In the last few weeks, I've become obsessed with vacuum tubes, and would like to buy a tube amp and speakers. I'm currently in Hong Kong, and there is quite a variety of Chinese-made tube-based audio equipment available here. The sad truth is that I'll probably only listen to fairly low-quality AAC and MP3 files piped through an Airport Express, so the appearance of the amp is likely at least as important as the quality. I figure eight to thirteen watts per channel should be sufficient power. There are a dizzying variety of power tubes to choose from: EL34, EL84, 6V6, KT88, 6BX7, FU50. Most of the tubes are Chinese made, but a few are Russian. The amps I've gravitated to are the Image Audio SE8
(which is expensive and low-powered, but appears very well made), the Audio Space AS-3i
(twice the tubes and 50% more power), and the Music Curve D-2020A
(very impressive looking with lots of interestingly-shaped tubes, but but appears to be very cheaply made). Most of these amps are available with a choice of power tubes, and are all within the same price range (between USD 400-500). What should my main considerations be, and what should I be looking for?