Try the Pathos New Classic One. I think for the first time all the praise that Sam Tellig says about an equipment is actually true. I am using one with Special 25s
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Not familiar with item 3 on your list; that withstanding, I believe you have them in the proper order. Each is a step up over the other in terms of resolution, finese, pace, and detail. Search the archives and I belive you'll find a number of comments regarding Simaudio and Dynaudio as being a very nice match. I run my I5 with Joseph Audio monitors and while I still have lots work to do in the room treatment/speaker placement areas, my current setup is very good. Maybe not world class, but having gotten the components at a fraction of retail cost here on the 'gon, I am very satisfied.
I owned an Audio Refinement Complete for 3+ years. This is one of the best values in integrated amps out there. Superb sound and function, excellent build quality and priced right. Very highly recommended. I sold mine and bought the McIntosh MA-6500 integrated. I have never looked back. Sound, quality of build and function is unmatched. Pricey but worth every penny!
Hope this helps, Hififile!
Interesting thread as I'm in the middle of the exact same problem. I have a Creek 5350SE in my system now. Over the last week or two, I was able to borrow both a Classe CAP-151 and a Plinius 9100. The order of my preference is:
The Classe had the best detail, imaging and soundstage with the 1.3MKII's, but was not very musical (boring)
The Plinius was the most musical and engaging, but just couldn't beat the Classe's in it's strong points.
The Creek wasn't bad in all areas, but wasn't in the same league with the other two.
If I had to pick between these three, I would go with the Classe and not be totally happy. I plan to listen to the Plinius 9200, and probably buy the same. The Plinius sound is great, and from what I hear and read, I assume that it will have all the detail, imaging and soundstage that I will ever want. For $1200 more, I surely hope so.
this probably will not help the originator of the thread, but i have just purchased a mcintosh ma6500 integrated amp, and although i have yet to hear the dynaudio 1.3mk II, i think that they may be what i'm looking for, and as i am almost a complete rook, and will have to drive some distance to audition these speakers, i would appreciate if anyone out there could tell me if the Mcintosh would be able to do these speakers justice.
I have been checking out this thread for a while and I guess I will speak up. I recently went from separates (Melos tube preamp and tube amp) to a 175 wpc integrated. I bought a used KARAN KA-i180 based on a TNT Audio review. I was so close to buying the Sim unit. I spent $2200.00 on a used KA-i180 and love it far more than my $7500.00 retail Melos stuff. Electric guitar is not bright, the bass is tight and deep and the soudstage is wide with grate depth. I use cd only and have North Creek Rhythm loudspeakers.
I am beginning the same search for an integrated for my Dyn 1.8 mkIIs. The Simaudio I-5 is also on my list. Here are the others that I am considering that you may want to take a look at:
Plinius 9200 - Lots of comments on the synergy between Plinius and Dynaudio.
Primare A30.1 - mentioned by Eps above.
Coda Continuum Unison 3.3 - getting excellent press.
Krell KAV 400xi - supposedly a real step up from the 300.
Good luck in your search. I will be keeping an eye on this thread. Let us know what you find.
If you will note my response said, "If I had to pick between these three". Operative word "If" One of the joys of our hobby is that there are always choices including many more than the three I listed. You should read another's response thoroughly before disparaging them as it makes you look like a fool.