when i had a pair of c1s i had very enjoyable results with a simaudio i7. if found used it would be easily within your budget.
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I had a Bryston B100sst driving my original C1's (kind of dry sounding but reasonably good). Then came real real close to getting a Naim SuperNait. I finally decided on the Octave V70se (a little above your budge but better control of the sound). Then I upgraded to the C1 Signatures. You don't need the power as you did with the originals when compared to the MKII/Sig. I would recommend the Naim XS2 - the SuperNait2 or an Octave V40se. Pre-owned would be less money. Also with the Naim and Octave you can add an external power supply which helps a little when funds are available.
Thanks a lot for the recommendation so far. Seems as if Mc Intosh and the Naim would be worth trying. The Sam G2 is a fine amp, could hear it with a floorstander, but I am a bit afraid it's sound might be a bit thin for these standmounts. Gamut electronics is difficult to find here in Germany, have not come across any dealer so far.
Xti16: I would be interested to hear a bit more about your experience with the differences between the signature /mkii versions. What are the main differences in sound you noticed?
Fritz There is no difference in sound between the mkII and the Signature. The difference besides price is the Sig's come with a 10 yr warranty (instead of 5yr) and the finish either being high gloss Bordeaux and Mocha.
There is a significant difference between the originals and the MKII/Sig's. That being the MKII/Sig do not have to be turned way up in volume to sound the best