Way too many posts to respond to so I'll summarize...
I too am on AK, AS and would not touch AA with a ten foot poll. Reviews there are just as mixed and 70% of the people who talk about things have never tried them. That's another thread though.
I know Brent Jesse very well...its where I bought my 1961 GE 6L6GC's. And his reviews are great ...just one perspective though (I do love the guys stuff though)
It is NOT absurd to but a tube that cost more than the $50 bravo. It really is the heart of tailoring the sound. I bought my $2000 Velleman amp used for $500. I have spent well over $1200 on the tubes that are currently in it.
Anyway, I don't want to get in a PISSING contest with someone..so lets just leave it at "Try tubes, see what you like and the brand will only be relevant to you"...
Know what would be really helpful ? An upgrade DIY post on how to safely CUT OUT the EQ section of the V3...I think (and please, my opinion only) the V2 was the best they made...then scewed it up...I sort of know why...they though they were helping folks who felt limited by the direct sound input (from portable items like IPhones, etc) so why not add an eq...But they missed the boat
Peace to all...lets have fun