If someone wants value proposition, they should make like Sir Robin and run away from this hobby as fast as their imaginary horse can take them. If someone wants good or great, there are a lot of options, many of them allowing organs to remain where they are. If someone wants the best, there are much fewer, and it will often cost them. The "Grail" is nothing new in audiophilia or many other hobbies for that matter. Relativism is all relative. Personally I find a lot of speaker amp prices patently ridiculous. 3-5X seems to be industry standard for the sane who also like to eat, with 2X being a bargain (EC somehow seems to be able to do it for less, and people wonder why Craig is so skinny). But something being a better deal doesn't make it better, it just makes the wallet-conscious wake up in a cold sweat less often. Having heard all the amps in question extensively, I'd have to say the LAu sounds more seductive and engaging with a wider variety of headphones than any other solid state amp on the market. Does it make it worth the price difference? Every time someone asks me this question an angel loses its wings to some insomniac gamer drinking redbull.
As for product cycles, my understanding (Alex has a long post about it) the first generation (LF1 LL1) was designed to please Alex and his own design goals - seamless chassis, light weight, sports car knobs, no visible screws, etc. The new generation is him giving in to feedback that amps need to be heavy, have thick beveled faceplates larger than the chassis, and be blacker/more subtle like all the heavy power amps in Stereophile ads. As customers, we're worried about what we lose on resale, but I don't think that consideration should prevent a manufacturer from putting out product that will satisfy their customers the most at any given time (although this is a source of disagreement among manufacturers. Some will only change things customers won't see as earlier customers would complain otherwise.)