I don't think it's easier to design discrete stuff compared to IC-based ones. Anyone can design for example a IC-based gain stage with a gain of 10,
try to do that using 2 or 3 transistors/FETs and try to get even close to the IC version when it comes to distortion. That require a lot of knowledge.
The "Warm Sound" in discrete/Tube stuff is mostly added distortion (harmonics) and this distortion is removed in IC-designs due to how OPs works internally.
All discrete/tube designs add distortion, then depending on the design you can control how much and what type it is.
Also many high quality discrete designs works in Class-A and have high quality/high voltage PSU's, something that ICs don't.
It's much easier to create something using IC's, and as bossa_nolyx write, by using good quality components, a good core design, PSU/filtering and PCB design
you can get fantastic results using ICs,even better than most modern commercial club-mixers.
Last edited by Pern : 12-07-2012 at 08:39 AM.