Solid state amp vs tube amps

Is there a noticeable difference in the sound quality of Tube amplifiers vs solid state amplifier?


Ask yourself why most professional electric guitar players use tube amps...then ask yourself, "why am I talking to myself?" Is it OK to like both SS (bad look when abbreviated) and tube amps? I have efficient speakers so I enjoy an excellent tube SEP from Dennis Had, and I rotate in a Pass XA-25 (Nelson Pass likes designing "tube-like" class A stuff) which might be the best sounding amp Pass makes. Tube preamp. Also, tubes might simply be more you have a box of transistors that you like to look at like my drawer full of tubes? Hold a transistor up to the light...yeah My Pass amp just sits there, my tube amp glows.

As a Valve Amplification user for more than 30 Years and one who could not entertain SS Amplification or Digital for close to 25 Years.

I have been introduced in the recent past years to experiencing through Demo's in the home system and in other systems, both Digital Source ( now owned and used regularly) and modern design for SS Power Amplification, which I would readily own.

My take on the experiences had in all systems, where all dem's had have been as a Valve vs SS comparison.

Is that I could easily move to SS and remain thoroughly satisfied and contented.

The detected differences in the end sonics produced by each Electronics Circuit Type is a non-concern.

Life's better with fewer prejudices and concerns about the escalating costs of rare vintage Valves. 

For the first time a solid state amp sits between the speakers burning in. Thinking it might add tighter bass with better damping factor. So far there are definite advantages albeit with some drawbacks. It's going to take a while as it doesn’t have the hours on it to consider it burned in.

A bit drier but with somewhat better resolution. Less bloom with slightly less ability to give the suspension of disbelief to the music. Tighter bass but maybe not as tuneful there. A bit flatter two dimensional sound which is my main concern. I’m thinking it will take at least a couple of months to parse out which presentation is most appealing. Hoping to see better depth of sound stage but the width is actually better. 

Lots of interesting replies. Simple answer is they are different designs and they do different things. Parts play a big part in sound quite usual although the old BEL amps were simple designs that sound great. Consider what parts in the designs produce sound starting with the transformers. These days custom made transformers are getting harder to find for audio applications. Quicksilver monos come to mind recently. Tube equipment can have many design variables like number of stages choke loaded  transformer coupled, tube retifcation, etc. That can impact the sound. Speakers, room treatments and cables do not impact the sound as much as the design of a component. That is why parts upgrades are so important for sonic improvement. Once you learn the differences that make sound do what it dies then you’ll be in a much better place to make decisions. Happy Listening


Just wondering about hybrid integrated amps like Macintosh MA352. Does that represent a best of both worlds solution? Or is that more of a gimmick?