Sometimes you can find a Hafler TransNova 9505(255WPC/8ohms) in here for that. There's one listed right now, but the guy wants too much for it. The 9303 shares the same circuitry and puts out 150WPC into 8ohms, for less $$ of course. Very controlled and testicular bass, good soundstaging, and a decent midrange. You're not going to get the liquid/live midrange out of a SS design for what you want to spend. I'm using a 9505 to drive my woofers right now, it's an excellent studio amp and I have had it hooked up in my audio system as a the main amp also(to satisfy my curiosity) in the past. I could easily live with it, if I ever had to go SS. (http://www.hafler.com/techsupport/pdf/MAN0587E_9505_man.pdf) There's a modded Hafler DH-500 in the AudioGon classifieds that might really suit you, if you don't mind a bit of fan noise($750.00). (http://www.hafler.com/techsupport/pdf/DH-500_amp_man.pdf)
Tho I own one and have a bias I see alot of great opinions on Aragon 4004MKII amps often called a "poor mans Krell"
My brother really liked his NAD, which only cost him a little over 300 new, though he has since upgraded it.
Maybe it's the time of night, but those URLs aren't working now. Trying again: (http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?ampstran&1222437026)
The older McCormack Deluxe series amps, like DNA-1 Deluxe, or even DNA-0.5 Deluxe. I think these amps would give you the sound you're after. Not the last word in resolution though(still plenty of detail, but on a smoother side of things), but I don't think that's what you're looking for.
The McCormack RLD 1 is a great preamp that can be found for about $900-$1100 used. It has a HT bypass, excellent 120 step 0.5 dB volume and balance, tape mon., two sets of pre-outs, and is available with or w/o phono card. I love mine, it replaced a McIntosh C15 and sounds much better.
i haven't heard this amp but reading the review and looking at what the amp brings to the table this is not a bad deal for $995.
oops Aragon wont sound like tubes.
Without knowing what speakers the amp would be driving, I don't think we can really offer you much help.
The best ss amp for you would be the Belles 150a hotrod based on your preference. Lots of good things being said about the vincent hybrid but the tubes are hard wired. That could be a PITA.
Look for a Parasound A21 at $1100 - $1200. They pop up now and again. The A21 is a KILLER amp that takes on the character of what's driving it. I use mine with a simple tubed preamp and it's glorious.
P.S. 250w per channel into 8ohms.
Unsound is correct. without knowledge of your speakers, advice you seek is suspect. For instance, I've had a Belles 150 Hot Rod and it was mediocre at best when paired with Maggie 1.6qrs. I'm sure it warranted the good reviews it got with other speakers. There's no such thing as "best," it's always system dependent.
Don't worry too much about your choice of amp: it would take a real bad one to screw things up. A properly built amplifier, with an electronics design that has stood the test of time, will have less relevance to the presentation of music than your speakers.
Thanks for the comment regarding the amps. I don't know if you have heard of the speakers. The speakers I am using are Clarke System Monitor Speakers. They have 2 10" woofers, 8" woofer, 3 ribbon tweeters, and a dome tweeter.
Cbman, you've got some really esoteric speakers. Those were built in the early to mid eighties as I recall. What a efficiency are those monsters? Do you know how benign the impedance curve is? Do they still have their original woofer surrounds?
I'm afraid I don't agree with Jpaik, I've found very large differences in the sound of various amplifiers. I certainly agree that the speakers do have a much larger impact on your sound than amps. However, a well matched amp will make the difference between competent and sublime if everything else is up to task of revealing the differences.
Any of the Classe amps (integrated or not) would be playing in that price range, give or take 100 bucks. Great little boxes with excellent build quality. And with you mentioning soft smooth tube like mids and highs, that's the first name that came to mind. Although it is a little power shy though with regards to your wattage requirements.
And theres always the T-Amp.. :)
Sweet Coda on agon now.Might be a 4 channel but could be used as 2,3or 4 ch possibly.
I second Hornloaded.
Jazz is in the sweet spot of my PS Audio HCA-2. I also have a MF tube buffer in the loop. Worth consideration for 1k.
I have to disagree with Jpaik. Some speakers go down to 1 Ohm others to over 16. Different amps for different speakers. I'm not familiar with your speakers. Photon46 asks very good questions.