Adding a SS amp as a 2nd amp for my tube rig has been a plus

I'm really glad to have purchased a solid state amp, used, to go with my tube gear. Just the perfect solution to when I grab a moment or two to listen — that hour between work and dinner, for example. There's not enough time to warm up the the tube amps, but I turn on the tube preamp, turn on the solid state amp, and I'm in business.

I spent about 5:1 for the tube stuff (including the better tubes) relative to the SS amp, but I think spending that small extra portion on a slightly better tube rig wouldn't have gotten me as much.

Sonically, the tube stuff is superior — BUT I get a slightly different angle with the ss gear. For example, some rock sounds better with the solid state. Also nice to have a solid state when I swap different speakers in to try out.

Convenience-wise, I get more listening in to have that ss as a second amp. Most of the time, I just listen to tube, but when I can't make listening an "event", I still find myself listening.

Yes -- some additional costs (extra interconnect, extra speaker cables) but I am not the sort who breaks the bank on those items, so pretty negligible added cost.

For what it's worth. Anyone else done this?
yes hilde - definitely agree (i am admittedly quite a collector of hifi gear as well being an avid music lover)

having a solid state amp is an excellent change to a tube amp - different presentation, better with different music, emphasizes different aspects of the music, better grip on speakers/woofers

as you know i am sure, a frequent formula for excellent sound is a tubed source or preamp feeding a good solid state power amp, often captures the best of both worlds

another corollary could be extended to higher power tube amps vs lower powered single ended units - they vary in presentation in a very interesting fashion (if you have suitable speakers)

variety is the spice of life, in many respects!
I have much more often read that solid-state gear takes much longer to warm up. In fact, some people keep their solid-state running 24 seven. I typically hear that tube gear takes a maximum of 30 minutes to warm up.
@jjss49 Yes, the low powered tube siren doth summon me to her tropical isle...
I did the same thing this summer - too hot to run my Supratek preamp and DeHavilland GM70 amps, so I bought a used Pass INT-25. I’m using the same cables for each system so I have to switch them out, but that’s easy to do. The price on my SS vs tubes is in the same ballpark, and the audio quality is similar too, although they do differ in some aspects. In my limited comparisons so far, when I run the tubes I like them better, and when I run the Pass SS, I like it better.

LOL I use both at the same time. SS bottom, Valve top, been that way for 30 plus years.

The summertime (about 3 months), I go SS power amp top and bottom.
I couldn't take the heat, but I sure loved the sound. C20, MC240, and a MC275, or a pair of 60s,
It got HOT, in a 16 X 20 X 8, Jensen Imperials, Horns and subs.
Serious SPL too, were talking window breaking STUFF. 110 X 110

110 db by 110 degrees, or more, I never really pushed it. with valves.

SS Mac gear, my Lord! 125-30. Brain emulsification. :-)

@tonnesen I'd like to try that Pass amp. Did you do a deHavilland/Pass combo? Any reactions?

@oldhyvy You are way out of my league! Mad skills! I suppose you play the Who's Live at Leeds at the original volume?
Understand where you are coming from  ...

I do a variance on your method, I have 2 systems setup together, which share the same sources, my main is a Supratek DHT and the vintage valves I use are rather expensive so its used for long listening times a few times a week as I want to preserve where I am at after a fair bit of valve rolling by its previous owner and myself.  Due to the demanding speakers, Dynaudio C2 Plats, I found that they don't go that well with my original MC75 valve power amps so after some experiments went with an used Accuphase  A70 to drive them .. it takes a good 30 mins or thereabouts for the system to settle in and improve, interesting the amps show a couple of watts increase once its settled in ?  Not sure whether its the pre, pwr or both ?

So for quick listens I have a used McIntosh C22 and MC75's which I brought originally to try drive the more demanding dynaudio speakers, I since brought a more efficient set of speakers and this combo gets going very quickly and importantly the valves are all modern and a lot less expensive.  A nice listen as well but it doesn't match the openness and richness of my other system.  I did change out the pre valves to Genalex Gold Lion 12AT7's as the stock ones weren't doing anything for me .. 

NIH says 110 db sound exposure for 1 minutes starts to create hearing loss

glad you can still read  :)
LOL Just because it does 110, doesn't mean your gonna listen at 110.
Mercy.  Heck a I have a CAR that will hit 125, a single 10". 

I've taken VERY good care of my ears. I suggest everyone do that.

I use 2-4 12Ks when I want to PUSH the issue at home..

You know I've been around car/PU/simi audio stuff, for 50 plus years, the last 25 or so the automotive stuff can really put it out.

I was at a competition, where Gapa Bass hit 145, BEFORE he flipped the sub switch. 165.  I wear OVER the top muffs and plugs at competition..  I NEVER stick my ears in a chamber.. NEVER..
Been 5 years since I went to one.

I see a bunch of kids, hanging around, I MOVE ON. LOL

I saw a simi tip up, catch on fire, in Brazil (?). 140K gen set...YUP
HI CURRENT class Ds 100+ amps right to the ground. I think they saved the tractor.  Show Off.. :-)


@rosco88 Very nice gear you have. I  bought some nice Valvo AT7's from the 1960s for my pre and some Genelex GL 77's for my tube amp; nicer, mellower now, having replaced  the stock JJ's which were in both units (AT7's and KT88s) at purchase.

Given how much the nice tubes in my pre-amp can affect the sound, overall, I wonder how much someone could get away with if they spent really good money on the pre and its tubes and then spent a lot less on a SS amp. How would that compare to a medium good pre/tubes/tube-amp? Hmmm. 
Have a krell class A amp and a Conrad Johnson tube pre. The sound improves after a half hour. The krell runs hot as it’s a true pure class A. I find the sound to be magical. I love to roll the tubes on the pre to hear the subtle differences between nos 12au7’s. I can’t stand taking the damn cover off the Conrad though. I’ll have to come up with a solution to that. I would love to try an Ayre pre amp someday . I’ve heard wonderful things regarding their sound. 
I do the same thing. The long listening session requires planning. Short bursts of enjoyment get the Pass Labs M2. Adding a solid state piece has really added something I was missing. 
@hilde45 a while back I tried three different inexpensive ss amps (CJ,STA 200,Audiolab)along with my tubed dac and pre but never cared for the sound.I did like the convenience though.I'm sure there are other amps that would make a better combination but it would take a lot of trial and error,for me anyway.One of these days maybe I'll talk my brother into lending me his Parasound JC2 for a day.
Yes, synergy is the x factor here. I can just imagine, though, that if someone figured out a combination with a good preamp, great tube, and decent SS amp, they might really equal a lot of other combinations. Just musing out loud, not really thinking this would be easy or practical.
Several things have kept me from dabbling in tube amp waters in recent years:

1) Relatively small and simple Class D amps (modern technology) have delivered all the goods for me. Don’t know if there is a Class A/B SS amp that could.....have not found one to date though I have heard a few elsewhere in recent years that might .
2) None of my current preferred speakers are designed with tube amps in mind
3) I listen to all kinds of music including modern pop/rock (loud recordings and tube amps do not always mix well) sometimes at higher SPL and tube amp needed for this would be larger with more tubes to deal with and probably higher TCO over time.

I do use a tube pre-amp with my Class D amps but when time comes for a change I will probably try to loose the tubes there too. Audio Research sp16 tube pre-amp-> Bel Canto Ref1000m Class D. I do not like the extra cost and maintenance often involved with tube gear, especially larger beefier tube amps with many tubes.

I do think sometime I will try out a separate rig ideally with easy load higher efficiency speakers mainly because I am always looking to try different things and would likely dabble with a small tube amp TBD there.
How do you handle the cable switching between the amps?

The best way is to use a Beresford Switch. I use it to switch source amps between my main amps (Cary Audio Six Pac mono blocks) and my SS amp (Classe Fifteen) which I use when I'm not doing any serious listening and just want background music on or for parties. The Beresford switch is NOT a speaker switch, i.e., it's not for switching between different sets of speakers. It is a source switch made specifically to safely switch between two sets of amps. No need to fuss with switching cables once its in the system.


Hi , may I ask what SS amp you’re running? I run a modest tube pre and low power tube power amp . I’ve had huge improvements with pre tubes , and again with the amp driver tube . But the rectifier and power tubes have had a profound change too . I’m pining for a Pass or First Watt in my existing system . I have a nice stash of paired NOS power tubes , but I’ve stayed with new KT-120’s as it allows we to omit a sub. This is another reason I’d like to add a SS power amp . Regards , Mike .
I run a Golden Tube SE-40 and a Pass Labs XA30.5... with Heresey IIIs on the first and LS50s for the second and dual REL 7Tis.
   @hilde45  , Yes I was asking you , sorry I wasn’t more definitive.  I’m in the same position you were . So I’ve considered SS low and moderate power amps , and integrated too . And with other hobbies , very budget driven.  I currently run ZU’s , so I’m not in need of massive power , but I have other speakers that are far less efficient. I appreciate your thread and certainly don’t want to impose too much . Respectfully, Mike . 
On my trips to Japan the really hiend crowd uses SS preamps (usually Accuphase) and tube amps (vintage ’tosh and Marantz, and I believe Japanese Triode brand.) They use lots of horn L/S - many are 16 ohm nominal impedance. They explain do not want the noise inherent with tube preamps amplified down the chain. How they shoehorn some of these large speakers into their apartments makes one ponder.

It is interesting to note cultural differences in listening.
@buellrider Mike, yes, budget is important. This Atoll was about 50% of retail and only 1 year old. I was surfing for Parasound A23+ recently, and saw one of those for about $900. That would be a sweet amp, too. Given your Zu's you might even do better.
I looked for years trying to find a custom switch- two preamps (ss and tube) 3 or 4 amps and three sets of speakers--  I found this company and he built a first class switch!!!!! Near the bottom of the page.