Why do you use a tube amp instead of a ss?

as above, any input would be greatly appreciated, i know its a very open ended question, i guess im waiting for someone to turn me over, looking at what i can experience with these type of amps relative to ss amps. thanks

They look cool and make it sound a bit different. That’s all there really is to it. :stuck_out_tongue: It can take some headphones, like the HD 600, and make them sound a bit more appealing. They are just fun toys to own and a nice way to add variety to your listening experience when you get bored of your solid-state amp.

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I want to say there are typically two main camps: transparent/analytical vs. euphonic. Both are subjective and whatever makes you feel good. For example, I have listened to both and prefer the tube side, but that’s up to you to find out as well.
I will tell you that tubes will lead to a deep rabbit hole though.

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I believe that what they do technically is delay the decay of notes slightly longer than a ss amp would. So, with the right headphone paired with the right tubes off of a good amp, you can get a larger sense of spaciousness and possibly a wider soundstage than you would get off of a ss amp. But, like Veritas said above, you can spend a lot of money on the tubes trying to find that perfect combo for your ears.

I prefer to run off of tubes whenever I can, and it really did start out for me mainly liking the way they looked. Expensive tube amps can run most, if not all headphones including planars and iems, but cheaper tube amps sound best with dynamic driver headphones like Sennheisers and ZMF’s line

I was probably going to get a dark voice 336se at some point, but the uncertainty of tube rolling keeps me from investing into it sooner. That and I don’t really want a rabbit hole to go down. I just want to get something and be happy with it, and with tube amps it seem like it takes a long time to get to that point.


Drop always has the Dark Voice and varying Little Dot tube amps. They seem to be a good starting point

I dont know what it is but when i heard my music through a tube i was blown away. i thought “this, right here, this is it” it made my music sound right, more rich. but im coming from listening to my music through vinyl and tapes when i was a kid. so maybe tubes duplicated how that sounded.

Analytical is awesome though. i love hearing that detail, but it does change what i’d been hearing since i was a kid. I remember i put Duran’s 1st album on and what sounded like stylish sublime synths came out sounding more raw and primitive tech lol.

but what did the artist hear? what did they intend? they must have known how their music would sound coming out of a vinyl record from the cheap stereo’s of the masses.

Maybe in this time of digital audio and streaming music off the internet tubes are the only way of getting that sound we had as kids in the 80’s and before.

you dont have to tube roll lol. i got this sound out of a relatively cheap tube.


I almost feel like it’s a subliminal trick your mind is playing on you, but it’s not, there really is a sort of lushness, velvety, smooth character that tubes can add to music that i find extremely pleasing to listen to for hours. Tube rolling can be frustrating, especially if you play w/the bad boys that cost allot of money by some folks standards. ( some combinations just don’t work or sound the way you may like or produce nasty/annoying sounds or have other issues)

On a side note, i have recently discovered the beauty of genuine class A power amp sound. By dumb luck and a peculiar set of circumstances i became the proud owner of a Sugden, FP-4, 2 channel power amplifier, that has the characteristics of both solid state (SS) and tube amplification. It’s a trip, no tube rolling and it sounds friggin awesome powering half my headphones. (Some sound stupendous some sound meh at best being pushed by it), it’s a NON-conventional approach, powering headphones, via a speaker amp, but damned if the proof is NOT in your face slapping you silly! I really enjoy my SS products and sound, yet i find myself constantly tinkering w/ the equipment and slightly modifying the sound signature by varying what pieces i integrate and how daily. It’s all a learning experience till i settle down, get the initial excitement out of the way and figure out where my own preferences lie for the bulk of my listening pleasure. Not every genre of music takes well to being colored by your equipment and hitting the right for you mixture can take both time and money to get just right. What ever, you decide, the point is to have fun, and ultimately enjoy the music!

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wow that retails for 3500$ youre lucky. you use the balanced inputs for your headphones?

Not using the XLR inputs On the amp at all, using the Hifiman speaker tap to headphone conversion box to feed headphones. So far, fingers crossed, NO negative incidents w/ any headphones. It’s also my primary/go to amp for pushing 2 out of my 3 desktop speakers.

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This is why we/I use the term “Rabbit hole” to caution folks before they take the plunge into anything beyond solid state, or at least my own thought process on the subject. Once you get a taste for flavoring your music, even w/ a $50 hybrid, and you experience the slight differences in sound it starts your mind wandering on the possibilities. My wallet hates me, i was just rinsing out and washing zip-lock freezer bags to re-use them in order to save nickels so i can spend them elsewhere :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I was going to use the Shiit Aegir but it wasn’t right for the speakers i have. For headphone use though I think it might be perfectand the cost is allot more palatable…I don’t know, if i ever get a chance to get one i will absolutely try it to quench my curiosity.

Yeah the first tube amp I decided to own was the ha300 lol

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mine was a bravo v3 rofl

So I had been in the market for awhile and heard all these high and lower end tube amps and just held off. This was an informed planned purchase lol. It’s not like that was the 1st tube amp I had heard or considered lol

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Has anyone listened to the Woo WA3 or WA6?

Yes, I really liked the wa6 2nd gen, it was a pretty nice amp. Also stock tubes were pretty good. The wa3 was alright imo, but I didn’t get a lot of time with it

In my case, it’s always about variety. I have been reading about them for years and they look cool. The more research I did though I kept coming up against the statement that if your headphones are under 100 Ohm (read very efficient), you won’t see any benefit from an OTL tube amp. So, I tried out a hybrid amp called the Loxjie P20. It sucked. I then I bought a set of Russion tubes for it, but it was still meh.

I then started reading about the Lyr 3 (another hybrid amp) and I started to get very interested. But it is pretty expensive, landed in Canada. I talked to the tube guys on The Lyr 3 thread on Head-Fi about whether the P20 is what to expect or would the Lyr 3 be a whole new sound. They said whole new world, but that if I was unsure, to pick up a used Vali 2. And I did. Night and day difference from the P20 and I even got some extra tubes. Also, it has several hundred hours on it and I am at least the third owner.
I really enjoy the sound, but it sounds very close to SS. I assume this can be adjusted with tubes which I will. And I likely will buy a Lyr 3 next year.

In my case it was an awesome pick up, but I do like variety and have several different types of amps.

I would LOVE to hear a real OTL amp with a proper pair of headphones some day. Maybe if I get bored in two or three years I might go nuts on an OTL amp and a hard to drive set of headphones.:slightly_smiling_face:

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If you’re at all competent with a soldering iron, I have heard the bottlehead crack is freaking awesome and won’t break the bank. You have to put it together yourself, and that’s fun for a lot of people but I’m not one of them:

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Wow, very nice Nick. When I listened once a class A power amp I thought the same. Are you using the Falcon ls3/5a? Must be a good match for desktop setup…

I want tubes because I’m curious. :stuck_out_tongue:

There’s always this debate about analog vs digital too, or, continuous signal vs quantitative. Tubes are a cheap way to… :face_with_raised_eyebrow: analog your digital stuff. :no_mouth:

I expect this to be the exact opposite of planars. Where planars, or just balanced IEMs, are just full-on in-your-face, fast, analytical, mathematical precision, and can make the source material sound… artificially stressful even, tubes just get rid of all the equations and smoothes everything out using… heat? So, there’s the possibility of making the source material sound way more calm than intended, too (but also, making the first half of the 1900s, before the invention of transistors, sound natural, “as intended”, again).

That’s what I want from my future Little Dot MK2 anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

(Edit: Yeah, off-topic but I don’t think planars or balanced stuff can make music sound either “natural” or “as intended”. Obviously, mastering is verified using tons of… good old speakers. So if your main goal is fidelity, there’s that… and no I haven’t tried stax yet).