I never have understood the interest some have in very early 20th century technology. Sure it works, but it certainly isn’t better than current solid state technology. Other than being nostalgic I just don’t see any benefit to tube technology.
Bud, surely you knew this comment would be somewhat provocative. I used to own Magico/Pass like you do. It was great sounding and I really enjoyed it. I kept evolving the system with upgrades in electronics and speakers and I always got "more" - more detail, blacker backgrounds, tighter more precise imaging, and what I thought was increased dynamics and realism. I would break the sound apart and appreciate the fragments. Then I started a series of experiments, ultimately ditching my audiophile accessories: acoustic treatments of panels and TubeTraps, audiophile power cords and cables, pneumatic isolation, and current conventional speaker set up.
Some of the sonic attributes I so cherished were systematically replaced by a more holistic and natural sound. I started hearing the music more than just the sound. When I realized I had taken the set up and removal of accessories as far as I thought I could, I heard some vintage SET/horn systems. That is when I realized where audio could really go. I had had no idea.
I replaced all of my Pass gear with Lamm gear and tried the SS Lamm M1.1 100 watt Class A amp because my Magicos were so hard to drive. The sound was completely different, tubes plus SS in general, but Lamm in particular. The system became dynamic and alive like never before in my room. I then tried the Lamm ML2 18 watt SET amp on my Magicos. It certainly did not have the power to drive those speakers, but I heard a type of magic in that sound that I knew I had to change speakers for a pair more appropriate for that specific SET amplifier. Vintage 105dB, 16 ohm corner horns were the answer.
You may denigrate the sound as early 20th century and appealing to our sense of nostalgia, but I was not around during that period, or certainly not paying attention. I had no earlier sound to revive and re experience. I simply knew that this combination suddenly brought me closer to what I hear with live music.
I have no historical perspective to know if there was a SET revolution in the 90s and whether or not it was successful. It does not really matter to me. What matters to me is that I found Lamm SET amplifiers and speakers that work with them. I have learned that the benefit to tube technology is that in certain cases, some people think it sounds more natural. It is really as simple as that for me.
Ironically, a good buddy of mine loves tubes and had a lot of tube gear for years as well as SS. Just as I was switching to tubes from SS, he recently switched back to SS full time and loves his system. He has Magico speakers and his system sounds excellent too. It is just a different sound and presentation.