & do enjoy both.

IMHO, tube rolling makes me save money in the long run. Otherwise, I would change equipment more often. Depending on my mood or music I can tailor the sound to my liking.
Wolf, i'll take flack as good as I give it, so i'll let you "mirthless" comment go through to the keeper. But is your opening statement meant to be ironic? "All SS amps (other than hybrids) are 100% guaranteed to not use tubes. They excell at that." If not, i'd be concerned. Excellent low level detail is a product of an amplifier which has a very low noise floor and generally a high damping factor which helps to control the drivers more accurately and lower volumes. Your example of most guitar amps being tubed is not relevant as they are not required to produce large amounts of current. I dont' know what kind of SS amps you have owned, but I have owned a Classe Delta series integrated, Modwright KWA-150, Boulder 1060 and now Vitus SIA-025, so I think I know what i'm talking about. You're a one-eyed tube guy, cool. All I can say is enjoy your tube rolling & i'll enjoy buying and listening to music.
Snopro, my earlier comment was in response to what I saw as a ridiculously biased comment which lacked objectivity by Wolf_Garcia, nothing to do with the OP's original comments. It's straight forward really, Charles took issue with me (and not for the first time I might add), and this time around he provoked that reaction from me. As I said, if Charles wants to become a moderator, he should nominate to be one or else leave it well alone. I respect his views, but how about seeing my point of view? The issue is, this forum is becoming more mid-fi and guys like me who have serious gear get talked down by a lot of people who in many cases simply don't know what they're talking about.
Mel really nice integrated by the way. It must sound wonderful!

Snopro, yeah all i'm essentially saying is, for me there was life after tubes. I really didn't think i'd find an amp which had all the desirable qualities of a high end SS amp as well as valve amp, and yet be so beguiling and musical. I have owned and enjoyed some good valve gear including my current Aesthetix Romulus cdp. My philosophy is valves work best in a high end cdp or linestage where they're not stressed and can operate reliably with a SS power amp. I (personally) don't like using tube power amps. I've seen my friend's Cary mono blocks blow up spectacularly and have problems sourcing tubes. But you don't have to spend $27k to get really good tube-like sound from SS gear. Modwright is a great example of good value, reliable, beautifully built amps which combine the best of ss and tubes. Hence Dan Wright and I get along very well and have the same philosophy. At the OP's budget level, the KWI-200 integrated is an excellent high end value imho.
JWM: >>>....that coloration you call in the midrange is not a coloration to me at all.....<<<

I agree actually, I'm always trying be "politically correct" as discussions like these generally go no where fast. example being that this thread already has a brewing "peeing" match.

Have a nice day everyone! Listen to some music, that would be my suggestion. :)
Charles1dad I think Mel had a good idea if you become a moderator you can shut him down; the way he's flapping any time soon.
Jwn, given the level of your system I expected you to exhibit more maturity than chiming in with the sole motivation of inciting a flame thread. And no I refuse to bite.
I began to write a response to Melbguy1's admonition of Charles1d's
comments last night, but decided to not post it since I figured Charles1
could, as he well did, defend himself, I didn't want another discussion to
turn, once again, into bickering, and I wouldn't want Mel to think that I was
"playing cop". But, alas, the bean hasn't kicked in yet this
morning, and so against my better judgment....

Mel, I think the point you miss is that it was you who made the first move
towards inciting a flame thread. First, you speak of owning two tubed CD
players with which you did some tube rolling, and you mention the positive
attributes of tubes in general. Then, you seem to discover the
"joys" of ss; cool. But, and here is where you need to look a
little more closely at your own comments. Everyone up to that point had
expressed opinions without being sarcastic or negative about differing
views. Although, I admit I wasn't sure what to make (until later) of Wolf's
typically boundless and incisive wit :-). Here are some of your comments:

**** Audiophiles who buy SS amps which offer similarly
rich, holographic sound as the best tube gear without the maintenance
issues simply spend more time enjoying music and leading a balanced life.

****You're a one-eyed tube guy, cool. All I can say is enjoy your tube rolling
& i'll enjoy buying and listening to music.****

****my earlier comment was in response to what I saw as a ridiculously
biased comment which lacked objectivity****

****this forum is becoming more mid-fi and guys like me who have serious
gear get talked down by a lot of people who in many cases simply don't
know what they're talking about.****

Really? I would reconsider some of those assertions. And do you not see
how condescending they are?

BTW, speaking of knowing or not knowing what anyone is talking about. I
always find it interesting, when there is a clear "Mars/Venus"
situation in a discussion, to look at posters' posting history. I notice (as I
often do) that there is not a single post by you on the subject of Music. So,
what are YOU talking about? From the vantage point of this cop, if you
can't understand the connection, there really is no hope.

Oh, oh, the second cup is kicking in, I better hit the "Submit
now" tab before my better judgment takes over.
Frogman, for someone accusing me of being sarcastic, you did a pretty good Pearl Harbor job.
BTW, I was totally sincere re Wolf; no sarcasm there at all. I always appreciate his wit.
Hi Melguy1,
I have no desire for this thread to become another "us vs them" scenario, there are many in the archives as it is . I have no interest in moderating comments either. Here's the deal, you find SS amplifiers better suited to your needs and objectives, who can argue with your choice?
I through my personal audio evolution have conclude that tube amplifiers are superior in providing what's most important to me.

We both have reached our own decisions based on what we have heard, it's really that simple. I haven't nor will I say anything negative or condescending about your choices, there's no reason to do so.
I don't know why you feel the need to make derogatory and dismissive comments about the people who have expressed a preference for tube amplifiers ("midf"i, you really think so?). You say guys like you with "serious gear" get talked down. Wht mkes your gear "serious" relative to other's systems here? Who's "talking you down? Your opinion is here to be read and responded to like all the rest of us.

Mel you're actually the one who has changed the tone of this thread and reacted defensively. Personally I respect your audio component choices and welcome your perspective. I hope you respect my audio choices even though they differ from your own.
Well, thank you for the overwhelming amount of information. I did not mean to start a controversial discussion but I suppose that is inevitable when the topic of tubes versus Solid state comes up. What I have gathered from the discussion is that the overwhelming sentiment feels that tubes provide equal or better imaging, spatial cues and dimensionality than solid state. It appears that my first job will be to explore rolling these smaller tubes.

In all but a few cases I was comparing integrated amplifiers of the tube and solid-state variety although in one case I was using a set of solid-state monos. My impression of low level listening is that tubes provide the most information but as volume increases I find that solid-state is more expressive. To draw a comparison from the video world, I would say that tubes are like a glorious standard definition Blockbuster displayed on a CRT screen where as solid state comes across as a much crisper 1080 Blu-ray film. In my experience solid-state amplifiers have the tendency to grab and hold my attention for longer than tubes do. I think this is because I visually listen to the music and am constantly trying to figure out where a guitarist is standing, how close the singer is to the microphone, how many microphones were used for the drums, etc.

My experience seems to be the same as everyone else's on this thread except for the fact that I have my amplifier technologies reversed. Hopefully time will tell what the missing variable is. I have indeed optimized my speaker positioning in the room quite painstakingly. I have had quite a few speakers that are popular on this site, many of them being monitors or many monitors which are famous for pinpoint imaging. Dyn c1 sig, focal utopia be, harbeth shl5, maggie mmg, 1.6, 1.7, pas imagine b, bw 802n, bw 805n, bw 805d, usher tiny dancer, metlin tsm mmi, sf cremona auditor m, selah monitors...

With my solid-state electronics I truly feel like spoken voices are coming from a definite pinpoint in space. When using tubes on the same speakers I feel the image is more general and not as pinpoint. Also when using solid-state I hear something that is akin to a Hall effect that you might find on an A/V receiver which makes the room sound bigger. While I am not doing this via digital processing, this is one of the things that I would attribute to a three dimensional soundstage. Also using solid-state I feel that I can judge distances between instruments front to back, side to side better.

I will say though that it has happened that I have turned on my solid state gear in the morning and just recoiled at the way that it sounds. Something about my hearing early in the morning craves tubes. I hope it is a coincidence that I cannot hear very well in the morning and my hearing gets sharper throughout the day as I wake up.

I am surprised at the lack of support of solid-state in this thread. However, everyone gets a vote and the voices seem pretty unanimous so I will have to keep my ear is wide open for what I have not been hearing.
I became sarcastic only after being incited because of my stated preference toward SS gear in a thread heavily defended by tube guys. People know they can push my buttons and incite this kind of reaction in me our of sheer frustration, that's why they push. I'm over the passive aggressive behavior in this thread and other threads and being painted as the aggressor. This is going to stay with me a long time, and it will be a very long time before I post again in this forum.
It's good that Mirthless Mel is taking a break from this forum before the wheels come off of what's left of his rational mind. If you have to ask if my opening statement was ironic, I have to assume you're maybe Dutch.

I'm not a proponent of anything in particular, I merely respond to what I know is bullshit, or when people agree with me, as I am clearly weak and need guitar amps, especially a recently acquired 18 watt class A one, are EXTREMELY high current. And chicks dig it. Otherwise I suggest re-reading my posts to see the truth and calmly displayed well reasoned personl opinions I've garnered from years of being an unsophisticated charlatan.
You have the right approach, just continue to listen to a variety of amps. If
SS suits you better, go for it. There's definitely no right or wrong with either
type of amplifier.

Mel, your response is bewildering to me. I don't understand the persecution
complex and the defensiveness, come on we're just discussing audio. It
shouldn't have to be so emotional and serious to get you this upset. I
sincerely appreciate your comments and different opinions.
Something that isn't discussed nearly as often as the tonal qualities of good tube amps is the way that tube amps handle dynamics; particularly micro-dynamics. While I can't claim to have owned any of the very top ss amps, I have owned several very decent ones (Levinson, Classe, BEL, PS Audio), and have heard some of the uber-highend models in others' systems. To my ears, the tube amps that I have owned (Berning, Audio Research, my current Manley's, and even a rusty old Dynaco) exibit a certain sophistication in the way they reproduce dynamics. There is less of the "stepped" sensation that I hear from ss oftentimes. I hear a seamlessness when going from soft to medium soft or from very loud to loud (for example) that let's the expressive aspects of a musical performance sound more realistic. There is more of a sense of the music being alive.
Hey, where is the talk about musical preferences in this discussion? It's always fascinating to me when discussing gear there is no reference to me, the most important part of the equation. Would a person that is passionate about Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner or large scale music choose an SET amplifier? Or conversely would a mainly jazz lover choose a SS Boulder, Burmeister, amp? There are so many variables that haven't been touch on concerning aspects of music presentation, tastes and listening preferences aside from the points raised, all valid and important. Typical of most of these threads, there is little to draw from and little to gain for the casual observer other than a battle of wills and passion, I love that part.

Melbguy1, Frogman made a particularly illuminating point. Although you're arguments are articulate in showing a degree of intelligence and experience, they are less than pursuasive and are clearly defensive. Is this about music reproduction, or is it argument for argument sake? My question to you is what is your EXPERIENCE with tube pre and amplifiers and what are you trying to achieve in your system, in other words what are your priorities? I would ask the same of your antagonists but I don't need to, they have expressed them on other threads but they might want to chime in, I think for the purpose of the discussion it is very important. Please don't take this as demeaning your choices, it is definitely not meant to be. For one, I really like the attributes of both technologies but am trying to gain a greater understanding of why you are so adamently in favor of SS. I personally have found some tube gear that has the absolute attributes of SS while retaining the attributes of tube gear. I personally haven't found this with SS although it very may well exist. Not all tube and SS gear is created equally, there are too many variables. I recently had a friend that sold off his well regarded tube gear in favor of SS. His reason? Tired of the maintenance of tubes. How is it working out? Time will tell but I will say he gained some things and lost others. Me being a tube guy, everything in front of the speakers have tubes, he will have time to reflect on what he lost and what he gained, he currently has NO tubes in his system. I've already got it figured out, maybe he does too but is just not ready to admit it.

To me, and for the record I love all variety of music and want to hear as accurately as possible what is ON the recording, the devil is most definitely in the subtle details and that is the most damningly difficult part of this hobby. To me it isn't about tube vs. SS it is about connecting to the musical message regardless of what technology is preferred.

As far as 3D imaging is concerned TUBES at the lowest end of the price spectrum and the highest are to my ears more convincing to answer the question.
Melbguy1 your statement in regards to Wolf's tube preference: "your example of most guitar amps being tubed is not relevant as they are not required to carry large amounts of current"
My Sunn 2000S Bass amp does not agree with your statement. Although VERY "conservatively" rated at 120 Watts, it is gluttonous (!!) and the more clean unobstructed current the better as observed over many years of testing in real life situations.
there is no right or wrong here. Life is full of compromises unless you are embarrassingly rich.. you just have to understand within what you can afford to spend what your compromises are. I have heard the Modwright integrated amp (SS)with the Modwright Oppo 105 (tube mod)... that's a $9k solution that seemed a good starting point for a tube and SS compromise with speakers of your choice.
" there is no right or wrong here" is of course true and I feel
those participating on this thread would agree. People stating their
preference for tube amplifiers isn't a condemnation of SS amps, this seems
so evident to me. How many times does one have to acknowledge that it's
merely personal taste and preference? I don't understand the heightened
sensitivity and why SS owners feel their choice is questioned. David that's
a general comment and not directed at you.

Everything Frogman said concerning tube amps could come unchanged
from my mouth word for word. If this thread had been dominated with more

'pro' SS owners I'd have no problem with that at all, I just know what is a
better fit for me. Im certain that SS amp owners clearly outnumber the tube
amp crowd, so obviously many people are quite satisfied with the sound of
transistor amps.

Tubegroover I've posted numerous times about music topics (profound
jazz adoration but getting more into some classical also).
Frogman (a musician) has written many excellent and introspective
comments of various music genres and I always enjoy and learn something
by reading them. He may love jazz as much as I do (smile) but his
advantge, he can also play it (wish I could). Well at least I can partake in the
live jazz venues where I live and I do frequently. That has trained my ears
substantially over the years (having a piano in our home is also a plus).
10-20-13: Wolf_garcia writes:
If you have to ask if my opening statement was ironic, I have to assume you're maybe Dutch.
I assumed that with a name 'Melbguy1' he was from Melbourne, reinforced by his 'so i'll let you "mirthless" comment go through to the keeper.' Definitely Aussie.

This fight is so childish. Audio should be fun and a source of discovery. If we don't agree with each other so be it. We should not act like little kids. This reminds me of a friend of mind that loved to talk about his equipment and always wanted reassurance from everyone about how good his stuff was. One day he called and I told him I was using a certain digital cable between dac and transport. He heard this cable a year ago and did not like it. When I told him what I was using he became so upset that he hung up on me. Wow a child indeed. I don't need to have a friendship with someone who can not discuss and disagree like adults without losing it. Lighten up this is just a hobby.
Well said, Jeff (Jwm). I would add that besides the reaction of your friend being immature, it also reflects a lack of understanding of the fact that the sonic performance of the specific digital cable in the system in which he heard it may have been completely different than its performance in your system, due to differing interactions between its own technical characteristics and the technical characteristics of the components it was connecting. Even for a given cable type and a given system, differences in the length of a digital cable can result in completely different sonic effects, for reasons that are easily explainable. Those interested can read this paper by A'gon member Audioengr (Steve Nugent of Empirical Audio).

Undoubtedly in many arguments about the sonic performance of audio components and cables those on both sides of the argument are correct, in the sense that they are accurately reporting what they heard. But what is often lacking on both sides is an understanding of the interactions and system dependencies that are involved. Interactions between amplifier output impedance and speaker impedance vs. frequency characteristics, for example, amplifier output impedance of course being very different between most tube amps and most solid state amps.

Best regards,
-- Al
To me, differences of opinions are respected... and expected. I do accept some agreement and even common sense and experienced knowledge.
But lets keep it interesting :)
Metralla...I was being ironic...or sarcastic...or something...Since when did people start taking this stuff so literally? Is this an Aussie thing? Also, it is difficult for me to get by the fact that Isochronism has a Sunn 2000s, and that it's only 120 watts...I thought the 200s was 100 watts, and the 2000s was much I have to look this up. I looked it up, and yeah 120 to 150 watts...200s only 60 watts! With the 2X15 cab (a classic and the best in its day) it seemed like more juice due to efficiency I suppose. Off topic, but I can't help it.
10-21-13: Wolf_garcia writes:
Metralla...I was being ironic...or sarcastic...or something...Since when did people start taking this stuff so literally? Is this an Aussie thing?
I know, and my comment was in the same spirit. I was amused by Melbguy1's cricket reference.

Carry on.