Best tube amp $2000-2500?

I am thinking tubes for my next purchase. Probably leaning toward Coincident as my next speaker, and if so, definitely will go with tubes.

What tube amps are good choices at this price range (used on A'gon)? I am looking for something with body, but not overly "tubey". Probably more along the lines of a KT88 tube, not an EL34 (the EL34 amps I have heard in my system from Cary were a little tubbier than I was looking for). I was thinking perhaps ARC VS110, Mcintosh MC275, something from C-J in that price range, Rogue, Quicksilver, VAC. Any specific recommendations? I need around 50 watts, 75 would be plenty.
If you'll consider used look at the Music Reference RM-200. It can be found used for around $2500. Great amp and not "tubey" sounding. The older RM9-Mark II is another excellent choice and can be found for less. Good luck.

cayin, no contest. great sound and great value
VAC Auricle Musicblocs (70 watts).
>>02-05-09: Buconero117
cayin, no contest.<<


Forget pre-owned Mac, CJ, Rogue, VAC, Quicksilver, VTL, BAT, Cary, Manley, etc.

And go Cayin instead.
Don't forget the snow peas.


If so, strongly consider used Atma-Sphere M60 monoblocks.
Second on the M-60s. A very good match, great customer support, no snow peas.
Third on the M-60's but don't discount the MC275 IV or V.They're built for the long haul by worker bees that are passionate about their gear.
Both M60's and MC275 are good recommendations.

I would throw in the Manley Mahi Mahi's for a fun punchy sound and good bang for the buck. They have an Ultralinear and Triode switch and adjustable feedback. Lots O Fun. The power switch in the back caused me some ergonomic problems.
Good ol American Iron w no snow peas.
Here's another vote for the Music Reference RM-200. Lots of KT-88 power, quiet, and well-built.
Berning EA2101 if you can find one. Sonically, a very clean and clear tube amp with plenty of bass. Build quality is superb as is reliability. Tube life is also much longer than most tube amps as a result of the screen drive. Second hand market value varies but should be under $2000.
Copland CTA- 405 should be strongly considered at that price point!!!
give a listen to a music reference RM 9 mk II they are hard to beat for the money or twice the money, they will drive most speakers and reproduce music like amps costing at least twice as much and the company is a dream to work with
Quicksilver, ARC, VAC, and the match with the speaker is more important than the amp.....
I agree with Potsey,I have the RM-9 mk I it is hard to beat for the money and very reliable.
As someone who owns both Coincident loudspeakers and AtmaSphere amplifiers, my opinion is that despite what is normally said, this isn't the best of matchups. Each of these components is on the more forward, lively, and engaging side, and I often find the combination can be a bit leaner than I prefer. I realize Israel Blume advertises that he uses AtmaSphere amplifiers, but he's also gone out of his way over the past decade to get into the amplifier business.

Personally, my Atma Spheres sound best with my older Fried (A/6 and, especially, Valhalla) loudspeakers, which present a more resistive load than the Coincidents. In fact, I've not heard the Atmas find a better companion. My Coincidents do best with transformer coupled tube amplifiers with more power than what most of their advertising goes towards, such as my Jadis. So, if you're leaning towards Coincident, I'd personally look into brands like AES, Air Tight, Audio Note, BAT, Cary, DeHavilland, Jadis, Manley, Music Reference, Quicksilver, and VAC.
As a former owner of the Total Eclipse, the best combination to my ears was Antique Sound Labs Hurricanes. Another good match was the Sonic Frontiers Power 2.
I'm not sure what Cary amps you've heard, but I am currently getting a nice full and dynamic sound from some Cary/AES Sixpacs. Not too "tubey" at all, ran with Merlin Mxe's and currently some Von Schweikerts.

Whoever said it's less about the amp, and more about the amp/speaker matching is correct.
Do consider the AES Super Amp MkII. It is made by Cary and it sold with EL34s or KT90s, but 6550s, KT77s, KT88 and a host of other tubes can be used. The manual clearly outlines biasing values for many tubes and no mods are needed to roll tubes.

What makes this amp so versatile is the use of newly designed transformers. Speakers from 2-32 ohms can be used with one set of speaker binding posts. I am currently using this amp with DIY speakers with Seas Excel drivers like Coincident.

It is quite a remarkable sounding amp. It is not as big hipped sounding as other Cary gear. The bass is very tight and controlled while the over all sound is dynamic, rhythmic, and tuneful. It has a lot in common with SS gear, but with a full-bodied presentation. These observations are made with EL34s. I've haven't rolled tubes because it sound just right and combines the SS and tube sound in one fine amp.

An interesting observation I have noticed is that with Herbies tube dampers on the 2 6SN7 driver tubes the sound becomes even more tight and airy. With the dampness off the tubes it has a fuller sound. I am using a full compliment of EH tubes.
Thanks for the recommendations. It sounds like Music Reference stuff may be the way to go, at least to try out.

Another amp I didn't mention: what about the Audio Research VT100 MKII? Seems like a good value at $2000 used.

Forgot to mention that my preamp is TBD, but likely looking at a Modwright 9.0 Signature.
consider some of the older amps, such as cj mv 45, mv 75 or mv 125. you could also consider some of the older cary or audio research amps as well.
Try the Rogue 120 or 150 monoblocs. They'll both switch to 1/2 power in triode mode which gives you a whole new dimension to experiment with based on the types of music you're listening to. My personal favorite is the VTL MB-125 which ARE EL-34 based and can also do the 1/2 power triode trick. IMHO EL-34's are the way to go, especially in a VTL amp product... outstanding mids of course, as they're well known for, but they also have tight, punchy bass and a natural, musical top end. Your speakers will either prefer the extra power of the tetrode mode or totally love the triode, but the good news is, you'll actually have the choice. Very reliable too and easy to live with. They run fairly warm and the Rogues run downright hot... but they're all great sounding "tube magic" value for the money. For a completely different sound from the VTL you might consider the CJ Premier 11 (6550's) but the older MV-50, 52 (EL-34 & "old school iteration thereof"), etc will be too tubey for you (as you said you wished to avoid). Good luck.