Ah, a DAC+amp, not just an amp. That does bump the price a bit higher.
The Benchmark DAC-1 and Grace m902 or m903 are both what I would consider well designed, well built from high quality parts, reference quality and sonically transparent.
By "sonically transparent" I don't mean to imply they sound exactly the same... but both being well designed for clean, neutral, transparent response, with measurable distortion below audible levels, they can't help but sound similar, even if not identical.
If he's looking for something different, like that tubiliciuos sound, that's a whole 'nuther thing.