I would look into used Chinese gear. Some of their manufacturers (Cayin for instance) are rather good.
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Personally, I think you are a perfect candidate for a Jadis Orchestra Reference.
The brand has been pretty well decimated here in the USA, and you are able to find them here often on Audiogon, at 50% or less of their original price.
I own one, and feel it is one of the best tube integrateds made. It does not eclipse their more upscale integrateds, such as the DA60, but I find the overall package better than just about any other tube integrated I can think of.
You are getting a serious amplifier here. The Jadis transformers are about as good as you can do, and the quality and power of a tube amps transformers is important beyond whatever I could convey to you. The power, bandwidth, bass extension, etc. are a direct reflection of the amp's transformers - it couples the amp to the speakers, analogous to the tires on a car. And we all know how critical good tires are.
The amp is a bit sweet, and a touch lush, but not all that much. The sound I am describing is with the KT90 tubes. Switching to KT88 or EL34, which the amp can also run would push it to a more romantic sound for anyone looking for that. 6550 would take it to the leaner side. My KT90s have about 6 years on them, and while I may be getting close to their end of the road, that is a lot of life for a tube amp.
I have been on a pretty long audio journey and other than power, which it betters any other 4 tube integrated I have come across, I frequently wonder if it I can do better without going really far out.
Build quality of the Jadis matches its parts quality, which uses some excellent caps, gold plated ceramic tube sockets, huge OFC wound transformers. The tone controls are a cool feature, you can take the edge off or brighten up a recording, or add a bit of boom when your non audiophile friends demand it.
The only complaints I have with the sound are with the gold plated finish, which is difficult to clean and keep pristine and the overly involved bias procedure.
Doh! S23chang, I guess it's true about men and reading the directions... That'll fix me to be answering threads here on Audiogon, while tying to get my work done at the same time.
Never hurts to read the thread fully. I guess I saw that he was tired of Jolida 302s breaking down on him, and figured he wanted to take a step up. Do you think anyone would jump on buying my JOR for $300 - $400 here?
Trelja, so of course I read your thread and hit the Web looking at Jadis, thinking "Hmmm,", but was quickly slapped back to financial reality.
I was really hoping to hear from owners too of the 102, or the new "baby" Jolida hybrid. I'm willing to admit that I may have just had bad luck with my Jolida examples.
I just love the look of the 102B, that tiny "electric fireplace". I've not heard one, but hear that the EL84 is a most musical tube, especially in the mids. Most of my tube experience has been of the EL34/KT88 flavor. Audioreview.com is helpful, of course, but if there's some 102B owners out there who would be willing to drop me a line, and share the "good, bad and ugly", I'd appreciate it very much.
Thanks for the responses all, and happy listening.
Aldenruss, I am surprised you would want a 102B after having problems with two of your 302B. Personally, the 302B is my favorite Jolida amp, and I kind of consider it a mini Jadis. I would see about fixing one or both of them, and selling the other - either as is or fixed. Of course, most audiophiles avoid broken gear like the plague, so you are better off fixing it first. Hey, if you want to sell one of the Jolidas cheap, I may know someone...
Anyway, back to reality. How many sources do you have? Do you spin vinyl? If you don't do vinyl, and only run a CD player, or maybe even a tuner as well, I would suggest maybe an NAD 2600A. I just loaned mine out to a friend, and he loves it. As it has level controls on the amp, you don't need a preamp. The sound of going CD direct into it is pretty clean(not as clean as my Jadis), but it has a goodly amount of power, more than any of my tube amps in the bass for sure.
You could also think about an AMC tube integrated.
Good luck on this quest!
I am at a loss.
I, too have seen those Radii amps and licked my chops.
I wish you good luck in your search for a good tubed integrated for under $500.
THe only thing that I know of would be a Pair of the ASL wave 8 mono amps and a cheap Creek volume control.
Probably not enough rock for you there, however, though...
I'd ask that sweet girl in your life for $300 to add to your bank.
For 7 bills, you are getting into a range where there are many more options available to you.
Joe- let me know if you want to get rid of that Jadis...
I agree there really aren't a lot of choices at that price. If you can get $600 together then you can experiment and listen to the newer Chinese imports if you don't take Trelja's advice. The Jolida 302 is a perpetual favorite ( Joe I am sorry, but a Jadis it is not) and while I didn't think it was great myself because it does everything but in a Mediocre with way definition, soundstage etc. It is very popular nevertheless, especially with certain speakers. It will give you the tube flavor. Just don't ask too much of it. EL84 tube amps are small and low powered there are some exceptions, and the amps can be very musical, but you'll need really efficient speakers. The AMC has also been recommended to me but its tubes are welded in place. So I have avoided it. Like I said there are lots of newer products coming out. Look for the thread on the Cayin et. al.