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
I own a Raven Blackhawk and it is a great amp.

I also own Pathos Acoustics equipment and it is excellent too.

I have owned McIntosh and Simaudio gear but the Raven and Pathos gear is more to my liking. 

Maybe an easier way to dip into the tube world would be with a hybrid integrated with a tube input stage but solid state amplification.  This way you get a good dose of the “tube magic” but with less maintenance and cost, and you can still play around with tube rolling if that’s your thing.  With your speakers and room something like the Unison Research Unico Primo at $2395 new might be a great option, and you can read reviews to see if its sound characteristics are what you’re after.  The importers, Fidelis, offers a trial period but I think charge a healthy restocking fee if you end up returning it, which I’d think unlikely if it delivers the sound you’re looking for.  Best of luck.