SS vs Tube Phono SUT/Output Stage

I have a few tube preamp/phono SUT's that sound very different from each other.....


Allnic H1201 Phono Stage

Pro-ject Tube S2

Paragon System E (MI/MM only)


SS is Luxman C02 which has MM and two MC settings


I have tried the Paragon with both phono stages along with the Luxman with both phono stages as an input as well as dedicated to the Luxman phono stages. 


The best was the Paragon System E with a Audio Technica VM540 followed very closely by the Luxman/Allnic/Goldring Élite combination. I listened to over 20 LP's of various genres from 80's hair metal and techno to modern recordings from this century. 

The Luxman C02 with it's phono stage got killed by the Allnic H1201 on the Luxman line input. Slaughter house high. I firmly believe that a great SS preamp with a quality tube phono preamp is the way I need to go long term. 

I say this because I also have a Krell preamp as well as an SPL Elector. These two preamps have absolute quietness and lack of color to the sound. The Luxman does not. When I add the two phono preamp's to these preamps the total effect is not all that much but things sure do change with the Luxman C02. 


My question is if I enjoy a tube phono preamp with SS main preamp and the more "neutral" preamps on the market don't fit the bill has anyone found a SS preamp that just melts into the background with a tube SUT like an old Luxman can?


Pass Labs. Solid state, but Nelson uses MOSFETs which sound close to tubes without being too “warm” or “rolled off”. 

which sound close to tubes without being too “warm” or “rolled off”. 

@mikhailark Tubes, especially in a phono section, won't be 'rolled off'. The reason they seem to have less high frequency energy isn't due to a frequency response issue, its due to how solid state makes distortion (which is to say, low level higher ordered harmonics that are not masked) by comparison.

(For example our phono section is all-tube and has bandwidth past 100KHz)

The ear uses higher ordered harmonics to sense sound pressure so its keenly sensitive to their presence (since the ear has over a 120dB range)! Tubes tend to make more of a 2nd or 3rd harmonic (which the ear regards as innocuous) which can mask higher orders. This causes tubes to sound smoother and more relaxed.

I'm just mentioning this so you won't be fooled. When you hear cymbals and the like on a good tube phono section, you'll realize they aren't rolled off at all.


Agreed. There is fair amount of properly designed tube gear, such as yours or BAT, for example. But also a lot of tube gear deliberately designed with specific “tube sound” intent. Nothing wrong with that. If someone is longing for sound from yesteryear, all power to them. I own Pass, BAT and Accuphase and starting on Audio Note DIY kit…