is creek5350se best integrated for 1000-1200 bucks

hello, i've just joined here at audiogon, i'm 22 and i've loved listening to music my whole life, and i've lived on minisystems for a good many years, and a couple years ago upgraded to separate components. what a difference! i consider myself an audio enthusiast, but i know very little about building a decent stereo system. i want to upgrade now from my best buy/circuit city setup that i have now ) my budget is about 5 grand, and it will take me about three years to acquire my integrated amp, speakers, cd player, and cables/interconnects. i've decided to build it piece by piece, starting with my amplifier. for cost reasons, i've decided on an integrated, the creek 5350 se. the shame of this is, i have not heard it myself, have only read reviews on audioreview and the propaganda from various dealers across the web. i've compared it to many others in the price range, and i believe it is the best value for the money. for speakers i have chosen psb stratus gold, maybe some blems for under 2 grand, and for my cd player, the creek cd 53 reference. probably could get this unit demoed for a grand or more. if anyone out there, or in here, could steer me in the right direction for a good integrated, can't spend any more than 1500. i don't want to make a purchase like this without some expert opinions. thanks for any advice.
Look at Musical Fidelity A3.2, Unison Unico, and maybe used YBA. Depends on your taste in music.

You are going to get so many "other" suggestions that it is going to make your head spin.

The point being, there are many very good integrateds out there for around 1k-1.5k, including the Creek. I currently have the 5350SE (see my system) and yes it is a great soundng amp. Very neutral, great detail and bass, etc. Does eveything well. On the laid back side. Very versatile too, has a headphone jack, 2 sets of binding posts, pre-outs/amp-in, and can record from one source while listening to another.

I recently purchased a Unison Unico and am awaiting it's arrival. I have been curious about tube/hybrid amps so it will be interesting which one I prefer (Obviously, preference is a personal choice and system dependent). If I decide to sell the Creek, I will drop you a line.

I saw a Plinius 8150 for $950 not too long ago on Audiogon, that would have to be considered as well.
There is yet another one you might consider. Do a google search for and link through to the "control" amplifier.
I have a Musical Fidelity 3.2 integrated, I am very happy with it, the sound is very smooth with such a detailed top end for an entry level integrated. The Unison is also a fine amp, under much advice from other forums I auditioned it and if I hadn't already own the MF it would be the definately on the list.

I'd also consider the Classe integrateds, or something like a McCormack .5 (~$650 used) and a tube pre.
Do listen to the Rotel RA-1070, its $1200 and is an excellent choice.
Purchase a Quad cdp, and 99 power amp for about 2500. Look at the Spendor 3/5 SE, and live happily ever after.
I recently bought a Creek 5350SE. Am using it with Audio Phyic Brilon II, Rega Jupiter, and Nordost cabling. I'm quite happy with it---its quite neutral. I also liked its looks, and it fit into my space requirements. It's been highly reviewed in many publications----Stereophile, TAS, and the British mags. So enjoy it! Yes, there are other fine integrated amps out there----but it takes time to do the research/legwork to check them out. Happy listening!
If I'd place 5350 next to Unico I'd choose Creek. It has better power supply and rated far more conservatively than Unico.
As to integrated bellow $1k the champion is Nad C370 100%.
There are alot of great integrated units on the market for sale. Its gonna be a tough choice to say the least. Best bet is to try and audition them together(which may be tough im sure)with identical listening environments.
Depends if you like the tube sound or solid state. You might want to check out tube integrated amps in that price range which include Antique Sound Labs, Audio Note, Cary, etc. I compared the Audio Note Oto PP vs. the Musical Fidelity a3.2 and the AN was much, much more to my liking.

Is cost the only reason why you're committed to an integrated? If so, it needn't be. In your budget, buying used, you could put together a very nice preamp/amp combo. You would gain increased flexibility this way. For example, you could pick up a used Conrad Johnson 10al preamp for around 500$ to see if you like tubes. There are usually a range of amps in the five to seven hundred dollar range that would give you more power than the creek. I'm assuming you've listened to the stratus golds (a very nice speaker imo), but have you listened to them with the creek or a similarly powered integrated? You might want to a/b the speakers with an integrated v. more powerful seperates. Good luck and have fun.