Cayin, best sound, best value.
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I've owned both Jolida and Cayin EL34 integrateds and have to agree w/ Buconero117 - the Cayin outclasses the Jolida...but by any measure, the Jolida is no disappointment!!!
Either will give you a good taste of tubes and, should you decide to move on, both are easily sold with little or no loss - assuming you bought used.
I've owned a Jolida 202A, and liked it OK with a pair of B&W 603's...It made a nice bedroom system.
Check out a Rogue Cronus, if you can. I heard one with a pair of Magnepan 1.6, listening to some vinyl. I was very impressed with the combination of warmth and detail it produced - nothing sounded smeared, and it also carried the bottom end much better then my 202A. I also thought the Rogue had a very nice built-in phono section.
I jumped into tubes with a Primaluna PL2 about 2 years ago. I looked around here a lot and googled a ton on Jolida, Cayin, Primaluna, VTL, Manley, CJ, etc, on tubes just to enlighten myself.
I wanted to keep it around $1K and wanted the auto bias so the PL2 was my choice. Love it, it can use a variety of power tubes from KT88 to EL34's so its got flexibility.
Its on all the time and no problems and love the sound.
Ya , what Grinnell said !
I love mine too and have had zero problems . Besides the miriad of power tube options it can use many different input tubes which can vastly change the final outcome . Quite versatile and well made . Plug and play easy !
Be very careful with the Cayins . The one that I had was a real bear to bias ! Definitly not for beginners and a real PITA .
I will add my vote to those for the PrimaLuna - I went with the Dialouge 2 and am very happy with it. I greatly preferred it to the Rogue Cronus, by the way, which is much brighter in comparison. I have not heard the Jolida or the Cayin, though my uncle had a Cayin in his system briefly and was not particularly impressed.
I use a pair of Prima Luna mono power amps and can attest - good sound, versatile (tube-rolling), easy to use (auto-bias), nice build quality. Another option at similar $ is a used Pathos Classic One hybrid. This unit has a ss ouput stage which might be either a + or a - depending on your preference. A great looking and sounding piece, though.
To these ears, the best sounding entry level tube integrated is hands down, the Vista Audio i34. There isn't much that affordable thing doesn't do well, and best of all, the tubes are cheap and the unit is self-biasing. It's probably the only sub 2k piece that I've ran that wasn't quickly put in its place by my 6k+ integrated amps.
That said, the Prima Luna suggestion is also very solid. Though I feel their sound quality falls well below the aforementioned Vista Audio piece, they nonetheless offer solid and reliable performance. The tubes are easy to replace and that self biasing circuit makes for very worry-free ownership. The best thing Prima Luna has going for it is a wide distribution network, which makes it easy to audition one before forking over the green.
Between these two options, I think you'll be happy. Both will match your EPOS monitors just fine.