Whats better than VTL 450 for the money?

Going to be purchasing new tube amps soon and Im leaning toward the VTL MB 450. In this price range is there anything better? I would prefer to buy new. Looking for lots of slam, fast, liquid, not overly bright, and huge 3D sound stage. Room is 13w X 8h x 35L.

Wadia 861
Supratek chennin pre
Cardas Golden Cross intercon
Kimber Bifocal XL spk cable
(2) vandersteen 2WQ subs

Speakers are up in the air but Im thinking either Vandy 3A, Vandy 5A or krell Resolution. If I end up with 5As I will sell the 2WQs but budget constraints will most likely force 3As.

A buddy has these, and for the money, they are a great deal.

The bass is good, but not great. (But I would not let that stop you, as only solid state amps have better bass, in my experience anyway.)

The Manley Neoclassic 250 is pretty good as well, at about the same price point. But if you need the extra power, the VTL is tough to beat. (My buddy drives his pretty hard using Avalon Eidolons, and he actually managed to get his Neoclassic 250 to clip during a very loud, very complex symphonic piece of music. The VTL handled the same piece flawlessly, btw.) The Manley looks better than the VTL, so if aesthetics mean anything, you might want to consider that. (The VTL is a plain amp. Not ugly, but not outstanding either.)

Good Luck in your search.

When you say the VTL is not outstanding you are talking about its looks right? I am not concerned with the appearance at all. As far as bass is concerned I think 400 tube watts would be enough considering Im running stereo powered subs. I think most of the Vandy spkrs are about 86db and I think the krell is around 90db. BTW I get much better performance out of my current VTL MB 125s by removing the face plate and cheesy sheet metal cover. Ive had the same experience with the Signature VTL MB 185s.
The VTLs are awesome, I had them over the last few months and have recently sold them and moved on to Parasound Halo JC-1s. The VTLs are slightly soft in the bass, but they have everything else you desire. I only sold mine because they but out so much heat I knew that they would be a huge problem in the summer.

As far as looks go, I think they look a lot better in person than the pictures. They are no nonsense asthetics, but definately appear high quality.

Another possiblity would be the BAT VK150SEs. They have everthing you are looking for and then some plus awesome bass. A bit more expensive however.
I like the Big Rogue, fwiw. Vandersteen has paired them with the 5's at a show or two I believe so if you go with their speaker you may find they have some insights on synergy.
My guess is that you will sooner or later have to swap the Cardas golden cross to get the slam & speed you want. I like that ic but I think you'll find you want something less forgiving when you get your new system complete.
Am a bit cautios about the VK150 reccomendation. I think they have a sound that you will either love or not & will not have the headroom power wise (relative to the Big Rogue and the VTL 450)that you might want for some speakers. They might be just the ticket for your system and tastes but I'd insist on an in home trial.

Yes, you are correct, the aesthetics (their looks) are not outstanding on the VTLs. (The sonics, on the other hand, are!) The Manleys that my friend used to own, had the gold face (as opposed to the standard silver face), and they looked gorgeous. The VTLs are not ugly, they just look plain. For double the power, at the same price as the Manleys, they are well worth the sacrafice, IMHO. (Well, unless you don't need the power, in which case, maybe they are worth it.)

Ejlif brings up a couple of good points:
The VTLs do run hot. (My buddy and I live in California and they run hot, and in the summer, my friend has to keep the windows open to keep the heat from building up too much.)
The BAT VK150SEs might be a consideration too. My buddy, (yeah, the same guy! He loves to experiment. I wish I could do the same, but my money and my wife won't let me!), tried out the VK150 (not the SE version though). They did sound really good, but just did not have the power that he wanted.

I am in the same boat as you, as I am semi-seriously looking to upgrade my amplifier. (I really, really like my Levinson No. 23, but I would like more power, and I would like to have that tube sound in my system.) Unlike you however, I have figured out that I don't want the hassle of tubes, (i.e the biasing and replacing of the tubes.) Not to mention the heat, which for my buddy is a minor inconvenience, but for me, would really be a big hassle, as my living room has full sun in the summer, and even the relatively cool running Levinson heats up the room a bit.

What I do want are solid state (or possibly hybrid) mono-blocks, with at least 200 wpc, and double that if possible. Unfortunately, in my price range, everything I have researched seems to have a minor problem, albeit minor ones. If I am going to spend $5K+ for used amps, I want NO sonic sacrafices. (I prefer buying used, btw, as I get double the bang for my buck, but to each his own.)

I am leaning towards the Lamm M2.1, but they are really pricey, (although they are in your price range, if bought used.) They are a hybrid amp, with only one tube per channel.

I am also considering the H2O monoblocks, (with the ICE modules) but I am concerned if their sonics are really as good as some people say they are. (My buddy has the Rowland 501's, (Also with the ICE modules) and while they have gotten better as they have broken in, they are still no where near as good as his VTLs, nor as good as his old Classe CA-401 (SS) amp, that he used to use. (BTW, the later is based on my friend's experience, as I have not gotten a chance to listen to them yet.)

Well good luck in your search! Let us know what you get, and your opinion.
I would add the Wolcott P220 Presence Mono-Blocks with the wideband transformers to your list. I replaced my Manley Neoclassic 250 with them.
The Wolcotts offer extremely good bass and the midrange and highs are unreal.
They are not the prettiest, but it is about the music not the looks.
Good luck.
I have klipsch klf30's right now, and those aren't even high end. I want some speakers that warrent me having all of that power. I need some rather inefficiant speakers. I run a shigaraki trans and dac and a hovland hp-100. What do you guys run w/these big amps?
I have a Pair of KLF 30's that I have had for years.
I have run everything from Audio research VT 100,200
Bat,Manley's,Pass labs X250 and 350 and so on with those speakers.
I think the Vt 100 was the best on them.
as fair as speakers that warrant the power of the amps mentioned I have Martin Logan Prodigy's.
What are you using for a amp on your KLF'30's
I have been using my KLF 30's for front speakers on my suround sound system for the past few years.
I was looking for a similar big tube amp as what you are looking for. I was able to get a very good price on a demo pair of VTL MB750 ref's and had them in house for about 3 weeks. I also have VTL 7.5 pre , alas in my system I could not get them to boogie or come to life. My speakers are Vienna Mahlers which are below 3 ohms for most of the bass, however amps costing 20k should have dome a better job - I guess synergy is everything. BTW VTL's should work well with vandy's as they are consistent as far as impedance goes.
To cut a long story short, I tried out SS amps like Pass X350.5, JC-1's, Mac 501's, Bryston 7B-SST and ended up with cj prem 350. The cj prem 350 sounded closer to my old tube monoblocks in the upper mids and treble, are nice and controlled in the bass and dynamically and harmonically lust are fun to listen to. They are less then VTL 450's, so if SS can co-exist in your system try to demo them. I think you maybe suprised.

Has anyone compared the VTL 450 to the Ayre V-1Xe? How did they match up?