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
Don Sachs here.. Whoa, there is a post above that says my Kootenay amp is based on a kit.  Huh?  No way.  
Dennis Had Inspire. Tons of amps, lot’s of styles, all under $2k.
Your list looks very familiar. I searched for months reading reviews and watching videos. New to the tube amp arena, also. Not an Audiophile but trying to broaden my horizons.  Having very efficient speakers, Klipsch Heresy IV- 99db,  I knew a huge amount of power was not necessary. I liked what I read about Rogue, Luxman , Decware and Raven. What sold me on Raven Audio was what I perceived as Quality in an American made product.  So I contacted Raven Audio and have been blown away by there customer Service. How many times do you reach out to a business for information and are met with a phone maze and in some instances never talking to a real person in a timely manner. Bryant Wilson talked to me for 25 minutes when I called between Christmas and New Years. Oh, did I mention that they were closed for inventory but he still answered the phone. James Connell and I have spoken twice, right before I ordered and recently answering some questions this first month of break-in. On their Community site a member had an issue with a popping sound on his Nighthawk Mark III and three Raven Audio associates reached out and helped him to solve the problem in short order. They are very accessible.
   As for Sound my Nighthawk Mark III, it has been EVERYTHING I hoped for. I can't give a technical evaluation since I don't have the knowledge. More depth, less raspy vocals, layering and greater soundstage-yes.  The Nighthawk arrives with NOS pre-amp tubes, 6.. Coming from a Marantz PM7000n integrated amp this has been an eye opening journey. I have been drawn in for many hours of pleasurable listening and for Me that is what it's about anyway! 
   I realize Raven Audio is at the top of your $3000 budget, for me also.  I stretched mine and purchased the Nighthawk Mark III. I think the quality of this amp is well worth the investment. Ten to Fifteen year amp, less than $300 per year is a bargain. I'm not in any way affiliated with Raven Audio but I can see myself having a relationship with this company for many, many years to come.