Atma m-60 with Super Eclipse is as nice a match as I have heard.
Spent many hours listing to the combo.
Spent many hours listing to the combo.
I would go with a little more power in a SET with the super eclipses. You should be able to get a pair of Antique Sound Labs AQ 1006 845's in your price range. They use the 845 tube and are rated at 22 w/ch. They won a golden ear award from the Absolute Sound. You may be able to find a used pair of Unison Research 845 mono's for a little more than your budget. They are rated at 24 w/ch and sound fabulous with unusual extension for a SET. If you are interested in the Antique Sound Labs, I have a pair I will part with.
FWIW, I use an Atmasphere S30 with Alon Lotus SE speakers. Prior to purchasing the S30 I auditioned the Cary 300SE monoblocks and much preferred the S30. Greater speed, transparency and much better bass, despite being half the price of the cary's. Coincident uses the Manley retros for their show demo's, usually push-pull, at 30 watts/ch, so the S30 should be plenty with Super Eclispe. One of Atma-Sphere's dealers, Hifilogic is also a coincident dealer and should be a good source of info. Their listed on the Atma-sphere website. FWIW, if I hadn't gone for the S30, my next choice would have been the VAC 30/30($7000 new).
It appears that Coincident is now selling their own amps, factory direct, 18 watts/ch SET in both a mono and stereo version. Both under $3000. Would still take the time to listen to the Atma-sphere/Coincident combo. I agree with Natalie, the super eclipse's are capable of world class sound with the right amps. Over the long term, you'll be rewarded by not skimping now.
I tried (with my Coincident Super E's) the Manley Retro 300B's--in some weird, interim version (circa January 2000), the Manley Reference 250's, Atma-Sphere M-60 and MA-1's, Cary SLAM-100's, Cary 805-C's, and the 47-Labs Gaincard-S (50-watt version, with double power supplies).
If I were to do it all over again, I would go with Atma-Spere gear (pre-amp and either the M-60's or MA-1's if you have a large room and deep pockets). When you get the A-S/Coincident combo working right (and that takes some doing), I would be surprised if you were not stunned by the life-like qualities this combo can produce. Provisos: Only go with a balanced (XLR) setup where ever possible and definitely only balanced between the pre-amp and the mono blocks; Only use US NOS 6SN7 tubes in the amps, and Svetlana power 6AS7 power tubes; Pay special attention to the cabling (Nordost is what Paul Bolin [TAS] recommended to me--I have good success with Coincident IC's), and make sure you can isolate the A-S power amps well.
At the time I made my amp choice, I opted for the Cary SLAM-100's because the A-S MA-1's were too expensive and would involve too many other system changes, but let me tell you...I heard potential in that A-S/Coincident combo that made me drool--and that's a good thing. The Cary 805-C's sounded slow and congealed to my hear, the Manley Retros were probably "off" (as the cream being 'off') in some way because they just did not sound right in my system or in a friend of mine's system. Mind you, the Retros have gone through some version changes of the last 4 years; I must have had some strange proto-type that did not last long as a model revision. The Manley 250's had incredible bass, but they too sounded as if they were tripping over themselves (timing was off). Perhaps both Manley amps simply did not like working with my pre-amp at the time (Cary SLP-98p). The Manley amps may very well have been so good that they out classed the rest of my system, and I could not tell what was really at fault. I double-checked both amps in better systems.... Who knows?
If you listen to demanding music (large orchestral or heavy-duty pop) in a large room, the Cary SLAM-100's (95 triode, push/pull watts) have a fabulous balance of detail, guts, and musicality. They too benefit from good tubes.
As a side note, I personally think that many folks over look the Super Eclipse glories on bigger tube amps. The Cary SLAM-100 can play delicate passages well AND give you the sense of weight and air being moved by music reproduction that is quite a bit reminiscent of a live orchestra really going at it. Deep, deep, tuneful bass, etc. The obvious area in which the A-S MA-1's just beat the pants off of most amps and ALL Cary amps I've ever heard is the upper frequencies. A-S amps simple sail higher more quickly more accurately than any thing I've heard. A-S amps make most other amps sound positively truncated on the top 6th of the musical spectrum IHO.
As for price, the SLAM's have been discontinued; they probably can be picked up pretty cheaply. The Cary SLI-80 and V-12 amps have been successfully mated to the Supers. They're all cheaper than the SLAM's. IMO, SET's are overrated, even on the easy-to-drive loads of Coincident speakers. Perhaps I just haven't heard a real-world SET done right yet.