Try a McIntosh MAC1500 receiver. You can find them in the under 1K range for mint examples. 30 wpc. I have one hooked up to a pair of Vandersteen 1C speakers with excellant results in a 22 x 15 room. PLENTY of "tube watts" !!
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Yesterday I had at home for demo a Opera Consonance, KT88 single ended or parallel feed, about $1,000, not the ultimate in tube sound but better than most recievers. Today at home for demo (from Deets Sound Room), I have Audion Sterling EL34 single ended output "integrated amp" (passive input volume control), about $2,000. This thing is better than most solid state amps in pace/musicality, about 9watts/channel?, plenty of power for my 93db sensitive speakers. For a "fuller" more romantic "tube" sound I would suggest 300b single ended output, most prices in neighborhood of $4,000.....lots of stuff out there under $2000, good luck, Mike.
Check out Decware at www.decware.com
You'll be hard pressed to find a nicer sounding amplifier for the kind of money these things cost. you will require efficient speakers, however, as these amps are fairly low powered. They are a very high quality product; Decware winds their own transformers and puts together a very good product. The Decware products are serious high end units.
The MAC1500 receiver has a solid state preamplifier if memory serves along with a tubed amp, similar to the MC225 amp, and a tubed tuner. Any piece of tubed gear this old, unless it has been rebuilt already, is going to need to see a Friendly Tube tech before it is fired up. Rebuilding the things can run into material money if quality parts are used.
I would recommend either the Prima Luna Prologue 1 ($1045) or 2 ($1345). They are purchased directly from Upscale Audio (www. upscaleaudio.com). I own a Prologue Two. You can read my review of the Prologue Two here . It will sound excellent with most small monitors ... I have been very pleased pairing it with the Omega Super 3's, as well as the NHT SB2's.
I hate to disagree but an old tube anything and I own 3 is not the way to start, so ditch the Mac idea. I do own a Consonance M100 plus nice EL34 output tube sound very conventional input, driver and output tubes which are easy to play around with, once you get the hang of "tube rolling" also it has a remote. List is $1600 but you can usually get a very good deal. Drives my 89db sesitive Von Scheickert VR2s with ease. Otherwise If Antique Sound Labs wasn't such a pain to deal with, I would consider them. If you are not sure if tubes are for you (they have special beautiful sound and imagry) Then don't invest a fortune in an expensive brand right of the bat. Tons of fairly decent inexpensive Chinese brands on the market. The Prologue is good looking but I have only seen it written about in the last year or so, my amp has been in production for about 10 years I believe. One word of caution you don't need a ton of "tube" watts- 30 and up is good,just don't expect killer loud music especially bass. Also don't start with a flea powered SET amp, if you had speakers that sensitive you wouldn't be asking this question. And I don't mean speakers like old klipsch which I have in my collection.
The little Dared products aren't a bad place to start .Small enough for a dresser.With a cool factor too them. Just need to stick with a high efficient speakers.
The Eastern Electric equipment is a few steps ahead in build quality and sound. This stuff is made to last for many years and sounds great!
Lots of votes for Prima Luna and nothing but good reviews as far as I can see. I may be giving them a call shortly.
It'll be a weird setup. Probably using a pair of Wilson Watt 3's as speakers and an iPod (with lossless compression) as a front end at first. Not really an audiophile system but it'll beat the heck out of the wave radio that's in the bedroom now.
Anybody done something similar?