I take on board what you all have to say, particulary insomniac. So heres the deal as it stands.
I contacted Justin at HeadAmp he informed me that he simply has not been able to find a wall wart power supply for UK voltage and thus only sells the Gilmore Lite in 100-120V and not 220-240V as I would require. The dedicated PSU can be supplied in 220-240V format-but I can't afford to get that as well the amp. So Justin offers a step down transformer for the Gilmore Lite. Overall with the voltage converter and delivery it would cost me $334. Justin seems to be a guy I'm willing to buy off ,and the versatility, looks and size of the Gilmore appeals to me.
Whilst the Rega Ear is easy to get hold of here in the UK, it costs £150 ($285). Its definitely the best option for me in the UK, but I found it in the US for $180 at (http://www.a4audio.com/a4audio/cd-d...and&SGroup=Rega
). Now it kills me to pay that much more here in the UK. But annoyingly maybe the voltage supply in the US is also incorrect for the Rega.
I also contacted Dr Meier in Germany-who by the way is an excellent guy. By his own admission he said that the Porta Corda MK2 was not the sturdiest amp. He agrees with you insomniac that 'that one sort of sticks out as not fitting in with the other 3' and 'it's a very portable use oriented amp' which is not my primary concern. Besides he informed me that in 3 months he is going to release the successor to the Porta MK2 which will also be a DAC connectable with USB. He reccomended the HA-1, but its out of my price range. Also to utilise the Corda's AC function which is reccomended for better performance Dr Meier says I would need to purchase my own external power supply and perhaps do a little soldering. The corda would be quite cheap for me though at $225-250.
I e-mailed Drew at Shellbrook, who has absolutely excellent service, about the Ascent. This I have to say perhaps has the most promise for me as there is no voltage problem and Drew seem to be an excellent guy. Is it a pimeta based amp or what though? for $300 this seems a good option. What I don't understand is why Drew can supply his product with universal worldwide voltage capabilites and Justin at HeadAmp can't? At this stage though it seems little is known about this amp?
I was also considering the SR-71 which I really like but its quite far above my price range. Also the headroom little which has no voltage problem, but apparently no good compared to the competitors.
I happen to be heading into florida on the 3rd of March and so can get all of these amps easily according to the respective sellers, and also regulary visit Germany, Bonn for work and can easily get the Porta Corda.
As you can see my descision involves many permuatations and is not straight forward at all. However when spending this much money I have to be careful and considerate.