“Our dying planet will be saved by tubes and some hi-fi nuts,” reads a blurb in an advertisement for the L.A.-area stereo emporium Upscale Audio. The store’s owner, Kevin Deal, has been dubbed the “Tube Guru,” and he’s recognized as one of the industry’s most ardent proselytizers for the renaissance of tube-audio gear.
“In a time when people are worn out by electronic sterility and separation, by e-mail, faxes, cell phones and software problems, I’ve found that the ‘golden glow’ is one of the best ways to get a groove on,” says Deal, who sometimes appears as an ersatz Elvis in his ads. “The humanity of listening to Ellington, Gillespie or Basie through tubes and getting that feeling is indescribable. That’s why most any guitar player or recording studio still uses tubes. Truth is, they never stopped using tubes!”