SUGDEN: Luxman, Croft, Sonneteer and DACs with Harbeth?

"I recently sold off my full Naim system (DAC/282/250/Hicap/NAPSC) and I have been enjoying the simplicity of my temp solution of the Nait 1 with Harbeth P3ESR, fed by the Mac Mini and Meridian Explorer DAC. Simple, lively, detailed, agile.. and only one hifi box with one plug in the wall! I am now enjoying trying some different types of amps and DACs to match with the Harbeths.  So far, I have been trying

  • Luxman 550II,
  • Croft pre/power (R version), although I would be most likely buy the Croft Integrated R.. but this wasn't available to demo.
  • About to get a Sugden A21SE. Weeks old, used price so worth a punt.
  • Possibly try the Sonneteer Alabaster

I prefer the Croft to the Luxman. The Luxman is a very nice amplifier indeed, with stacks of detail and a lovely tone... but a bit ploddy in the bass and warm sounding. The Croft has some Naim qualities to me, but with the added separation, detail and tonality of the Luxman. Looking forward to hearing the Sugden this week too. I'm definitely in a preferred territory with the above amps over the Naim system. More detail, more separation, natural tone, simple set up, less upgrade spiral, lower cost etc etc

First question - has anyone any experience with these amps at all, perhaps over a longer period of ownership? Second question - I'm starting to search for a DAC. Interested to hear if the Meridian holds up to more expensive competition in my system? I borrowed the Meridian from my desktop system, and it's actually very good! Does anyone have any recommendations for a DAC? I'm thinking of around £1000 max, but could be flexible.  So far I'm interested in:

  • Metrum Octave MKII
  • Goldenote DAC 7
  • Rega DAC

Any other recommendations here? I would like something that suits the Croft or Sugden. I like the design / philosophy of the Metrum in particular, but I heard reports that it has a slightly rolled off treble. I like to push the Harbeths with a detailed sound as a very warm system can sound too 'closed in' on the Harbeths."

LEAK VINTAGE units NOT on ebay

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