Amp for desktop system?

I'm in process of building a new desktop system for my home office and need to choose a standalone amp (not integrated) for whatever speakers I purchase. Any input would be much appreciated - I'm getting lost digging through the forum archives!

Details: Nearfield listening while at the computer (3 ft), small room, up against a wall/window, lower volume levels so the "first watt" principle matters a lot.

System will be PC Apple lossless iTunes -> External DAC/Pre combo(Beresford 7520) -> Amp(TBD) -> Speakers (TBD - Likely Totem Dreamcatchers/Mites, Epos M5, or Usher S-520). Music is all over the board, alternative, jazz, female vocalists, eclectic misc stuff.

Sonic preferences - I really value a spacious, airy sound with fluid vocals. Soundstaging is a priority (contrary to my layout, I know) and an open detailed sound is more important than pure dynamics, probably won't get played loud much. Tight accurate bass is more important than a deep low end or slam, esp with my small speaker choices.

Budget is $250-450, used gear here on audiogon is the likely source.

Any suggestions on what brands/models to consider? I get totally lost looking through the classififeds.

Am I on the right track with the rest of the components? Still trying to decide on the speakers but am leaning toward the Totem Dreamcatchers (4 ohm speakers) after demoing them yesterday.

Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!
That seems really big for desktop.

Why don't you forget the amp and select speakers with ICEpower technology like Bose Computer Music Monitors ($400) or Beolabs 4 PC ($999).

I was blown away with both speakers performance and deep bass.

Bose Computer Music Monitors

BeoLabs 4
I agree with Lapierre, most of the monitors are meant to be on a stand, not sitting on a desk.
I'd almost suggest a pair of Realistic Lineaum's for speakers. The open dipole tweeters will keep the sound from being right in your face. Much softer soundfield.
Also, assuming that this will be on all of the time, tubes are out & class A will be like having heater on your desk. Those are usually the warmest first watt choices.

Have you checked out the "T Amp"? Tiny & smooth...

Last suggestion that I've spent a lot of time with is the new Boston Acoustics Horizon radios. Way better than Bose Waves and less money too.
I'd take a look at active studio desktop monitoring systems.

When I used passive speakers (M&K nearfield monitors now up for sale) in my desktop system I used this amp: ATI AT602. I was quite happy with it.
Hi Sheldonn.

You might consider active (self-powered) speakers. The Audioengine desktops are recommended by Stereophile magazine.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Bob, I'll have to read up on ATI amps - that looks very interesting!

I suppose I should have clarified earlier... I'm currently running a setup with the Audioengine 2's. They sound good, but I'm looking for a little bit more. The current setup is:

PC Apple lossless iTunes -> Beresford 7520 USB DAC -> Kimber Cables -> Audioengine 2's

It sounds good, but I'm looking for a little more out of the system. I recently found out that I'm going to be working from home full time starting in a month or two, and I'll be able to listen to music a LOT more than I can in my current office environment.

I figure I might as well get something that I'll really be able to enjoy. My downstairs system sounds great (Mac Mini/DacMagic/Rotel/Kimber/Thiel) but I'll be locked upstairs in my office 8 hours a day!
Virtue audio makes a sweet little amp.
I have the Nu Force Icon set up (amp/dac, speakers, 'sub') and love it. I am really impressed with the whole set up. You would no longer need your existing DAC though.

For perspective, my main listening rig is Rotel CDP as transport to a Headroom max amp/dac combo, KAB modded Technics 1200, PrimaLuna Prologue 3 preamp, Wyred4Sound monoblocks and Gallo 3.1s.
The idea of a small Class T amp seems very appealing. My DAC already just sits on the desktop, so I wouldn't need to move an equipment rack into my already crowded office.

The small Virtue Audio One unit seems like a particularly good choice.

For speakers I'm leaning towards the Usher S-520's after doing some test listening yesterday at a couple local dealers. I liked the Totem Dreamcatchers (demo'd through a very small 15W class T amp) but felt like I'd need to go to a 2.1 system in order to get passable bass.

Are there any other small amps similar to the Virtue Audio or NuForce?

I have the Nuforce Icon amp/pre-amp/DAC and it is a really cool unit. However I have not yet used it for a desktop system. But I'm moving into a new home next month and will be forced into a desktop system as I'm losing my music room. I may end up buying the Nuforce speakers and sub for the system and ripping all my CDs to iTunes on a Mac Mini.

Here's another interesting choice that I am considering:

6Moons loved this Qinpu system and preferred it to the Nuforce rig (but I believe the Nuforce was tested without the new sub).

I think speakers designed for the extreme near-field distances dictated by a desktop system have a potential performance advantage over traditional bookshelf speakers.

Enjoy the hunt and please report back on your choice as I think there are many people who are looking for great desktop sound.

Another option Sheldon...

amps/power-amps/headroom-desktop-stereo-amp-120v.php>50 watt
Headroom Desktop Amp uses Bang & Olufsen ICEpower technology.

Another option Sheldon...

50 watt Headroom Desktop Amp uses Bang & Olufsen ICEpower technology.
Looks like I'm going to be getting a Virtue Audio One desktop amp tomorrow, and I'm currently leaning towards a set of Usher S-520's as the speakers.

I'll post an update once I get to hear it all put together!
Too bad Virtue is short on specs. Where's the input impedance, output impedance, THD at what power, power into what loads, frequency response? How will one know what can be connected to either end of the thing?
You might call Magnepan and see when they're going to release their new mini-maggies and passive woofer. I heard these at a mfr's open house at my local high end store a couple months ago and they're everything the Soundstage write-up says. It was some of the most realistic reproduction (especially of drums) that I've ever heard. Source was an iPod Nano docked to a Wadia iTransport, feeding a Peachtree DAC/integrated amp. They used the Peachtree as a DAC/pre and some pretty powerful Bryston amps to do the heavy lifting. The maggies aren't too efficient, but they're very small and unobtrusive, and are one of the few speakers that would sound right simply sitting on a desktop.

Magnepan needs to productize these mini-maggies and get them out ASAP. If manufactured in sufficient quantities and priced affordably, they could set a new paradigm in loudspeakers.
I'd look at one of the EL34 chinese tube ingtegrated amps, they sound quite nice.
You should bypass getting seperates and get active monitors. Try Audioengine 2.0 "active" speakers for $199 or Blue Sky Audio EXO for $250 from Guitar Center.
Thanks for the advice everyone!

I was able to pick up a Virtue Audio One amp from Michael Mardis locally with the 30v/90W power supply. I spent an hour talking with him over coffee all about the amp and it's design. He's a really nice guy who knows his stuff!

I also found a used pair of Usher S-520 speakers for a good price and they should be arriving next week. I have some speaker cables and interconnects on order from Blue Jeans Cables that should arrive in time to hook everything together.

The only remaining things are rearranging my office and building a couple DIY acoustic absorbtion panels this weekend. I already have all the parts from Home Depot!

I'll post an update once I get everything set up and broken in, really excited to hear how it all sounds.

Thanks again!
I have a Virtue One, attached to the Totem Dreamcatchers,
(one of your choice of speakers), and it drives them very
nicely. Just thought you might like to know.
Well, it's finished!

I got the acoustic absorption panels built as well as a couple of homemade speaker stands. I also rearranged my office and it sounds much better in this configuration.

I'm really happy with how it all turned out. Not to knock the little Audioengine's, but the Virtue Audio/Usher combo really is much, much better.

I posted a write up and some photos in the Virtual Systems forum under Secondary Rigs if you want to check it out, or you can just click on my profile.

Thanks again everyone, happy listening!