I think you can have Ms. Manley put the right transformer in a Chinook if you are buying it new (not sure of the price.)
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Thanks Mechans - I can get the Chinook in 240v - I'm not sure however of how it compares to the 20/20.
Bpoletti - The Herron seems like it might not be quite warm enough in my system but appreciate the suggestion
Pbnaudio - The liberty looks good but am unsure about its Class A operation and heat generation - I am already challenged with heat dissipation in the current set-up. I am installing fans to alleviate this but want to avoid a lot more heat. Having said that - that is one disadvantage (I would have thought) of the Manley vs the 20/20 - i reckon the latter would run a fair bit cooler?
I would call Keith Herron and see if he has any demo units of the VTPH-2. It does exactly what you want and does it better than the Chinook which I also auditioned. It is in your budget. It is a fine piece of equipment which more than fit in a relatively more expensive system than the Herron (Magico, Esoteric, Basis etc). It stands in my opinion with units costing much more.
Steve- You mentioned the OP would save money with the 834 Deluxe. It has gone up in price AGAIN, and is $2595 as of January 2014. If I'm not mistaken, the Chinook actually costs less. I would think the K @ K, along w/ the Herron already mentioned, would be great choices as well. I have heard the phono stage in the Ear 912, and it was indeed on the warmer side !
FJN04 - perhaps i'm missing something but not sure about what you mean by [email protected]?
Teeshot - the straight 834 certainly has increased in price - it used to be much less I think! Still - i'll explore as it certainly seems to have the kind of sonic signature i'm after.