Tube Sound - Do recordings with tubes transfer to playing with solid state? Sound the same?

First, I love tubes… they make music… I ain’t going back. I have read, and suspect, that tubes produce “pleasant” distortion. Whatever…


  • If a recording was made with tube equipment and played on solid state, would it sound the same (i.e., tube goodness would pass through) as if it was made on solid state and played with tube equipment?

  • Are you aware of any such experiments? Seems pretty easy to test, no?

Bruce in Philly

A fun question.

I, too, like tubes.

The two recordings will sound very different. What people like about analog recordings is the natural compression of tape and the warmth of tape saturation. Couple this with tube mic preamps and other tube equipment in the chain, one can achieve wonderful sensual sound, such as the justly revered 1951-1967 Mercury living Presence recordings engineered by Robert and Wilma Cozart Fine. One will not obtain this sound by recording in solid state and playing back on tube equipment, even if the tube gear is highly colored.