It has now been a month (about 5 weeks) living with these three amplifiers under the same roof. I have owned the PL since 12/16 and the Elekit since 12/17.
The PL has superb build quality, customer service, and features. It's sound in my system is so big and full. In fact, it can be huge. Bass is big and has much authority. Midrange is really nice, but better with some power tubes than others. I know folks always say the PL sounds best with EL34s. It does sound great. However, I think it sounds great with KT150s.
The PL crams a ton of stuff into the case. There's virtually no room to leave a pencil inside of the chassis. Packed. The PL is back breaking. It weights some 55 lbs--maybe more, I haven't checked in a while. The PL has a dizzying amount of power tube rolling possibilities! Huge selling point. The PL uses 8 power tubes and 6 preamp (2 gain/4 driver) tubes. Re-tubing and rolling is a pricey endeavor.
The Elekit is virtually featureless. It's designed as an integrated, but has no remote volume control. It has one pair (yes, just one) of single ended inputs. To say the PCB is thoughtfully laid out is an understatement: It's amazing. The Elekit design is really interested. It's solid state rectified, including mosfets! In a tube amp! Blasphemy. And, it has a touch of negative feedback applied.
The Carver is featherweight. I can lift it by its chrome protective tube bumper with 1 finger! It defies logic. The Elekit is no featherweight either. Those Lundhaul transformers weigh a ton.
The Carver has a nice piano gloss paint finish. I like it better than the PL and the spartan Elekit. All 3 amps have nice binding posts. The RCA jacks on the Elekit are not great. The Carver, while arguably nicer in chassis than the Elekit, is not nicer overall than the PL. But the PL is not a looker--in my humble view. The Carver, while not cheap, is simple and without adornment.
The Carver is the only one of the 3 that needs to be biased or isn't auto biasing. I was surprised at how easy it was to bias. The manufacturer says its fine to set it as low as 60 ma or as high as 120-the lower you go the more it is supposed to sound tubes and soudnstage is supposed to increase. I think that's a fair statement but I didn't hear dramatic differences.
On the PL, I dislike that the default setting is Ultralinear and you must have the remote to change it. My remote died and is out for surgery/replacement. As stated above, the Elekit's 1 set of inputs for an integrated is really a big sin of omission. It really needs to be an amplifier if it's only gonna have 1 set of inputs. I see no faults with the Carver on features. Build quality is solid, but maybe not as substantial as the PL.
Now onto sound. I'll try to put it into only a few key statements--rather than go on and on with audiophile adjectives.
The PL-- Easy to like. Big sound. Bold. Rounded edges here and there. Plenty of weight. Overall smooth, but it's not particularly detailed. It is, however, pretty musical. It's an easy choice. It doesn't offend and makes great music.
The Elekit--Super clear. If you stay well within the amps 9 watt limitations, it is super transparent and clear. Vocals and jazz sound amazing. It resolves detail wonderfully. It has a good size soundstage. Top to bottom, the sound is even, clean and understandable. It, too, is musical, and not super analytical despite its high resolution ability. I wish it had more oomph. Even though my speakers are around 100 dB efficient, they could use a bit more to get them running into stride.
The Carver--Sweet. My listening notes use the words "sweet", "boogies", and "this little amp" repeatedly. The bass is strong and well defined. There's more of it than the Elekit and it's better defined than the PL. Midrange is seductive. The highs swing and don't offend. I was surprised. Like the Elekit (but with more authority) the Carver has something lifelike about the sound. It's not that the PL sounds "fake" or bad in any way whatsoever. The Carver's sound (and pardon the bizarre metaphor) made me think the music was delicious on many listenings. I could eat it! My descriptions of listening session in my notes contain words like "juicy", "sweet".
I really like all three of these amps. I think the PL is a safe, solid choice-especially for my first tube amp in 2016. It's feature-rich, has unreal build quality, and sounds fantastic. The Elekit is a more specialized tool. If the PL is a nice daily driver and party amp, the Elekit is more intimate and for special listening sessions. The Carver is really something special. Personally, I like it a bit more than the PL and it has more versatility than the Elekit.
Each amp is a delight. I was a bit tepid that Carver could make a tube amp with transformers be this light and have this type of sound quality. If you're out there thinking about the Carver, don't let the lack of pro reviews steer you away. Buy from a dealer with a good return policy like Jim Clark or Music Direct.