I've heard both Jolida 502B and ASL AQ1001DT. They are both great, but I liked the ASL better because it has the tube qualities, but also the good parts of solid state. You can put it in triode mode (less power) if you really want to see why people love tubes, but you'll most likely give up some bass.
Good luck on trying tubes.
I wouldn't use any of those amps with the 1.8 given the low impedance and low efficiency. IMO, I think you'll be disappointed with all of them especially in their inability to control the bottom end. My $.02; others may think differently.
You might also consider the JJ828. They can be had here for not too much $$$ (relatively speaking), and are very fast and dynamic. They run a quad of KT88s per side, and have a volume control, 5 inputs, and a remote control, so you don't need a pre. They are cool looking and available in a number of color combinations (my favorite is the black wood finish with silver metal). The only down side is that they might not sound tubey enough.
I don't think one has to give up on any "speed or impact" with tubes. Here are two suggestions. Manley 100wpc monoblocks. Or for less money the Cary Rocket 88R. You will of course need a suitable preamp as well.
You might want to try a tubed preamp with a solid state amp with the Dynaudio's. That way you can get a taste of tubes and still be able to drive the Dynaudios.
I agree with tubes pre and SS power, I have brutally hard electrostat speakers that most tubes cant power, added a tube pre and I am very happy!
tube preamps with ss amps is a common combination... (said the guy with the Supratek pre & the McCormack & Gallo amps)
It seems I continue to be a one man cheering squad for the musically natural, speedy, impactful Aronov Audio amps. Not tubey, just amazing delivery of what's in the recording, including bass and percussion which has listeners looking for the missing transistors. Ready for the challenge of any rock musician. Although the tube fuss is usually related to the glories of the midrange and human voice reproduction, the frequency exremes can be well handled by a tube amp.
I can relate to the problem of first "hearing" an amp only through the ears of others since I bought my Aronov after speaking to a distant dealer who helped match the amp to my system.
VTL MB450 might do the trick. I would suggest if you really want to experience what quality tubed gear can do you acquire a pair of high efficiency speakers. A pair of Living Voice Avatar speakers hit yesterday at 2200; wonderful speakers and 8 watts is quite enough power for them. They are also full range and make real bass.
Speakers such as the Living Voice open you up to all sorts of great amplifier possibilities. The first watt of power is the most important watt and that is what you listen to most of the time; the rest of the watts for for transients usually.
As mentioned earlier, you might try a tubed pre and a solid state amp. I have Hales Rev 3s which are rated at I believe 87db and I have been told that I would have to have a good sized tube amp (say 100 watts) in order to drive them well. I recomend the AES AE3 tubed pre amp as long as you get rid of it's stock tubes and replace with NOS. I use sylvanias. There is one for sale here on the Gon. Buy it try it. If you don't like it sell it again. No it's not mine and I don't know who's selling it.
Going tubes is great but with right speaker. If your 1.8's are anything like the 1.3's I had, they need power and lots of it to sound good. Good luck.
Let me add a bit more info-
I'm not giving up on solid state by any means, I still have my SS H/T gear, but I just moved to an apartment and need to get a bit more enjoyment playing music at lower levels to keep peace w/ the neighbors.
I don't want to swap out the pre because I'll eventually move back to H/T at some point.
Budget is <1000 and I'm looking to buy used.
I could get one of those X10D things from Musical Fidelity and keep my SS setup as is, but will that really create that seduction that everyone raves about? Somehow I doubt that, I tried a tubed CD player once and could hardly notice the difference.
I own the PrimaLuna P2 driving Wilson Benesch Arcs. My previous speakers were Dynaudio 1.3mk2s, and I've listened to the PrimaLuna with these and the Dynaudio C1s. I love the PrimaLuna tube amp--but not with the Dyns.
The sound through the Dynaudios was too warm and undynamic for my tastes. My former amp was a Plinius 8100 and I preferred it to the PrimaLuna when using my old 1.3s. The Wilson Benesch is more transparent and detailed, making them a better mate for a tube amp. The SS amp and tube preamp suggestions may also be a better choice than an all-tube setup.
About my speakers, I really, really, love them, so they aren't going to change. Also I found a review (Fi 1999) in which they paired the 1.8's with a 20 watt SET amp with amazing results so I know it's possible.
At <$1,000 I can also recommend the Wright Sound WLA12A. I previously owned a modded Dynaco PAS and a stock Bottlehead Foreplay I (both 12AX7) and they were just too warm in my system. The Wright leans way more toward the neutral side and the tube rectification gives it that last bit of smoothness compared to the AES AE-3. Both use the 6SN7, which is less common than the 12AX7 variants but worth it, IMHO.
I run the Wright with a modded Hafler DH-200 and the combination is very good for a budget system.
"I know it's possible"
I think it depends on what you expect to get out of the new system. I currently run a modded Jolida 502B (60 watts) into a 90db sensitive, 8-ohm pair of speakers. I've also hooked this amp up to 87db 4-ohm speakers. In both cases I'm looking for more power. Both setups sound lovely, but it isn't at all hard to use about all this amp has to offer. Since I don't like running an amp that hard, I only listen at lower levels until I put together a tube pre-SS power combo.
If you want to try the lower power tube option I'd pick something that has good resale as you may be moving on..."what you expect to get out of the new system."
If you really like these speakers take a look at a quality 300b push/pull tube amp. We installed such an amplifier as part of an installation for a five way horn system. The 15" woofer is rated at 85db/8 ohms. Our push/pull tube amp replaced a pair of very powerful Pass monoblocks. The tube amp controls the driver better and sounds better; no shortage of power. The other four channels of these speakers use our single ended interstage coupled amplifiers. Custom tubed crossovers are used to managed the different freqencies.
We also have found the Svetlana SV572-3 tube to be powerful and super sweet in SET mode. A single ended 572 amp will make about the same power as the 300b push/pull but it will be a true single ended amp. We have five pair of the Svetlana tubes so no concerns about having to find tubes no longer in production.