How to pick your first SET tube amp?

I am curious about hearing one of these little amps on some new monitors I got, the Coincident Triumph Signatures. Coincident makes a beautiful pair of SET mono's, but at $3500 they're a little steep for experimenting with. Any recommendations for a good, entry-level pair of SET monos that would give me a taste of what all the fuss is about? I would like to stay at or preferably under $1500. What is the difference between the sound of the EL-34 based SET's and the 300B and other types?
If you have a small room and don't play your music loud I would recommend a 2a3 base amp. They put out about 3.5 watts and is probably one of the best sounding tubes available. 300b based amps tend to be very popular since they can run on any speaker that are fairly effecient (91db or above) and have almost the same sound quality of as the 2a3's. 300b tubes however can cost alot if you get into tube rolling with a NOS WE 300b going for almost $1000/matched pair.

The el-34 are usually used in push pull designs which do not sound as good as the SETs. They have more power and handle more difficult loads. However, don't get me wrong, this is relative statement since they can sound better than most SS amps costing many times more.

If you don't mind a little soldering, I would go with one of the bottlehead parafeed amps. They probably sound better than any other tube amp under 5k.
Get a pair of Decware SE-84C-S AMP run them as Mono and you will love them.Another choice if you like tubes is a Rogue 88 with those speakers.
That was my first tube Experience and I loved those Triumphs with the 88's.
If you listen in a small room and at low levels you should be able to get by with a 300b amp (8 to 10 watts/channel). Antique sound labs has a number of SET's at reasonable priced that are triode based or pentode based in the 8 to 10 watts/channel range. My preference for SET's runs towards higher power. An 845 based amp will deliver about 20 watts/channel and should light up your Coincident speakers. You will have to find a used 845 based amp to be in your price range. If you decide to go higher power, let me know, I have an Antique Sound Labs 845 based amp that I am willing to part with for a little more than you target price. By the way, EL34's can be run in single ended configuration.
How do I get to Carnegie Hall?? Practice, Practice, Practice

How do I buy my first set amp? carefully, carefully, carefully

Sorry.(but true)

"What is the difference between EL34 and 300b". There are many makes of both tubes each with it's own voice. In addition, each tube can be in a differently designed amp so the variations are almost endless. Way to much to say here.

A big difference, in addition to sound, is power. All respect to Rockbox and the Bottleheads I cannot recommend a 2A3 because it is not going to be a good marriage with your new speakers that come in at a sensitivity of 94. You might "get along" in a small room at modest levels but the 2A3's will not sing at 3W. Why bother?

I will suggest a couple sites to look at. Paul Joppa, a chief Bottlehead, put together a little info at in the FAQ section. He talks about matching amps and speakers for power and provides a nice formula. Take a look if you haven't already. One of the biggest mistakes is to underpower your speakers. Paul Joppa is very smart and seems to be a very nice guy too.

At they recently had a very nice review of 9 different 300b's. Nicest quick summary I've seen for a while on available 300bs (of course there are different opinions). Finally try for lots of info about the tubes you ask about and then some.

Also the "Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity" site has the best simple overview, about a dozen pages if I remember, of what a tube does that I have seen. Cathodes, anodes, grids, voltage, bias, AC/DC ect, ect. The name of the article is "Amplifiers" (Revised June, 2000).

If you want more sites drop an e-mail to me I have quite a few.

Geez it's late at night.

Sincerely, I remain
I have a pair of Coincident Victory(s) (97db, 14ohm) and have tried many amps with it. I did not get good results with a 2A3 SET as it simply did not have enough power. The Rogue 88, as recommended in the above post, worked superbly in its triode mode. The Music Reference RM10 was very neutral and quiet, but is slightly lean sounding. I even tried the Berning OTL 270 which to my surprise also sounded a little lean, but was very lively sounding.

I also want to try Coincident's own 300B amps, but like yourself am hesistant because of price and the amp being untested (it should work well with their own speakers don't you think). I think Antique Sound Labs may have an amp similar in design to Coincidents that may be worth a try or at least worth investigating.
Clueless has suggested some good advise that I agree with. With your new speakers you need more wattage like a 300B can provide. Check out other sites for information.
Don't hesitate to try Coincident's amps. I have purchased 4 tube amps custom built/modded to the max by Israel, and he knows what he is doing (a pair of Golden Tube Audio 8 watt 300B monoblocks, and a pair of vintage Altec 1570B monoblocks- 170 wpc in triode using only a pair of 811 output tubes per amp). Anything he produces is excelllent, or he doesn't bother doing it...
The speakers are not made by Isreal.They are made to his specs.One thing is certin.They are a good amp or he would not sell it.
His main Bizz is speakers he wont risk it at the expense of selling sub standard amps.
You may want to try giving Coincident a phone call. I called, Israel Blume answered the telephone, and even though I purchased my Super Eclipses used, he was happy to answer all my questions. He used to recommend a relatively inexpensive Antique Sound Labs amp on his web site before his own amps became available. I don't remenber which one.
Sc: If your room is not too large 300B based amps should work well. Lots of different flavors of these amps, though, and they do not have to be soft/slow and rolled off @ the frequency extremes if you pick wisely. A pair of mono block "kits" getting some praise as of late are the "Billies" available @ (think that they are around $1K delivered). If you can solder the kit looks to be easy to build. There is more info on them in the SET Forum @ AA. I have always been happy with current production Svetlana 300B tubes which seem to be readily available for well under $250/pr and would not spend the money for new production WE's (based on the pair that I tried) - the Svet's smoked them. Depending on the circuit they can also last quite some time (very long indeed in the Audion 300B amp which I just sold). If you decide to make the leap try to stay with a "real" single ended "triode" amp (it's worth the extra $, IMO).
If I were you , I would try a 300B amp. They just have a glorious sound to them. I would also recommend the Full Music TJ 300B mesh plate tube.For the money, a pair of these beat all contenders in my opinion. Good luck in your search but go for the 300B, you won't be dissapointed.Musicians come alive in your room. They'll have you weeping with joy.
God Bless,
Hi, just following up on what I decided to try after studying all your posts. I am auditioning the Terra Star, a small, relatively inexpensive (around $900) EL-34 based 12-watt SET integrated. I investigated the Decware Zens as well, but was informed by the maker and the owners on the Decware forum that the Zen alone would not drive my Coincident Triumph Signatures sufficiently. They suggested the Decware integrated, which is also an EL-34 based SET w/4 inputs (the little Terra only has 1), but it was about $1500 so I'm going w/the Terra for now. I sure wish I could build one of those kits. But I know I would screw it up and never know if it was playing properly when I was done (if it turned on at all)! So far, I like the Terra very much. Plenty of volume on the Coincidents. It can also run on KT-88s for more headroom. I am so intrigued by these little bottle amps, I may have to try some others, esp. the 300B. But thanks for all the info and advice, my explorations have only just begun.
Sc53: Since you are going this route, you might want to look into the Audion Sterling. It lists for $1100-$1200, but the US distributor (OSS Services) may have a demo or two @ a reduced price (I know that he was just @ the Las Vegas show anyway). It is also EL34, etc., based, but uses a single 6922 type tube for the input and a single 5687 for the driver tube. Why I suggest this amp is that quality 6922 tubes are still plentiful and different driver tubes effect the sound quite a bit. You will also only require single signal tubes (matched per side) instead of matched pairs. Good 6SN7's/VT-231's (which I believe the Terra uses) are getting harder to come by. There is a review of the Sterling @ the TNT website. Just a thought as I almost purchased this amp myself @ one time. If you do happen to come up with a demo, email me and I will set you up with better (than stock) signal tubes which are usually Sovtek and National.