I generally prefer good solid state to tubes. Being a typical audiophile, I keep examples of both. Most tube amps sound too warm to me. Solid state no longer resembles the bronze age designs of the 60-70's.
That said, I believe the best amps period are the tube kits of Transcendent Sound. They are OTL designs that are head and shoulders above the better known brands.
My two favorite line stages sound almost alike, and one is tube, the other solid state. The differences are more bass for the ss and more gain from the tube unit. They are both remarkably silent. My top phono choice is a tube unit, but I haven't tried any ss units priced over $200.
When you really think about it, good equipment should sound very similar. Tonal differences are coloration, and therefore mistakes.
gofar99 Messages: 1711 Registered: May 2010 Location: Southern Arizona
Illuminati (4th Degree)
Hi, This is an endless topic. I admit to being a tube person, after all I design and my company sells them. I do however own SS amps as well (three vintage ones by Marantz and a few new things from other companies). Both kinds do the job...feed speakers with sound. They do sound different. Saying which is better is a matter of criteria. Is one type more accurate than the other, does one render music in a more enjoyable manner than the other and so on. Fortunately there is room for both types. Which one you choose depends on your budget, needs and sound preferences.
Rusty Messages: 754 Registered: May 2018 Location: Kansas City Missouri
Illuminati (2nd Degree)
I agree with Steve F. The Transcendent Sound amps are one of the most unique sounding amps available. And very reliable. I've used the original T-16 mono's and grounded grid preamp for close to 20 years now with no problems. Also my old Hafler 220 amp I soldered up in the mid 80's is still going strong, and fine sounding too.
I agree that Transcendent Sound makes good amps. So does Raven Audio, OddWatt Audio and Audio Note. Those are my personal favorites.
I like Solid State amps too, as long as they are powerful enough they are not driven into clipping. I think one has to be choosier when purchasing tube amps, because there is more variation in quality. You can get great tube amps, average-quality tube amps and really terrible tube amps. Seems like with solid state, there's either good or there's bad.