khaine1711's very reasonable defense of tube gear (Click to show)
Originally Posted by khaine1711
Despite my undying love to tube, I'm not a fan of the hazy syrupy sound that people usually consider "distortion".
Also don't buy in tube distortion,unless people think they can distinguish distortion under 1% THD then I got nothing to say. Good tube designs are more linear than SS - just the bad ones that gives them a bad reputation.
About the 1000 mark, I'm just playing with your limit. I don't think it's possible to buy a (new) well-design tube amp using quality parts for just 1000 - even if I can, I sure as hell won't put $999 tubes on it
The Z-stage is a buffer, whether tube or ss it may still impart its own sound into the chain. If you want to try moar tube buffer, I could point you to a very good one and .... wait for it .... battery powered.
I must confess that my experience with tube gear is very limited - to just the Decware ZSTAGE and the Schiit Lyr (hybrid), both of which destroy resolution, with every tube I tried, sufficiently to be detected even with my not so highly resolving LCD-2 rev.1. The Lyr was much worse in this regard than the Decware ZSTAGE, which Steve Deckert himself has described as "almost too transparent" - referring to the ZSTAGE components other than the tubes one might roll - but whether one chooses to call it distortion or not, harmonics or not, with both the the ZSTAGE and the Lyr, resolution suffers - I can hear the difference - some tubes worse than others - but say goodbye to some measure of transparency with either of these products.
The DACmini CX > MG3 > SM45 (monitors) I'm using are revealing not just the destructive nature of the ZSTAGE, but also, in the absence of the ZSTAGE, a lot of recordings that are "acceptable" with less-resolving gear, but not so with this combo.
Given that my experience with tube gear is extremely limited and that I've read reviews by Chris Martens, for example, of the likes of the Apex Peak/Volcano, which he describes as being "highly resolving," I don't doubt that there exists some tube gear that outperforms the gear with which I've spent time. Absolutely. But I'm not willing to pay the price of "good" tube gear, nor any further fuss with rolling tubes in an attempt to fix what can't be fixed in lesser tube gear.
Additional insight into my goals...
I find the MG3 > SM45 to be so revealing that I'm finding fault with my DACmini CX now. For quite some time, I have on ocaision written about the DACmini CX having a very slight etch in the treble and have even argued that this creates an artificial "texture" that serves the less than perfectly resolving LCD-2 quite well - somewhat like "sharpening" an image in Photoshop can produce the appearance of greater resolution when, in reality, no additional subject detail has been introduced. Sharpening adds acuity (edge sharpness) without actually increasing resolution (genuine subject detail).
Before selling my Beyerdynamic T1, I had discovered this slight etch in the DACmini CX, and found it to be grossly incompatible with the T1, but I continue to find the DACmini CX to be a very good match to the LCD-2 rev.1.
Now I'm on the hunt for a portable DAC that's worthy of the MG3, as my Sony PCM-M10 (recorder/player)'s Line Out is a little bit grainy and somewhat bright, too. I've stared by ordering a refurbished HM-801 (with PCM1794UK) that should be here on Wednesday (with 30-day return and two-year warranty).