You may want to look into the Jolida 202, if 40 watts is enough for your speakers. It's a nice way to start with tubes providing that lush el34 midrange, and can be had (used) for under your price...
Ahendler - What's the other half of the story?
They were very unhappy with Jolida so they got an XYZ and were very pleased?
They were very unhappy with Jolida and didn't find another tube amp in that price range?
I have owned 2 Jolidas and although not the best, I have always considered them good value, good amps, and something that will do very well for someone in Ridemypanhead's situation.
I can't comment on the brands Grinnell mentioned.
I have a Will Vincent Dynaco and really like it. It will give you a very good taste of the tube life at an affordable cost. The other nice things about the Dynaco's is that they can be biased to use several different tube types so you can roll to your hearts content. Some EL-34's will give you a nice warm sounding 35 watts. Will is also responsive via e-mail. Welcome to tube world. Once I tasted tubes I've never gone back to SS.
"I am looking to buy an amp.I have never heard a tube amp...
Please, first listen to a couple of tube amps before you make an investment. Folks rave about sushi, but nobody knows if they like it until they try it. Likewise, after youve experienced the unique contribution to the reproduction of music that tubes can offer, then the advice of others will be worthwhile. At the least, I recommend that you listen to one modern and one vintage tube amp. Good luck.
Look for deals locally. I would highly recommend the rogue gear. My buddy sells it and talked it up. I bought a stereo 90 amp to try it out and was impressed (Im selling it for fair honesty) but it seems to be well done and for the price. He was also saying he had great results with Vincent which is german designed and chinese built, Go Figure.
I like 15 to 20 year old gear myself but I would recommend a Conrad Johnson MV50 and PV-10 If you wait youll find a PV-10 for $450 and a MV50 for $550. Its 2 boxes but man will it sound sweet
If you want a taste of tubes look for a clean Dynaco Stereo 70 and Pas 3x. That combination out performed an Adcom GFA 555 power amp (200 watts) and Adcom GFP 565 preamp. The Dynaco combo had a bigger soundstage, better dynamics and a much more refined and musical sound. A Stereo 70 (not modified) and Pas 3x in proper working order and clean cosmetics will cost less than your $1000 budget and they are not going down in value, unlike the "Made in China" amplifiers previously mentioned.
OP's price reange was $1000.00, you can't get a VTL IT-85 for that price. I have to admit it will smoke the just about any Jolida. I have the IT-85 (with upgrades caps) in my bedroom set-up. The Will Vincent Dynacos are also very nice but not intergrated amps. I owned Will's MKIII mono blocks for a while as well.
Exercise care in your choice of tubes the amp uses. Power tubes can have very different sonic characteristics.
I love tubes but am not a fan of EL-34's. For all the lush midrange I find flabby bass and rolled off highs. My preference in push-pull amps is KT88/6550/KT 90 because of the better dynamic range and better handling of the music I prefer despite giving up some midrange sweetness. For mid-range the 300B tube is my favorite, for low power with better dynamics EL84- but regardless of what I like it is in the ear of the listener. So try before you buy.
Do some online research in tube sonics to get an idea of power tube differences. Ask yourself what you listen to - hard rock, jazz, orchestral, choral, vocal harmony etc. and seek amps that use tubes suited to that music.
I finally found the Atma-sphere M60.III monoblocks using a 6AS7 power tube after trying all the above noted tubes. I have never missed the other amps.
Entrope offers some very good advice and brings out a very interesting point, our hobby is very subjective.
I have to laugh about EL34 being light on bass and rolled off on the high's. This where it starts getting complicated; not all tubes are created equally. I use New Old Stock (NOS) Mullard tubes from the 1960s & 70s. They have plenty of bass control and impact as well as crisp highs (in my amps), but they cost more than my amps. Having used 6550, KT88, KT90s (in various amps) and keep coming back to the Mullards.