Why is solid state more popular when tubes are better?

Yes tubes are more involved and require periodic maintenance. Hybrid tube components need not apply, these are really solid state.

Tubes are better for multiple reasons and yet the world and the trade prefers solid state. Those rare audio shops that are geared toward stereo listening and serious connoisseurs tend to Focus more on tubes.  Those in business who like to improve volumes tend to offer solid state.  All the YouTube channels looking to improve their business tend to be solid state.  Maybe because tubes require much more expertise to sell, and there's lesser and lesser to go around. Solid state is more of a fast food commodity.

Tubes are difficult for businesses due to all the maintenance and complexity so you see it less often. Much much easier to sell hybrids or solid state.




This is very much a 'first world problems' discussion, but my pennyworth is from the perspective of someone who owns both S/S and - very recently - a valve amplifier. I've always had S/S, from original Quad 303 through (currently) Mark Levinson 331 and (my favourite) Michell/Trichord Alecto II monoblocs. All lovely stuff and I've never felt short-changed in the music department, but I've always been curious about just what difference (if any) a good valve setup could make.

The first valve amp I really listened to was an Octave v80SE, at the dealer from whom I was buying some Martin Logan speakers. Was most impressed but, in a dealer system, hard to tell what was making the difference. But it whetted my appetite – valve-curious, if you like… 

A couple of months ago, having missed out on a great deal on an ARC i50, I got the offer of an Octave v110SE with the add-on SBB capacitor bank, at price which, had I turned it down, I'd have spent the rest of my life kicking myself about.

So, inserting it in place of the Arcam pre and Alecto power amps in my system, and I'm absolutely delighted: there's an inherent musicality, subtlety and depth to the output that was (and remains) immensely appealing. That's not to knock the previous system, but just that the Octave provides an overall more satisfying experience, and I find myself listening to music even more than before, and finding new things to hear in familiar recordings. 

The downside of course is warm-up time - I've been listening for about 40 minutes this morning, and the thing is only just waking up and getting into its groove.

Then there is the cost of replacement valves, but you factor that into the purchase anyway - I'm actually pre-emptively purchasing a new set of KT150s against the time when the in-channel supplies of Russian manufacture dry up altogether.

I'm also discovering the delights of 'tube rolling', which adds yet another geek dimension to a thoroughly OCD hobby… :-)

seems as if you answered your own question and the premise is based on preference.  

like many things- it's complicated.  each amplification method has its set of pros and cons.  to say which is better requires a lot of qualification.  


I built a Pass First Watt F5 and thought it sounded great. Then I built a 6V6 SE amp. Each cost me about $400 to build. The F5 now sits on a shelf disconnected from everything. Solid state sounds like a wet blanket in comparison. I am also a lifelong guitar player and solid state guitar amps sound pretty much like many solid state stereo amps - no harmonics, little dynamic range.  Dull.  Boring.  What Atmasphere says about his class D design is very interesting and I don't doubt him at all.  Looking forward to when something like it can be built by hobbyists like me.  

Tubes are typically inferior on balance if you know how to setup a system well and know what to listen for. 

Was this written in 1995 and just released now? :-)


Tubes are not quantifiably better than SS, in fact, the majority of true reference - class systems run solid state, which has been long optimized to be (subjectively of course) better than tube amps.