What is your favorite amplifier technology and why?

Stereophile's picture
It was speaker technology last week, this week we go after amplifiers. What is your favorite amplifier technology and why?
What is your favorite amplifier technology and why?
Tubes
24% (62 votes)
Solid-state
62% (164 votes)
Tube/solid-state hybrid
8% (20 votes)
Other
6% (17 votes)
Total votes: 263
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Comments
Carlos Moreno's picture

Solid-state—longer quality life.

jason's picture

Based on sound alone, tubes—but they're too much hassle. For everyday use, therefore, solid-state. In particular, MOSFETs (or JFETs) running class-A (max tubeeness from transistors).

Dave's picture

Woo's WA6SE has changed my mind.

Jim M's picture

Solid-state. Better signal-to-noise. Less distortion. Runs cooler. Sounds better.

Dismord's picture

Horses for courses. Valve for phono preamp (Manley Steelhead) & line-level (Leben). Solid-stage digital for power amp (Nuforce Reference VIII). Works for me. However, I suspect the Diavalet digital/class-A amps coming out of France are going to change all that.

Bubba in SF's picture

I like what Bob Carver has done over the years. I had a Carver cube in the '80s and still have a Sunfire power amp. I drive Maggies, so it makes for a good match. In the '70s, I wanted a Phase Linear amp, but it was out of my budget by a long shot. (Marantz receiver instead.)

rwp's picture

SS: Runs cool, sounds magnificent.

ThinkBrown's picture

I prefer solid-state, because it has a greater linearity and higher efficiency than tubes. It is leaner and more detailed, while tubes sound fat and bloated.

Rethep's picture

The insight tubes give in music is beautiful. Dynamics are shifted a little to the background, but that's just fine.

Fred's picture

Much can be said about the efficiency of solid-state, and especially of switching class-D amplifier designs. However, in my ever so humble opinion, that last bit of musicality is available only from tubes. Whether it is from the memory effects, (ghosts left behind when electrons flow through silicon), or some other design aspect. When you listen with the finest front-ends and the most sensitive monitors, more music comes through with tubes. Even in the bass range, more natural detail is evident. Tubes may not give us the last bit of bass slam, but they are able to deliver the goods in just about every other way.

Pete's picture

With my relatively low-sensitivity speakers, I respond to the power and control of solid-state, but only when employing discrete circuits utilizing zero global feedback—as provided by Ayre, Vitus, or darTZeel.

Xsara's picture

Solid-state for sure. More control, more power, and no output transformer. Tubes in the preamp though, but I guess that's next week's question.

maniz's picture

Tubes: warm sound!

Oliver's picture

Solid-state A/AB because: no tube amp will feed my MBL 101D speakers with enough power. No class-D amp can have better sound or measurements than my McIntosh MC-1000 monoblocks.

Lila's picture

Definitely solid-state. Midrange is very important to me. I used to own a very high-end tube amp and they do sound very nice in their own way, and can be very dynamic. They are prominent in the mid-treble, sounding forward and/or bright, but very colored. Less overall presence, and not as musical and "right" sounding as the best solid-state amps.

kbchristian's picture

Listen to a Lavardin preamp and amp and you will know why.

Russell's picture

Tubes just have that sound!

Cihangir Güzey's picture

Class-AB integrated solid-state.

Mike Eschman's picture

Naim implementation gives great articulation and the overtones sing.

Greg Stern's picture

E.A.R. & DeHavilland tube class-A. Also Arcam's new class-G solid-state in the AVR600—sounds incredible.

Dominus's picture

I like them both, but the amp that makes me stop and look up from my reading is usually the little iTube on my desk.

Johnny B.  Good's picture

When I hear audiophile friends say they can change (their tube amp) sound by changing tubes, I think something is wrong. Could you imagine an "art lover" prefering the Mona Lisa through pink colored glasses? Why buy "X" amplifier if you're going to change the sound later on? I'll stick with my Brystons.

djl's picture

Solid-state. Because of the lower cost of parts compared to tube gear. I like the sound of tube stuff, but when it's time to replace a tube or a pair of tubes, the price is kinda high. Transistors and diodes are much cheaper and with the newer audio grade capacitors, solid-state gear can be made to sound very tube-like!

hal's picture

As one who owns LaScalas, low power is a must. Have tried high power and it does not sound as good. Of course, I do not listen very loudly and the first Watt is very important to me.

45 Triode's picture

45 single-ended—to my ears it is a very alive, human sound, with a lot of dynamic swing. My personal proof of preference is years of solid-state (Cyrus) leading to increasingly fewer listening hours. Since I have owned a Yamamoto A08s, I spend hours in front of the stereo. To each his own, I guess.

Jimmy's picture

Tubes—they have always provided the cleanest, purest sound.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

It seems to me you get more music for your bucks with tubes. A friend has a $900 tube integrated amp and I never get bored or tired listening to his system.

OvenMaster's picture

Solid-state, no question. More power, less heat, less fragile, and longer life than tubes.

Willy's picture

It hasn't been invented yet.

Dave Bennett's picture

Tubes just sound better. The KT88 being my favorite. It has for me the best balance of drive and subtlety.

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