Audio Research's GSPre -- Why the Tubes?

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed your review of Audio Research’s GSPre. You raised an issue that has “bugged” me since I acquired an LS27 linestage -- the tubes inside some of ARC’s amps don’t necessarily color the sound. That’s a good thing, IMO, as I want to hear everything in the recording, unblemished.

My question is simply: If the tubes don’t color the sound (and the sound quality is fantastic in my system!), then why have them there? (I’m not an electrical/audio engineer.)

Thanks for reading.


What you’re asking is something I’ve asked myself; however, I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer comes not from second-guessing the design choices of the company, but from listening to the result. I listened to the GSPre and found it to sound fantastic. From what you’re telling me, your LS27 sounds great as well. What’s more, they don’t have the stereotypical tube-type colorations, such as an overly warm sound or rolloffs at the high- and low-frequency extremes. Could they have gotten a similar result with all-solid-state designs? Since Audio Research only makes tubed equipment, we’ll never know. But, as I mentioned, I have given up guessing. In the case of the GSPre, I can only say that, based on how it sounds, the end certainly seems to justify the means. . . . Doug Schneider