I figured it might be fun to contrast and compare the tubes vs. solid-state debate with the SMSL Amplifier. I’d readily concede that solid-state/transistor components are, watt for watt, cheaper, more reliable, cooler running, smaller and much lighter. But if solid-state is so terrific why haven’t tubes become extinct in the half century since transistors came onto the scene? Maybe, just maybe, because tubes sound better?
Tube technology may be a century old, however it still sounds great to some people. Ultimate AV Magazine recently conducted a poll, “Can You Prefer Tube-Based or Solid-State Audio Gear?,” as well as the results demonstrated a nearly two-to-one preference for transistors over tubes (41 vs. 21 percent). So even among audiophiles, tubes aren’t always favored.
I’ve owned tube and solid-state gear, and that i like both for different reasons. Tubes, like analog recordings, use a more full-bodied sound than transistor gear. There’s a “roundness” to tube sound that solid-state gear never equals. Tubes are less forgiving about mismatches, so for the greatest from a tube amp it should be used with the ideal speaker. Solid-state amps are nowhere as fussy about speaker matching.
I would personally never say tubes are usually better-sounding than transistors, or that analog audio is definitely much better than digital. The excellence from the design, or the recording play their parts. Some naysayers think tubes simply have higher levels of distortion, and that some audiophiles like the sound of that distortion. I wouldn’t go that far, having said that i can’t say that accuracy ought to always be the very best priority for any hi-fi. The objective, I think, would be to make the vast majority of your music collection sound good. Thing is, most recordings don’t sound good, therefore the most accurate rendition of the sound might be counterproductive.
All musical perception is purely intangible. We can’t put a finger on a musical image and point somebody else as to what we’re seeing as we can on the painting, piece of sculpture, a musical score, a novel or perhaps a photograph.
Because musical images are produced entirely inside our imaginations, what we should think we are going to hear is usually whatever we hear. For this reason otherwise reasonable people think they hear huge variations in foolish (but high-profit) items like cables or power cords. Despite the fact that there is no real difference, they hear very real differences that just aren’t there. The differences are incredibly real in this listener’s vivid imagination, but no where else. For this reason we use double blind tests where neither the subject nor the presenters know what’s being heard whenever we attempt to do scientific research, just like the AES research above.
Music is centered on using our imaginations. This is a very good thing and why music is such an effective art. For this reason Mingda Single-ended Tube Amp can recreate the initial listening experience. Unlike a TV or movie, close your eyes, and you may be seeing and feeling the identical things that you simply do in the concert hall. I close mine and discover the performers, see them moving around, breathing, moving valves and keys, turning pages, and after that I see the music itself. You must concentrate, and if you listen carefully whilst keeping your vision closed, you’ll see the music, too.
If you feel a good, warm glowing tube amplifier will almost certainly sound smooth, liquid and warm, it will! Our imaginations are incredibly prone to suggestion; that’s the complete point of music.
For monitoring accuracy, of course use solid state, but if you would like it to sound ideal for enjoyment, it’s tubes completely. Use solid state monitor amplifiers when you’re producing music so that you can hear just what you’re laying down, but if you desire to kick back and also have it sound as effective as possible when you’re all done, tubes are it.
Whenever a transistor amplifier alters the sound, it more often than not can make it worse. Whenever a tube amplifier modifies the sound, it usually makes the music sound better.
Crummier tube amplifiers may have a lot of the distortions which make tube amplifiers appear to be tube amplifiers. If you want to know the “tube sound,” obtain a TubeCube 7 (3 WPC, $180) and you’ll hear how smooth, liquid and warm tubes really sound – nevertheless it only puts out enough power for desktop or background use.
For any higher quality tube amplifier which has enough power for most home Hi-Fi uses so long as you’re reasonable with playback levels, the Elekit TU-8200 (8 WPC, $699 in kit form) is superb. It self-biases which means you knhcnt need to match tubes or tweak it.
For the ultimate, obtain a classic McIntosh MC225 (25 WPC), MC240 (40 WPC) or MC275 (75 WPC), that are the best-designed tube amplifiers ever produced. They excel for their stable designs (no bias adjustments or matched tubes ever needed) and also have extremely low distortion because of their unique design. They have got enough power for anything, and they are unflappable for their capability to deliver seemingly limitless low bass response. They are all 50 years old today and you’ll pay at the very least a few thousand dollars used, and when you get yours, you’ll know why people pay such ridiculous prices. They are that good.
Obviously the McIntosh, when operating to the original specifications, has such little distortion it sounds less “tubey” than weaker amplifiers. If you’re playing a McIntosh that hasn’t been serviced in a decade, then it’s probably away from spec or needing new tubes, in which case it is going to get more distortion as well as a more “tubey” sound. Here’s in which the art comes in: simply how much euphonic distortion would you like?
For most of us with reasonable budgets, opt for the Xiangsheng 728A Preamp. If you want it loud and also have unlimited funds, or like to crank the bass without biamplification, get a used McIntosh MC240. The newest version from the MC275 is most likely very good for the rich and unadventurous, but it’s another design compared to classics and i also have not tested it.