Looking for vintage system suggestions (maranta, klipsch, etc...)


Hi!


I am new here, and am looking to purchase my first ever home stereo! I am VERY new to this world, so please forgive my ignorance about everything!

I do know that I want a vintage stereo, whose primary purpose is to play vinyl. I love the aesthetics, sound, and mojo of a vintage system.....and stylistically it works with my house. I am just about settled on finding a vintage Marantz 2270 or 2275. I see there are many on eBay, etc. Can anybody recommend an upgraded/restored unit for me to look at?

Speakers. I am looking at floorstanding speakers. I love the LOOK of vintage speakers, and am considering something vintage from Klipsch. Primarily looking at Heresy or Forte. Would these work well with a 2270 or 2275? Are there other, better choices that also have that mid century modern look? Or am I better of spending the big bucks for something new with vintage aesthetics (new Klipsch, etc.)

Turn Tables. I’d like vintage, but want to start with something simple. Plus, I think i will have spent the majority of my budget on the receiver and speakers. Looking at U Turn Audio tables....may upgrade in the future. Any thoughts? Better choices? Is vintage better?

I will most be listening to folk, jazz, classic rock, etc....nothing too heavy!

My budget is about $2500....a tiny bit of flexibilty, but want to keep it in that range...

Thanks in advance!
rawchuck
@rawchuck,

Though I am a bit of a Klipsch "fanboy", I do appreciate great sound and many other mfr’s can do it right.

With that said, a Marantz 2270 or 2275 will mate very well with a pair of Heresys. Though not technically(height wise) floorstanders, Heresys offer a very efficient, dynamic, and punchy presentation that mates well with 25w tube amps as well as 200w/ch SS amps. I drove a pair of Heresy I’s and Quartets for quite some time with a Marantz 2252B and the combinations were wonderful. The 70’s Marantz are on the "warmish" side of neutral that tames the often described "brittleness" or "strident" treble that IMO Klipsch doesn’t fully deserve. I now drive my Heresy I’s and and Heresy II’s with NAD and Cambridge Audio.

As far as vintage Klipsch floorstanders, look also at Quartets, forte’s II’s, and Chorus I & II’s. Your budget of $2500.00 is plenty big to find a very nice all vintage rig that will bring you tons of enjoyment.

Head over to the Klipsch forum where there is gobs of knowledge about this genre and quite a few things for sale that might catch your eye.

https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/forum/63-garage-sale/&;

Just reread and noticed you mentioning new gear with vintage looks.  The Yamaha A-S1000, 2000, 1100, and 2100 integrateds definitely fit that category but may blow your budget a bit if you opt for models that have the cool retro meters(1100, 2100, 3000).

Bill


Any interest in buying new equipment that has the vintage look and sound?

Outlaw RR2160 @ $800
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/rr2160.html

Pro-ject Classic 25th Anniversary turntable w/ cartridge @ $1100
http://www.needledoctor.com/Pro-Ject-Classic-Turntable_2?sc=2&category=352

Wharfedale 80th Anniversary Denton Speakers @ $500
https://www.musicdirect.com/speakers/wharfedale-denton-80th-anniversary-bookshelf-speakers-pr

https://www.whathifi.com/wharfedale/denton/review


I have gone the restore the vintage Marantz receivers route (2216 and 2240) years ago with very competent technicians and each cost small fortunes and only lasted a few years with power supplies failing, etc.

I have had the previous generation Outlaw receiver (2150) for the last 11 years and it is a stellar receiver with a tuner on par with either of the vintage Marantz receivers.  I have it paired with the Wharfedale Dentons and it has the modern take on the warmish vintage-ish sound that I was after.

Rich  

I have restored vintage Sansui, Marantz, Pioneer and other equipment for quite some time.  I'm in my office right now listening to music (and working if my boss is on line) though a vintage Sansui QRX 5500 receiver and some B&W speakers via my computer's iTunes or a Pioneer Elite PD65 CD Player.

I love the sound.  The restored Sansui sound great. 

I repaired to receiver. It wasn't working at all.  Then cleaned all the pots and switches extensively. They get very noisy so cleaning is mandatory.  no blown caps, etc.  I looked.  Cap replacement is only necessary if there was extensive use and heat and if they show signs of wear.  Don't fix something that isn't broken.

The Marantz 2252B receiver I restored sounds great also.  I think the Sansui sounds better slightly. 

Not only does this type of vintage equipment sound great, but the ones with wood grain surround panels look absolutely great.  I remove the old wood grain surround and completely sand it and re-stain it and they look great.

Same with the Pioneer Elite equipment with the wood sides. They look and sound great.

A pair of working Klipsch speakers (KG-4 or Forte II) and you are good to go.  Just make sure the foam surround is in good shape.

Pioneer Elite PD65, DV09, DV79AVi used as CD players or transports and you can't beat them for anything under $2000 now.  And you can buy these for a few hundred dollars each. 

enjoy

I am in the process of assembling a vintage second system, based largely on components I’ve owned for decades, but had not restored. It is in some ways a serious system, and in other ways, has limitations, but it is truly period and has resale value. However it is not the receiver/bookshelf speaker approach (there is a store here in Austin, where I recently moved, that has a whole floor of receivers and bookshelf speakers, brought to spec, at relatively reasonable cost).
My small vintage system (with the caveat that this will be more money than a receiver/box speaker set up) is:
original Technics SP-10 that I bought new in 1973. This is not the more desirable mk ii or mk iii but I already owned it. It was restored by Bill Thalman, who arranged to have a custom plinth built. I will probably stick an older 12 SME arm on it, with perhaps an Ortofon SPU.
McIntosh MX 110z-- the only piece I bought recently for this system- cost from dealer- about $1500. Restoration--still awaiting final number, but the big cost here is Telefunken NOS 12AX 7 tubes, which you don’t have to use.

Quad II power amps- these have been around longer than dirt, are plentiful in the UK and pretty reasonable to restore- they are simple amps- but very low power. The real cost here is true GEC KT-66s, which are spendy.
Original Quad Loudspeaker (aka ’the 57’). The gold standard for midrange- transparent, almost spooky on some material. Not for your Iron Maiden records, though. Strings, jazz, female vocal, folk, that kind of small scale stuff just sings. Cost- not terribly expensive, must be restored, you see them used here on the ’Gon already restored. There are a couple of restorers who are noteworthy. I used Kent McCollum, who does a sympathetic restoration. I’ve owned mine since 1973, but stopped using them regularly in 1990.
This may be more than you want or too limited, but I get vinyl playback, a very good tuner, and what I consider to be the best midrange in the business, though the speakers were first brought to market 60 years ago.
They look like vintage radiators from England.
I now listen to horns through my main system and recommend tubes- you can, with an efficient horn, use an SET amp, which is to me, the raison d’être of having horns.
If I spent too much of your money, I’m sorry.
I had one of those Marantz receivers in 1970 with a pair of Advents before I dove deep. It was a good sounding system (at that time, based on what I knew and could afford as a high school student). I don’t know how well they would work with smaller Klipsch.
A good semi- vintage not terribly expensive table is the Well Tempered- had one for years when they weren’t vintage. Don’t know if the old ones are supported though.Quirky, but delivers. To me, a modded Oracle would win the glamor award.
I should probably delete this post, since your budget is $2500. But know, there's a lot to be had in vintage land and I'd still push for a decent old tube amp and horns if you could bring that in under budget. 
regards
bill hart
I've had many vintage Marantz receivers and integrateds come through my home. You are wise to zero in on the 2275 or 2270. They're great receivers. I would also throw in the 2245 which is a 2275 with a little less power (basically the same innards, but a whole lot less expensive).

But, understand all but the most thorough of restorations will produce issues for you at some point. It's like buying an antique car, you have to be able to put up with these units going in for repair when problems arise.
Since receivers are trying to do all things, they are more complex (tuner, pre, and amp) and more prone to failure. I would seriously consider starting with a Marantz 7T pre-amp which features point-to-point wiring and is a lot easier to repair if needed, then add the amp of your choice (Dynaco ST-70 comes to mind). You should find some reputable vintage Marantz vendors in the way of Black Swamp Audio, or even some of the members on the the other audio site (AK).

The 7T and ST-70 pair would likely be found for about $1500 which is what I'd expect a fully restored 2275 to cost.


+1 yakbob, good stuff and far more sensible approach than mine. Well done.

I think those are fair warnings on vintage, they are hard to maintain.  That said I have several older pieces including  old speakers.  I still have my Dad's 1959 and 1960 JBLs (mono at start) with another pair of 1964s.  My own 1976 Klipsch Heresy and 1981 LaScalas.  These seem to function well despite their age.

If you want warmth you'll need to get something to counterbalance Klipsch inherent top end /treble energy, emphasis.careful before getting  Klipsch .  One well known combination is the older McIntosh with Klipsch.  Your Budget could get you SS old Macs MC2105 forinstance and the Heresy and up.  I don't like current regular Klipsch. Haven't heard the new vintage type Klipsh gear

Ok,  thanks for all the info!

It sounds like if I buy vintage, I should expect some upkeep.  Honestly, this could be a big issue for me.  I was planning on buying and already fully restored 2275, and possibly some upgraded Heresy I's.

However, I am starting to get the picture that this may not be the best set of speakers for this unit....I am also starting to think it may be worth it to look into a modern system that provides a vintage type sound....

Any recommendations on this type of "throwback" system.  Or just recommendations for a modern system mainly for playing records?

I like the Outlaw Integrated.....never heard of it before...  Any other recommendations for an integrated?  I see some hybrid tube/class D options, but am a bit wary of Class D.....while extremely efficient, it seems to not carry that vintage sound...
Raw (or Chuck): I think you’ll ultimately be better off with the simplest of old school components long term. I really liked yakbob’s suggestion for a couple of reasons- the 7T was derided in its day compared to the earlier (and far more desirable) tube version, but it is still a very good preamp- in fact, though I don’t really keep up with market prices, my impression is that even the transistorized version prices have risen in recent years. It still isn’t a tube 7, but...
The Dynaco amp is a classic. They were sold in kit form and are easy and pretty cheap to upgrade and fix.
It is money well spent. I’d much rather have that combo than an old receiver or some new Class D on the cheap.
I haven’t heard a small Klipsch in years, and some people really dig them; (I have dated experience with the original big K-horn, which has been the subject of tweaks by a guy in Maine).
You can probably get decent sound from box shop electronics--e.g. I use a Marantz pre-pro for our small home theatre system and it outperformed my long in the tooth Meridian processor (a highly regarded and now quite expensive line). But, I don’t use it for music. Some people do--I think if you want to go into vinyl, you are going to have to do this step by step; when I first got started, that’s how I did it, as did many of my contemporaries. Which means that you may have just an OK turntable for now-- make sure it doesn’t damage the records (I don’t know about the U-Turn but used Technics 1200s are work horses, perhaps not the height of high fidelity; also, there are smaller low priced Regas (a turntable that has a real following). The preamp- other than the Marantz 7 transistor, there are many updated, modded tube Dynacos still around- starting as a PAS 3 with additional nomenclature that I’d have to look up, but some quick research will put you on the right track.
To me, this is a better investment, not so much financially (hell, if I took all the money I spent on hi fi over the decades and really invested it, I’d be way richer)- but a better investment of your hi-fi dollar that you can build on if you go deeper into the hobby. And even if you don’t, there’s a lot to be said for what used to be called "beer budget" hi-fi. Great sound can be gotten at modest prices if you know what you are after. Coming to this as a neophyte would be daunting, not just because of the terminology and marketing BS, but because even folks that have done this quite a while can’t really judge something until they hear it, long term, and live with it for a while using a variety of source material.
There used to be a whole battle of specs which has morphed into the ’objective’ v. ’subjective’ schools and shadings in between along a spectrum. My point is that the more you dig in, the more you may find that brings you joy rather than "OK, that’s the easy way to check that box."
Sorry for the overlong response. I guess I’m in a mood.
regards,
Rawchuck, 
It might be a good idea to nail down what you're looking for in a speaker first then work backwards up the chain from there. Meaning, do you want/have room for floor standers? Do they require specific placement (near wall, corner, free space, etc.)?  I see asthetic is important to you (and totally understandable). There are plenty of vintage and semi-vintage speakers to choose from that have an MCM look (or at least real walnut graiin) that have their fans from an audio quality standpoint. KEF 107 or 105, IMF TLS 80, and Altec Model 19 just to name a few. Some of these could eat up a sizeable chunk of your budget however. The speakers will dictate what kind of power you'll need to drive them, and to some extent what sound you're trying to pull out of them. 

Minori's suggestion of Sansui integrateds is a solid one. That is one brand I would look into if you decide to go with a vintage integrated, and would give you that full, warm sound.

Yakbob makes a good suggestion with the IMF tls 80 and the Altec Model 19 (if you have the room for it. Both full range and dynamic but easy on the ears. 
Ok, this is very helpful. I think the idea of starting with speakers and working backwards makes a lot of sense. I realize that while I feel quite versed in guitar speakers (I am a musician), I have no idea about hifi speakers.

Also, I looked into the IMF tls 80 and the Altec 19, and I am realizing that maybe I should get bookshelf type speakers.....I think if a set of altec 19’s showed up, my wife would throw me out! I am realizing that part of the appeal of the Heresy speakers was the small size....

any recommendations for bookshelf speakers that exude that vintage goodness?

i will also check into Sansui receivers and some of the modular setups suggested.

Oh yeah, my budget is about $2500....

Please keep the the suggestions coming!!!


" I was planning on buying and already fully restored 2275, and possibly some upgraded Heresy I's."

" However, I am starting to get the picture that this may not be the best set of speakers for this unit. "

Don't discount the Heresys so easily, especially the Heresy III's.  The HI and HII are easy to find in good condition on the used market.  Give them a try, if not satisfied, reselling is a snap.

Bill

I agree that Heresy IIIs would be a fine choice. These are a good candidate if you're in a medium sized room, especially if you have to place your speakers near the forward wall. They are not harsh or brittle on the top end when paired with a quality receiver/amp like the Marantz you're considering. Believe it or not, my Heresy IIIs are as warm as my Spendors when driven by a quality amp. 

I've also heard many good things about the aforementioned Wharfedale Dentons and they too have the retro look.

Epos Epic 2s in the cherry veneer have a semi-retro look and sound amazing for the price. You might be able to find a used pair for around $300

Another good option is a pair of Advents, aka The Advent Louspeaker. These speakers can wipe the floor with many modern designs I've heard. Nice examples can be bought for about $500/ pair.

For the turntable, I'd forego a U-turn unless you're concerned with having a warranty. Nice condition, mid-level Technics or Yamaha DD turntables from the 70s/80s can be found for $250 or less, and will outperform the U-turn. Get a $99 Schiit Audio Mani preamp and a Shure M97xe cartridge and you'll have a very respectable analog rig.

Spend the least of your budget on cables. RatShack interconnects and regular OFC speaker cable will perform plenty well for your needs.  
Wortwhile comments here. Vintage does not mean cost savings or fantastic sound by today's standards. Simple designs, honest products, rich sound, and non-sterile aesthetics can deliver that feel good experience. However, in your price range you'll probably have to at least restore older equipment to original spec. Check out the services and used equipment prices at the Audio Classics' website and you'll get an idea what that may involve.

Or, as mentioned, you can seek out new equipment that gives you a look that fits your eye. Maybe, you can post a picture of some piece of gear that does it for you visually and we can help from there.
Kenny
Ok, thanks.

after a lot of googling of speakers, I think I am back to the Heresy's.   they seem like a solid choice that works for for me stylistically and size wise.  I am leaning towards buying a new or used set of heresy iii's.  they seem like the best of the Heresy line, and I can add a sub if I need more bass.  Or I can resell.  Possibly also looking into a set of used Forte speakers, but leaning less that wAmy due to size.

Receivers.  I'm open to a receiver or integrated amp.  If I go with a solid state receiver, I think I am going to continue to look for a vintage receiver.  sticking with klipsch speakers, would a Marantz 2270 or 2275 be a good match?  Or another brand like vintage McIntosh or Sansui?  Budget is about $1500



@rawchuck,


Vintage Marantz, Sansui, McIntosh, Yamaha, Pioneer, Luxman, etc. all would mate well with HIII's.

As mentioned earlier, shoot over to the Klipsch Forum and see what is for sale.  Some great guys that will point you in the right direction.

Bill

Will do.  Thanks!

apart from eBay, is there any online store that I can buy a reputable restoration from?  Or is it best to look in the FS ad's here?

I would look here for people with a history of multiple sales of restored electronics.   Audio Classics in NY state near the McIntosh factory actually but not related sells Macs Marantz etc. 

Speakers can be more widely sourced look here and places like Audio Asylum Trader and many other venues.

No connection or interest in any site I mentioned.

except.

I have a pair of LaScalas I could do without.






I think a nicely restored vintage receiver would serve you well.

That being said, you might consider a new or lightly used Yamaha integrated amp. Their new integrateds retain much of the tonal qualities of their classic 70s models, and are no slouches by modern standards. They also retain much of the retro styling. A lightly used Yamaha A-S1000 in silver would pair nicely with the Heresys and you can find them for under $1k. I paired my Heresys with an A-S500 for a while, a nice combo.

On another note, a decent tube amp really elevates the Heresys to another level. This results in a visceral, enveloping experience IMO. Something like the Cayin A50T would really make them sing. There’s one currently for sale here for $650. Don’t worry about the power specs. I drive my Heresys with 20 tube watts in a large room.
Yes, I agree with Helomech. I was going to mention Cayin or Prima Luna. Either one would make the Heresys sing. I have the A-88T .

Hi rawchuck, I own Marantz 2275, pioneer sx-650, pioneer sx-1250, Kenwood kr-9600, several pairs of speaker's,  one pair is the klipsch km-6,  These speaker's have 2 10" woofer's and a horn,  These speaker's sound better than in opinion,  any Hershey model's,  I'm not sure  what sound you are after,  however, the Kenwood kr-9600 bettered the other receivers by a large margin with these attributes,  speed, dynamic slam, bass, mid-range,  sound stage,  tone, useing the klipsch km-6 speaker's, cheers,  and good luck 😀
I have 3 vintage reoeivers. A Marantz 2252B, Sansui Model 8 and Luxman 1050-R. For sound quality alone the Luxman and Sansui sound best to my ears. The Marantz don't get me wrong sounds very good but the other 2 just sound better to my ears. You can't go wrong with the Marantz regardless. It definitely looks the best :) 
I'm gonna offend some folks here, but I honestly think the 2270 is the most overrated unit of all vintage receivers. It's got that iconic look and a good sound, assuming it's been fully restored and meticulously burned in and dialed in. I think the 2275 is the better choice. I like my 2252 because it's got more punch and sparkle as opposed to the "three martini" sound. I think it lends more depth and detail. 
On the speaker front, I like ESS. You probably don't get much further from Klipsch than that. I like my AMT1's, but a hulking pair of AMT-3 Rock Monitors would be my ideal choice. Those are truly monster floor standing, gut rattling beasts that will soak up as much clean power as you can throw at them. In good shape, if not restored, they're bold statement pieces. 
Restored Fisher 500c
Klipsch Heresy
Thorens TT, stock arm, Ortofon mid level cartridge

or restored AR TT and Shure M97 cartridge.

Done.

Warm tube sound to balance (potential) harshness from the Heresy pr.  Enough power to drive the speakers in all but large rooms at stadium volume.   TT, once restored and set up properly, is essentially set and forget.

You should have money left over from your $2500 budget.
Hi , my 4 cents . Go big , and get a modern turntable . I have a Marantz 2223b paired with Klipsch KG 1.5's on heavy metal stands in my bedroom . I have a Sansui 9090db  paired with JBL 4312's on Sound Anchor stands in the den . I have a pair of Klipsch Heresy II's in the closet that I rotate with the big system . I have modern low powered SEP tubes in the living room . I gave my vintage Pioneer turntable away . Orange County speaker has everything you need to restore JBL's and there are many places to obtain Klipsch parts too . I really dislike the newer Klipsch speakers , too bright ! The Heresy's on stands or platforms are nice . I'm not much of a passive radiator fan . Get some modest interconnects and speaker cables ( don't overspend ). Get a modern turntable that fits your budget . The styling will match your system, especially with a walnut base . While vintage receivers have " The Look ", will you ever use the tuner . Maybe consider a vintage integrated amp . I use 10 gauge bulk wire for the Marantz and the old woven Kimber wire for the Sansui ( I goes with the look ). It's important to match your receiver/ speaker combo ! I put the Marantz and the KG 1.5's together , and with the stands and the appropriate distance from the wall , the puny system really kicks ass . Also it's one of those rare few systems that all classic rock sounds good on . The Sansui/JBl less so , and my SEP/ Zu Omen system is extremely material sensitive ( boo hoo ). So in closing , Try to audition the pair . Go big , modest cables , and modern turntable last . Also try FLAC files with a decent DAC , you'll be surprised , especially VS the cost of getting back into vinyl . Happy Listening and I  look forward to hearing what you get . Regards , Mike . 
To answer your question about where - if you join audiokarma, for paid members, there's the Bartertown area of the site where a lot of restored vintage gear are offered up.  Many of those were restored by respected techs and are being changed hands by collectors for various reasons.  And everyone is quite helpful sharing their experiences.
I'm another klipsch/marantz fanatic.  They are a very good match.  However, as I got into the heretiage line, I have fortes and heresys, and further into vinyl, I discovered tubes bring out dimensions in klipsch  I did not know were there.  I buy everything on Craigslist and take my time, but the secondary system I have recently stumbled upon is, imho, unbeatable for price.  I'm driving recapped heresys with a modern 7 tube 20watt per channel jolinda integrated amp for under $800.  This simple, elegant, low watt, high efficiency combo sounds nearly as good as my 3x more expensive main system (forte, rogue audio tube pre, moscode tube hybrid) and way better than my 200watt solid state McIntosh amp. And is every bit as loud. If your are going to be listening to vinyl you are makeing a huge sacrifice for the aesthetic's of a 70's solid state unit vs the sound of tubes. (Though I think the aesthetics of most tube units are outstanding). Used heresys are easy on Craigslist and finding a low watt modern integrated tube amp in the 500-1000 range on Audiogon is very doable and leaves plenty of paper in your budget for either a vintage or modern turntable. I'm no expert, but have been obsessed with similar questions the last few years and my ears have led me to these conclusions. :-)
To Argonsteele - Great input , thanks. I didn't want to get long winded earlier , plus you were asking about vintage SS.  I had an Antique Sound Labs 30 wpc tube integrated about 10 years ago when I picked up the Heresy's. I rolled a quad of Winged C's and NOS Tungsram drivers . This was a great match with the Heresy's. I had amp, tubes, speakers , power cords , interconnects and speaker cables ( all Zu ), for $1400. Now if you re-cap or get Crites crossovers and a turntable , you're within budget . The Klipsch Heritage line is king of modest priced high efficiency early model speakers . The common phrase is " tubes tame the Klipsch harshness ". Like the Man of Steele , I too shop on line for used stuff . I live in central California and have driven to SF , Sacramento , San Jose and LA to pick up my purchases . It gives me a chance to see in person before I pay . Avoid shipping costs/damage and  get ripped off . True audioheads love to share their experiences. Also in this type of a system you can always add a sub(s), I have . As far as the Retro Look , tubes are the bomb , the blue light Marantz and the Macs are probably the best known look though . If you get a Marantz in the 30 to 50 watt range , it won't break the bank either . Now with the baby Marantz I have , I could also use it as preamp. I've had Dynaco FM-3, SCA 35 , MK III's and JBL L19's , Advent, Omega , Garrrard , Pioneer . I've built kit pre and power amps . I've built numerous speakers . Nothing is more satisfying to me than getting a good sound while playing with budget stuff . While I prefer the JBL sound , it takes more power to run and is more expensive . Also with tubes , you need to be committed to a larger block of listening time . With SS you can say , play an album and then turn it off . But the plus with tubes is you won't get ear fatigue, and you can change the personality of your system by tube rolling . So here we go 🏄🏽. Regards , Mike . 
Thanks again for everybody's input.

This has, so far, been very informative and helpful.  And also a lot of fun learning about.

I am thinking that the one part of the system I need to stick with are the Heresy's......I think if any larger speakers show up at my door, it would not go over too well!

that being said, the idea of a decent integrated tube amp is becoming very appealing.  It seems like that might be the best match for the Heresy's.  As much as I like the look of those ss 70's receivers, I think a decent tube amp will provide me with a lot of listenening pleasure.

i am also thinking a modern tt might be a wise starting point as well....I'll save the vintage gear for my NEXT system!

i think I am going to just go ahead and purchase a set of Heresy's.  Not sure whether I am going to go with I, II, or III's.....gonna see what the best choice is on the used market.

as far as a tube integrated, I would like to stay away from the hybrid tube/class d stuff.  I'm thinking all tube would be best.  i am aware of Cayin, Jolida, and Rogue, but what are some other brands I should consider?  I'm thinking that the budget for a good tube amp would realistically be $500-1500....
Has anybody used these?

https://www.frenzeltubeamps.com/page72.php


I am also a musician, and this company makes really nice guitar amps too.  Wondering about his stereo amps?
Not long ago with a great pair of small speakers and a second McIntosh MR74 tiner, I thought about 40 years ago when Woodland Stereo in Woodland Hills, Calif. was offering the Yamaha CA800 and CA1000 integrated amplifiers.  In fact I got a CA1000 and thought it was fabulous sounding.  In fact serious audiophiles were purchasing the CA1000 at the time strictly for it's pre-amplifier and phono pre-amplifier features.  At the time, the late 1970's Woodland Stereo was the biggest top end audio dealership at the time.  Anyway I got a CA800 off of EBay for $194 total and it is fabulous.  It also has two phono imputs as well as a headphone amplifier.  Oh yes, it also goes true class A with a flip of a switch.  I believe that the Yamaha CA800 and CA1000, along with the CT7000 FM tuner that gave Yamaha thir reputation for audio excellence at the time.  Of course, my own second audio system, consisting of the McIntosh MR74 tuner, along with the Yamaha CA800 that I own are two examples of achieving audio excellence, at a very modest price that would be hard to beat, even today.  Audio excellence is audio excellence.   And much of the 40-50 year old stuff going on the internet is still in as new  condition.  And we old farts are dying off right and left these dsys.  All this stuff needs is a good home.
Get a nice pair of the IMF large speakers  around $1200 used, find a nice Lafayette KT-550 power amp around $1500, get a nice Lenco 75 TT.  Go with a nice Counterpoint SA-3000 preamp (have it modified $1200 or so, not sure about the phono preamp but I can sell you the one I build for $8500!  HA!

Happy Listening.
Older Marantz are nice.  'Warm sound', always seemed more powerful than the specs suggested.  The ones with a mid-range tone control was nice if you don't opt for an outboard eq.  And the wood cabinets were pleasant to have around....*S*