Re: Tubes anyone?
I was a big fan of solid state going back to the late 60's early 70's. I was in high school at the time, so couldn't afford anything much. When I was able to purchase equipment (after having Pioneer and ADC receivers w/large Advent speakers), I bought a Phase Linear 400 and a SAE 9b pre amp. All solid state. It sounded great since I had nothing to compare it to except other people's consoles.
Then, something happened to me around 1990. I got introduced to The Absolute Sound magazine. I started reading, Met a friend who had Bryston and Maggies. A departure from what I had (upgraded the amp to Carver 1.5t and speakers to DCM TimeWindows). I read and read. While there were no measurements listed like in Stereo Review and High Fidelity, they wrote about the sound and music. I still subscribed to Audio, which to me, was the my mag of choice. Honest sound reviews along with the measurements.
I started listening to some tube gear. My first tube preamp was a Counterpoint SA3, which to me sounded better than the Audio Reseach SP8. I had that pre amp for close to 20 years. Now, I use a Marsh Sound Lab P2000T tube/hybrid pre amp. I used it for a while with my Counterpoint SA220 tube/hybrid power amp until I went "grasp" solid state with Parasound's HCA2200mkII. The system, to me, sounds wonderful.
I have heard a solid state pre amps. They sound very good, but in my price range, the tube ones just sounded better to me.