Vinylistas and Tubers - One and the same?


I am curious to see if I am in the small minority of Goners who listen exclusively to vinyl (or who have some digital source they use only when the can't get the album on a vinyl new release or reasonably priced in NM condition) and use solid state amps and phono stage. My reasons are I've been building my vinyl collection for the past 40+years, interrupted by the 10-15 years when vinyl wasn't being produced or distributed much in the US from the late 80's until the early 2000's and think it sounds better than CDs - never tried hi rez DLs or streaming, and I don't want to deal with the cost, inconvenience, unreliability (compared to SS) or heat of tubes. 

Please let me know if this describes you and your reasons.

Also, interested in the logic of those who use tubes and listen to digital.

Don't really need to hear from the digital SSers or the vinyl tubers unless your reasons are not obvious (either wanting no noise and maximum selection or like the full sound of vinyl with mid range emphasis and tube mellowness and are willing to pay the price).


sokogear
I have collected vinyl since the late 60’s. When digital came out, I added it as a sometimes used medium. But vinyl was so superior. I started with solid state… but eventually was able to upgrade my Threshold preamp to a tubed Audio Research preamp… fundamental movement towards much better sound. Tubes l reserved for preamps as they last a long time, not much heat. Then added a tubed phono stage… great positive effect.

Finally a couple years ago I added a tubed amp. Audio Research finally put biasing under microprocessor control and lengthened the tube life to around 3,000 hour. Wow, why had I waited? The sound profoundly better. It I had to do it over, I would have made the switch decades ago. My reasons for not switching were the same as yours. In retrospect the reasons were smaller than I perceived. The final huge upgrade for me was adding a tubed DAC… End to end tubes can be very synergistic. I had a tubed CD player earlier which made CDs listenable but at a huge loss of detail.

I made many runs at digital… good audiophile quality CD… then DACs. I did this on my main system and my headphone system which frequently served as my research lab (tried dozens of components). Over the last thirty years the improvement has been continuous and over the last ten years there has been so much progress that digital can now be as satisfying as analog but at about 15% - %20 initial higher cost. This cost premium drops a little ever year. My current streaming vs vinyl ends are equally satisfying… the analog end has a tiny bit more detail… tiny. I have 2,000 vinyl albums. And virtually an infinite amount of music available via streaming. So honestly, although the initial cost is a bit higher… the nearly infinite available music at no cost favors streaming.



I have very good components… but the difference is similar across the high end cost spectrum given choosing compatible and complimentary components (the same exact challenge across the high end systems of any kind).


So, it I had to choose between getting rid of my analog end or digital… I would definitely loose the analog end. It has taken 35 years to get here.
Many tube purists have a lurking FET ish..
Vinyl ever since I started listening to music, very late to CD. After hearing an early player I upgraded my turntable instead but eventually there was just too much music I couldn’t get, by which time the players were at least listenable. I now have streaming at quite a high level but the turntable still takes first place. System is solid state and Naim all the way except the Turntable, arm and cartridge and even there I have a Naim Aro on a second deck.
I don't see a connection with LP playing and potatoes?
" Also, interested in the logic of those who use tubes and listen to digit"

My " logic", I prefer the sound of tube vs ss equipment, like that I can roll tubes to get a different flavor of things, there’s little offered on vinyl for the music genre I mostly prefer, have good digital gear and thoroughly enjoy my listening sessions. If there is some "logic" beyond that that needs to be employed please provide it
The closest thing to logic is since tubes and vinyl sound so clearly superior it is only logical to use them - IF - your priority is to enjoy the highest sound quality music.

If your highest priority is to hear lots of different music, or some particular music not on vinyl, or have it going in the background all day, or anything else really, then stream SS and keep telling yourself it sounds good enough. For in that case it probably does.
Do Triode designs have crossover distortion like a push pull Class-AB SS amp?
(And I would expect that some vinyilistas might also be proponents of Class-A SS amps.)
I have tubes in my Dac, my preamp, and my amp. The sum total of all that sounds fantastic though I am strictly streaming.
I love my vinyl and tubes. There is such a sense of realism about the combination. With that said, my digital system is a Grover Huffman modified Pioneer Elite DVD player that has me shaking my head in disbelief that red-book CDs can sound so analog-like. Who knew??

Frank
Cake and eat it. I've two systems. One is dedicated to vinyl only. Two arms. All tubes. ESLs. That gets 90% of the attention. Love vinyl and the hobby of collecting records.
The other rig is vinyl and digital—CD/DVD/Tidal. All tube amplification.
" If your highest priority is to hear .... some particular music not on vinyl .... then stream SS and keep telling yourself it sounds good enough. For in that case it probably does."

I don’t stream, not going to give up what I enjoy listening to simply to switch to vinyl, don’t keep telling myself it sounds good enough , it does sound good . I’ll keep my tube and digital gear and sit back and enjoy the music that I like listening to versus compromising and listen to just anything simply because it's on vinyl.
I used SS while in college when ’transistor’ was the new thing (1968 Fisher 200T Receiver), 

Inherited tubes and efficient speakers in 1973, OMG, hooked on high quality sound, but wifey hated the giant console.

Later a McIntosh SS MC 2250 because I got less efficient speakers and listened at close to live concert levels occasionally. That was during the CD’s are Perfect FOREVER era.

Missed the tube sound and those speakers: new enclosures for the efficient speaker’s innards, back to tubes, never happier.

Re-discovered LPs, joined Audiogon, upped my Vinyl game quite a bit!
At it's best, on my system, I prefer the sound of my TT setup....I think there's a bit more texture, information, and spatial cues, but CD can sound good too and is a lot more convenient.  

My preference for tubes over SS is much stronger than my vinyl preference.  Many of the same SQ benefits, but even more so, at least to my ears on my system.
I like tube amplification and only listen to music streaming so there you go, digital and tube combo. It suits my ears and taste. I stopped playing vinyl in the late 80s when CDs came out and although that sound was pretty harsh I couldn’t get over the ease of convenience. Now when I look at people getting into vinyl I think the cost must be extreme plus you need a lot of technical know-how for set up. To each their own and whatever works for you works for you
I have tube amplification and listen to vinyl mostly but do have streaming, DAC and CD transport that I enjoy listening to. Not as much as spinning an LP. Also CD's are so cheap these days.
I have dabbled with tubes and have every record I have ever purchased starting in the 70s.

While at the cross road of tubes and SS - I started auditioning options.

Ultimately, I created a constrained budget and within those constraints I entertained several options with SS coming ahead for me.

I listen a bit louder than most so amp power and current was significant and my musical states moved a more analytical (than musical). 

To each his/her own. 
SET amps and directly heated triode preamp, 90% of time listening to cd rips and streams. Why? Because I hear real live performers in my room with every listening session.

I also have vinyl setup and well over 2500 lp's. My preference for vinyl or digital has vacillated over the years, depending on funds available for upgrades. Over the past few year, digital winning out until I find the funds for $4K up cartridge and same $4k up for better phono pre.

As far as complexity goes, optimizing streaming as much or more difficult than same for vinyl.
Vinyl was the only game in town back in the 60’s I became a member of the Columbia record club if you joined you got 10 albums for a dollar. Tube amp, pre and phono and two turntables. Listening to a Pink Floyd CD right now, digital recordings in the right system make for great listening so I enjoy both.
OMG, Columbia Record Club… I think I joined that in 1967… while in high school. Got a bunch of albums I didn’t like… but my parents probably would have.

Years ago I was in the vinyl & SS camp.   Now I'm in the digital & tube camp, although I still own SS gear and use it occasionally. 

I left vinyl, possibly for good, about 15 years ago.  To my ears the best digital is superior to vinyl.  Of course vinyl can sound quite good. 

I find that running digital into a tube preamp and tube amplifer produces beautiful music.  I also don't listen to music quite as loud as I used to, so I have less need for all of the wattage obtained from SS. 

My system has all digital sources, the one I use the most is my Roon Nucleus Plus server streaming Qobuz into a PS Audio DirectStream DAC.  I also have a PS Audio CD/SACD transport.

I find my McIntosh solid state amp pairs really well with my Focal Sopra No2 speaders, and when I changed from a solid state McIntosh preamp, to a tube unit from the same company, the improvement with acoustic instruments was significant enough to sell the solid state preamp.

I left the vinyl world many years ago and haven't looked back.

So everybody looks at the technology primarily, not the individual component's characteristics when it comes to tubes vs. solid state? I think the box matters more than the technology. Plenty of great SS out there and crappy tubes.

I agree that digital can approach vinyl, depending on the recording and the components being used, and convenience can play a major role, perhaps even more than the tubes/SS question.

Vinyl almost exclusively with tubes. Have heard some very good S.S. stuff but this gear is much more expensive than my tubed equipment. Only interested in digital for convenience. As my ears mature and my system improves the difference between digital and analog becomes more and more apparent. 

OP,

 

I have always considered the component first... what does it sound like, how will it fit in my audio chain. I would have purchased wax cylinders and networked organic amplifiers if they sounded better. I couldn’t care less about the technology. But, over fifty years I have more and more chosen tube equipment for the sound quality in the price category... and at this point I am in the $20K per component category. I could buy anything I wanted in that price category and I chose tube... not for the technology, but for the sound.

 

As far as vinyl. Same deal, I have always focused on the best sound source. It has always been vinyl. Still is, in the same price bracket. Finally after 30 years of digital, it can be similarly satisfying (although not quite as detailed) but I have over $10K extra invested in my digital end to get there ($46K digital vs $36K analog end).

 

I am pretty sure 90% of the people posting are primarily driven by best sound... and then secondary thinking the technology they chose was responsible for it (rightly or wrongly). Understanding the relationship of sound quality and the system that produced it is very difficult, it requires tremendous analytical ability, skill, and common sense. The people posting here are generally well meaning, however, at least half them have no idea what is going on, simply that they like their system and recommend what they bought. I have spent thousands of hours in pursuit of assembling a truly great system. Wonderful pursuit.,  

 

Vinylista,  tuber here but I do have a ss amp for streaming for background noise. 
 

My passion is Tubes and Vinyl. I do listen to the occasional CD.

Nothing like it vinyl and tubes that is. 

 

@ghdprentice - I think you are in the minority in terms of not being biased towards the technology among posters here (excluding @audition_audio . I guess when it comes to cost/value in tubes vs. SS it depends on the price point and perhaps at your level of investment, tubes are a better decision.

I know that in my experience when I was looking for my first phono stage when I was thinking about my system more and realized how much it could help versus the phono input of my amp (even thought that has a MC setting) when I had extra time during the outset of the pandemic, the SS one from Sutherland (Insight) could not be touched in a tube model for at least twice the price. I thought a tube phono stage would be a good combo with a SS integrated and because of the low current needed, the tubes would last a long time, even if it always left on.

We are in agreement with the vinyl/digital question although I have no investment in digital (the CD player is now broken and headed to the heap at Best Buy) and I have purchased most of the CDs on vinyl I like the best that were previously unavailble on vinyl, but have now been released. I was under the impression (as you say) that a similar digital set up from as SQ standpoint versus vinyl would cost a lot more.

I'd like to hear the thoughts of @mikelavigne on this subject as he knows these markets and has invested significantly in all of them, including reel to reel.  

I like a tube preamp and a SS power amp (tube all the way with headphones), and I listen to vinyl, CD's, DVD's, and TV through the system. As long as it sounds good to me, I don't care about being some kind of purist as to source material.