Starting out

I've been using my dad's old technics reciever and some Polk towers for about two years now. I recently got into vinyl, and decided to replace my technics turntable with a new Music Hall MMF-5. I mainly listen to rock (Pink Floyd, Satriani, Santana, Nirvana, Clash, etc) as well as some old blues and jazz. I'm interested in tubes, and I've been looking at the Conrad Johnson CAV-50. What are some other tube amps that I could get for under or around 1,500 new or used? Also, what speakers are well paired with the CAV50? My reciever has an integrated phono stage which I'll have to replace if I go to the CAV. How important is the phono stage's role in how the music sounds? Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for any help.
You seem to have a good sense of judgement. ARC/ Rogue/ Jadis need to be included as well. I personally have never heard any of these, but the CJ sure looks nice and I'm sure it has a nice/warm/mellow presentation which on the human voice must be glorious! One day, hopefully, I would love to own what you're considering. Do check on how difficult it is to bias the amp! Also, check on the company's history of customer service and where you would have to send the unit in the event you need service. I'm sure you will find a wealth of opinions based on owner's experiences on this subject. I'm sure you will make the right decision. Bill
Phono stages vary quite a bit in sound "character". I narrowed my pre-amp search to units that could accept internal optional phono boards, to reduce clutter (I have a Classe solid-state pre-amp). I don't know which tube integrateds or pre-amps offer this option.

In short, the phone stage is yet another item in which auditioning, synergy, and your own good taste will be important! That's all part of the fun.
Antique Sound Labs does very nice work for reasonable money. I believe they still offer an integrated with phono for under a $1,000