I just returned from a week abroad to find a couple of pm's asking my Stratus tube recommendations for the $$ conscious buyer. Sorry it wasn't clear.
I would first recommend replacing the Sovtek 6N1P driver with a NOS RCA 6BQ7a at $10-20. Mine is cryo'd, a treatment I have always found beneficial. Second, the rectifier 5U4G at $20-90. Last the 2A3s. My top choice to date is the EML meshplates, after >160hrs burn-in, for $555 (+s/h). However, the least expensive option might be the NOS RCA or Tung-Sol blackplates, which are still available at audiotubes for $225-250. A competing high-value choice might be the Sophia globe mesh for $235-299, depending on options - I have only heard their top Princess model ($325-375+s/h), so this is a guess, but my guess is that their lowest price 2A3 would give you presence and sweetness with more clarity than the stock Sovtek or the NOS tubes, but not as much clarity as the Princess or the EML.
If anyone has more comments on tube recommendations, please chime in.
and madbull, have you had a chance to listen to your new Stratus yet?