I'm on a mission to replace a very nice vintage solid state system (Audiolab 8000C, B&K ST-202) with a modern DAC+Amp equivalent, and I, like you, have discovered this whole Nuprime phenomenon. Hopefully some of you can set me straight, because I'm confused on some details.
I've read through the amp comparison chart several times, and read a bunch of threads comparing the different models, and I can't seem to wrap my head around the comparative pricing and performance of some of these. The topology examples, in particular, are throwing me for a loop. For example... the STA-9 has nice single-ended Class A input stage (SECAM) and a linear power supply, while the IDA-16 has a an op-amp input stage and a switching power supply, yet the IDA-16 is multiples of the price. Nuprime even says it in their sidebar, "Practically all the amp products on the market use Op Amp for preamp stage. Only a few very high end products use discrete transistors design. Discrete transistors design is costly and challenging to accomplish."
...Yet I can buy two STA-9s (each with discrete transistor input stage) and a DAC-9, for roughly the price of a single IDA-16. That's 180deg reversed from what I would expect... typically the reference designs are the ones with Class A input stages and linear power supplies, not the cheaper unit? I don't get it.
So with that conundrum in mind, I'm looking at a couple of different configurations and at a loss as to which would actually perform best. Ultimately I'm trying to achieve very high-quality 2-channel reproduction of multiple digital sources for both music and movies, with a focus on very high perceived detail, dynamics, and rich musicality at lower volumes. Playback will be into a set of vintage Polk SDA-2Bs at the moment, which are likely being replaced with floorstanding KEF, Tannoy, or Sonus Faber in the next year sometime.
Option 1: STA-9 + STA-9 + DAC-9 - 290Wx2 (dual mono), AKM Verita AK4490 DAC, FPGA ladder resistor volume, linear PS
Option 2: IDA-16 - 200Wx2 (stereo), ESS ES9018 DAC, FPGA ladder resistor volume, switching PS
Option 3: HD-AVA - 200Wx2 (stereo), ESS ES9018 DAC (USB only), Analog Devices DAC for everything else, no ladder resistor volume, switching PS
Option 3 gives me the basic amp of the IDA-16, but without the nice preamp stage, but with a ton of extra inputs and AV flexibility, at a lower cost than either of the first 2 options since they are being closed out. It's tempting, but I'm a bit wary of both the complexity of the unit, and what I can only assume are other compromises inherent in putting all of those things in one box.
What say you, Audio Circle? Can you give me any guidance?