Question about wpc on tube amps

I have been kind of looking at tube amps based on what people seem to think about them.

Here is my question- whenever I look at the wpc, they are remarkably low vs. a solid state amp for the money. 

It leaves me scratching my head. Then, somewhere I read that you can't compare a tube amp with a solid state amp . Something along the lines of "10 watts of tube power equals 100 watts in a SS amp". 

What? Is this real?  Seems unlikely to me. 

Are the wildly low power ratings on the tube amps I am looking at simply due to the fact I am looking at $1,000 amps vs the bajillion dollar amps you guys buy?

Would I be better off spending the money on a tube preamp for the "tube" sound I always hear about. 

I am running Magnepan . 7's  with a Bryston amp. Since the . 7's are power hogs are tubes even a realistic thing for me in my lowish budget? 




Sorry but the answer is clear and simple.  You aren't going to drive Maggies well on $1,000 of tube amp.  Unless (just possibly) you listen at a very low level; even there you would be far better off with solid-state.

Greet overall suggestions here…

But since you’d already mentioned you’re going to get a preamp to run with that excellent Bryston, definitely look into a decent used Rogue audio pre at that money. But there are other brands that do really well at lower cost to offer well designed and great sounding tube pre’s. Van Alstine and Quicksilver come to mind. It would just be a matter of matching with your Bryston. 

Tubes are awesome…but there are solid state pre’s that do magical stuff too. I was looking at quite a few different tube pre’s until I tried an SPL preamp. Blew my mind. Holography, stage, depth and a touch of warmth. Not to mention the clarity and separation. No longer want a tube pre - at least not until I can afford a really, really nice one. But a nice SS with discrete components can still get you something special. 

@timintexas : I only speak from my own experience, so please take this with the appropriate grain of salt… Rated wpc doesn’t tell you much of an amplifier’s story. Someone else wrote that this one specification only describes the amplifier’s maximum output within the parameters of how the manufacturer tested it. This number can be “optimistic”. The power that an individual uses is typically (should be) much less than the maximum rated power of any amp. What you have to determine is how much power you actually “need” to play the music you like at the volume level you listen at. I’ve found that it is absolutely true that some amps with lower rated power sound more powerful than other amps with higher rated power. There are many factors that go into this. But it is not because “tube watts” are more than “solid state watts”. A couple of the big factors have also already been stated: 1) The fact that SS starts sounding strained earlier than a similarly powered tube amp, and 2) If the input sensitivity is lower on one of two amps being compared, the amp with the lower sensitivity will play louder at a lower position on the volume knob, which gives the perception that it is more powerful, when it is simply ramping up its power sooner… Another point; I have found that a tube amp has more of a “tube” influence on the sound of a system than a tube preamp - and I have nothing to say against trying a nice tube preamp.. I’ve owned many, but tube amplifiers are what really made me fall in love with the sound. Also: I have owned many different models of Magnepans over the past ~36 years, and I’ve used dozens of amplifiers of all (almost all) types, with a wide range of rated wpc, and I myself personally have usually preferred the sound of tube amps. They are definitely capable of driving Maggies very well “for Me” in “My systems”! You should be able to find a used tube amp for close to $1000… maybe more like $1300-$1500 as a lower cost starting point (I picked up a Music Reference RM-10 for about $1300 several years ago and it sounds amazing with my 3.7s). All that said, Bryston makes very good amps too, so there’s nothing wrong with trying a tube preamp with it. I think some experimentation is in order. Let us know how you make out. 


WPC is just an rough/partial measurement of capability to drive speakers by an amplifier.

There are multiple factor in really world how amplifier behave when driving a particular speaker.

e.g. Tube Amplifier most likely using output transformers which is an energy storage/converter, which helps boosting transitional burst energy when driving a speaker with linear impedances or speakers with capacitive load characteristics such as electrostatic speakers. Also tube amplifier tends to handle overload nicely. That is why people observed that tube amplifier seems be able to drive same speaker louder vs a solid state amp with same “WPC" ratings.

However, tube amplifier would suffer greatly when used to drive low impedance speaker or speakers with non-linear frequency-impedance responses, such as full range ribbon speakers.