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Thread: Tubes are not as good as solid state???

  1. #11
    Senior Member DSkip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by still-one View Post
    Oh so to be a "true" 2-channel enthusiast you need tubes somewhere. I guess many of us should give up this hobby.
    I'm sorry if that statement came across incorrectly still. It was not bashing those who don't, just that tubes are found in so many of these systems, especially compared to those who have multi-purpose systems like those I find at other forums. It was not a statement about which is the 'correct' route as per my first sentence in that response.
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  2. #12
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    After modding a set of JC-1 monoblocks and using these for years, even at shows (~800W/channel into my speakers), I took the plunge and modded some 805AT SET monoblocks from Arte Forma that I had used at trade shows. These were point-to-point wired prototypes, so they are one of a kind.

    To my surprise, even using less efficient speakers, the 30W/channel of tubes blew away the bass extension and tightness of the 800W modded SS monoblocks. They also imaged better, without having a "tubey" sound. I am a firm believer that tube design done right will have similar sonics as the best SS, but usually better. And, if done right, and put behind a curtain, no one will be able to tell whether it's a SS or tube amp.

    I summarily sold the modded JC-1's.

    These are the only tubes in my system, but I love them. I also designed and sold a tube output DAC, but I discontinued this when I developed an ultra-linear SS output stage.

    The biggest issue for most audiophiles IMO is finding the right tubes and having certainty that they can get more of them in the future. My output tubes are new made in China, but the input and driver tubes are Russian from the 80's and British from the 60's. Expensive too, but they seem to last. I now have higher efficiency speakers that can break windows with the 30W.

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    Steve N.
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  3. #13
    Thank you all for the feedback, I guess I just thought there was something I was missing, something others saw that I didn't.
    I guess my ears aren't lying to me after all.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by bryanambrogio View Post
    Thank you all for the feedback, I guess I just thought there was something I was missing, something others saw that I didn't.
    I guess my ears aren't lying to me after all.
    Hey Bryan. It's always good to get opinions, second opinions and third opinions. Some people have 'strong' opinions and others are more metered in their expressions. Personally, over the years, my personal opinions have moderated and become more based upon 'context' rather than absolute statements of superiority. But after all the opinions have been collected and tallied - it is your ears, your preferences and your money. Don't let anyone talk you out of what 'you hear'.
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    Shunyata Research

  5. #15
    VIP/Donor [WBF Founding Member] ack's Avatar
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    I have talked to a number of dealers in the NY/CT/MA area over the years about tubes, and the common theme is that they don't sell as well - so I think it all starts right right there. Most recently, ARC, for example, has asked the largest local dealer to see if they can carry it again, because the current dealer isn't selling enough, if any. Not sure where they stand with their re-evaluation at the current moment. But in my mind, I cannot imagine a serious audiophile who isn't thinking about tubes, especially OTL if large scale orchestral is their thing.

    Well, et voila, I am one of those who admire the tube device, yet will absolutely never buy them again, just for the sheer maintenance/finicky nature of it. Fact is, I used to own tubes in the 80s and just had enough fireworks. I experimented with a number of solid state, from ARC, to Threshold, to Krell, to Rowland (some uber preamp with a distinct loud-clicking relays), to Pass - and I actually enjoyed the solid-state ARC LS-3 preamp which was so tube-like, down to the hiss - and eventually landed on Spectral for the last 20-some years, only because they offer all of the tube merits - most important of which to me is the sheer speed/wide bandwidth of tubes - and none of their shortcomings... done. Having said that, I see a lot of other SS designers strive to match tube sound quality, yet, truly very few do... and it's really not surprising to me, considering that most of them just can't get treble right the way tubes can, just to mention one aspect of it.

    Going back to your original question: if audiophiles, by and large, just don't buy tubes and instead favor solid state, then there will be far fewer tube products. To a lesser degree, and again based on dealer comments I have received, some tube manufacturers are too much to bear (read: too much into themselves, and these dealers I talk to just don't want to deal with them). So I would rephrase the original question: why do consumers seem to favor solid state?

    PS: If you are into modifications, tweaking the ARC LS-3 has its own underground culture; frankly, I would love to buy one again and tweak the hell out of it.
    Sources: mod. VPI Aries 3;mod. JMW 10.5i/Ortofon A90;mod. Pass XP-25;Spectral 3000SL xport/mod. Alpha DAC;mod. Magnum Dynalab Etude;mod. Revox B-77II Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV/DMA-400RS Speakers: Heavily mod. MartinLogan (custom Mundorf xover, cabling, woofers; structural mods);mod. REL Cabling: MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X/Oracle 90.1 Power: MIT Z-Strip, Magnum Z-Trap; Shunyata Black Mamba CX HC cords, Typhon Tweaks: EAR Isodamp c1002 References: Live unamplified music
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  6. #16
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    A constant line of advice from Ked has been that restored Graz Apogees are an amazing transducer (canít disagree having heard stellar Duettas), and if these dictate use of SS in my room, well then go SS.
    Iím afraid I canít do that, SETs have inoculated me in the last 5 years, and I can never move beyond.

  7. #17
    Addicted to Best! RogerD's Avatar
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    I have a all SS system..4500 watts. There are trade offs,but being able to perfect the system you can actually approach the lucid quality of tubes in the mid range and have the power needed for dynamics for full range reproduction. Do I like tubes....yes , but in my opinion SS does far better on the lower frequencies.
    I have a audio engineer friend who thought Tubes were a PITA and SS was capable of a very high level. Until recently I would have never agreed with him. Ymmv.

    ps I do use a tube DAC
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  8. #18
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    My digression into *mostly* solid state was actually a stage left from my love of tubes. My Allnic DHT preamp has a midrange and upper midrange quality that is unequalled by any other amplification device.

    I suffered over the years with many solid state experiments without success. Many times I said "never again". However, that lovely DHT sound as I have discovered is best served with VFET amplifiers. I have also had success with First Watt M2, which by topology is a voltage gain autoformer followed by push pull single pair per channel class A mosfets in current gain stage. These just simply don't have the traditional solid state signature. Yamaha B2, even pushing 40 years old, has a mesmerizing sound quality that if anything sounds like a very powerful OTL tube amp.

    Srajan Ebaen seemed to go a little nuts in his manic review style over the First Watt M2, obsessing over the notion that everything about the amp is explicable, in a less-than sense, by the transformer input. The DIY guys who have built them according to Pass specs however have raved about the M2, with many using them in lieu of their tube amps on horns.

    I have a 300b tube rectified amp that handles the high frequencies at the 7k crossover, and mercury vapor rectified directly heated triodes feeding the midrange VFETs. Aside from benefits of 3D retrieval, tube tonality along with SS dynamic afterburner, I would bet that blindfolded audiophiles would say in the majority of instances that that they were listening to an all tubed system, albeit a very clean sounding tubed system.

    The strange commentary is that trying to improve a particular quality of a particular type of tubed experience actually led to all of this, a system that is now predominately SS with select tubed processing stages.
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  9. #19
    Site Founder And Administrator Ron Resnick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
    My entire system is completely tube based over the past 20 years. . . .
    +1


    But I keep forgetting that I am a partial solid-state fan soon! (The bass towers are Class AB solid-state.)
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    I’ve owned and listened to some great solid state preamps but none sounded better to my ears than my ARC Reference 10 preamp. I’ve not owned a component that consistently delighted me with its sound quality more than the Reference 10. It provides a natural rendering of vocals and instruments with a texture, body and dimension that are stunningly realistic.

    Ken
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