I am fairly new to high-end audio, and am in the market to upgrade my current mid-fi system (i.e. big box mass market components) to something in the lower end of the hi-fi market. Here's my question: In doing some research I have come across numerous positive reviews for the Creek 5350SE, Exposure 2010S and Naim Nait 5i. In a 2001 Stereophile review of the Creek 5350SE, Rob Reina said it was the finest $1500 integrated amplifier he'd ever heard. I've read equally positive reviews about the Naim Nait 5i, and the cult-like following it enjoys. More recently, Stereophile reviewed the Exposure 2010S (Art Dudley, November 2005) and gave it a very high recommendation. However, this review left me a little perplexed as it concluded with the following: "I know and like a lot of the folks whose products compete directly with the Exposure 2010S, but they're going to have to work harder than hell to beat this thing." I found it interesting that Mr. Dudley did not mention any of these other amps by name, but I'm guessing this would include both the Creek 5350SE and Naim Nait 5i, though I can't be sure as they do retail for a few hundred more than the Exposure. A little more clarity on behalf of Mr. Dudley would have been helpful. So I guess my question is this, is the Exposure 2010S superior to the 5350SE and Naim Nait 5i?
I have narrowed my shortlist to these three, but am in an area where I cannot audition all three.
My main music interest is pop/rock, followed by jazz.
In terms of speakers, I'm looking at Gibbon 3s, Epos M12.2, Harbeth HL-P3ES-2, and the Tetra 120U.