Post by boomzilla on Mar 9, 2016 15:01:11 GMT -5
Mr. Levkov is, again, right. The "more expensive" tube amps sound more neutral than the cheap ones. An Audio Research, Conrad-Johnson, Rogue Audio, McIntosh, or Balanced Audio Technology tube preamp will have significantly less second harmonic distortion than the typical Yaqin, or other Chinese tube preamp. So, one would think, why spend MORE on a tube preamp that gives you LESS of what tubes are about?
Ah, but it isn't that simple. As the second harmonic distortion drops, the "exaggerated soundstage" that tube products are known for still remains. Is it an exaggeration not on the original recording? Or is it actually there on the recording, but typical solid-state products fail to reproduce it?
I would suspect the former rather than the latter because were it recording dependent, some music would totally lack soundstage despite being played on a tube preamp.
Now that said, the tube gear must distort the original recording in a way that enhances its spatial presentation on playback. If you're one for whom ultimate accuracy to the original recording is paramount, then you'll likely be happiest with solid-state gear. However, if your goal is the ultimate connection to and enjoyment of the music, then tube gear may have something to offer.
The only way to know if you're a "tube-head" or not is to actually listen to some tube gear. Like what you hear? Smile & enjoy. Think it sounded better without that "tube bloom?" Transistors are probably your (far less expensive) choice.
But as much as I enjoy tube sound, the exaggerated tube sound of the Chinese products is, ultimately, not my cup of tea. However, with my current gear, I get sufficiently close to solid state accuracy but still with a bit of soundstage enhancement. It wasn't cheap - but I like the compromise.
Now for those who say that I've chosen euphonics over accuracy, I agree. My rig DOES sound a very slight bit on the euphonic side of totally accurate. But I find that I listen to it more and enjoy it more this way. Plus, my better half has found that she enjoys listening with me now (not so much when the system was totally solid-state). So I'll be keeping my expensive, slightly-euphonic preamp. It does what I want it to do and I'm enjoying things more and more. Money well spent!