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Esoterica

To Tube or Not to Tube (phono stage)

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Posted (edited)

Hey guys,

 

I’m in the market for a phono preamp and one I’m keen on is the Pro-Ject phono box DS or Tube DS.

 

The question is, is it a bad idea to use a Tube phono stage with a hybrid tube amp? I imagine it could “complicate” the sound, or perhaps be unnecessary?

 

The non-Tube version of the preamp is around $500 less (new) so if I’m not going to gain much by going for the Tube version, I’ll get the aforementioned. It’s a bummer that I didn’t see the tube version advertised in the classifieds before it sold.

Edited by Esoterica
Damned spell check

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It opens up another whole unit for tube rolling that's for sure, which could 'complicate' things, or let you fine tune it more.

 

I had Project Tube DS2.

 

Come the time I'll be looking for a non tube 2 input ProJect with much adjustability without the tubes. I do like them but trying to keep it simpler.

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For me it boils down to this.  If the tubes are just output buffers, they will make minimal difference to the sound.

 

One review I read, said the Tube DS uses a pair of 12AX7 tubes as output buffers.    Two things wrong with this.  As above, it won't make much difference, and also a 12AX7 is not the best choice as an output cathode follwer (buffer).  

 

So for me, not worth the extra money.   Find  tube preamp that uses tubes in the active gain stages, or by the cheaper unit.

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Yes the ProJect tubes are on the output.

 

When I had them I could definitely hear changes. Everything from vintage to top of current production.

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Thanks muchly folks! My amp (currently) runs two electro-harmonix 6922 valves and apparently isn’t as “tubey” as some, since tube-rolling doesn’t achieve much difference because part of the sound signature comes from the output stage. This is only based on one anecdote though.

 

That leads me to think that maybe a tube phono stage may be more beneficial, but not crucial to me.

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Like I said before, there was a tube DS that sold recently on the classifieds for a bit more than a new, non-tube version, but they don’t come up for sale often and I’m not going to pay over a grand for a new one, so I might just get the non-tube version, and I’ve found the attractive silver and walnut one for a very good price.

 

As an aside, what’s the difference between a basic preamp like what I’m currently using (Behringer $40 job) and something like the models we’ve been discussing? I’m guessing the aforementioned is much simpler and it has no bells and whistles like gain, impedance etc. 

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