Tubes vs SS preamp question....

Hi All,

I have a BAT SS power amp and a BAT P5 tube phono stage (Linn LP12/Graham/Clearaudio Concerto) and Martin Logan speakers (hoping to replace/upgrade soon). My question is regarding a preamp upgrade from a Krell Showcase PrePro.
Would you recommend a tube preamp to go alongside a tube phono amp?? Or is one tube component enough in a system?? I know there will be massive differences between all the different options, looking more for a general input as to whether multiple tube components work together or is just one component enough to get that tube sound and I might be better off focusing on SS for the preamp.
I really appreciate any feedback.
Thank you.

Ag insider logo xs@2xdenjer1
Hello denjer1,

     I need a bit more info to properly answer your question.  What is the exact name and model number of your Krell Showcase PrePro?


Thanks for answering. The Krell is irrelevant. It's being replaced. The question is purely about whether to replace with a tube pre or a SS pre based on already having a tube phono amp. I like tubes, but can one have too much of a good thing in a system??? 
BTW, the power amp is the BAT VK-250SE. Looking for pros and cons of having tubes running into tubes. 
I have tubes all the way - Rogue Audio M180 amps, Modwright LS 100 preamp, and Manley Chinook phono pre with Legacy Audio Focus 20/20 speakers.  Definitely not too much of a good thing (to me), but none of those components have a strong "tubey" sound (syrupy, colored, however you want to describe it).  

It all depends on what kind of sound you're after and how well the components match up together.

A common recommendation is to go SS amp with a tubed preamp to get the bass control of a SS amp and the tube goodness, leveraging the strengths of both.  I have another system with a class D amp and a tube preamp and it enjoy it also.

There are generalizations about what's "best", but no right or wrong, only what you find to be right for you. 

Perhaps someone who has that amp can chime in with a good preamp combination they have enjoyed, but that doesn't mean it will work for you in your listening space, with your speakers and other components. 

I like getting other people's suggestions and opinions, but they often vary wildly and at the end of the day I just try things and see what I like and build on that.
Thanks so much big_greg. Great input. Appreciated. I will definitely check out the Modwright too. 

I like tubes, but can one have too much of a good thing in a system???
The simple answer is no and the complex answer will start with 'no'  :)
A good thing in a system is a good thing and the more the better.
Ha! Love your answer!

     I agree with both big_greg and atmosphere.  You like tubes so why not try all tubes first?  What matters is your opinion.

     If you're going to buy new, I'd suggest visiting local dealers and requesting an in-home loaner you can audition in your system.  The Bat VK-53SE tube pre might be a good match with your Bat amp.
      If you're buying used, I'd suggest buying a good quality unit that you can resell easily just in case.


as was said, don’t worry about ‘too much of  a good thing”. 

Tube amps can be quite versatile in their voice, depending on which tubes are in use, or which tubes are available as ‘drop in’ replacements.

a BAT tube pre plus a BAT SS amp has been a great combo for a long time in BAT land.

one thing of note is running BAT pre and amp balanced is a very good idea. no question about it. extremely quiet back drop which aids gaining a more vivid presentation and imagery.

another built in item is the BAT ‘house’ sound. you do get the synergy which comes with keeping the same brand in the signal path.

adding another non BAT line stage but which runs truly balanced will act similarly of course. 

that said, adding  a  line stage which is far higher on the food chain which runs SE only  will still yield great results. or such is my own EXP.

remember, with many though not all line stage tube amps, you can either dial up the ‘tubeyness’ or dial it down via a bit of tube rolling.

with SS line stage amps you’re stuck with whatever ;’voice’ it offers, which BTW is not  a bad thing either.

good luck with your decision.

I'll be interested in following this thread, as I have a solid state preamp and am strongly considering replacing it with a tube preamp.

Having said that, I encourage you to seek out a white paper on tubes vs. solid state written by Roger Sanders. I learned a lot from it and am planning on holding on to my SS power amp. You might find it interesting as well.
Thanks for the heads up. If you come across the link that you could post that would be fantastic. I'll take a look for it myself when I get some time.