I briefly had a Nova hooked up to my Magnepans, and it did not sound bad at all. I ended up getting a Peachtree iDecco (as preamp and DAC) and Emotiva UPA-2 for not much more than the Nova. I noticed a significant improvement with the Emotiva UPA-2 (which much more powerful) over the Nova as an amplifier. Based on my experience, a more powerful amp will make a noticeable improvement over the Nova. If you really want to stay low budget, the UPA-2 is great bang for the buck. However, if you looking to spend up to $1,200, you should be able to do better. You may want to check out audio asylum / planar asylum for amp recommendations. A number over there speak highly of the Wyred4Sound (although not all are fans of the Class D). One amp that gets favorable reviews over there, but is a little less off the radar than some of the more common recommendations (e.g., Pass, etc.) is the Parasound A21, which you might could find used close to $1,200.
By the way, I also have an Apple TV feeding my Peachtree iDecco, as well as a REL T3. :-)