You should add McIntosh to your list. They have been making amps for 70 years. I have friends that own their gear and swear by it!
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Don't take this the wrong way but I'd avoid the pitfalls of a popularity contest. The same caveats you raise about reviews and discussion would apply to any list that anyone cares to come up with.
Having said that, there's an amp maker named Liu, from China, who's fond of the Swiss approach to amp design. Think champagne taste on a beer budget, without the bloat.
The amp is the Kinki EX-M1 and there are two versions that both come under your price limits. I have the first version and I'll die with this integrated.
All the best,
Assuming used is okay and you have been a tube guy. I'd look at SST Son of Ampzilla 2000. Pass has some models that x tube guys like. You didn't say how much power that you needed. I don't see a tube head liking any PS Audio all solid state amps, any affordable Krell, I could see you leaning towards an older Jeff Rowland. One of the better old pure class A amps that are properly rebuild might work... Kinergetic KBA75?
You definitely want to stay a way from older Krell amps Like the KMA and KSA series. They used an insufficient number of output devices and were under cooled. Many of them blew their output stages.
I am a Pass fan if you can find a decent unit for the money you plan on spending which is unfortunately not likely. You might find a used Sanders amp for that money and they are a great value if you like the sound which is more like the Boulder amps. If you could save up to $5000 you might find a pair of JC-1s which blow everyone away. McIntosh is always an option if you value reliability over everything. They have a very comfortable if slightly veiled sound quality.
With a budget of < $3K it is tough to make a rep based on my experience. But first I would want to know what kind of speakers you are driving. What is the sensitivity in dB and impedance in ohms. Having said that I don’t think you can go wrong with getting a pair of Schiit Vidar monoblocks and you will have money to spare. An amp that I have been circling around because the personal reviews and specs are amazing is the Benchmark AHB2 which is $2999. Another favorite, but you will have to stretch the budget a little is the Bryston 4B3 which you can get used with proper negotiating for around $3300-$3600.
I've been to Troy Michigan...you have a great audio store nearby if I remember correctly....Audio Dimensions?
Your profile says the LS50s are your current loudspeakers...and as you know, they need lots of good quality power to sound their best. I'm going to make a recommendation that is a little counter to those already made...a new amp from a brilliant designer which you can try for 30+ days and return if its not your cup of tea. It weighs 18lbs so it won't cost a lot to return and if you look at all the reviews on the company's products you will see praise that notes things like combines the best of tube and solid state.
I own this amp (the 2Cherry) so like others, I'm speaking from my own experience. Here is a link...and I see the company is having a summer sale so I'm pretty sure that if you email them , you will find that the price is $300+ lower than the normal retail price....so well under your $3k budget depending on the version you choose.
Here is a link to the most recent review I've seen of one of their products...and on their home page, they have many links to others.
Here is a link to their audio circle page...lots of interesting reading here.