Let's talk tube amps - no ss discussion

In the $2500-3500 range, what are the tube amps that you have heard and liked and why? Which ones sound best with a passive pre and active preamp? Yes, very subjective conversation, but still open-ended.
Are you talking new or used or both ($2500.00-3500.00)?
I bought my AitTight 300B used in that range and it sounds superb with both passive and active pre-amps.
I own two tube amps - the Mcintosh 2102 which sells for 6k - 100 wpc and an EAR 534 which sells for 3800 new. The EAR is 50 wpc and has balanced and rca ins also has adjustable gain for each channel and can be set to mono. It looks great and is virtually maintenance free in tube adjustment. It sounds great ! Clean and powerful and works well with both types of preamps. The 2102 is warmer sounding - probably not as good in the highs but has more guts in the midbass and bass area.
Since I left it open-ended, let's say 2500-3500 new or used.
Try the vtl monoblocks the 125's are in your price range and although I would not call them lush they "RIDE THE LINE" between tube and solid state if this is what your after.
I use a pair of Sonic Frontiers Power 3 SE's with a 10K Holco passive volume control (driven by a Sony SACD 777ES). I love the sound of them - *really* good bass (as good as most SS) and clear, neutral midrange. They are a bit "dry" sounding, though, so they are not the amps for you if you need a wetter, warmer, more tubey sound. They take 16 x KT88's so re-tubing costs are higher than normal. They run $3500 or so used for the non-SE version. If you don't need so much power (260W/ch) you could try the Power 2 (120W/ch). Kevin Deal has a Power 2 SE for sale at the moment for $3400 (new - and the last one!).
You'd better specify speakers you are planning to drive.
Generally speaking, for speakers with normal sensitivity I always liked(and owned) BAT amps.
For your budget you can get used VK60( maybe even monoblocks) or used stereo VK75.
Best when used with BAT preamps.
VTL 300 OR 450 SIGNATURE amplifiers are excellent choices also work good with placette passive unit.
I second the EAR 534.
I owned a Sonic Frontiers Power 2 that I liked real well. I now have a ARC VT200 which blows the SF out of the water (as far as my system is concerned). It is mated to Martin Logan Prodigy's. You can get a Power 2 used for around $2000 and while not quite a VT200 they are great amps. I tink VT200's are selling for 4500 or so. I have never had a proble with either.
Thanks for the input. Speaker sensitivity is 85 db, ouch! But they sound great. I have a CJ MV60. How do your recommendations compare? No one has mentioned Manely, Ayon or Joule. Any reasons?

I feel that it's the always the best to first pick the most efficient pair of speakers you can (e.g. AlNiCo fullrange drivers) and then mate them with the best low-power directly-heated single-ended triodes.

Single-ended triode amps from guys like Jeff Korneff and Gordon Rankin (Wavelength Audio) can be obtained within your price range. People who take this route usually do not look back.


Listen to Wonjun. He certainly offers an excellent recipe for musical enjoyment. It has definitely worked for me, though luckily with the SET power I have, my speaker options are rather broad. Enjoy.
I also have the Sonic Frontiers Power 3 SE's. The power 3 series is an excellent buy at this time as the prices for the standard 3's are in the $3000-$3500 range used. These amps are very neutral and do provide power on par with many SS amps. I am using with the Hovland preamp and the soundstage is very wide, the midrange is extremely clear and alive, and the extremes do not seem rolled off at all. I agree with Alfina that these are not the amps for a lush tubey sound. If you are looking for neutrality they are pretty good at it.
Manley amps for the power you need will certainly be beyond your budget except the integrated one.

On the other hand if you have 85dB monitors with small woofer and small room you might realy get away with 60W/ch

Otherwise you can get VTL MB185 or MB225 signature used. They're good with low efficiency and heavy speakers and stable to nearly any impedance swings.
Marakanetz-- let's put budget aside for the time being and talk more about the Manelys. The new Mahi Mahi sound great! But, I do need a little more power. Have you heard their 50 watt monoblocks or the 100 watt integrated?
I heard both 50W and 100W integrated amps and they're with no doubdt excellent sounding amps. Havn't heard 50W monos though but I guess they're clones of integrated EveAnna's with 4 EL84 power tubes per side.
VTL and Manleys are built on the same electronic design(meaning internal i guess).
While I had a great chance to look-up and study the VTL design I can only guess that Manleys benefit from higher quality parts, chasis AND mainly from built quality(i.e. circuit protection that is basically routine for any of the tube amplifiers or pre-s but not implemented though in most of VTL models) V.S. VTLs and the price therefore higher.

IMHO VTL signature line starting from MB185 to MB225 can compete with less-powerful Manleys depending again on speaker and room you're dealing with.
Many thanks for all your input. I will start a new thread looking at Manley, Consonance and your choices.