(p. D11) . . . , just as nothing quite matches the ambience created by an incandescent bulb dimmed low, nothing quite sounds like a good tube amp. Audiophiles will argue about whether a solid-state or tube amp is superior. However, it’s best to think of tubes as an aesthetic choice–akin to applying a vintage filter to a pristine snapshot.
Tubes are well suited for musical passages that can sound grating over modern equipment–for example, a classical violinist digging into her instrument during a dramatic passage. Although its overall sound may not be as crisp, a good tube amp will take that shrill edge off.
More and more music lovers are downsizing their sound systems these days, and some tube-amp makers are following suit. Miniature models, like the ones shown here, use a combination of tubes and solid-state technology to minimize bulk. A few are also surprisingly affordable and versatile. You can hook them up to pretty much any audio source, like a smartphone, computer or CD player. Then just add a pair of headphones or speakers.
For the full story, see:
MICHAEL HSU. “Groove Tube.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Oct. 24, 2015): D11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the article was dated Oct. 21, 2015, and has the title “The Miracle of a $150 (or Less) Tube Amplifier.”)