If you are up to used stuff check out the Sonic Frontiers SFS40. High quality parts and construction. It sounds pretty good, its easy to retube and bias yourself, and its usually up for sale in the 600 to 700 area.
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I wouldn't say tube amp are high maintenance. I do own 4 tube amps and they never had any problem or require any re-tubing in the past 4 years.
Depends on how much power you're looking to get and how much bass you want and which output tube you want to use.
I personally prefer at least 30~35 Watts/ch for 87db to 84db.
I also prefer vintage amps like the MAC MC240, Lafayette KT550, Harmon Kardon Citation II, Heathkit W5M.. there are too many choices.
My wife's system has the Luxman 491 integrated hybrid which is not the ultimate in definition, but sounds very nice and holds its own with power solidly at 90wpc. We changed the stock tubes to RCAs and hardwired an LAT International PC and it sounds real nice.
Hawthorne Stereo in Seattle has a nice demo for $499 which may be negotiable. Good luck.
I'll second Newbee's suggestion of the Sonic Frontiers SFS-40. I ran some fairly inefficient speakers (86db) with one in a small room with great results. The best part of this amp to a beginner (or a veteran) is the flexibility of tubes it can run - kt88, kt90, kt99, 6550 or el34 in the output stage and in the input and driver stages - 6922 or 7308. And those are just from memory, I bet there are even more options. Great for tube rolling and finding out which valves suit your tastes.
I wet my feet with Jolida and some Dynaudio. I realized that tubes was the way I wanted to go.
My next step was Rouge Audio. Great amps, great company. You have to spend a lot more to get a lot better. My next step will be Joule-Electra when I save up my pennies.
BTW, do get the Magnum version if you do get Rouges, it does make a big difference.
If you can stretch a little, $900-$1500 or so you could get an Aronov LS960 used. It sells for around $3,000 new. I have owned or auditioned many tube amps and this is the best I have heard. Absolutely outstanding, is self biasing and you can use eithet 6550C's KT88's or KT90's. Typicaly 6550C's will last up to 10 years before they need replacement. Like a Jadis with base.