Rothwellaudio wrote:Trying to generalise about valve amps (as we call them in the UK) is pretty pointless because there is such a range of them from flee powered single ended jobs to massive 100 watters - and there are so many different topologies and different approaches to getting the signal from one end to the other as well.....
What he says.
Different people want different things from tubes. Some want the "romantic, warm, lush" sound that others might call "slow, rolled off, soft and distorted". I have heard some tube amps diss'ed because the sound was too "unromantic" and "transistory" and some transisor amps praised because they sound "tube like". Tube equipment from Audio Research tends to be preferred by folks who do not like Conrad Johnson and neither sound like McIntosh. Speakers that sound great with high damping factor solid state amps can sound not so hot with lower damping factor tube amps and vice-versa.
Far too many variables to generalize.
I will say that, IMHO, the "toss a tube buffer into an IC-chip circuit" to "warm it up and give it bloom" approach is totally wrong headed. A shot of cayenne does not turn canned stew into Beef Bourguignon. Not saying that hybrid designs can't be valid but you can't make high end out of mid-fi. Tubes make lousy "buffers" for all sorts of pretty basic electrical reasons.