Herald Hybrids

Which do you prefer: tube sound or transistor sound?

Now, don't give me that "audio equipment should have no sound at all, it should be merely faithful to the source." And none of your "it depends on how well the design principles are implemented." Assume it's a forced choice: you have to choose one or the other, and no arguments or requests for clarification.

If you don't like having to make such a choice, or if your answer is "it depends on the mood I'm in. . .sometimes I like a tube sound, and at other times I like more of a solid-state sound" then you have some kindred spirits at Herald International Holdings, which has a design center in Markham, Ontario, and manufacturing in China.

They have a wide range of audio products that follow what they refer to a "hybrid" principle.

But that's not hybrid in the sense of the circuit path having both tubes and solid-state components at different stages (eg, tube front end and solid-state output stage): it's two parallel circuit paths, one tube, the other transistor! The pictured H737P preamp (US$1299) has two sets of outputs: one based on its tube circuitry, and other on solid-state, and you can switch on either or both outputs—a common use being to use the tube output to drive the amp (which, if a Herald model, can be similarly tube or solid-state) for the midrange and highs, and the solid-state output to drive the bass amplifier (again, this can be your choice of tube or solid-state).

All this either has the potential to truly customize the sonic character of your system to you taste . . .or will feed into the need of the neurotic audiophile to be forever tweaking. It's your choice.