MonkeyBoy wrote:It isn't the first time I have read about someone having a low watt tube amp show a higher watt SS amp how to handle clipping. I'm thinking about building one for myself.
Conventional tube amps clip softly - and the Bogen the OP mentions is about as conventional as it gets. As they use output transformers, they cannot pass DC directly to the speakers.
I can't help but wonder how much headroom the SS amps you are comparing it to had. I do know the SS amp I have now has very natural sounding bass, but then, it is an amp that I tested against others before buying and it has loads of headroom.
And that is the key to the difference between similarly rated tube & SS amps. A 20 wpc tube amp will sound very much better than a similar SS amp (or even a 40-watt SS amp) if driven to the margins - and at a much lower risk to the speakers. Pick a similar-vintage SS amp such as the Dynaco ST-120 or ST-80. Driven to clipping, they will pass DC to the speakers. Ouch!!
I may just start with a tube phono pre as I upgrade my analog section.
With respect, a tube phono-pre/head amp is perhaps the least effective place to start with tubes. Start with a power-amp first. Really. Yes, the venerable Dynaco PAS-3 has a very nice tube phono-stage consisting of one (1) 12AX7 (dual-triode) per channel. But whatever you achieve at that stage (other than distortion artifacts) will be more-or-less erased further down the line. Start with the amp. If you like the effect, move on to a tuner. If you like that effect, move on to a pre-amp with an included phono stage - and you could do a great deal worse than the PAS previously mentioned.
It is my considered opinion that every serious audio enthusiast - especially those dabbling in tubes - should own a Dynaco ST-70. They are well-supported in the after-market, every part and piece in them is readily available and all sorts of upgrades (real and imagined) are available. Their FM-3 enjoys a similar condition as a tuner, and the PAS ain't half-bad either.
Melrose Park, PA