Tube sound is not about warmth. It's about correct presentation.

Agreed ? Disagreed ? Both ?




If "correct presentation" is clarity and all the good stuff that comes with that, then yes, I agree.  To me the tube "warmth" is just lack of overemphasized, unnatural treble.  

But what is it in the sound that gives this?   It is not just more harmonics as that is synthesized in modern DACs and it is no where near the same. It is not linear distortion as tubes can be as flat as anything. ( And it is easy to turn down the treble ).  Is it the better dynamic linearity?  Is it a clue that a 12W tube amplifier can sound as "big" as a 100W bi-polar?  Less IMD? Difference in how they behave at clipping vs SS? Higher noise floor that masks nasties?  Or a noise floor that is more constant and not pumping?


I think, first of all, with SS something is missing. It's a negative coloration. Then there is always this metallic element to their sound. That's positive coloration.

There is timbre presentation, there is all spatial aspects of the presentation , there is the general immersiveness impression ...

Today  nothing of that is reserved to tube amplification or to S.S. amplification...

Each tubes amplifier and each S.S. amplifier is a specific case... Now add to that class D ... And any other variation ...Between integrated or amp and pre-amp...

As larsman just said :

What does 'correct presentation' mean? 

Prejudices are not knowledge...


Regarding perceived tube warmth, isn’t this even order harmonics at play?

Now Bob Carver is a legendary audio component designer...

Dont trust my words listen to him at 16 minutes in this video talking about S.S. done right and tubes amplification...

By the way Sansui made the same thing emulating perfectly their best tubes amplifier in a S.S. design and they did it EXACTLY as a public test behind veil ... I own one of their best S.S. design in the alpha series ... it sound so good i returned my last upgrade after one hour and it was one of the best tube design in the world...

Synergy matter more than tubes versus S.S. a no more meaningful debate for decades now...

The implementatrion of a design matter more than the material components ...

Next thread!

Many things depend on how you define them and label them. Other than that, watever...

I've been using tubes for so long I forget what a solid state amp sounds like. 

I used a good S.S. amplifier so long i forgot my two unsuccessful adventures in tube amplifiers...

Synergy matter more than prejudices...


Tubes sound better, (especially linear triode tubes) because they have less distortion than bipolar transistors or FETs. They might not have less distortion in circuit, but transistors need some kind of feedback and triode tubes do not. I also think the size of the device has something to do with it, I have noticed that larger tubes in preamps sound better to my ear than smaller devices, tubes included. This may have something to do with microphonics, the old globe style triodes sound better than coke bottle tubes of the same manufacturers.

That’s pushing it! I think you meant to say preferences. 

Prejudices are not knowledge...

Synergy matter more than prejudices...


I am not sure what one means about presentation. When I play my system, and I will use in this case, a fav recording of mine, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, the presentation is all about hearing the band members do their thing, the written composition by Miles, and the excitement and energy of the music, which my system allows, to completely engage me. No tubes anywhere. In fact, my latest listen was with my Jungson JA 99C, and the listening experience was glorious. I listen at least one hour a day, and no matter who I listen to, I am engaged. Without a question, a " stage " is presented, and I easily hear the acoustics of the space........, but WHAT is going on, on the stage, is what matters most to me. For my 50 plus years, this is what it has all been about....the musicianship. Try it, you might like it. Enjoy ! MrD.

I think that my posts are clear...

I will not change my word...

It is ok to have a specific preference for a specific tubes design or a specific S.S. design in specific coupling component  but generalizing to ALL tubes design over ALL S.S. design or the reverse is pure prejudice... Not informed knowledge about specific implementation ...See my video above by Bob Carver who know better than you or me ...

Synergy rule over design not design over synergy ...

i dont put any tube design or S.S. design over all others possible choices as some do A PRIORI  ; i know that each case of design and synergy is unique , the preference for one does not entail meaningless general claim as : tubes is better than S.S. in ALL CASE ...  This is a prejudice the OP title indicated speaking about a better presentation ...

Some are , in some coupling ; some other are not.... be it tubes or S.S.

That’s pushing it! I think you meant to say preferences.

Prejudices are not knowledge...

Synergy matter more than prejudices...

a good tube amp design does not have to sound "warm" at all.  That is the old type of thinking based upon what you have heard in your experience.  BUT there are tube amps that are fast, dynamic, have great sonics that are not warm sounding.

Happy Listening.

Post removed 



Also assuming tubes provide “warmth” then that’s a problem because warmth might be nice but it’s definitely not “correct”.


So the logic of the assertion proposed is flawed to start with and that kind of puts a damper on things right out of the gate.

I started with tubes, then went to SS, went back to tubes and then a couple of years ago I bought my first integrated amp.  The Hegel H390 sounds pretty darn good to me. Maybe in a couple more years I’ll go back tube separates.  Or maybe Hybrid amps like the PS Audio BHK 300’s that use a couple of 6822’s in each mono block to give the user more of a tube sound.

I feel that “warmth” is an over used term.  My experience is that tube amplification sounds more organic.  The sound stage is more of what you may expect to hear with live music.  This organic quality comes with imperfections like hum and pops and little odd twinges. Some may find these imperfections to be too distracting and so SS is a better fit for their tastes since it feels cleaner.

Of course. More organic, more natural, closer to reality.

It always upsets me when I hear that some speakers are intentionally made to sound their best with SS. In my book this is a very wrong approach and I will never consider such speakers.

SS is kind of digital, in a manner of speaking. Tape and vinyl are not perfectly quiet yet they are superior.

Tubes are simply more interesting maybe. They glow...if a transistor amp glows start looking for traces of smoke and try to remember where the fire extinguisher is. Tube guitar amps still rule that roost, but Pass XA-25 is in a constant battle with a single ended Had tube amp my earball's attention. Swap them whenever I feel like it and I'm somehow always in the fun zone. Bi-tubular? 

...for those of us with 'aged' hearing, 'organic high frequency roll-off', one can have all the warmth one can stand and then some...

Adding my aids adds an interesting conundrum:

Would the digital items in my ears effect my realization of 'warmth' from a totally A system, represented front to drivers considered to be 'A friendly'?

Since I'm SS from front to amp, and of no pretense of whether or not my choice of speakers would have any....'preference' in their presentation....?

I occasionally think 'warmth' is the F temperature of the studio or hall of the recording.....but I'm just kidding about that....*s*

I can relate to @mahgister's comment of prejudice, but feel it's more of a 'preference'...🤷‍♂️

Re 'hybrids' pre>ss amp v. ss pre>tube amp....what would seem to occur?

Curious minds out on the limb....😏

@wolf_garcia ...Like that....👍 "Bi-Polar" might be better, but starts a whole different disc-cussion....

...Bi-spherical, we can certainly assume....*L*

(Some researchers have posited that the universe may be an inside-out black hole, which 'splains a lot to me....but I've always thought it's all in ones' head anyhow...)

...but I'm just bent that way....

Correct presentation ? Presentation of music that touches your spirit ? Of course, this would be worked out in individual systems of particular design, physical materials used, and component synergy -- inside eqpt. as well as unit to unit-- as suggested by others here.

With very good SS and tube amp designs we are surely in the realm of subtlety, but I find this to be crucial.

Listening to LP’s with fast, transparent Decca cartridges, Transformer Volume Control and 104dB single driver horns, I hear the very slightly greater separation of instruments and information of SS with a First Watt J2, yet the large bottle glass AD1 tubes in my Yamamoto 4w + 4w SET give very nearly this level of abundant detail, equal or greater soundstage, and fully natural and organic sound. This effects what I seek which is to be immersed in and deeply connected to music.

It seems too obvious to state that the different physical materials of glass and metals of tubes, and the materials of SS devices, will inevitably sound different. Of course, preference for one or the other (or each, for different moods, or programme material) seems in the realm of taste, as for different wines, beers, and all the rest.

Not here to disparage the SS camp,  perhaps our ears and perceptions allow us different avenues to the gratification  of well produced musical reproduction. The Bob Carver interview was enlightening. Never knew of his depth of knowledge as to the auditory process and ability to create amplification that our ears would find appealing. 

Well, there’s Bob Carver’s take, here’s Nelson Pass’ thoughts on the topic (and somewhere here, or another forum, someone shared the actual schematic for the project should someone feel like building a do-it-yourself distortion unit to a SS amp):

I don't pretend to know anything anymore.... BUT I have heard great sounding SS amps and horrible sounding Tube amps.  So many other things to consider (source, speakers, room, desired tone, genre of music etc.).  There doesn't always have to be a "one or the other".  Keep in mind, the quest for "live" music feel is chasing tone.  All PA systems are SS reproducing "some" tone amplifiers (guitar,bass,keys etc") and presented on loudspeakers.  Of course if you are chasing the sound of an acoustic guitar, horns or vocals that are standing in your living room, that is another desire.  

Like I said, I don't pretend to know anything anymore.  But I know what I like. 😁✌🏻

I’ve had mostly good tube equipment over many years w/ some good solid state mixed in between & what I’ve noticed generally is that tube electronics do a better job of giving each instrument or vocal more space & air around it creating a better 3 dimensional illusion. With tubed equipment, The frequency extremes probably aren’t as extended, dynamics may not be as good ( although easily ameliorated) w/ an efficient speaker), tubes die & can be noisy, tubes get hot etc but w/ the right system, generally sound to me closer to live music & are more enjoyable.  

Besides Carver's work, also read David Manly and how increasing the grid isolation resister can make a tube sound more solid state.  

I think Benchmark might disagree with SS "missing" something. :)

Now as far as that "metallic" sound, I did find this as one of my easy showroom "NOs" when auditioning amps. A great test is a good classical guitar recording and if the bass strings sound metallic.  Very clear on some Julian Bream.  A Vocal like Joan Baez can show it up.   My MOSFET passed. Modified Hafler and B&K passed. Atoll and Hegel integrated passed. So does my new Rekkr and Vidar.   I thought it was more Bi-polar vs MOSFET, but some bi-polars' sail through too.  Some failing costing well into the ego bragging range so none of that "not expensive enough stuff". A $150 Schiit passes.  Speakers have a bigger influence and for some reason, I have never heard a hard dome I liked.  By measurements, they should be better, but I keep going back to paper woofers and silk domes. 

Chasing "live" is pointless as you are dealing with the last link of the chain and the sources we have are no where near live. No one has ever succeeded in recording a piano half way believable I have found. ( if anyone knows one, let me know)  If not in the source, we are not going to reproduce it.  Pleasurable is a better goal. 

 The closest to "live" I have ever heard was a solo bass being bowed, 2 mics, right into a Revox half-track. Not even any Dolby.  Played back in the same room through some Levenson and first generation B&W 801's.   Close.   The best we can do is hope not to screw up what the recording,  mixing, and mastering engineers did to it.

I was about to try another tube amp. Last time I listened to some and then built a few, my MOSFET was better in all respects. Things progress though. My desk I could easily use a 6 to 10W amp and those are "reachable"   Jumping to 50 or so on my main stereo is out of my price point. Then I got the Rekkr on the desk and darn is it good. 

What each of think is pleasurable varies.  Sound is real, hearing is our brain deciding what we think. It is not objective no matter how fervently some seem to think it is.  It is personal and neither I nor you can tell anyone what they like. 


@mahgister + 1 - as soon as I see 'all' or 'no' in regards to some category of items like 'tube amps' or 'ss amps', I dunno - just doesn't make sense to me.  

I own a pair of Legacy Audio Focus XD speakers Ijust got in August 2023, they have an internal 750 WPC Icepower amp, you can run them fully internally amped or bi amped. I tried them both ways, first internally amped. Then I hooked up my VAC Renaissance 70/70 amp that is 30 years old. (Fully updated in Feb 2023) When i got the VAC on the top the soundstage was much wider, deeper and layered immediately. Midrange timbre and spatial information was more real. It is still a very good amp.

In my experience both can be stellar or lousy. Obviously it’s the whole system and room.
Given my youthful sixty seven years I recently invited in a few younger women (supervised with feet on the floor) to also listen when changing from a tube intergrated to a SS. We all picked the SS. The youger ears can hear more.
I had been using a tiptop KT 170 AMP. The SS amp has a bit more power.
Certinally this isn’t any sort of proof but what’s in the whole stew adds up to the final result. I wonder if fellow folks here take into account that their gear’s synergy, especially thier speakers coloring thier preferences. Every one tends to tout thier stuff untill they get other equipment. So there’s that too.

There is no "warm" tube sound. Tubes get warm or even hot and some dimwit reviewer probably used the term "warm" or "warmth" and it went from there. If you believe a sound can be warm or cold, you're like Ralph Wiggum when he said, "It tastes like burning."

@mrskeptic (What’s in a name?) To me ElL-34’s in most amps sound warm. Maybe warm means not fast. Other tubes like the KT-150’s are not as warm (at least in my amp).. There’s something in the micro timing or thier musicality (sound rendering). Last but not least tubes are time proven analog. And many love to see ‘em glow.

I am of the opinion that Benchmarks class G amplification sounds to sterile, at least when I auditioned it some time back, but I am also a valve fan and enjoy my distortion like Nelson Pass. 

It's NOT tubes or solid state.  Its the designer's voicing of the component.  

@secretguy in regards to how tube technology actually works, I believe you are correct. And also according to traditional Class D design feedback is needed, correct? My understanding of electrical design is very rudimentary, please feel free to correct me where I’m wrong.


Given all of that … the design feature that attracted me the most to my Lyngdorf tdai 2170 is, in essence, what I understand to be the wire with gain concept. I’m sure someone can explain it better than I can, but my understanding is that that is a little more about correct presentation. Or shall we call it a true unadulterated signal.


My understanding is that the other electrical design element that makes the Lyngdorf approach to Class D design unique and also very high performance is what they call Intersample Clipping Correction.

The thing I like most about both the design and the sound is that because the signal is 100% digital and there is no need for digital to analog conversion.

The sound is so entirely pure. I’m not referring to the signal, I’m talking about the sound. We tend to overuse this word, but the term that actually describes the sound I’m getting the best is organic.

It would be interesting to start a thread on how different the quote Lyngdorf sound is … because, to my experience anyway, it was SO different when I first started listening to it that, tbh, it took some getting used to.

But I’ve had it long enough now, that I can now recognize the sound as being literally completely natural.

I know others will be familiar with the idea that a piece of equipment will sound so good that it will either expose your weakest link or confirm that you have synergy.

It would also be interesting to hear other peoples thoughts on the way Lyngdorf approaches tone control on their tdai amps. It seems to me that these guys are just doing things so uniquely differently than any of the other designers that it’s almost difficult for people to compare to other designs. Their voicings is what I’m referring to specifically.

I’m currently using a pair of Usher BE-718 bookshelf speakers that have an ability to go very low with a lot of accuracy. Like I’m not even using a subwoofer. So, to get the bass response I want out of them occasionally I will use the Bass 2 voicing. Instead of boosting! the bass on that voicing, they adjust the curve so that it’s reducing! the higher frequencies and middle frequencies to allow more of the lower frequencies to come thru proportionally. The example I’m illustrating is how that’s such a novel approach to, in essence, tone control.

What sounds best all the way around, even with these small speakers, as opposed to my Martin Logan Summits is the neutral voicing because it’s completely balanced. But under certain circumstances, ie: no subwoofer, it’s nice to be able to tailor my sound.


@mahgister When you take into account that literally straight out of the box their Room Perfect software, which is easy peasy use and took me every bit of :20 to execute, completely tamed my difficult room situation.

The thing that took the most getting used to, was losing the bass bloat effect that apparently I had gotten confused with having my bass truly grounded and rock solid. It is now and baby I’ve got the power to go along with it at 170 watts at 4 ohms.

All of this ^^^ and what nearly every single reviewer I’ve read has called the blackest background ever.

Would love to hear others compare and contrast all of that with the tube gear experience. Please feel free to correct me where I am wrong.

Would love to hear from the OP.

DSP room correction is very useful indeed...

It does not replace room acoustic no more than room acoustic can replace dsp tool...

@mahgister When you take into account that literally straight out of the box their Room Perfect software, which is easy peasy use and took me every bit of :20 to execute, completely tamed my difficult room situation.

My remark acknowledging your rightful claim in your post is not "bickering"...

But your answer accusing me of "bickering" dont please me...

I already answered above about tube versus S.S. and correct presentation ...

And i can resume in a sentence my point : Acoustic matter more than the gear choices, if the chosen designs are relatively good to begin with , being tube or S. S. because the choice of gear is between design that can be good in the two case and at the end synergy matter more for acoustic experience than tubes or S.S. choices ...Nowadays it is already proven fact that some S.S. design are good others bad and the same is true for tubes... Audio is about trade-off all along the chain component from recording to room /ears acoustics...

And saying that is not "bickering"...



@mahgister Whatever. Not interested in bickering.

How about the subject at hand?


@mahgister Yes, I get all that. You seem to rather enjoy nitpicking, isn’t that what you’re doing?

You accuse me of what you did FIRST after my post to you which was acknowledging your post... "Nitpicking" my post with the word "bickering" ...😁

Discussing politely without using words as bickering or nitpicking in my first post answering someone is what i do ... Can you say the same ?

My best to you....

I will stop here with you ...

@mahgister Yes, I get all that. You seem to rather enjoy nitpicking, isn’t that what you’re doing?