How do you add color?

For those of you who are adherents of straight wire, ruler flat frequency response, accurate and neutral sound, artists’ true intentions, etc. ... please stop reading now. You’ve been warned. If you continue to read, you might get heartburn and since I’m a nice guy, I don’t want to do that to you.

Now, for those who are not opposed to adding a bit of color and flavor to tune/tweak the sound to their liking, what is your preferred method of madness? Speakers, amps, preamps, DACs, cables? I know many who like the combination of solid state amps with tube preamps. Lately, a lot of upmarket DACs are using tubes (Lampizator) or R2R to add a sort of tube-like flavoring. Let’s say you’re happy with your solid state amp but want to add a bit of tube magic to the chain, would you get there by way of tube preamps or tube DACs? Or both -- which might be too much of a good thing perhaps?


Totally and absolutely correct. Remove the color of the system to hear to actual colors of the music. @mahgister 

"colour" as qualitative word associated with the gear component is one thing...

"colour" as a qualitative concept in acoustic and psycho-acoustic associated with TIMBRE is ANOTHER thing...

Best gear in the world along with the best room in the world are useless if the recording was not done right. Don't exaggerate the importance of listening room. The room must be alive, that's for sure, the rest is relatively minor.

"It's the source stupid".

@mapman we talk about color all the time in the recording business as well.  Anything that changes the sound from what came before is considered "coloring the sound" .  Some colors are desirable, some not.  It is also true @mahgister that studio monitors are used to reveal information, reveal color, reveal mistakes, etc so the mixer or mastering person can work from a place of truth instead of illusion.   This is the basic reason low distortion loudspeakers are important in studio work.  The dont make things sound better than they are.  


For a bit of tube flavor you might want to audition the Modwright analog bridge. It add a bit of melo-ness and the bridge allows for a number of tubes that can be interchanged -tube rolling really does add another whole level of insanity to this hobby. I have used the bridge with a pair of 1961 gold pin PG amperex 7308 tubes along with a Sophie rectifier tube and I believe it has improved the listenability of my system considerably. 



Nothing snarky about asking something. I am sure many people will take exception with my opinion but carrying on. . .

Technically, a 10" driver makes a lousy midrange. It has bad dispersion and moves too slow. So it does more of the musical generalities than extraction minute details = colorful. Paper drivers have more of a colorful presentation than metal as do tubes but that doesn’t necessary mean they are colored any more than one type of violin sounds different from another. Coloration would be some type of distortion, resonance, etc.


It’s true and is called synesthesia.