Dealer insists I get a tube pre-amp for my Rossini, but I disagree... tight bass anyone?

So my dealer has an obsession with getting me to swap my C53 SolidState preamp out for a C2700 tube pre… I’ve heard both (the prior generation C52 and C2600) side by side and white I liked the vocals and mid’s better with the tube (C2600)… I definitely preferred the musical instruments, but especially the bass (and electric bass most especially) on the Solid State option…

Am I imagining all of this, or is there that much of a difference and does my observation line up with most of you?

Are you likely to want a tube pre if you’re listening to more vocal centric music, and solid state for punchy bass?

PS… both were played thru a solid state amp (MA452)…

Why would you take anyones opinion (or insistence) over your own preferences?

There are some things that tube pre amps might add or subtract that draw some listeners in. I have tried and owned them in the past (including a 2300) but always gravitate back to SS. It is all what you are looking for in the end, not your dealer or your friends.

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I use a tube preamp. I have various SS ones too but since buying the tube ( EAR Yoshino 868) they haven’t had a look in. I am, however, not a rock music fan. I do use solid state power amps, so a classic hybrid setup.

Aside from your speakers and programme material, bass will depend upon the pre-amp, the installed tubes and the cables. Too many variables to make a prediction. However if you want “slam” ( a quality that I find artificial) then you may prefer solid state.

If your dealer is really obsessed with you changing the preamp ask him to loan you the C2700 for 7 days. That will test his commitment to your interests :wink:.

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I concur with all of these observations.

The only type of equipment that I’ve found generalizations to somewhat apply are speakers – i.e. Horns, Boxes, Planars, Open Baffles, low efficiency et al. I’ve been a fan of panel type sound since my first high-end system in the 70’s. Although I’ve listened to far too many speakers to enumerate, after Apogee’s, I’ve ended up with electrostatic’s – Martin Logan upstairs and SoundLab Majestic 845’s in the 2-channel room. I also have an affinity for horns and open baffles. Boxes are fine, but not my cup of tea. It’s all about personal preferences, not someone else’s opinion.

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!

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Well, I made the mistake of hearing the McIntosh C1100 premium tube pre-amp (uses 100% analogue / tube two box architecture)… and I was hooked. Even with the total lack of tone controls, this thing sounded amazing… and that was with a Linn DAC… I can’t wait to get it home and listen to it… especially after ordering the word clock to go with my Rossini.

I first had a preamp without tone controls in 1975 ( Naim 12S). So that is 45 years ago. Since then I have wanted to use tone controls on this total number of occasions:

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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.