What type of amplifier technology do you prefer?

What type of amplifier technology do you prefer?
54% (276 votes)
Tube (non-single-ended triode)
20% (105 votes)
Tube (single-ended triode)
11% (58 votes)
7% (37 votes)
Other (please explain)
7% (37 votes)
Total votes: 513

The last time we asked the tube-or-transistor question was almost three years ago (see the results <A HREF="http://www.stereophile.com/showvote.cgi?40">here</A>). So, we're curious if reader opinion has shifted when it comes to tube versus solid state amplifier technology.

Harold B.  Roberts's picture

Perfer tubes , though for the last 4 years have been very happy with a Crown macro reference that was realy trashed by sterophile.

tony esporma's picture

Tooobes, TOOOBES! how can any audiphile that really cares about music make do with anything else? Sure you gotta know how to measure voltage to check the bias, and you gotta have an air conditioned home in the summer, but nothing comes closer to the real experience than tubes.

Douglas Henning's picture

I have a Copland CSA28 apmlifier which is a hybrid design and the sound quality is simply amazing.

Erik Herdian's picture

I like the smoothness of tube but need a big power

Tim Bailey's picture

While I currently use a pair of rebuilt classic PP stereo tube amps, Leks St 20's. SS rectifiers and bigger caps etc etc. I am not anti SE. I have heard at home a single ended UL amp using one 13E1 regulator tube per side. I loved the way Emma Kirkby sounded and I would buy an SE amp when-and-if I can afford one.

VJ Rayel's picture

Although there are now more and more great tube designs, the solid-state technology has also evolved that much. Current solid-states still got the edge in bass, dynamics and power-delivery against even the best tubes of today. Tubes are still considered ridiculous by most home theater lovers. Don't get me wrong, I'm still in context of "audio", but as long as tubes still can't do justice to all sorts of audio source (i.e. anything with sound, and that includes movies), there's still something wrong with it! Solid-states reproduce ANY source with high fidelity. In the context of audio equipment, THAT is what matters most.

Kostas Papanikolaou's picture

Sound: talk about audio nirvana. Reliability? Talk about audio masochism. Still, I prefer tubes!!!

Bicek Bruno,Slovenia's picture

Change every 25 years, with tubes no way.

Paris Kotsis's picture

No phase splitter or feedback, please, I want all the timing and movement that exists in live music.

Peter B Noerbaek's picture

High Bias MOSFET, what else is there ?

al marcy's picture

Cross-dressing pentodes with nice voices.

Hannu Mikola's picture

Solid-state amps can be made tube-sounding (for ex. Electrocompaniet). The sound of solid-states will be the same for many years, no need for service.

Bruno Deutz's picture

This technology simply makes music, but a pain to implem

Daniel Schmidt's picture

I had always been been a tube-a-phobic: I had been led to believe that all tubes would eventually collapse into a black hole after they had committed supernova suicide. Then, one golden day, I happened into the local high-end dealer and just happen to sit down, not in one of the dedicated listening rooms, but out in the big open spaces where a moderately priced ($1500) tube amp (Anthem brand) was working its magic. I said goodbye to my MacIntosh, shed a few tears, went out and purchased some Audio Research, thanks to a Bob Reina review of the VT-100, and I have been a tube addict ever since, because "it's the music that matters."

Robert Davies's picture

For Rock 'n Roll? Solid State, without a doubt. For lightning transients, BIG bass slam and that gut-pulverising WHAMMMMM!! of a full orchestral climax -- only solid state will do. Female voice, strings, and "pretty" music? Tubes, probably, although I'd settle for a lush and creamy Plinius SA 250 over anything tubey for ANY music - any day!

Rob Cornelson's picture

I like the convenience and reliability of solid state but for hearing the music I prefer all tubes.

rob's picture

Tube pre-amp, ss amp

Uday Reddy's picture

There are just too many variables with tube amps for me to justify having one in my system, even though the bulk of the music I listen to these days is accoustic jazz from the 50's & 60's, plus classical, both of which I've been told sound better with tubes, especially SETs. Anyway, I have a Jeff Rowland Concentra which provides many, if not most, of the advantages of tubes and none of the downside.

Laurent, from Belgium's picture

the simpliest solutions are often the best... In this particular question, this principle works, execpt if you have enough money to buy the finest solid state products, for example a complete Spectral system...

John Busenitz's picture

Neither. It's the design that matters, not the device. There are good and bad examples of every type of amplifier -- what sets them apart is the circuit design. This question is misleading, and the replies you will receive (the vast majority from people who have never designed anything) will be nothing but confused opinions. When will people understand that it is the end, not the means, that matters?

Iitoshi Junko's picture

Tube amps don't work as well as I like in controlling my Duetta's. I do use a tube pre tho.

Tom Portney's picture

Of all the amps I have owned, including VTL, Audire, Conrad-Johnson, Sunfire, Plinius, and Audio Research, the single-ended Cary 805C's yield the most musical and real images I have ever heard

Alan Matheson's picture

I think there is a certain trade off in tube vs. solid-state. That beautiful tube midrange usually means less bass detail.How big is the room? What type of speakers? What kind of music? Can you tell I sell...sold-state is very reliable. That's what I pick, but it's your stereo. Choose the one that makes you feel good.

Joe Hartmann's picture

I have been using tubes first an Futterman OTL 4 for 15 years(still in service) and now a VT 100MKII. I am not sworen to tubes it's just that the sound was the best I heard when I was in the market for an AMP. Living In the New York City area I have access to several excellent dealers but still hear only about half of the units I would like to hear

Jim Merrill's picture

Solid state is more accurate, less expensive, more durable, and requires less attention. No deposit, no return.

Tony R.  Harrison Sr.'s picture

As much as I love the sound of a number of single-ended triode tube amps, I love the sound of Martin Logan Electro-static speakers even more. Unfortunately, I have found the two don't really match, because of the speakers' power requirements. Fortunately, I have been able to find a set of non-single ended tube triode amplifiers which have many of the "SET" qualities I find so satisfying (Cary SLM200 mono blocks) and I'm now enjoying a little piece of audiophile heaven.

gert de heij's picture

depends completely on it's sound

Jan Sieveking's picture

output transformer less designs combine speed and beauty

THomas's picture

Full-call digital Class-D amplifiers

Jim Holm's picture

I went to college in the tube age and learned how to design devices using them, including audio amplifiers. Tubes have many noise, linearity and impedance shortcomings along with poor long-term stability and do a lot of heat damage to associated components. Most old electronic devices are reduced to junk due to heat damage. Like tube amplifiers, solid state amplifiers with sound qualities ranging from extremely transparent to lifeless trash have appeared on the market. If transparency is the goal, solid state is the most sensible choice. For bang for buck, receivers with "5.1" capabilities in the $400 range from Sony and others simply dominate the feature/quality market. Get one, connect your old Quad CD-4, Matrixes and Discreet Tapes to it and enjoy while waiting the next several years for DVD-A to emerge from the lawyers offices.