Quicksilver- I heard they have a new version of the Mid-mono amp.
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A Cary V12R goes very well with the SLP98 I had both. If you can go a few more bucks the Cary CAD 120's is even better and runs much cooler. I'm running the CAD 120's (but with Gold Lion KT 88's) and the SLP98P. I had Cary put in high speed hexfreds and Cardas Caps in the amp. The SLP98 has excellent gain in it, so you won't have to upgrade to the Mark II amp. Make sure you upgrade power cords to Nordost Blue Heavens. They make a big difference. Bias is also a lot easier to adjust on the Cad 120's. You only need a screw driver. Tube amps are what make the most difference in sound (over preamps) Best of luck.
The Dynaco ST-70 amps rebuilt by Vincent in Lewiston, Idaho would work quite well and you would have a cool looking amp also. VTL and Manley amps are also great as they do several things correctly. They have great transformers, run their tubes conservatively which means they have longevity and they do not suffer from cheaper designs which clip the high frequencies and bloat the bottom end with slow boomy bass.
Decware is also a contender for the same reasons as mentioned above. However, they tend to be very low wattage/amperage (2wpc) so you need to match speaker efficiency correctly for most of their product. Their 12 wpc amps will drive most anything except for large panels and large closed boxes.
I haven't tried a tube amp before so this is new territory for me.
Consider an amp that can use more than just EL34's (good start IMO).
Also consider that with an auto-biasing amp if there are more than 2 output tubes you should really stick with matched quads. Meaning if you lose a tube a replacement may be too different from the other 3 and the auto-biasing may not be able to handle it. With some tubes pairs are a lot easier to find especially with vintage tubes.
Last consider an amp that has great protection circuit for the output tubes. Without it depending how a tube decides it's time for tube heaven it could take out some resistors. Also a soft start circuit helps extend the tube life.
That being said I haven't seen anything that is all of the above anywhere near your budget. I have an Octave V70SE integrated that does all of that but it is 7k (have only seen 1 V70 not SE used for 5k). So consider these when looking.
Meant to say consider those features. Found a V40SE here but a bit over your budget.
Well, I hate to add my 2 cents worth because I am a big fan of Quicksilver since the 8417 days...and I own mid monos to listen to different tubes. Recently, I have been listening to the mid monos with many tubes types, US Tungsol-black-grey and three hole plate. Gold Lion Kt66 and KT77, GE6550, Sylvania 6550, Svetlana, JJ, TAD, Mesa Boogie, etc etc etc. The best tube I have found for the mid monos is the old clear top GE 6l6s...best transparency, depth, imaging etc. Yes, other tubes have a more pronounced mid bass but the sound is dark in the upper midrange.
Well anyway just when I thought I had found the "magic" zone of the mid monos.....I decided to pull out the old 8417 monos. They had been sitting over a year so I plugged them in for about an hour and then hooked them up. Bad decision...the old 8417 absolutely blew away the mid monos...I don't really want to talk about it. not even close. FYI guys.. Larry
With a 12 year track record with RM9 MK I & MK II, I had a 14 year absence while owning OTL amps, I am happily back in the Music Reference camp.
I purchased a new MR RM-9 Special Edition from Roger in October of 2012. This amp is his no-cost statement of his almost 30 year production runs of RM-9 Mk I & MkII PP EL34 design. Hand built, hand wired, custom wound transformerss, hand selected tubes and a no hassel built in test points to test every tube in the amp. The fit and finish resembles a fine Swiss watch. I have found the Seimens El34 tube to be my choice.
I agree with the posts above, they sound great, built to last the long haul and are trouble free. My last amp!
Email Roger. He has a few new SE and some used reconditioned Mk I & Mk II available last time I spoke to him. He's One of the "good-guys" of high-end audio.
I'll add my vote for the Cary SA 280 V12...very flexible and so engaging...you can use so many different tube types including the EL-34's (my favorite too). The other little gem is the VTL MB-125 monoblocs...oh boy are they sweethearts. IMHO stick with the EL-34's they do so much right, you will forget all your troubles away once under their spell.Happy Lissn'n