I am going to try and demo some stuff tomorrow, but right now, it looks like the top of the list is the Peachtree nova with Kef LS50s with a possible sub.
This is purely visual aesthetics at this point since I haven't actually heard anything yet. but I will be listening to the LS50s with the most anticipation.
Stuff I plan on listening to
Kef reference 201/2
Whatever else the sound guys at these shops might recommend in the same vein. I think I prefer to go the dealer route instead of internet for speakers since I can see this might be a sample/return kind of situation.
As far as amps go, the peachtree nova seems like the least hassle with the usb dac and appropriate quantity of power. Although not particularly small, it will fit with some breathing room. Another option I saw was an emotiva dac+amp stack that would fit. (again, all aesthetic choices) I looked at a number of other amps mentioned, but didn't really like how they looked.
As I understand it, the amp is less of an issue, sound-quality-wise, as long as you get the right combination of features and appropriate power. I'm interpreting this from all the suggestions for inexpensive AVRs all over the forum. If that's so, then once I narrow down the choices with the right power, then making the final choice on visual aesthetics should be ok, right? Are there any other cool looking amps out there other than mcintosh? (I realize how subjective that is...)