Prima Luna Prologue II.
Please see the review of the Prima Luna Prologue 2 that I submitted here about a month or so ago. It is an integrated tube amp and its performance is equal to, if not better than other more expensive power amps that I own. At $1345, it has me considering buying another for use in my main system.
Another vote for the Primaluna. With your speakers,I might also suggest that you consider saving $250 and getting the Prologue 1 which uses EL34 tubes (which cost about 50% less than KT88's or 6550's). I have this amp - it sounds great. Its full voiced, that is its bass is surprisingly full (not as tight as SS though), warm mid-range and natural tone but not over-extended in the highs. Best of all, for someone new to tubes its idiot proof. No biasing to fiddle with, fused bias resistors eliminate problems if a tube shorts out (no trip to the repair shop) and if you want to change the tone of the original tubes, which are fairly decent by the way, rolling tubes using new production stuff (as opposed to NOS) can work quite well. I've also had mine apart for a view. This is one well built unit!
I would recommend any of the Conrad Johnson amps, period. I have used a MV52 for years and now have a Premier 11a, which is an outstanding amp and goes for around 1500 used. It is only 70 watts but it does better than a perreaux at 200 watts that I borrowed to try by far and is a lot older. No contest. Michael
Don't consider anything with less than 40wpc in my opinion. Your speakers are not very efficient and will sound aweful on a low power amp (stay away from 2A3, 6BQ5, 7189, 300B and more).
Most entry level/lower priced amps don't have much power is the problem. Most of the suggestions above will work fine. I'd suggest something with EL34's, KT88's or? to give enough power.
Also, since it appears you are new at this, find an amp that takes easy to replace/roll tubes.
Borrow an amp first is my suggestion. I would also stay away from vintage until you know how tubes work.
wow, thx for all the responses and great advice friends! i will definitely check into all the brands and models that were suggested!
someone did mention i should probably avoid looking at any 'vintage' hardware at this point? are they generally harder to keep running? if so maybe a good thing someone mentioned, as i was looking at a pair of restored 'McIntosh 275's' last night that looked very attractive!
i will take a look at all the units that have been recommended, if anyone else has any input it also would be greatly appreciated! thx again all, have a wonderful weekend..!
Bill Baker of Response Audio (www.responseaudio.com/specials.htm)
has a MingDa MC88 integrated amp for sale at $800. Unlike most so-called tube integrateds, this unit has a true active preamp stage, not just a passive volume pot. The additional gain from the active preamp stage plus 40-50W/channel output(depending on whether you use 6550, KT88 or KT90 power tubes)should be more than needed to drive your speakers to very hi volumes in the room you describe. As a new tube owner, you'll have a unit that gives you the full tube sound (pre and power amps) in a single unit that you'll not lose much money on (if any) should you later decide to move up the ladder of quality. The stock Ming Da units sonically are a real bargain for the price (I also own an Art Audio Jota 300B amp so I know how expensive tube gear compares) and look classy without the gaudy "23rd century sci-fi" (IMO) look of many other Chinese brands.
The power tube flexibility lets you try the different types later on if interested (my favorites are ElectroHarmonix KT88s and EI Type 2 KT90s).
Bill is a great guy who's there to help with any questions/issues, something impossible to guarantee if buying used from a private party.
My recommendation comes from having both bought a used amp from Bill (ASL MG15-DT) and also having him mod two Ming Da tube preamps (MC-7Rs) as well as a pair of Ming Da monoblocks (MC-805A).
The $700 you'll save from your max budgeted will buy a nice CDP or lots of music.
Best wishes whatever your decisions.
I have a Consonance M100 plus integrated, it uses 12AT7s, 6SN7s and EL34s with an active gain stage. I have rolled all the tubes, but that's necessary. My wife likes the polite sound we get from it, it is not a speed demon. It has been very reliable and powers my Von Schwieckert VR2 speakers well. The VR2 impedance curve shows no dipping below their 8 ohm nominal rating so a lot it will depend on your RBHs. An alternative is even less expensive which is Sound Quest which uses KT 88s. Check out "Quest for Sound" for either. I have no financial or any other conflict of interest.
For used amps you might want to check out the Golden Tube Audio SE-40. These were designed as 40w stereo (which might be enough for your room and system) and they were frequently bridged to make an 80w monoblock. Some of the later products might have reliability problems, and the company eventually went bankrupt. But mine, which I bought used, have worked perfectly for several years. You can occaisonally find them here on audiogon for about $450, or $900 for a pair of monoblocks. They are a great, inexpensive introduction to tubes. There was a topic on GTA here recently, and these is also a yahoo group which has more info on these amps.
alright friends... just wanted to thank all for the input and responses in this thread, lots of great information and suggestions that were very helpful and enlightening as i tried to choose my first tube amp.
what i ended up purchasing in the end to get acquainted w/ the tube scene is the Almarro A318a integrated amplifier... even though my custom-ordered RBHsound loudspeakers have not arrived yet, i couldn't wait and plugged the A318a into a pair of Linn 'Katans' bookshelf speakers "liberated" from my home theatre setup, w/ cheap 16 AWG speaker cabling. i fired up the system for the first time last night, and all i could say was...
the music is just pouring out of the Katans like liquid, and i have found myself unable to walk away from the system, i keep wanting to hear song after song... as i said before, i am a total 'newbler' when it comes to audio equipment, and listening to the luscious and warm sound produced has just left me speechless. i'm most certainly hooked, and cant wait for mt RBHsound 61-SE's to arrive which are much more sensitive that my Katans (only 85dB sensitivity) so i am expecting even more from the system as i get it laid out properly...
after reading many good reviews about the Almarro A318a i am not dissapointed w/ the purchase at all, the aesthetics of the unit are just gorgeous (especially w/in my japanese-style home office) and the warm and enveloping sound just has me nailed to the floor as i am more and more impressed w/ the output.
my next step is to choose some reasonable speaker cabling for the final setup, i am planning on going w/ a heavy gauge copper wire for the aluminum woofers in the 61-SE's, and a silver wire to drive the silk-dome tweeters, from what i've heard so far it seem things can only get better from here forward!
just wanted to give my sincere thanks to all who so kindly offered input and suggestions as i wandered in these fora totally clueless, your help has been greatly appreciated. thx again my friends, wonderful day to all..!