Going Tubing


I would like to introduce some tubes into my two channel set up.

I currently have a solid-state preamp and a solid-state power amp. (And a separate, hybrid tube phono stage.)

I am wondering, conceptually, staying with separates, if it would be better to switch the preamp to a tube preamp, or if it’s better to change the power ramp to a tube power amp. With “better” in this case I mean would have bigger impact on, for a lack of a better description, “tube sound.”

(I realize there are other considerations, such as having enough power to drive my speakers, but here I’m talking about conceptually, which part of these two audio chain components would have the most impact on the sound if switching one of them from ss to tube.)


@bimmerlover Wrote:

I would say my tube preamp budget is $2000 (+/-), and I don’t mind a used one if it’s in great shape and good value.

Suggestions for which preamp with nice price/performance and feeling the ss power amp would be much appreciated, given the above aspects I need to consider.


Schiit Freya+ Preamp $1049, nice price/performance ratio!


Balanced Audio Technology VK-30SE For Sale - US Audio Mart

I have been using BAT gear for quite a few years and can honestly say that it is some of the best I have ever owned (I have had several great component systems over my years).  The link above takes you to US Audio Mart and directly to a very nice BAT tube preamp that fits in your budget and will deliver everything you are seeking.  I hope this helps in your quest.  Best to you. 

OP, about 30 years ago when I started my trek down the road to 'better end' audio, my intent was to combine HT with 2 channel stereo.  Therefore I went with a ss digital HT pre in front of (for the left & right front speakers) Cary's entry level two channel amp.  That probably wasn't the best way to go about things.  Later down the road I swapped out the Little Cary for a pair of ARC VTM 120s (tube mono blocks) for a bigger sound, but still I wasn't getting what I wanted.  A year or two later I picked up a second hand Cary SLP 90 (tubed pre) and swapped out the HT pre, and that is when my system started to really sing.  Two or three years ago I swapped out the SLP 90 with a SLP 05, and that turned out to be one of the biggest sonic improvements I ever made.

All that was to say that I am also in the camp that, if I was only going to go with one or the other, I would start with a tube pre in front of a ss amp.

Have fun!