tube amp vs solid state amp
which is better for movies and mainstream music i do not listen to classical or jazz
looking for an amp in price range of about $120.00
You might be better off to match the amplifier with the headphones, then matching the amplifier to the music.
I would think it's better to get a solid state amplifier, if your more a "beginner" with amplifiers.
What sources will you be trying to plug the amplifier into?
What headphones are you using?
The Schiit Vali amp is $120 so its right at the top of your price range - I'd call it a no-nonsense starter tube amp that sounds awesome. I just got mine but I'm very happy w/ it so far - it's my first tube amp, already had a solid-state but I use it w/ speakers primarily. I paired my Vali with the Dragonfly DAC and it's f'ing killer!
The entire headphone industry is a niche product.
Chances are, when you work up to something really high quality, the cost is pretty much equivalent SS vs tubes. You pay for iron and glass with tube amps, but then for really stellar SS amps you pay for plastic and aluminum (heat sinks).
As mentioned before its better to match what headphone you are using to the amp. And ask these questions.
Do you want the amp to colour your headphones or want them transparent?
What is the source of your input? (There is no point of getting a expensive amp if your DAC or Audio card is crap or If the File quality i.e 128 MP3 Files etc is crap)
In the end its all personal preference and how much you would like to spend. Tube amps do make the sound very warm (in a great way) and have certain sparkle to them but that being said you would want to spend a bit more for quality ones when going tube. If you need amp just to boost the volume because your phones are power hungry I would recommend SS amp. a O2 is pretty good for being neutral so your not adding much colour.
Audio market is a niche market and is very subjective. Even when it comes to electric guitar components. I remember I had a phase when I was changing potentiometers and capacitors of the Les Paul to high grade boutique components and Vintage NOS components to get the pure tone I wanted. Some people are fanatics like that and want the best quality things expensive components when the audible differences are minimal and the prices are high due to rarity. Just a thought I like to share and good to keep in mind when shopping around for things. =)
Sooo Biggest tip would be to listen to them at a local store. If you can't order them online from somewhere with good return policy and try them out. See what you like better. Hope this helps.