I'm interested too.
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It's going to be hard to find an SET amp even a kit for $1500. The Audio Note Kits Kit1 300B is a good amp for $2500. The "problem" with SET amps is there are so few parts that parts quality is crucial especially output transformers which can be quite pricey.
Thanks Imhififan ,Jond and Riley. I would love the audionote but over my budget. As is the don garber listed on Agon.
The elekit has good reviews as does the set45 by Alan Eaton. One other very small builder analog ethos AE1 with 6l6 tubes was recommended by Omega Speakers but Luis Chacko has not heard it. He likes the design of the ae1 and also recommended the elekit.
Since I can’t hear them its very difficult. If I knew which tube to go with that would be a big step. Maybe I’m making too much out of this but I don’t think there is much resale value in kit amps and if I don’t like it I just wasted $1500.
Also my first tube experience was with a primaluna prologue 2 which I had for years and just recently sold.. right now I’m running a nait 2 with omega 3xrs in a listening area 13x15 but the rooms are open concept. I find the nait 2 in the room too shrill but my listening area is very very lively. Still I enjoy the nait. Just looking for the next step.
There is an audiophile who keeps a blog called Glow in the Dark Audio. He has written reviews of many different affordable set amps. You might want to check it out. http://www.glowinthedarkaudio.com/amps.html
Make sure you have speakers of sufficient efficiency! If you really want to get the most out of your amp, the speaker should be sufficiently efficient such that the amp is never pushed past 20-25% of full power. This will allow the distortion of the amp to be very low; the source of their 'inner detail'.
I think the best value vs. sound at your budget can be had from Transcendent Sound. Most of his amp kits are OTLs but he also has a push-pull KT120 that I think sounds very good. The owner/designer is a bit full of himself and his soft skills suck but his stuff sounds better than it should at the prices charge. See what atmasphere says above about SETs. I found this to be exactly true with 8 ohm 96 db efficient speakers.
This is a bit over your budget target but certainly worthy of consideration. The kit comes with Lundahl output transformers and Alps audio grade volume control. The kit might also come with Takman resistors and Mundorf coupling capacitors.
Two options I tell my friends (for whom our NiWatts are a touch too pricey):
Both Brian Cherry (Diyhifi) and Dan S (Bottlehead) have an excellent reputation for value and service.
Thom @ Galibier Design
There are a ton of options. I’ve come across a lot of amps you could build or have assembled already but used for the price range you’re at. Also, extremely high level sound. I have very expensive stuff but have heard some very inexpensive amps that have sounded excellent. Take your time and look around, you’ll find a lot of choices.