Tube virgin looking for tube amp under $3k


I’ve never owned any tube amps or preamps and since I’ve got 95dB efficient speakers I thought why the heck not? And wow! What a rabbit hole I’ve gone down In the last week or so and my head is really spinning. For just about every amp or amp/preamp combo there’s someone who loves it and someone who says don’t bother. And then the more I dig, the more brands I find.

I’ve read about these products recently:

— Erhard Audio integrated amp 
—The various iterations of the ST-70 (Van Alstein, Bob Latino, Will Vincent, etc.)
—Music Reference RM10
—Cary (out of budget except used)
—Raven (at max budget for integrated)
—Dennis Had (hard to buy/find)
—Quicksilver Mid mono (need preamp)
—Decware (too long a wait for me at the moment but maybe one day)
—Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III (at max budget and do I really need 100WPC with my speakers in a small room?)

And probably a few others I’ve forgotten about already. 

I have to say that the Bob Latino ST-70 speaks to me for the price of entry (about $1400) and the fact that I could get away without a preamp and only use a passive input selector. That said, would an ST-70 be the best choice or only the cheapest? 

Any ideas for a tube newb who doesn’t have a stockpile of tubes to roll in and out of an amp?




larshepping
@larshepping, I sympathize with you. I just went down the same rabbit hole with my system.  I have Spatial M3 triode masters apx 95 db efficiency as well (16ohm). I was considering Don Sachs new Kootenay integrated tube amp but he is backlogged for possibly years at this point.  I ended up ordering his preamp instead.  He actually went online and made some suggestions for good tube amps to try for my remaining $1000 budget.  I ended up getting a VTA Bob Latino ST-120 tube amp. I think a similar new one assembled by Tubes4hifi was going to cost about $1900.   Don suggested this over Prima Luna that I was considering.  The manual biasing is not a big deal and the KT88 tubes seem to provide all the power i need for the Spatials.  My room size is 15 x 16 x 8h.  I don't have the Sachs preamp in the system yet so i am using my old Adcom GFP 555 preamp and i must say that it sounds very good. Dead quiet, very good detail throughout from lows to highs. I am shocked at how good this sounds for the money.  I am really looking forward to how the system sounds when the new preamp arrives.   I was worried about power since it was suggested that the Spatials might play best with min 60 watts/channel. This may not be a concern for your speakers. You may want to contact Don Sachs and talk to him about a Kootenay.
Happy hunting!   
Bob Latino VTA-120. Best with all of the capacitor upgrades. 
I have to second the Audio Note Kits recommendation! ANK provides a build service for some of their products. Any one of the el34 integrated amps will work for you. Hope you find what your looking for.
Chris
I was very happy with my first tube purchase, a Cary SLI-80 used for $2k. I've since upgraded to Cary seperates, but if I were to build another integrated system it would definitely be Cary, though for a better power/cost ratio you could also look into Rogue Audio's offerings. 
If you 'think' you need a tube amp...you should get it. Life is short. Although there are excellent SS in your budget, tube amps do sound different.
Fo for it. Glad I did and wish I did sooner.

For the money, as mentioned, it's hard to beat Quick Silver and Primaluna. Also, there are easy to build kits out there as well. The Don Sachs Kootenay is based on a kit. That amp sounds amazing.