Stereo Tube Amp Comparisons

Can you offer any comparisons for the following stereo tube amps? I am looking for a musical amp, great mid range, great soundstage with decent bass control for a 10" woofer. I do realize that there is no "best" amp but I would like to narrow down my search by sonics as stated above, plus amps that are easy to live with, easy to bias, good manufacturer for assistance and repair, easy to get good tubes for, fair resale value. I have read many posts about the amps but I would like to see if anyone has more details about these amps and would like input from someone who has lived with more that one of these amps.

I am putting together a system for a friend who has:
CEC TL-2X transport
Audio Logic 34 DAC
Alon V speakers (3 way, 10" woofer, can be tri-wired)
Counterpoint SA-5000 preamp.
Currently using a Kinergetics KBA-75 class A 75 wpc SS amp

BAT VK-75 (non-se version) is this worth the extra $$$ over the VK-60?
VTL ST-125
VAC Standard 105
Cary 805C
CJ Premier 140
Music Referenece RM-200
Quicksilver V-4

Thanks and Happy Listening.
David Berning ZH-270. Berning probably has the best reliability reputation in the business. The resale value is usually better than 75% of the new price. The amp is auto biasing, so no biasing headaches. The circuit is designed to extend tube life to over 10 years on one set of tubes. It has all of the sonic attributes you listed, plus awesome ZOTL transparency and speed to burn. It doesn't have a fancy jewelry front faceplate, but you never notice that after you turn it on and listen for a few minutes. If sound means more than looks, the ZH-270 is the ticket.
If you're looking for full bodied sound then I would go with Music Referenece RM-200. The music reference has very well bass control and silky highs.
I would go with the CJ hands down............But that's me.

I second the Berning ZH-270. Frankly the 270 is a whole different ball game. Once you hear it there is no turning back. And like Twl said, it is virtually maintenace free, runs cool, and is nearly indestructable. None of the finicky protocol to deal with like most tube amps. If there is no load present it is not going to "melt down", I have also accidentally shorted the binding posts before(unknowingly on an equipment rack)and not only did it not skip a beat, it played for 8 HOURS like that, and never even got hot. And the amp has several levels of protection for power spikes and what not. Truly a bench mark piece. I recommend if you can find one, or hear one to give it a chance. I would be very suprised if wasn't everything and more than what you seek. Good Luck.

Wow... you named quite a few decent tube amps. However, their sonic signatures are all over the board. From my experience, the amps such as the ARC & BAT have a much more "solid state" or analytical sound. While others mentioned, such as the Cary and some of the CJ gear (not personaly familiar with the model you mentioned) tend to be "classic tube sound" where they tend to be a bit more euphonic (phenominal mids) however not the bass control I would care for personally. I have owned Sonic Frontiers SFS-80, Music Reference RM-9 ( auditioned the RM-200 ), Cary SLM-100's, auditioned the Rogue M-150's & Zeus, as well as the Quicksilver V4's. In the middle of the amps you mentioned I would rank the Music Reference RM-200, then the VTL, then the Quicksilver V4's in the middle of the pack, with the Music Ref tending toward the analytical side, and the Quicksilver being the "warmest of the bunch" in the mids. The Berning ZH-270 I have not personally had the chance to audition, however have heard great things about it. With a 10" woofer, however I have also heard OTL amps don't have very good bottom end control, so make sure you account for speaker matching. From your criteria of "musical amp, great midrange, great soundstage,and decent bass control for a 10" woofer." You also mention amps easy to live with, bias, easy to repair, easy to find tubes, and resell. Out of all of these considerations of the amps you list, I would consider the Quicksilver V4's, the Music Reference, and then the VTL's as for personal preference. My reasoning. The sound first and foremost with all... I tend to like a nice "tube" midrange, with the best bottom end control and extension possible in both extremes on a tube amp. The quicksilver V4's allow for awesome build quality in monoblocks for a phenominal price (lack of advertising & playing the audiophile game). The Quicksilver is point to point wired, built in bias meter, and uses any output tube under the sun. I have heard it with KT-90's and each mono block was putting out 180 watts per channel. They key with a good tube amp in my mind is also being able to tube roll, and fine tune the "smallest details" of tube sonics to your preference. With the V4's you can run EL34, KT-90, KT-88, 6L6, 6550, etc, etc. Not to mention all the variations. The 180 wpc will also control your bass the best of the group. My second favorite was the RM-200. Now at the same retail price as the V4's (perhaps it was $500 less) you get half the power, and two output tubes per channel. It is also easy to bias, can use a plethora of tubes, and is built like a tank. However, in the past while biasing my RM-9 (may not be the case with RM-200 - can't recall) it was noisy and made popping sounds. It also did not have the ultimate control in the bottom end, and was not quite as open with the soundstage as the Quicksilver. The VTL would be the last of my 3 favorites in the group. It does what it is meant to do well. You hook it up, plug it in, and treat it as a solid state. NO tube rolling... well sure I guess you can, but I am told it will void your warranty. The VTL is also sent with 6550's which I personally have always found to be a bit on the dark side compared to KT-88 or KT-90's. However, the amp has good midrange, decent control of the bottom end, and is well built, probably the least best of the three but still good. Another consideration some may take into account this day and age, they are all American made. There are many out there that will make provide you with extremely satisfying sonic results. However I know for a fact, the ones that sound the best, have the most tube "flexibility" (in rolling), built like a tank, Made in the USA, great customer service are all important factors to me.

By the way in the past I have had a tube blow in both Music Reference as well as Sonic Frontiers SFS-80 and had to take both to get repaired from blowing out a cap or resistor. That will not happen with the Quicksilver... FWIW

Best of luck!
You've definitely got a variety of sonic flavours listed there. Of those listed, the RM-200 is what i would go with. There are a couple of amps on that list that i would never think of owning. Very little substance with a lot of hype. Sean
I'm curious Bigkidz, you have run a litany of threads requesting info on tube amps. Have you gotten a chance to listen to the Berning yet? At the price point of the amps on your list it should be on the list, its in the price range of several of those amps and quite a bit less than several.

I've heard several of the amps on your list and like Sean, a few I wouldn't even consider. The reason the Berning holds its value so well is limited availability and if there is a tube amp better at its price or up to double I haven't heard it. Bass control? Yeah, I think it could handle a 10" woofer depending on impedance characteristics of course but that is true for the others as well. The zh270 does it all, very true to the music, 3-d, warm, ultra transparent, natural timbres, frequency extension at both ends like ss, fast like ss. Not like tubes nor ss but the best of both and not euphonic which may preclude if from those that prefer that type of presentation.
CJ 8xs;;Then a speaker that is easy to drive--Then the CJs will drive the hell out of them. Matchups are important.
I've listened to nearly all of the amps discussed in this post over the past few years, and they reflect very different musical and sonic priorities to be sure. One thing I can say with certainty is that they sound very different in different contexts, and that it can be very difficult to predict how they will sound in the only one that counts, yours. The upshot is that it is essential for you to listen to the amp in the context of your system. Any dealer worthy of the name would loan you an amp for a weekend audition, which should clear things up rather quickly.

However, I do have my personal favorites in this group, and they sound very different in my system (which is primarily phono based, with a tube pre, and Wilson WP7 speakers). The Berning ZH270 is marvelously neutral with vocal naturalness a distinct plus. The Cary 805Cs render instrumental textures with great palpability. The Jadis Defy 7, which I didn't see mentioned, had beautifully delicate harmonic detail, especially with violins and high percussion. My favorite, however, was the Music Reference RM-200. I have struggled in the past to come up with a purely sonic explanation, but I think it has something to do with its visceral impact with basses, tymps and bass drums, and its fantastic clarity with vocals, guitars, brass and woodwinds. It's also, somehow, quieter than the others, which helps it be less obtrusive. The bottom line for me is that I connect with the music more effortlessly, and more intensely with this amp. Your bottom line should be to find the amp that does the same for you.
Thanks to everyone who responded. After posting this question in several different forms for the past three months, this was the most detailed reponse that I have received. It is greatly appreciated too. I know that there is nothing perfect out there and it is all a matter of taste and system matching so I am trying to narrow down my choices as best I can before going out and trying out too many amps which overall tends to make one more confused.

For the members that have mentioned that they would not buy a few of these amps, can you email me and tell me which ones and why? That would be helpful too and I would NOT tell on you either! I just need more info to assist with my overall selection.

Again, many thanks to you all.

Just just buy a goddamn amp, Peter.