Help with new system

I'm starting a new 2ch system that I will be running out of an iMac. I was wondering if I could gather some opinions on what to use (can't audition everything, want to narrow it down to a few finalists first). Obviously I'd like every part of the freq. range to sound good, but I am looking for a sound with smooth treble (but not veiled) that is not over super detailed/sharp, punchy bass, and in general a cleaner sound instead of something warmer and more colored.

Speakers: I have decided on Ascend Sierra-1's

Integrated Amp Shortlist:
Creek Evolution 2
Bada DC-222
Audiolab 8200a
Cambridge Audio Azur 651a
Musical Fidelity M3i

DAC Shortlist:
Schiit Bifrost
Cambridge Audio DACMagic+
Audiolab M-DAC
Musical Fidelity V-DAC

Out of the amps, I have seen that both M3i and 8200a require careful system matching or they could sound overly forward/sharp. Out of the listed components, what would they best be matched with. I like the tube customization of the Bada, but am not sure if the tubes would fit my sound tastes.

For the DAC's, the M-DAC is the most expensive, but also seems to be the most well liked. I have read that it also can have a more forward sound.

Any opinions on the listed items would be great. Any additional recommendations would also be welcome.

Showing 1 response by rdavwhitaker

On your short list of integrateds, I'd encourage you to look at two: The Creek and the Cambridge Audio. Creek amps are the epitomy of the "British Sound", meaning they tend to be very neutral and clean. Cambridge Audio equipment (I have some of their separates) tends to be very well designed and flexible -- it's a hub around which you can build a system and upgrade elements over time, finally upgrading to a better preamp/amp combo when you are ready. It also has a built-in USB port and its own built-in DAC, as I understand it, so you wouldn't have to buy a separate DAC.

I am not familiar with any of the DACs you list, but I have a Schiit Valhalla headphone amp. Based on my experience with that unit, I'd take a close look at the Bifrost -- Schiit equipment seems to be very well designed, and it is made here in the U.S., which is a plus, IMHO. Also, they offer a two week trial period, so if you don't like it, you can send it back.