With that said, tubes can sound like solid state and vice versa. Their design, implementation and their downstream components are everything!! They simply must be auditioned with your components and in your room. Preferably, with several other pre-amps of various types and especially from various designers.
Hence, my suggestion is not buy into the tube vs ss – one is better than the other; sounds like this – debate! They aren’t and they don’t, depending on who designs them and the various components in the chain!
To elaborate on my reply and your following specific question:
Are you likely to want a tube pre if you’re listening to more vocal centric music, and solid state for punchy bass?
No and no! In my case and with amplification, rather than pre-amplification, this generalization fails. Whether the generalization applies or fails with your components is something you will just have to test. But generalizations in this hobby are prevalent and oftentimes prevent folks from auditioning and trialing components they should be.
For example, I have SoundLab electrostatic speakers. I’ve owned and auditioned (in my room) several well-known, high-end solid state amps and none have delivered like my tube amplifiers – CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) JL-3’s and now, Atma-sphere MA-1 OTL’s. This is especially the case with bass!! Electrostatic bass once heard is difficult to dismiss by moving to other types of speakers. So, the aforementioned tube amps controlled/drove the SoundLabs in the lower and mid-bass regions quite unlike the aforementioned solid state amps. Generalizations aside, this specific instance counters the solid state bass is better than tube bass conclusion.
Of course electrostatic speakers are unique and CAT and Atma-sphere’s OTL’s also are. My original CAT JL-1 monoblocks had proprietary 55lb transformers and produced an underrated 100-watts/channel. Nevertheless, the CAT’s were specifically designed with the low efficiency 83db MBL 101’s in mind. With that, and my in-room experiences, I found the 100watt number to be an inapplicable generalization. In fact, the low wattage and 190lb weight of each monoblock, kept me from auditioning the CAT’s against my 350watts/channel Mark Levinson amp for far longer than it should have been. This exemplifies my insistence that the designer and design is of more important than whether the design is solid state or tubes.
Hence, in our quest for audio excellence, the “your mileage may vary” statement is a very valid one. Generalizations as inviting and easily used to make decisions as they may be, are oftentimes the opposite. Don’t allow generalizations to help make decisions. Doing so may result in your missing-out on some excellent equipment and in your case, pre-amps.