I believe the first choice is are you one who prefers new gear or carefully selecting used gear with solid resale value? The idea of new gear sounds lovely but I get fueled by getting a deal along with amazing sound so I choose used. This has lead me to Audio Research. I started with tube amps(Classic 120s)and a SS preamp LS3B. This kept me happy for a couple years and then went to the LS26 preamp which is a hybrid tube preamp. It was a significant upgrade. A couple months later I had an opportunity on a nice deal for a REF 3 preamp and that made me a believer in the preamp is more important. That was an even more impressive leap in SQ. Around this same time another opportunity came along for a REF 150 2-channel amp. I went back and forth with my Classic 120s. At first I wasn't sure but after a couple weeks the REF 150 continued to shine and the aesthetics are much better, so it stays. ARC also has integrated pieces which I haven't ever heard. I like their gear, their sound and the resale value. If you buy smart you can pretty much get your money back if you want to try something else. I have been tempted to try something like the Raven as Chuck recommended or the Primaluna that Uncle Kev at Upscale Audio is always ranting about, but haven't yet. Bottom line I think you will love tubes, just be patient and enjoy the ride.
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I suggest used VAC amps, either old triode or recently deleted 200 phi. The latter was replaced at $14k with auto biasing circuitry, like Prima Luna uses but the used unit I've seen in the $4k range for similar sound and uses fewer, easy to replace tubes for 100 w./side https://www.hifishark.com/search?q=vac+phi+200 .
Favorites of mine for older tube amps include McIntosh MC 225 and 240 but they keep rising in price. I haven't heard a 275 (all six versions of them) that I've liked. The modded MC30 monos have superb mids and can work well with your speakers (they put out 60 watts at 1% distortion, drove Martin Logan Monolith IIIs even). They use more tubes though.
The recommendations for vintage gear are good ones. That’s what came to my mind first when I read your post. I’ve had several ‘58-‘61 Scott (& vintage Fisher and Dynaco, etc.) units, and they were all excellent! The best integrated (IMO) was the Scott 222C. Beautiful to look at, and amazing sound.. even when compared to very good modern components. Regrettably, I sold all of the integrated Scotts. Just too much stuff at the time. I kept a Scott LK-150 tube amp however, which I ended up giving to my son. I really missed it, so I bought another one, and I’m going to hold on to this one! When my son was choosing an amplifier, we brought that 1961 Scott (restored, but not modified) to an audio store to compare to a current, Stereophile class A rated tube amp that he was considering. The Scott not only held its own against the new amp, it sounded better in two key areas: midrange (like human voice and acoustic guitar) sounded more *real*, and the *air/atmosphere* of the recordings seemed more open and expansive. The new amp had a bit tighter bass response, and a bit more power (100wpc vs 58wpc), but it wasn’t as significant as the midrange improvement of the Scott. Point is this: with Heresies, a vintage amp may be a great fit, both visually and sonically. Plus, the vintage gear (properly restored) should prove reliable, easy to repair, and at least comparable to good current amps. Good luck, and as others have stated, enjoy.
i have not had a raven
but i have many arc amps older and newer, and also a primaluna
i would say primaluna is very good, and an outstanding value for the money with many cool features
but in terms of sound quality... arc is more pure sounding to my ears, even after signficant tube rolling with the primaluna - i believe it is because the better ARC amps use some solid state driver/cathode followers to enhance the linearity of the tube output at frequency extremes... so you get tube goodness on imaging but also solid state extension and clarity
@jjss49 My Dynaco ST70 has been redesigned with an SS rectifier stage, huge storage cap located in the bottom of the case and voltage regulated operation, using the center taps on the transformer so that it is no longer an ultralinear design. The bass is phenomenal compared to the stock unit which had flabby bass. Used with Legacy Signature III speakers.
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