I don't think that's an issue generally - my 337 reveals detail as well as SS amps do, and so I think it would not be different in that respect. What you need to minimize surface noise is clean records
The aim of all amps is to 'amplify' not to disguise/modify the input signal. Most decent amps will not add anything to the signal (i.e. hiss or humm) or any unwanted distortions. You'll find changing your headphones will have a much larger effect on the sound than switching amps.
Since specific amps are being inquired about, I admit I know of one of the best. The Grommes PHI-26 is a Preamp-Headphone-Integrated amp of about two watts triode and six watts pentode. Roll in 6P14P-EV power tubes (ten dollars each from the right source) and it is the best amp I have ever heard, period. It has plenty of power. It makes it difficult to put the volume past nine o'clock when driving Stax SR-X Mk3s through an adapter, in triode mode.
It was voiced for Grados but works with any dynamic headphone. Designed by Alan Kimmel, it is $995 US. A bargain that sounds like $10,000. The rub is that it usually takes six months to get one built. It is worth it. Highly, highly recommended. Everyone who I auditioned it to has bought one.
There are pre out jacks. The preamp section has 30dB of gain, and no audible distortion. The power amp stage - there are only two gain stages - does not have to do much and sounds just as good. Turning the volume control all the way up with no input signal results in no noise at all, dead silence. Alan is a genius.
I have two, having bagged the only used one I ever saw. There are probably less than thirty in existence, but they have thirteen dealers.
Originally Posted by niemion /img/forum/go_quote.gif I've read that the PHI-26 should be able to drive ordinary speakers, is that true?
It has the strange ability to drive almost anything. I use 97dB/watt/meter single driver augmented Hammer Dynamics Super 12s and the nine o'clock position in triode is comfortably loud. The 18" woofers in my big JBL four ways were a little loose with the PHI, but that is a pretty demanding setup. I settled for a biamp setup that let a bigger tube amp cover the woofer and everything sounded great. I would say any reasonably efficient speaker would be OK. The transformers are very special and Alan says any tube that will fit is OK.
There was a legendary encounter where it was demonstrated able to drive a pair of Martin Logans better than anything else in a high end shop!
I understand that the old Welbourne kits Alan designed are going for twice the original price, built and used. He designs for Modwright now, but I can't afford their products.