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  1. #1
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    I like tube preamp plus ss amp!!!

    Hi guys,
    What do you think about this idea??? I would like to set up a system with a tube preamp plus a ss amp. I like Vincent preamps and I am thinking in a Classe or Bryston Power Amp. Any better idea??? I am looking at a preamp with tone controls.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good plan. I run a Van Alstine Hybrid tube preamp and a SS amp. You should give a look to the Van Alstine preamp's. They can be built with tone controls and complete by pass if you want a cleaner sound They come with a remote control and you can get a built in phono preamp if you desire. Check them out at www.avahifi.com Also, read the reviews in his audiocircles forum. Frank gives a 30 day money back guarantee.
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  3. #3
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    I haven't done a lot of mixing with tubes and solid state but the small amount I have done I didn't like the synergy. In theory tube pre/SS power would seem to be a great idea, I just haven't heard a combo yet that impressed me. With some tube gear rivaling solid state in speed and control the need for mixing isn't quite as great. Although, that type of tube performance comes at a premium price.

    I personally would prefer Bryston over Classe but both are very good quality. I am just not a fan of the later Classe amp sound.

    If you are going to mix, be sure your tube preamp has an output impedance at or preferrably below 500 ohms. This is important to perform well with a solid state power amp.

  4. #4
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    I think that it's always a good idea to have tubes somewhere in your chain of components. What Preamp with tone controls are you looking at? Is it the Vincent SA-T1? I'm asking because that looks like a great deal for the money.

  5. #5
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    So far a tube preamp with a ss amp has been perfect for me. I run a McIntosh C220 tube pre with a MC252 ss amp and the combo is exactly what my ears were looking for.

    I've never heard any Vincent gear but the SA-T1 looks like a good unit. I like 12AX7 tubes.

    I cannot stand Bryston amps but I do like the older Classe amps. I haven't heard any of the newer Classe stuff.

    EDIT: Just saw that it looks like the SA-T1 does not have tone controls but the SA-31 does.

  6. #6
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    shodulik, you may have the right idea there using same brand tube and solid state. Same brand may be more likely to have synergy. I agree the old Classe is pretty good.

    I don't think Vincent is going to be in the same class as your CJ.

  7. #7
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    Vincent is very good

    Vincent has excellent sound for the money. I like the hybrid idea. Most tube preamps don't have tone controls and I need them. I probably go with Bryston or MF as a power amp.

  8. #8
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    My SP-9 preamp is a hybrid. I use tubes to drive my ESL's and SS to drive my TL sub's. I haven't had tone controls or an equalizer since the middle 80's. I don't miss either.
    IMO a tubed preamp driving a SS power amp is a very good idea.
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  9. #9
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    Classe aka the Canadian Krell is not for me. I had a Classe CAP-150 and found it to be very sterile sounding with my Aerials. I sold the Classe on ebay and replaced it with a Bada tube hybrid amp which sounded better IMHO.

    I've since moved on to a SET amp paired with single driver high efficiency speakers.

  10. #10
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist
    I've since moved on to a SET amp paired with single driver high efficiency speakers.

    You just love sayin that don't you.

  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvjorge
    What do you think about this idea??? I would like to set up a system with a tube preamp plus a ss amp.
    It has long been a cost effective way of combining tubes with SS. My experience still leads me to using tube amplification for its more natural harmonic integrity. In 1981, I paired an Audio Research SP-6C--1 tube preamp with a Threshold Stasis III amp (still have the amp). Tube amps, however, must be more carefully matched with the speaker. Many speakers do not fare well with the high output impedance of tube amps. My vintage garage system uses a Manley DAC with tube output (and 60's RCA Clear Top 12AU7s) driving the Stasis amp. The main system uses VTL tube monoblock amplifiers which work well driving the Sound Lab electrostats.

    I confess that I don't know much about the new Chinese made products having always stuck to American brands such as Audio Research, Manley, and VTL.

    rw

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist
    Classe aka the Canadian Krell is not for me. I had a Classe CAP-150 and found it to be very sterile sounding with my Aerials. I sold the Classe on ebay and replaced it with a Bada tube hybrid amp which sounded better IMHO.

    I've since moved on to a SET amp paired with single driver high efficiency speakers.
    In defense of Krell, we DO NOT resemble that remark.

    What's the frequency range of your single driver and what size is it? Or, maybe better a link to the brand, I'd like to see what they say the advantage is. I'm guessing a purist thing but unless it's one miraculous driver it seems you'd miss some of the end frequency range response info.

  13. #13
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    The Tekton wide baffle with Fostex 4.5 inch - 55 HZ - 17 KHz @ +/- 3dB sens is 93.6 dB This Fostex full ranger requires an enclosure and is not a candidate for OB.

    The Visaton B200 8 inch - fu - 18000Hz ( fu : lowercut-off frequency depending on cabinet ) sens is 96 dB

    But the Visaton B200 is a German made pure OB driver and there is the famous "Dark Star" thread on Audio Circle that spans several years regarding it's use in OB. Don't have the link but 6moons did a nice feature on the Redwine - Omega - Visaton prototype OB that I'm using.

    OB will never catch on with the major speaker companies as there is no profit without a cabinet. I'm not much on specs but the natural sound and immense soundstage of OB can be very addictive.

    Back to topic : dv mentioned Vincent. Vincent is a fine German company but their well reviewed products are made by Shengya in China. You can find identical Shengya amps on ebay for hundreds less. I have a Bada tube/ss hybrid amp with a Telefunken front end which is a re-badged Music Fidelity clone. FWIW every amp and piece of equipment I've bought directly from Chinese ebay merchants has been of very high quality. China has fast become the world leader in high end audio.

    As for preamps with tone controls - fewer pots/controls usually mean better sound. Unless you need the slam and power of SS I'd go all tube. Speaker efficiency and music preference should dictate your choice.

  14. #14
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    I get over to AC, I'll drop in on the OB forum. That would be interesting to hear if a 4.5" can play down to 55Hz. I wouldn't mind hearing a set to see how they sound. The tip on the MF is good info, there are a couple members here into them but not maybe the funds to jump.

  15. #15
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    I now have borrowed the Vincent SA-T1 tube preamp paired with the Rotel RB 1080 SS amp....Hybrid system now.

    First impressions...nice, not laid back but airy. Not as lush as my buddies ARC LS15 but still has a lush quality to it. Much more detailed with a powerful punch in the bottom end than the Rotel preamp RC 1090. Highs extended more that the Rotel, and I really like the richness of the mids. Drums very much noticeable. Very nice build. I have the silver face plate. this thiing is a looker in person. Pictures dont do much justice. Don't know why the preamp has tone controls and a loudness button, cause in a decent system you will always have the by-pass button on. Remote is nice as wll. will continue to listen.

    Heres a pic of one.

    Last edited by frenchmon; 07-26-2011 at 07:21 AM.
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  16. #16
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvjorge View Post
    Hi guys,
    What do you think about this idea??? I would like to set up a system with a tube preamp plus a ss amp. I like Vincent preamps and I am thinking in a Classe or Bryston Power Amp. Any better idea??? I am looking at a preamp with tone controls.
    It's a popular idea and I used it myself until recently.

    Techinically -- though I'm no technician -- I'm given to understand that tubes are better, (more linear), voltage amplfiers than transistors. That could be why tube preamps and hybrid power amps with tube driver stages are so popular.

    The other explanation is tubes generate a lot of 2nd harmonic distortion that sounds pleasant and masks higher-order harmonics generate by s/s components.

    I don't know the real answer, but I recently went from a tube preamp to a passive preamp that consists only of a potentiometer and no active components, and I'm happy with results.

  17. #17
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Techinically -- though I'm no technician -- I'm given to understand that tubes are better, (more linear), voltage amplfiers than transistors.
    Such is easily demonstrable by the fact most do not require problematic corrective circuitry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    The other explanation is tubes generate a lot of 2nd harmonic distortion that sounds pleasant and masks higher-order harmonics generate by s/s components.
    Why not test for yourself? Most tube preamps generate no more than about 0.1 or 0.2% distortion total - regardless of the spectral content. Some time ago, I posted a link which allows you to test your ability to hear varying quantities of harmonic distortion. I was not able to consistently identify less than 2%.

    rw

  18. #18
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    ...
    Why not test for yourself? Most tube preamps generate no more than about 0.1 or 0.2% distortion total - regardless of the spectral content. Some time ago, I posted a link which allows you to test your ability to hear varying quantities of harmonic distortion. I was not able to consistently identify less than 2%.

    rw
    Yes, I need to get around to the How to Listen test.

    What I'm pretty certain of, though, is that my tube preamp was adding something to the sound vs. only a potentiometer. This addition was an apparently more ambience or a deeper soundstage. I'm not convinced that this effect existed on the recording.

  19. #19
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    Such is easily demonstrable by the fact most do not require problematic corrective circuitry.


    Why not test for yourself? Most tube preamps generate no more than about 0.1 or 0.2% distortion total - regardless of the spectral content. Some time ago, I posted a link which allows you to test your ability to hear varying quantities of harmonic distortion. I was not able to consistently identify less than 2%.

    rw
    Well I can report that stats on the SA-T1 is < 0.1% distortion. But what I really care about is the sound..and man this thing sounds fantasict so far with my turntable. And its like it was made for my Musical Fidelity CDP. Real synergy....continually listening.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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  20. #20
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Yes, I need to get around to the How to Listen test.

    What I'm pretty certain of, though, is that my tube preamp was adding something to the sound vs. only a potentiometer. This addition was an apparently more ambience or a deeper soundstage. I'm not convinced that this effect existed on the recording.
    The SA-T1 is adding nothing but a slightly warm lush sound to the recording that the Rotel didn't...unless you want to say a better atmosphere than the Rotel is adding to the sound.
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  21. #21
    RGA
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    You may want to consider the Shengya PM 150 Monoblock hybrid power amps to go with the preamp. Pretty sure that Shengya or another maker is responsible for making the Vincent line of products. Grant Fidelity offers a lot of superbly built and sounding amplifiers, preamps, power amps for very nice prices. I would look through their line-up very heavily.

    Also - I don't see why you would want a tube preamp and a SS power amp. Most tube makers hate SS and vice versa. I never quite get the idea that owners would deliberately mix oil and water and assume it will taste good. It can work mind you but generally IMO all tube systems sound better - and if you have speakers that "need" a SS amp - you probably should be buying new speakers first anyway.

    Here are all the Grant Fidelity amps - and they have good deals on discontinued models as well. The one downside of GF is that they they cycle through gear rather quickly. Models do not stay in the line-up all that long which can hurt their re-sale value. Still some of the stuff is stupid good for very low money. So before you jump on the Vincent look carefully at the GF stuff - some of it may be a bit less expensive and be a few rungs up the ladder over Vincent.

    And not all the stuff is Cheap -- They have monster monoblock Solid State power amplifiers for $19,000 a pair that are 1200 watts into 4 ohms (class A) and weigh 176lbs each. You can pay a lot more for a bigger name - but why?

  22. #22
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    What I'm pretty certain of, though, is that my tube preamp was adding something to the sound vs. only a potentiometer.
    Such is true of all preamps I've heard vs. using attenuators. You are most likely hearing the sonic signature of the output coupling capacitors. From pics I've found through Google, it appears that the SF-1 used polypropylenes. By contrast, my decidedly neutral sounding Audio Research unit uses polystyrenes. The very best units today use Teflon. Each capacitor type has its own sound. Back in the 70s, many solid state receivers capacitively coupled their solid state output stage (typically using electrolytics) having a similar softening effect.

    rw

  23. #23
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA View Post
    You may want to consider the Shengya PM 150 Monoblock hybrid power amps to go with the preamp. Pretty sure that Shengya or another maker is responsible for making the Vincent line of products. Grant Fidelity offers a lot of superbly built and sounding amplifiers, preamps, power amps for very nice prices. I would look through their line-up very heavily.

    Also - I don't see why you would want a tube preamp and a SS power amp. Most tube makers hate SS and vice versa. I never quite get the idea that owners would deliberately mix oil and water and assume it will taste good. It can work mind you but generally IMO all tube systems sound better - and if you have speakers that "need" a SS amp - you probably should be buying new speakers first anyway.

    Here are all the Grant Fidelity amps - and they have good deals on discontinued models as well. The one downside of GF is that they they cycle through gear rather quickly. Models do not stay in the line-up all that long which can hurt their re-sale value. Still some of the stuff is stupid good for very low money. So before you jump on the Vincent look carefully at the GF stuff - some of it may be a bit less expensive and be a few rungs up the ladder over Vincent.

    And not all the stuff is Cheap -- They have monster monoblock Solid State power amplifiers for $19,000 a pair that are 1200 watts into 4 ohms (class A) and weigh 176lbs each. You can pay a lot more for a bigger name - but why?
    Thanks for the advice RGA but this preamp is awful good. I cant believe the level of fidelity this thing is throwing out. The bottom end is really tight and punchy. Extended highs and the real surprise is in the midrange. The SA-T1 is very detailed and not to sweet. I've seen it advertised as a hybrid preamp, but I dont think that is the case. I even asked my dealer and he said its pure tube and I agree. This thing is on the level of Peabodys Conrad Johnson pre only not as warm. This thing is lively and lush but not as lush as my friends ARC LS15. Its that good.
    From what I read about the Shengya PM 150 Monoblock hybrid power amps



    they are a spin off of the Vincent SP-T100



    And besides...If I decide to purchase the Vincent, and decide I want a amp, it may be the Vincent amp seeing my Dealer can get it below cost. Now about your water with oil...Vincent also designs a lot of amps and preamps that are SS, so they don't just do tubes. They also have a line of tube amps that are not sold in the USA called T.A.C. = Tube Amp Company http://www.vincent-tac.de/tac/de.html Check them out. Click on the products and look at the TAC K-35.

    Where have you seen that design from before? I think Grant Fidelity has one thats a spin off of that as well. here it is



    But back to the SA-T1...its a really nice preamp and its head and shoulders above my Rotel preamp on all levels.
    Last edited by frenchmon; 07-26-2011 at 05:00 PM.
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  24. #24
    Ajani
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    I know that many audiophiles like to mix a tube pre with a SS amp to get what they consider the best of both worlds... However, I kinda agree with RGA; why not just get a powerful tube amp if you aren't satisfied with the sound of SS?

    My thought is to either use a source component that can control the volume like a Benchmark or Bel Canto Dac or a cheap passive pre and then spend the savings (from not buying an active pre) on a really great amp... My feeling is that if I need a tube pre to improve on my SS amp, then the problem is the amp...

  25. #25
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani View Post
    I know that many audiophiles like to mix a tube pre with a SS amp to get what they consider the best of both worlds... However, I kinda agree with RGA; why not just get a powerful tube amp if you aren't satisfied with the sound of SS?

    My thought is to either use a source component that can control the volume like a Benchmark or Bel Canto Dac or a cheap passive pre and then spend the savings (from not buying an active pre) on a really great amp... My feeling is that if I need a tube pre to improve on my SS amp, then the problem is the amp...
    I was never trying to get the best of best worlds. I've seen that thrown around as well. And I never said I was not satisfied with the sound of SS. But there is nothing wrong with the sound of a SS amp/tube preamp combination. Im sitting here right now listing to the system right now with vinyl and its a very pleasing sound it is.

    Like I said....Its not that I was not satisfied with the Rotel outfit....its just that the Vincent/Rotel outfit sounds so much better in every faze of the music.
    Music...let it into your soul and be moved....with Canton...Pure Music


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