Don't get me wrong, the amp sounds awesome with EL34s. But in my opinion a very different/more relaxed sound than the KT family, and yeah, the KT150s did all the things KT120s did but better with no downside I could find. And the KT120s were a step up from KT88s. I struggled to love the EL34 sound in spite of a ton of fans...it's merely a preference thing as you say. KT150s still sound like great tubes, but are a little more SS neutral perhaps. I want to love some solid state amps but I haven't, and still own a couple good ones (SimAudio Moon, but sold my First Watt after trying to love it for a couple years in a couple systems). I haven't heard the other two amps in question and I know Cary is a great amp manufacturer from my reading.