IMHO, you should decided on your speakers first.
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I owned a Krell KSA-100 for a few years in the early 90's and while it was (supposedly) a seminal amp for it's time and years after, I found it kind of hard and brittle to listen to. Of course, it could have simply been the horrendous digital front end I had at the time.
I've also owned higher powered Rotel and Adcom amps. Good, reliable, amps but not the most musical sounding to my ears(I'm a toob guy). The Rotel was the most neutral and balanced of the three if I had to guess.
If I was going to start over with solid state again right now and $1k-1.2k was the target price, Beyston and Odyssey would be at the top of my list for sound, dependability, and resale value. It might aslo be worth considering Bel Canto's eVo amps.
But, some of the best affordable SS amps I have heard in the last 5-7 years are Monarchy SE-100 Deluxe(or SM-70) monoblocks. A used pair can be picked up for ~$900($600 for the SM-70's) or less. These things are real performers far beyond the Adcom, Rotel, NAD, etc. amps I've heard - no comparison, sonically..
2002 Stereotimes review
2002 Soundstage review
2000 Audioexpress review(.pdf file)
1999 Soundstage review
Agree with the above from Unsound and S23chang. You speakers will give you the sound that you prefer for the type of music you prefer in your own room. You cannot just buy what is the "best" components and put them all together in your room, it won't work. I owned the Pass Labs X-250 which is a really great amp but it did not work with all of the speakers that I tried in my room. Sometimes it sounded horrible.
Speakers first and then find an amp that mates best with them, and it does NOT have to be the highest priced amp either.
It is quite a mind, though. Speakers and source are no brainers for this 'phoolish brain as far as the embryonics of my rig. I'm not married to the which comes first chicken or the egg thing, regading amp and preamp, but speaker/source?-- for sure. OOPs, I forgot the ICs. I'd put them right after the source. Don't want to start my source behind the eight ball would you? Ah, a heavenly signal, now the journey to the speakers.
your on the right line about buying "better used gear' than "new gear" at the same price.
would suggest suggest considering muse, pass, and classe (i have a older pair of muse mono's and they are not outclassed by my classe cam 350's)
going with a tube preamp gives the listener about 80% of the tube sound with a lot less tube hassle (imho..)
Mike IMHO (given your percentage measurement analysis)80% leaves a hellava lot of room for improvement for these ears. 20% of a million dollars is still, no matter how you look at it $200k. That is a lot of money to throw away. I'm guilty of these ridiculous percentage quotes myself. Don't know where I get them, but what I'm trying to say, IMHO, 80% of-- doesn't cut it for me...