SS as always for the main, SS to tubes back to SS for second system; third small system is all tube.
49 responses Add your response
I switched from tubes to solid state because my speakers required it, and I was not going to buy different speakers. Otherwise, I'd still own a tube amp.
I am presently satisfied...generally lasts three to four months if my track record holds true. :)
The economy has not affected my purchases. I generally buy used gear anyway, so re-sale is less painful, but not entirely pain-free.
I recently switched from all SS to all tubes, I'm very satisfied. I switched because my system had no synergy it just sounded bad. The new system has fantastic synergy and is so enjoyable it's here for awhile.........well maybe a... SO far the destruction of the dollar hasn't affected my buying but it has effected my selling, more European buyers.
I have gone thru various iterations using different systems, simultaneously but none lavish and none really expensive I generally have 3 systems function ready to play at present the main rig's power amp is tube.
I would like to comment that a tube preamp or a tube in the window of a an integrated SS power amp. Does not yeild a tube sound. I struggled for 6 years to find the synergy Sanhar is evidentily speaking of. The same thing happened to me. I always liked tubes but thought that I liked power even moreso.
This led to constantly using an SS power amp by many manufacturers of different ages etc. only to hear the same flaws in my system and it was at times brutal.
I also had a 40 watt integrated all tube for the WAF system. I prerred it at times to my big rig . The problem was it never quite managed to power the dedicated lisiening and audio equipment storage room even though my speakers were and are ( all 10+ pairs) fairly high sensitivity. So I used at least 100 watt amps which in a tube amp can be stratopherically priced. I added a tube pre an ARC believing that would be all that was needed. It was an older but well respected unit confirming an old friend's thoughts. The change was slight and not the key element.
Finally I had an opportunity to buy new tube Monoblocks rated at 78 wpc Opera/Consonce Cyber series 800s with 4 6CA7s a side and the requisite tonnage in the trannies. That changed the sound completely. Every time I listen to its off to Nirvana.
I do have the fix with what isn't broken gene habit, albeit not as fully expressed as TVAD and after 8 Mo. I have changed the system replacing the older ARC with a smaller inexpensive used AE-3 pre with all of 2 6SN7s but I have many to spare and the best by reputation.
Now that did it I have been utterly satisfied, to my own amazement thinking I would never find the answer. BTW it was a banner year the WAF system with the 40 watt integrated is now graced with a Jadis DA-60 using Gold lion reissue KT-88s (X 8 talk about spending.) Any way I have to get some of the accumulated amps up for sale.
I've been enjoying the liquid mid-range/3D imaging/transparency/realism of a tubed top-end(Cary SLM100's, modded) and the speed/definition/extension/power of a MOS-FET bottom-end for the past 19yrs(was a Hafler DH-500, now a TransNova 9505, both modded). The last combination included a Placette Passive Linestage and a Dahlquist DQ-LP1(modded, that had been in my system since 1981, for lack of anything in the marketplace to better it). My latest system iteration has replaced those last two pieces with a TacT RCS 2.2Xaaa. I eschewed signal manipulation and all things digital(in the home audio environment) for many years. The TacT(soon to be modded) represents a major paradigm shift, but one that has yielded major sonic(and flexibilty) benefits. Hopefully- The NOS Holy Grail tubes everything is stuffed with will provide the 10kHrs they are rated for, so I won't have to mortgage the house to replace them(TungSol 6SN7GT round plates, Sylvania 6SN7W tall bottles, six Siemens CCa's). The only thing I can see having to replace might be in the Source Dept, if/when technology takes a quantum leap there.
I started out with SS (APT Holman, Electron Kinetics) then went to tubes (Quicksilver) then I went back to SS (Plinius), then went back to tubes (BAT). I am thoroughly satisfied with my current tube amp, although sometimes I could use a bit more power for those "special moments". I do not feel the need to upgrade at this time, so economy has not affected me with regards to audiophilia.
I guess the biggest switch was passive to active speakers - before this I used monster power amps to handle woofer and tweeter requirements as one. I can't understand why it took me so long to realize the obvious: that driving a tiny sensitive tweeter and a large power hungry woofer together with the same engine is a compromise that only adds IMD - room pounding woofer requirements simply mess up delicate midrange and tweeter sound.
Of course you have to experience this first hand to believe it, as the conventional traditional wisdom is to go monster power amp and passive speakers.
Moved to tubes and have not looked back;I can not find the midrange magic in solid state that I have in tubes,but I have never listened to the elite of the elite of solid state,so it may exist and I just don't know about it.
I am looking someday to try the OTL route with ralph's (atmasphere)amps driving my soundlabs.
Switched from an SS amp to a tube amp almost a year ago to match my tube preamp - great synergy with new speakers and cabling, so I am completely happy.(translation: - it will be at least 4 months before I start monkeying with things again!)
Although tighter economy hasn't affected my purchases, it does seem to be affecting my sale of used components, as most of my responses are coming from outside North America.
Have always stayed with tubes here - preamp and power amp. I've never found the correct rendering of the timbre and harmonic overtones of acoustic instruments any other way. From what I keep hearing in other systems, I don't expect to change from tube gear and vinyl.
Monoblocks and separates have kept us happy for 35+ years, and it would take some severe space constraints in our living quarters to cause us to move to an integrated. (That's where we started in the early '70s and were pleased to be at the time: a late '50s vintage tube integrated by Fisher.)
At this point, we're fortunate that the economy is not affecting our decisions, but we don't change out gear very frequently and don't anticipate replacing anything in the foreseeable future. We've always preferred to fine tune to get the most out of whatever we have before moving infrequently to something else that will make a very material improvement. Just added a Walker Audio Velocitor and High Definition Links to get another step up in performance out of the system and considering some manufacturer's upgrades to a couple of components, but no changes in components.
I am currently going through changing out my entire system. Assuming things sell for anywhere near I think they should. Speakers are sold (have deposit) and next will be amp and pre-amp; keeping my cd player and cabling for now. I am down sizing because I don't listen enough to justify the money I have sitting there.
Switched to tubes about 18 months ago from Threshold Class A ss, and I would not go back to ss until ss can match the reproduction of the decay of notes like tubes. The reproduction of the decay of sound is the biggest difference IMO. That said, there are a multitude of fantastic choices of both tube and ss amps and pre amps available at all price ranges. The biggest key is matching that gear to one's speakers.
My last move was from SS amp to tube amp, I've long been a fan of tube preamps. I am satisfied and happy, but that doesn't mean nothing will change.
I would say that yes, the economy is affecting my purchases, and I don't see any upgrades in the future due to it. I'm more likely to follow Czbbcl and downsize than move upstream. At this point in time I'll just sit with what I have and enjoy it though.
I started with tubes, went SS briefly, went back to tubes and never looked back. The economy has had nothing to do with it.
I came to realize that to achieve the goal of making the music sound real, the equipment had to be designed to obey the rules of human hearing rather than a set of arbitrary bench rules, which often have nothing to do with human hearing at all. You can't do that with transistors (not to say that that might change in the future...).
I went from solid state seperates to solid state integrated to a tube integrated which is where I am now. I found that the tube integrated had a musicality that none of my prior SS amps exhibited.
Although I find that it takes the right tubes to make a tube amp sing. Not any old tube will do. A SS amp could still be a possibility in the future, but right now I'm enjoying tubes too much to care.
I sold all of my ss gear this year. My reference system uses a tubed integrated (Cary SLI 50) and sealed box speakers (Triad System 3). I purchased the Cary in 1996 and it replaced a Pioneer surround receiver in my tv room. It transformed a system that sounded mediocre at best to something that is fantastic just by substituting that one component. Early on, I made some attempts to improve the sound with cables and power conditioners but all the changes resulted in degraded performance. So it has become my reference due to the fact that it sounds fantastic and I have changed only the tv and the cabinet in the last 12 years. I always judge changes in the big system by their comparison to the reference. Did the change make sense musically?
The big system is all tubed by VAC. I love my preamp and I switch between the two VAC amps, the PA100/100 has a more intimate or classic tube sound and the PHI 110 is more neutral with more bass extension. I just purchased new sealed box speakers for this system (ESP Bodhran's) since I decided that type of bass is one of the things I really liked about the reference system.
The economy hasn't kept me from spending money. I just purchased the speakers (ouch) and ordered two more tube traps from ASC. I'm not sure what I would look at buying next.
Being an audiophile from the early '70's, I've flip flopped through the years between SS and valves many times changing just for the sake of change - always seeking that Audio Nirvana we're all searching for. I currently have very neutral SS amplification (Moon P8, Bryston 7BSST's) but employ tubes in my front end components (ARC PH5, BAT VKD5SE). Teamed with my B&W 802D's, I find I get all benefits of the "Tube Sound" (whatever that is these days) with the frequency extremes, detail, and slam of solid state. Couldn't be happier with this set up.
My last SS stuff was Threshold SA Amps combined with my SP10II, and some Quad 63's. Started with tube amps in '91. Have had multiple amps and speakers pass thru the house since then and haven't really been totally satisfied until nine months ago when I acquired some new Silverlines.
Now with a modest tube amp (which I use either as a basic amp or an integrated), the old SP10, and some tubed and SS sources, I think I'm settled. How can I tell? Easy, I'm not fanticizing about what something advertised for sale would sound like if I had it in my system. I've let my magazine subscriptions expire (the glossies are no longer interesting except for the Pass ad with the striking violinist - almost worth the cost of the subscription!), and I can't really think of how to improve the sound.
Maybe I should get a new room/house now so I can start all over. :-)
All SS, then Jolida 502brc - didnt think it could get much better (more expensive tubes maybe) but then I got a great deal on whole Meridian system ( dsp speakers and pre/processor ) - the wow factor is there every time I listen now - I dont know where else I could go to get better sound (maybe more expensive Meridian)
For me it was love at first bite and I have not looked back , just sideways. OTLs and tubes now front my systems after years of sssearching . OTLs bring a palpable sense of presence to ordinary recordings and good tube gear digs deeper into the soul of the music for me . Both OTLs and good tube gear allow me to sense the artists emotion and passion more easily . For me , this is the reason I stay transfixed to this hobby.
Impressed with all the input,one of the most intelligent discussions about this controversial topic I can recall.Wouldn't that be a blast if we could all get together and discuss over a case of wine.Long story short,started with ss switched to tubes pre and power and have never considered going back.Now having said that,I understand that Jeff Rowlands' Capri ss pre amp is a world class contender.Never say never.
I've been in both camps at various points in iterations of my system and really like several different types of amps. I am in the process of breaking in my new VAC Phi 300.1 Monoblocks and it appears from early listening I'll be in the tube camp quite awhile longer...
That said, there are exceptional SS amps out there, and some very nice hybrids as well. The Moscode 401HR and Blue Circle are some excellent examples...
Thankyou so far for each & everyone of your responses and would agree with Markwitkiss that your statements are both intelligent & informative. Yes I also agree that anyone of us would like no better than to get together with another audiophile to hear their take on sound quality if & when that could be possible. I personally have combined both solid state & tubes and still being patient for the initial breakin with an upgraded ss amp.
Only two tubes left. There in the output stage of my ModWright/Denon player. Leaving tubes wasn't a goal it was more chance steered by the availability of used gear. It seems I've become hooked on transparency and extension.
I still own a tube amplifier that I listen to in the winter months but I didn't this winter. Tubes are great. And when I hear, "sounds like tubes," I'm sorry, no it doesn't. And, for me, that's actually a good thing.
Started with all SS gear, a big 400 watts/channel amp. Then got a tube integrated and phono for my upstairs system. Amazing sound. Still for my main system I maintained that gotta have 'power' and bought another pair of ref 800 watts (at 4 ohm) monoblocks with ref SS Preamp. Then got a tubed DAC. Great improvement, a tubed phono. Added more naturality to sound. Then got tubed pre. Holy s*. Unbelievable improvement. Each added tubed component improved the sound even more- more three dimensionality and natural sound. Then finally added a ref Tubed monoblocks (60-90 Watts/channel- a far cry from 800 watts/channel) and now the sound dev is complete.
Hard to believe the improvement every step of the way unless you listen back to back as I added each tubed gear.
I can sit back and enjoy the music now.
I moved to tubes years ago and never looked back.
However I believe the design is as good as its creator.
I have heard excellent SS products as well as tube or digital.
All designs have their strong and weak points, no question about it. Some, just do it better then others.
My main rig is all tube-based:
Granite Audio preamp, now DODD Audio battery pre.
Consonance Opera Cyber 800 mono blocks amp. modify.
Consonance Ref. 40 phono stage.
Nixon DAC soon to be replaced with Peachtree DECCO modify which also has Scott Nixon's fingers in it (DAC and amp. section).
Consonance Droplet CDP
My second system (which I am in the middle of putting together........wating for mimis M&D speakers) is.........well,
Red Wine Audio sig.30 amp. (t-amp) which IMO is just awesome. It might not be the best match for minis but wife would not be happy with anything bigger in the badroom.......if I could, Omegas or Zu would be my choice with RWA amp.)
Sonos wireless music system as a source, together with modify MMF7 turntable with Moarch up4 arm, Denon 103R cart. and Creek phono.
And again, Peachtree integrated/DAC .
I started with SS integrated. Went to SS seperates, then tube pre, tube mono blocks, ice integrated, SS mono blocks.
Response audio modified Jolida 502b
I am hooked (currently) on modified tube integrateds. I love the sound and the simplicity of my system. So does my wife, 2 buttons to push and you have music.
My moves were not driven by economics, but my investment in my amp is now lower than not only the speakers and the CDP, it is lower than the power cord feeding it.
I am in the position that is not even funny....I know.
RWA is great and I would hate to let it go.
I might try it with my Quatros and Dodd preamp but it might turn out to be a poor match as well....but if it is going to work, I will try my Cybers with M&D Rs which I have ordered instead of Minis which I have originaly thought of using.
Any thoughts Bill.......I am pissed as it is.
Dealer's recommendation was even more odd....17wpc tube integrated.........quess what it was....but don't post it here for the sake of the dealer ;).
When I got into higher end stuff(had sound dynamics 300ti's and home made pass a40 amp and sony cd player) 3 years back it was with merlin's, followed advice here from goners and bought a sim w-5 since it was well reviewed by mags too. Then came the matching pre p-5, with the slow developement of the vpi tnt turntable stuck with tubed phono stages other than the jlti I got the ear 834p and K&K phono.
I don't have enough experience with various equipment to quantify which is better but have to say what I am hearing at home approaches what I hear in the concert hall. And when I visit showrooms I don't hear better than what I have but of course I am bias.
I will add I.M. Humblest O. I think the Simaudio is first rate. So is the K&K which beats the other two by small margin.
BTW I believe I lucked out and soon will realize that more so when I experiment with cables and the matching of the cartridge to the arm.
I will certainly go to tubes, when finances allow.
...stuck with tubed phono stages other than the jlti I got the ear 834p and K&K phono. (....)I think the Simaudio is first rate. So is the K&K which beats the other two by small margin.Sorry, I'm confused: what you're saying is, the K&K phono is better than either the ear or the jlti?
Is that correct?
(The jlti isn't tube, btw)
Just out of curiosity and personal interest in phonos...thanks
I went from Solid state to a tube rig. I had an audio refinement (YBA) for years. I liked it very much, until I heard an Art Audio Carissa. There is no turning back from tubes for me. No comparison.
Sure, its more work. Inconvenience, the heat, warm up time.....so what. It's THE SOUND.
It has it all.
No turning back...but never say never.
I used SS 1970s thru 2004 ... lots of receivers and separates. Tried a Pathos hybrid with new Cain SuperAbbys/sub in early 2005, but TC emphasized I'd be much happier with a tube amp, so I switched to tubes (one Sophia followed quickly by three Almarro's) and I don't intend to return to SS. Of course, full-range single-driver speakers are a part of the happiness with tubes, at least for me (just switched to M33A's).