Making my first venture into tube-based sound, and have had my new BHK Signature preamplifier and 250 amplifier up-and-running for about a week.
Sonically, the pair are a noticeable upgrade from my previous Rotel separates. Strings, woodwinds and brass sound more natural and less abrasive—especially noticeable when the orchestra leans into a performance. Bass is firmer and more detailed at lower volumes; tympani, cello, and double bass really come alive on a quality recording.
So my question is not about solid state v. tube sound… but about what to expect in terms of tube ‘quirks’.
Either the BHK preamplifier or the amplifier (not within the signal) will periodically emit a random click (a bit like the old-fashioned thermostat turning-on). At least I perceive it as random: it may happen once every 10–15 minutes, or more—or even less—frequently. But it usually happens at least once during a listening session. And it doesn’t necessarily occur more frequently early in the session when one might expect increasing temperatures to be the culprit. It’s just loud enough that it will distract a bit from the experience. As it’s random I’ve yet to ‘catch’ the click when I am close-enough to determine which is the source. Is this just a ‘feature’ of tubes? Is additional ‘burn-in’ likely to alleviate this?
The solid state Rotel separates are virtually silent until jacking the volume up to a level that would be uncomfortable for listening. By comparison, the BHK combination emits a bit more white noise through the speakers (even with no source signal input or on an empty input selection).
[I did take PS Audio’s advice and connect the preamp and amp via Audioquest Water XLR cables. Both are powered via a PowerPlant P15 with Audioquest Monsoon AC cables. That should insulate the system from external noise.]
The white noise is nothing excessive—just a bit more noticeable. Seated across the room it’s unnoticeable—but at a few feet I can hear it. Is it just that tube pre / amps are a bit noisier than their all-solid state siblings?
Not quite certain what to expect when it comes to tube-based systems—and whether or not these are typical or atypical issues / experiences.
Thanks in advance for the help!