For anyone still playing along at home, I took my speakers out today to have a listen to a few different things. Pretty much accepted now that I’m going to have to spend over $2k to get what I want. Such is life
Vincent SV237MK - I didn’t like it. The top end was quite lovely but not spectacular and the lower mids were a bit veiled and I didn’t like the look. At least I tried
NAD C388 - Fantastic clear midrange and tight, solid bass but the top end was glarey and cymbals sounded artificial. I was reminded after I listened that it was class D (Hypex, I think) so maybe that’s not my groove. I won’t write off the whole technology but not a good start. May have just been a bad match with the speakers
Creek 100A - very well balanced throughout the range but a bit sweet-sounding for my personal taste. I think I’m after a bit more air
Musical Fidelity M3si - I quite liked this. More air than the Creek, probably could use a bit more refinement which, I suspect, would be present further up the range. Bear in mind, this is primarily in comparison to...
Rega Elicit R - Ho boy. I rather liked this one. At minimum $800 more than anything else I listened to, I would hope it would be best (by no means a given in this wacky world) but it was obviously more open and balanced than anything else I listened to and seemed to be a really good match for my speakers (open and revealing but not hard). This would probably have to be a 2nd hand pick up, unless I can find one on super special or I hold off for longer on upgrading my source. Maybe a lot longer
So, at the moment the Elicit is the one to beat. I’m planning to also listen to the Naim Nait 5si (out of stock) and the Roksan Kandy 3 (out of stock). I’d love to consider a Schiit Ragnarok 2 (the original has no remote capability) but I doubt I’m going to get one 2nd hand, being only released last year or something.
Talk me out of importing one myself. Even with the gross exchange rate it should land $1000 less than the local RRP. ‘Course I haven’t heard it yet. I’m going to try, though. EDIT just checked and shipping is wild - between $300-$400 USD so that kind of sinks that idea
Also I spoke with Geoff at Hey Now and he was helpful and super friendly but I think all he as to offer in my prince range is the Creek. If you have real money to spend, go spend it with him. He’s good people