Have you ever tried a tubed component in your system?

Back in the day, tubes were the <I>only</I> choice. Today, some audiophiles still consider them the only choice. Have you ever tried a tubed component in your system?

Have you ever tried a tubed component in your system?
Yes, have one right now
63% (171 votes)
Yes, once upon a time
14% (37 votes)
Am planning on it
6% (16 votes)
Haven't tried one
10% (28 votes)
Not interested in tubes
7% (18 votes)
Total votes: 270

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

I've never saw a review of a tube amp that said it was so musical you might think it was solid-state. But thats the highest complement you can give solid-state amp. I wonder why that is?

Dave Bennett's picture

I'm using a Conrad-Johnson preamp and Quicksilver power at the moment. The Quicksilver was a recent purchase to replace an Antique Sound Labs.

Jim Merrill's picture

Manley Steelhead. It sounds great! but not the typical "tube sound." I can't tell it if it sounds good because of its tubes, circuit design, or both.

Don R.  Keehn's picture

An Audio Research SP-9 I've had it for 16 years, and it still performs really well.

Al Earz's picture

I have stayed away from tubes due to the expense of tubes. Maybe someday when I can afford a second system, I would like to try a analog tube system.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

In my Navy days, once upon a time on the USS Enterprise, CVN-65, a friend of mine bought some audio equipment in the store in Subic Bay. We hooked it all together, casette deck, receiver, and speakers. Later, we hooked up a tube PA amp in place of the receiver. The sound, at least in the mid-range, was soooooo much more 3D and enjoyable. We were both blown away! Since then, my only encounter with tube equipment was when a borrowed a tube preamp that replaced my Hafler DH-100 for auditioning. I did not notice much of a difference. Since I was in college, on a limited budget, I did not feel heartbroken that I did not find it compelling to buy the expensive new piece of audio gear. I still have the Acoustat 2+2s that I auditioned the preamp on. In the intervening years, I have been interested in the Acoustat tube power amps that were designed to drive Acoustat speakers directly. Then, again, the Spectra series adds an additonal layer of complexity to this. I will never forget the shock of hearing that tube PA amp hooked up to that system on the Big-E. Never!

Dinyar's picture

Unlikely to move back to SS amplification, for a loooong time.

Don L's picture

Want to try a Jolida Hybrid Amp in the near future.

Robert's picture

Dread to think what my system would sound like without tubes (preamp and mono amps).

Rob's picture

Tube component makes all the difference! CJ tube preamp with CJ solid-state—musical with punch!

Chris S.'s picture

I do not currently have any tube gear of my own, but I did get a chance to listen to another system. It was a headphone rig featuring the Sennheiser Orpheus system. Well out of my price range and better sounding than I would have imagined beforehand. I was sold on tubes that day.

Sam's picture

My Audio Research SP-8 Preamp is still the centerpiece of my system after 19 years of service. (It's hard to believe it's been that long!) I still love the sound of the sound of the thing and will probably never replace it unless I have to. The matching D-70 Power Amp was replaced with solid-state years ago because of its unhealthy appetite for 6550s. I think the tube preamp/solid-state power amp approach is perhaps the best compromise for sound quality for those without deep pockets.

JML's picture

C-J all the way!

Al's picture

I am too old to learn how to build SS. SMD is voodoo to me. :)

JWC's picture

Audio Research Vsi-55 integrated amp. Bought it about a year ago. Tubes aren't nearly as scary as I always thought they would be.

John V.'s picture

Switched from the Krell integrated amp to a PrimaLuna integrated amp over a year ago and I have never looked back. I have been a tube convert ever since. It doesn't have the punch of the Krell but I was willing to give that up for a much more musical amp. The biggest reason I got interested in tubes finally was that these amps are completely maintenance free. I have learned enough about tubes since owning this amp that the thought of biasing an amp doesn't scare me or put me off to tubes.

Joe Hartmann's picture

My first tube component was a NYAL Futterman OTL 4, still in service driving LS3/5s and now Harbeth model 30. My primary system is Audio Research LS-15 PH3 and VT-100 driving Verity Fidelios. I was slow to move to tubes but my first experience with the Futterman/Quad ESLs converted me. I am considering solid-state for video surround.

T.  O.  Driskel's picture

Both my pre and phono pre are full tube units!

macksman's picture

Moving from a highly respected and expensive solid state preamp to my Air Tight ATC-2 tubed line stage re-voiced the entire system and made it sound much more musical. The tubes rock the Move, pop when "Sarah Smile" spins, cry when It "Serves You Right to Suffer," get nasty with Prince, or thoughtful with Thelonius, and go to heaven with Beethoven. The sound is no euphonic mush, but is tight, deep and powerful. I would never consider another all solid state system but I am seriously considering a couple of the new Audio Research tubed monoblocks.

Jim S.  Place's picture

I use to think tubes were "old school" and shunned them. One day a friend brought over an old Mac amp. I put it in my system... that's all it took. My system features a 6550 tubed amp and a 6922 tubed preamp. I never looked back!

Ernie P.'s picture

Yes, I currently have a Rogue Stereo 90 Power Amp and a Cary SLP98 preamp. I really started getting into tubes about 10 years ago when I first subscribed to Stereophile and began reading about tubed electronics. I don't think that I would ever go back to solid-state again, but upgrade accordingly. In just one system, I have been able to experience different sound quality by just rolling tubes. Different tube types and even the same tubes manufactured by different companies present varying landscapes in the musical presentation. In my opinion, the quality of tube sound is more appealing than solid state. I have also found that tube rolling and experimenting has made the hobby much more enjoyable for me. Everyone interested in this hobby owes it to himself/herself to at least audtion some tube gear, just to be aware.

S.  Chapman's picture

Are you kidding? I started in this hobby "back in the day," and my first real amp was a used Marantz 8B. Currently I use a tubed preamp and am dreaming about a tubed amp.

Rich-Chicago's picture

I have a Jolida 502B that is now collecting dust. I bought it un-heard (big mistake) based on all the reviews. It simply falls far short of my '70s Accuphase SS gear.

oleg panoff's picture

excellent sound

Louis P.'s picture

My preamp is an Audible Illusions Modulus III. When it developed a problem in the phono stage that wll never be fixed (a story in itself), I added an EAR 834P. Bass performance is just fine, for both quality and quantity, and I've never heard affordable solid-state gear that can match the sound quality from the midrange up. My amplifier is solid-state, because I cannot afford enough tube watts for Tchaikovsky, Led Zeppelin, etc, and amps have a much more expensive replacement tube habit.

Chris L.'s picture

I grew up with a McIntosh MX100 and MC240 and still have them in occasional use. The amp is currently down for repairs, but has provided me with 20 years of listening pleasure. It's hard to give up listening to such nice sound—and the tubes are auto-biased so even that chore is unnecessary.

Carlos E Bauza's picture

It's a freshly reconstructed Dynaco Stereo 35. Great sound at 17.5Wpc.

richard's picture

Poverty is of the essence, as my Sansui 4900 laughs at me.

Michael Chernay's picture

X-Can V2, for my Sennheiser HD600s with Cardas cable upgrade. Soon a tube integrated amp will be joining the family.

John Gossman's picture

One wonderful, if sometimes fiddly Lazarus Cascade Basic, and a currently broken GTA-SE40. I love them like you love an old car.