give virtual dynamics cables a try. speaker, interconnect and power cables will make your system sound many times better. email me for details.
I used to run a Krell KSA50 with an SP9II, too grainy & bright, and wasn't too satisfying for long.
Heard plenty of good comments on the Belles, but nothing firsthand.
The Pass Labs Aleph series(e.g. Aleph5), BEL(see old TAS raves) , and Sunfire amps are all worth considering and fit in your price range. The Sunfire has two sets of outputs, one for a more tube-like sound, pretty damn good IMHO. It also has tons of power, giving you plenty of flexibility if you ever choose more demanding speakers.
The real question is can you get comfortable with a low-fuss tube amp. Especially with the VR1s, that's really the way to go. Tube amps don't really have to be a hassle. Many of us would be happy to offer up suggestions, if you change your mind. My bet & hope is that you'll end up with one sooner or later anyway.
I have the SP-9MkIII, listen to the same type of music, and seek the same type of sound from my system. I have been very happy with a McCormack amp (DNA-225 gold revision) and Harmonic Tech Pro Silway MkIII IC's. I listened to a tube amp (ARC VT-100MkIII) and Acoustic Zen cables and much preferred the Mc and HT combination. I am using Vandersteen Model 5 speakers, so I don't know how this combo will sound with the VR1's, but I do know the amp/preamp work beautifully together. Good luck.